Archive for the ‘College Football’ Category
Draft Pick: Round 2 Pick 38
San Diego Chargers
Strengths- Football I.Q.
In terms of overall awareness and football intelligence, Te’o is one of the most NFL ready players of the entire Rookie class this year. A star player during his final year at Notre Dame, he ranks third all-time in the schools illustrious history with 437 total tackles.
Te’o is an instinctive player and a solid tackler. He also has all the tools necessary to become a leader on the Chargers defense given his experience of being a team captain in college.
If I had to pick a comparison for Te’o, his game reminds me very much of Luke Kuechly who was a top-ten pick in last year’s Draft and is now a standout player for the Carolina Panthers. He may not have the same amount of athleticism as Kueckly has though and that is a concern.
Te’o ran a 4.82 40 time at the NFL Combine which left many scouts and coaches disappointed. Although he did improve on that time slightly by running a 4.78 at his Notre Dame pro day, neither 40 time signifies a great amount of speed.
That lack of quickness shows on tape for Te’o and it appears to be the standout question mark surrounding his talents on the field. There’s no doubting his tackling ability, but he needs to improve his burst if he is going to get in a position to make plays in the NFL.
There is one other obvious weakness for Te’o and that is the elephant in the room.
Why should we watch out for him?
It should be clear to NFL fans and anyone who has ever visited http://deadspin.com/ why we should watch out for Te’o. This 22-year-old isn’t your typical second round draft pick and that’s because the former Notre Dame star received worldwide attention earlier this year. Unfortunately for Te’o, this wasn’t the attention he would have been looking for.
The story has been widely reported over the past few months and is something that most fans are probably tired of discussing. Whilst some analysts may consider this issue irrelevant to his professional career, I think it is something he will have to deal with during his Rookie season.
The San Diego Chargers have done a fantastic job in protecting Te’o from any further embarrassment since he was drafted by the team in the second round back in April. The media haven’t been given excessive access to Te’o during recent minicamps which has left him to concentrate on matters on the field rather than on answering questions off it.
All reports coming out of Chargers camp this summer are that Te’o has looked great in practice and he will start alongside Donald Butler at middle linebacker this year. The problem for Te’o begins once the summer ends and the regular season begins.
So far, there have been no incidents of rookie hazings or any animosity towards Te’o from inside the Chargers locker room but the same cannot be said for opposing players and especially rival fans. I’m sure opposing teams will use his off-field controversy to target Te’o during games.
He isn’t likely to get the warmest reception from fans either. I can’t imagine that Raiders fans in the “Black Hole” will be to kind to him when the Chargers travel to Oakland on December 22nd.
Only time will tell if Te’o is mentally strong enough to deal with the inevitable question marks that are to come.
There is my scouting report on Manti Te’o.
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Position: Offensive Tackle
Draft Pick: First Overall
Kansas City Chiefs
Strengths- Pass blocking
Fisher is a dominant pass blocker.
Throughout his four years playing for Central Michigan, he consistently showed off his tremendous blocking ability. He was also named as a First-Team All-American in his senior season.
At 6 ft 7 inches tall and 306 lbs, he has the ideal frame for a starting tackle in the NFL. The Chiefs will be looking to Fisher to contribute early in his career and he is likely to start straight away.
He will be protecting their new quarterback Alex Smith in the passing game along with blocking for one of the most explosive running backs in the league in Jamal Charles.
Experience going up against effective pass rushers is my biggest issue with Fisher.
This may come as a surprise to some. The level of talent he faced in the MAC simply couldn’t have prepared him very well for the talent level he is going to face in the NFL.
Going up against players like J.J. Watt and Von Miller isn’t going to be an easy transition for the former Central Michigan star. This is why he will likely start out playing as a right tackle with Brandon Albert starting on the left side given his veteran experience.
Why should we watch out for him?
I want to see how good Eric Fisher really is.
The 22-year-old was the first offensive lineman taken with the first overall pick since the Miami Dolphins selected Jake Long back in 2008. He was also the first non-quarterback selected first overall since then.
The intriguing part of all this is that Fisher does not even come close to the type of prospect that the Dolphins selected in Long.
Long went to Michigan and played against elite competition which prepared him well for life in the NFL. He