Sunday, March 31, 2013

Underrated Prospect- CB David Amerson

CB David Amerson- N.C. State

 Summary: It is unfortunate that Amerson had to stick around a declining N.C. State team for the 2012 season. In his sophomore year, he had an ACC record 13 interceptions, which is also second in NCAA history, and was a consensus top 10 pick. The 6-1 cornerback was an Ed Reed ball hawk with Darelle Revis instincts, or at least it seemed that way. 2012 was a different year for him. He became lazy in coverage, often relying too much on physical skill. He was often beaten by a double move, and in two consecutive games he allowed touchdowns of over 50 yards on basically the same play. His confidence regressed and ended the season with only five interceptions (which is still quite a bit for a cornerback in college.) Whether or not he should have stayed for his senior year is irrelevant to Amerson because his problem is not lack of understanding or skill, it is clearly motivation. It was obvious, both off and on the field, that Amerson felt like the big man on campus, even when he was torched. Considering the abysmal play of the defensive unit (especially in the bowl game against Vandy), maybe he was justified. After all, he did have some great games last season (UConn, FSU, Wake.) And just a year ago, he was picking off passes and shutting down big name wideouts. He also proved that he can come up big when it matters- in 2012, he had an MVP type game in the Belk bowl picking off two passes, returning one for a touchdown. The point is: this guy can return to greatness. Don’t believe me?

NFL Translation: I think Amerson could start tomorrow as a safety. He is not as “fast” as other corners but has all the intangibles to be an NFL starter. I think, with an offseason, he could be a great corner. There are a lot of corners who are bigger coverage guys. What Amerson has is more important than speed, and that is acceleration. When he sees the ball in the air, he finds it. What he needs is a defensive coordinator and/or head coach that won’t put up with laziness. He also probably needs good safety help in case he does get beat (which he was quite a bit in 2012.)

NFL comparison: Antonio Cromartie
Cromartie is a big corner, like Amerson, both of which are better as a second corner rather than a first. Cromartie matches up with the bigger wideout and he has the ball skills that Cromartie has. Amerson can be better than Cromartie, as Cromartie has only been to two pro bowls and is more famous for his off the field interviews than his on the field play. But they play similarly.

Dream Team: Carolina Panthers
The Panthers are in dire need of a corner since Chris Gamble retired. They resigned Captain Munnerlyn  which makes no sense since 1) they benched him after a miserable start to the season and 2) he signed a one year deal so if he reaches his potential, they will have to deal with a lot of cap drama next year. They signed underachiever CB D.J. Moore to a one year deal, who is nothing more than a 4th corner and 32 year old CB Drayton Florence who is now with his 5th different NFL team and has a few more mediocre years left in his take. Needless to say, the Panthers secondary leaves a lot to be desired. That is why Amerson makes sense. With veteran presence, a strong head coach in Ron Riversa, and the potential to be a starter in his rookie year, Amerson could transform this secondary if he reaches his true potential. This is especially a good move considering the Panthers signed safety Michael Mitchell in free agency this season who could help Amerson if he is beat deep. Considering the fact that the Panthers need a corner anyway, he is worth a 2nd rounder. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Preview to NFL Draft!

Hello all. With the NFL draft approaching, I thought now would be a better time than ever to talk about prospects. Every year, the media is always focused on the headline players that go in the top 10 or 20 picks. Often overlooked, I like to talk about the underrated guys. These players have all the potential to be just as good as the “star” players. Why am I so confident? Here is a look at my track record:

2010- my top 5
1. FS Major Wright- Florida
2. QB Colt McCoy- Texas
3. WR Eric Decker- Minnesota
4. WR Emmanuel Sanders- SMU
5. DT Geno Atkins- Georgia

2013 analysis: Sans McCoy, each one of these players is a starter in the league. I thought Atkins was underrated, but never expected him to be the all pro, top five defensive player that he is today. Sanders, meanwhile, has been a productive slot receiver for the Steelers and looks to continue that trend in the upcoming years now that Wallace is gone. I predicted him to be right around where he is Decker, of course, had a monster year for Denver but has been “a solid #2 wideout in the league.” That is the exact quote that I used to describe his potential in 2010. McCoy, of course, seems to be the bust on the list although he was a starter for Cleveland not too long ago. I expected more out of him though as he was a great quarterback for the longhorns. Many people around the NFL still don’t know who Major Wright is but he has maintained his underrated status. He was the starting free safety for the Bears last year and, just like in college, prevented deep passes better than almost anyone in the league. He has been solid. Overall, I got pretty lucky with the Atkins and Decker picks but I shined light on some underrated players who turned into great players in the NFL.

2011- my top 5
1. CB Richard Sherman- Stanford
2. QB Christian Ponder- Florida State
3. RB Ryan Williams- Virginia Tech
4. DE Allen Bailey- UMIAMI
5. DE Muhammad Wilkerson- Temple

2013 analysis: I did not do as well with this class as I did the previous year. Wilkerson has actually become a solid NFL player, but I kind of cheated because he wasn't all that underrated. Although, he went later than I predicted him, so I guess that is the definition of underrated. Nonetheless, he is one of the best players on the Jets. Allen Bailey hasn’t reached a high level of success either, playing mostly as a backup for Kansas City. There is still time for him but he hasn’t impressed me the same way he did at Miami. Williams has the potential to be very good but, just like at Virginia Tech, injuries have kept him out of the spotlight. What saves me with this class are my top two guys. Ponder is a starter in the NFL and led his team to the post season last year. He has not put up the numbers that others have but I will go to my grave with the words I wrote in 2011, “he is the best QB in his class.” Sherman is one of my favorite players in the NFL mostly because of the way I praised him coming out of Stanford. I said, “put him in the right defense, and he can be a top 5 corner in this league.” And that has happened exactly as I planned. So, not a bad class, but not nearly as good as what I predicted a year before.

2012- my top 5
1. WR Mohammad Sanu- Rutgers
2. WR Stephen Hill- Georgia Tech
3. OT Jonathan Martin- Stanford
4.  LB Lavonte David- Nebraska
5. DE Vinny Curry- Marshall

2013 Analysis: It is too early to predict anything about these guys yet but I will say that all of them are off to great starts in their young careers. Sanu and Hill are big targets who got injured this year. Martin and David were solid and Curry is a rising role player

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

NCAA Bracket Sleepers

Hello all,

Normally, I stick to football. With March Madness approaching, many have asked me to do a post about who are good sleepers in the tournament. Here are just a few of my suggestions- sorry if they don't end up working out.

St. Louis (4th seed in midwest)-
I know the 4th seed doesn't seem like much of a "sleeper" pick but with a top heavy bracket, I think St. Louis qualifies. Also, it's ST. LOUIS! This team qualifies for a sleeper for being a relatively unknown team. The Billikens have a 27-6 record, which is good in itself. It is more impressive when you consider their 13-3, first place record in the Atlantic Ten. Nine out of those 10 teams earned postseason bids, which is an NCAA record. And, they are hot right now- 15-1 over their last 16 games. They also have a very good mix of tough defense and effective offense, allowing only 62.4 ppg and scoring 72.4. That's a double digit point differential, which is hard to do in a small program. So, lets review: St. Louis is a small, effective, under the radar team which plays in a difficult conference. That is the very definition of a sleeper! And, they have a relatively easy schedule. They play New Mexico and then either an overrated Oklahoma State team or an underachieving Oregon. I think they will make it to at least the sweet 16. The question is, can they beat Louisville?

Arizona (6th in the west)-
A 6th seed is also not a traditional sleeper, but Arizona is a team that is easy to overlook. They were 25-7 and 12-6 in the PAC 12 and certainly have the depth of a big team to do better. Their schedule starts off difficultly off the bat, against an underrated Belmont team and then a very difficult Ohio State team (probably.) However, Arizona could end up going very far depending on one player: Mark Lyons. When Lyons, a transfer from Xavier, was playing well the Wildcats were 14-0! He seemed to get lazy, content, and the Wildcats struggled. He has been pretty vocal recently as to why he needs to step up his game. I think this team has the potential to go TO THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP. Like I said, they have depth and are, possibly, the best defensive team in the game. With a weak west division, Arizona could do it.

Davidson (14th seed in the east)-
This is a very deep sleeper and is just kind of a guess. Davidson is an intense team that feeds off of the Cinderella pride. They were 26-7 but 17-1 in their division (given a rather weaker one.) When Jake Cohen plays well and Gardner playing NBA level defense, this team has a shot to make it deep into the east. I don't think they can beat Miami, and it will be tough against Butler. But, Marquette? The same Maquette that is 7-8 away from home? That shows much more mental weakness that physical ability. The former is where Davidson is the strongest.

Now, here are some FAQ's: 

Brian, who will win it all?
Miami- most balanced and experience team.

Who will be the first #1 seed to fall?
Gonzaga- their record is misleading, sos is 75th in the nation.

Missouri or Colorado State?
This is the matchup that most people have asked about- I'll take Missouri.

How do I follow your blog?
Click the button on the right! Please, if you read these, help me out!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Free Agency Updates 3/17/13

Here are some updates, enjoy!

ILB Daniel Ellerbe- Dolphins- C
Unlike Kruger, Ellerbe was indeed a product of a great Ravens defense. This is proven true by the fact that the Ravens offered about half of what the Dolphins paid for him. A 5 year, $35 mil is outrageous for a guy that didn’t start until Ray Lewis was hurt. This isn’t a failure because Ellerbe can be a productive middle linebacker in this league, when he reaches the height of his potential. But, don’t expect the next great linebacker, which is what the Dolphins paid for.

DT Desmond Bryant- Browns- D-
And the Browns get my first below passing grade of the year! Desmond Bryant is a thug who has no experience in a 3-4 and was never a great player for the Raiders in a 4-3. He was just your average starter statistically. Yes, he went to Harvard but was recently arrested so its not like the brains are there. And, he is young, so I guess he has time to improve. But I don’t see how throwing a 5 year, $34 mil with $15 mil guaranteed is a good idea, especially since the Browns already have 3 very good defensive lineman, all of which will probably start over Bryant (2 of which are younger than Bryant.) This makes no sense to me, but sometimes that’s what happens in the NFL (especially in Cleveland.)

OT Godser Cherlius- Colts- C+
To me, this is like putting a band aid on a broken wrist. How on earth does Godser Cherilus, a mediocre right tackle, get a 5 year, $34 mil contract? Cherilus is the classic example of a bad draft choice by Matt Millen. But, this move is not worth failing for a couple of reasons. First, the contract is only $10 mil guaranteed, so it doesn’t kill the cap. Second, Cherilus did have his best season last year, so maybe he is improving. Third, offensive tackle was a need for the colts, so maybe this is the short-term guy and the Colts are waiting it out. This is a bad deal, but its not egregious.

OT Jermon Bushrod- Bears- C
I actually feel bad for the Bears. Here they are, trying to get something done in free agency by signing a guy who was Drew Brees’ left tackle and statistically looks really good. But, look on film, and you will see the flaws. Yes, he gave up two sacks last year but he allowed more pressures than 28 offensive tackles last year. Drew Brees has a quick release, which is why he wasn’t sacked. Bushrod is an okay run blocker and is pretty mobile so this grade doesn’t deserve an F. But, for a 5 year, $36 mil deal with $17.7 guaranteed, Bushrod was definitely overpaid.

LB Phillip Wheeler- Dolphins- A-
The Dolphins want to win free agency, and they have had mixed reviews. One signing I did like was Wheeler. Wheeler isn’t a household name, but was a dynamic player for the Raiders last year (their only one.) He replaces the aging Kevin Burnett, and is a major upgrade. He is 28, versatile, and is best when stopping the run, which is something Miami could have improved on last year. For 5 year, $26 mil with $13 mil guaranteed, I think this is a pretty good deal.

LB Eric Walden- Colts- F
And the first F goes to the Colts. Walden was nearly cut by the Packers last year after a horrific end of the regular season followed by a bad playoff game against the 49ers. Walden would have to compete for backup on most teams, let alone deserve a 4 year, $17.5 mil contract with $8.6 mil guaranteed. Maybe the Colts think that he can maximize his potential on a worse defense with a worse coordinator having to play Arian Foster and Chris Johnson twice a year. Walden is actually worse than any 5th or 6th round scrug the Colts could have drafted. By the way, if a player is 27 and has been on 5 different teams, that’s probably a good reason to think he shouldn’t be given $17.5 mil.

TE Marty Bennett- Bears- B-
Bennett is one of the laziest players in the NFL, but has tremendous talent. In Dallas and New York, he had some amazing plays but was ultimately outbid by someone else who thought they could make him work harder in both situations. I don’t think Mark Trestman is more motivating than Tom Coughlin though. The contract is nice though, 4 year $20 mil for a guy with tons of upside is a good bet- just not a great one.

LB Quinton Groves- Browns- B+
Groves is a first round bust who got a chance to prove himself one last time in Arizona last year. He played well enough to earn a 2 year, $2.8 mil contract with the Browns. I don’t like that Cleveland is stockpiling mediocre players, which is ultimately what Groves has amounted to be thus far in the NFL. But, this is one of those signings that ultimately wont amount to much so its hard to give it a bad grade. It is an above average signing.

CB Greg Toler- Colts- D
Oh gosh. The Colts swing and miss again. Toler is a below average cornerback with a history of injury problems. He didn’t start for the 5-11 Cardinals last year. Why on earth would a 3 year, $15 mil contract solve that? Toler is a fine backup and can maybe step in a game or two against Jacksonville, but that’s about it. He is a scrug who got paid like he is worth something.

TE Jared Cook- Rams- B
Jared Cook has played, at best, inconsistently in his NFL career and, at worst, poorly. Cook is a name you hear more often then you should because he is athletic and can be put on the highlights. That being said, if there is one guy that can fix him, it is the guy that drafted him: Jeff Fisher. Yes, a 5 year, $35.1 mil deal with $19 mil guaranteed looks like way too much for him but here’s why I like the move. Cook is a big target, something that St. Louis doesn’t have. The defense will have to focus some attention on him so this will help ease the offense, if nothing else. And Sam Bradford is much better than Jake Locker, so that will help make this move better. Also, Cook took advantage of the media hype, so this move had a lot to do with the market as well. I may be taking a risk here, but I kind of like the move.

S Pat Chung- Eagles- A
This is the best move the Eagles have made in free agency in a long time. Chung is a low risk/high reward player who is a potential pro bowler. For New England, he was the only staple of the secondary and for a 3 year, $10 mil deal, is totally worth it. If Chung plays well, he can finally set the Eagles miserable secondary straight. If not, then he at least adds a veteran, stable and winning presence to a team with a lot of turmoil. Yes, he hasn’t been the healthiest NFL player, playing in 20 of the last 32 regular season games. But, that’s what the Eagles paid for: a guy who can play 70% of games at a high level. This is a great deal for both sides.

TE Delaine Walker- Titans- B
Walker will help with run blocking, but the Titans are a mess in the receiving game as well. Having a solid tight end for Locker is a must and Walker just doesn’t provide that for this team. He gets an A for Chris Johnson but a C for Locker, which gives this move a B overall. At 4 years, $17.5 mil with $8.6 guarenteed, the contract suffices for the talent level. If the Titans can lock down a more receiving tight end in the draft, then this deal makes sense. I’m a little nervous, though, about Walker as a starting receiving tight end for a team that needs that player.

*CB Chris Houston- Lions- C
I have never been a fan of Chris Houston. I thought he was a pedestrian corner in Atlanta and was too risky when he came to Detroit. He can get the picks, but he will also surrender touchdowns (watch the Atlanta game.) Giving him a 5 year, $25 mil contract is way overpriced, especially since they also need two more corners. I would rather just start over, since Houston has shown that he is too inconsistent to be a #1 cornerback in this league.

G Donald Thomas- Colts- A-
Phew! The Colts actually make a smart move here. The Colts spent 4 year, $14 mil on a guy who helped block Tom Brady last year, and did a pretty good job at it. He is young, athletic and fills a need. The question with him is whether he was more of a product of New England or if he is a genuine talent. This guy has the potential to be a 5-6 year fix with the Colts and, if nothing else, adds a veteran presence with relatively little cost.
FB Jerome Felton- Vikings- A
Great deal for a great player- 3 years, $7.5 mil for a pro bowl fullback. Makes sense.

DT Jason Jones- Lions- C+
Jones is a situational pass rusher and not much more. Detroit has a good defensive line but, in a 4-3, you can never have enough young pass rushers. A 3 year, $9.5 mil contract would be good if he was a starter, but I think is a little high for a guy who will only be in a few plays per game. If he produces 8 sacks next year, then it is worth it. But, more likely, he will produce 4-5 which is why this grade is a little below average. Just an example, he played the same role last year in Seattle, where he had only 3 sacks last year and 10 total tackles.

G Louis Vasquez- Broncos- A
What a great deal! The Broncos get the best player on San Diego last year (mind you division rival) who was also a borderline pro bowl player last year. Vasquez wont get the hype that other players will but he is certainly worth more because of his great size and mobility combination. He single handedly upgrades the Broncos from an average to a good offensive line. What’s more he signed a 4 year, $23.5 mil contract with only $13 mil guaranteed. And, he’s only 25! This may be the best deal in free agency so far.

WR Donnie Avery- Chiefs- C
Avery is explosive but is also unreliable. A 3 year, $11 mil deal is a lot to ask of a guy who will probably be the 3rd wide out on the team. Sure, he fits into the Chiefs offense, but his reoccurring injuries along with his multitude of drops means this is a risky move for the Chiefs.

RB Rashard Mendenhall- Cardinals- A-
People give Mendenhall a hard time, but the truth is that it is not his fault. He played in only 6 games last year and, although only 25, plays like he is 31 because of his bad knees. That said, he has also rushed for 1,000 yards twice in his career so he is not totally worthless. As of now, he is best as a 5-10 carries a game back, which is how Arizona will use him. For a 1 year, $2.5 mil deal, I think Mendenhall is worth it. He wont put up big stats, maybe ever again, but he can be a very solid player in his role. And if he sucks, then cutting him would barely touch the cap.

FS Dashon Goldson- Buccaneers- B
This all depends on what the Bucs do with Ronde Barber. Goldson is a top 5 NFL safety and goes to a team that just spent a high first round pick on a safety. Sometimes, I think the Buccaneers have no idea what to do with their money. Cornerback was clearly a much bigger need for them. Back to Barber, though. Barber played well last year, but is 38! Goldson would help the back half of this secondary tremendously although he is not much of an upgrade over last year’s version of Barber. But, I think the Bucs understand that Barber will start declining and had to pounce on Goldson. And, I also understand that Goldson will make a corner’s job easier. But, the contract is pricy: 5 year, $41.35 mil with $22 mil guaranteed. This is a risky move and ultimately will end up pretty average for them. I think Goldson will protect against deep passes, but can’t do it all.

RB Reggie Bush- Lions- B
Reggie Bush is the most talked about player for someone who can produce so little. I mean, he is god for like 5 games, and then either injured or pedestrian for the rest of the year. He was used effectively as a scat back for the Saints, then was good for one season as the feature back in Miami. And then inconsistent play and injuries caught up to him and he rode most of last year on the bench. Bush, now 28, hopefully realizes he must return back to the scat back he was as a Saint. And the 4 year, $16 mil contract looks like that. But, I am still concerned about his reliability especially with only 2-3 more years of potential productivity. I could see Bush spending more time on the side line then on the field, and when on the field, not being as good as expected.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Free Agency Updates! 3/13/13

WR Mike Wallace- Dolphins- B+
Mike Wallace is a dangerous wide receiver who is a legitimate #1 threat in the NFL. He is a speedster who is also tall enough to grab balls over his head. Many that call him a one trick pony did not watch many Steelers games over the past few years. Yes, Wallace specializes as a deep threat but he can catch a curl or a slant pretty well too. But there are a few reasons why this move is a far cry from perfect. First, Wallace is inconsistent. He will explode one game and be gone for the next three. The Dolphins need him to show up every week due to their lack of talent elsewhere. Second, Wallace dropped the second most passes last year, which feeds into the inconsistency argument above. His locker room presence can also negatively affect the locker room and was probably one of the two main reasons that he was not franchised by the Steelers. The other reason was $- Wallace signed a 5 year, $65 mil contract with $30 mil guaranteed. That’s a lot of money to pay for a guy with the negatives listed above. In the end, I still think the positives outweigh the negatives, which is why this move gets a B+. I wouldn’t be surprised if Wallace flunks in South Beach, though.

LB Paul Kruger- Browns- A
This grade may be modified depending on the guaranteed $, but let’s assume the deal is a 5 year, $41 mil with $20 mil guaranteed (as it is projected to be.) Kruger was the defensive MVP for the Ravens last year but Ray Lewis overshadowed Kruger’s outstanding performance (especially in the Super Bowl.) Kruger had 13.5 sacks last year and was dominant in the playoffs. The Browns have needs almost everywhere so getting one of the top three free agents available was smart. The Browns are moving to a 3-4, so they need a rush linebacker. Why not get one of the best? Some will complain that Kruger’s inexperience and big contract are reasons to be wary of this deal. Kruger may not have the amount of starts that other guys have, but being apart of the Ravens’ organization has certainly prepared him to step into Cleveland and make a big impact. The contract is big, true, but it is not massive. And, if the deal ends up being $20 mil guaranteed, then cutting him after a few seasons if he doesn’t work wont hurt the cap as badly. I don’t know is Kruger will be a pro bowler, or even if this deal will work out. I do know, though, that Kruger was probably the most important player for Cleveland to get this off-season. The money is well worth it for a Super Bowl starter who just turned 27 and is entering his prime.  

G Andy Levitre- Titans- A
This grade also depends on the guaranteed $ but lets assume it is a 6 year, $46.8 mil with $24 mil guaranteed. Many would call Levitre the top player in the market and a top 3 guard in the league. The Titans have struggled with their offensive line, so locking up at least two guards was a must this offseason. One of them being Levitre is a big deal. For those that have wondered why Chris Johnson has struggled over the past two seasons, watch the tape. The Titans cannot block anyone. Levitre was a “break the bank” type player, so that’s why the Titans offered him such a massive deal. Also, if one is going to break the bank for a player, guard may be the safest position. Yes, a lot of players do go easy after getting big bucks, but that is less so for guards. And, like Kruger, the contract isn’t enormous so cutting Levitre in a few years will not kill the Titans. This move was a no brainer but of ultimate importance for the Titans.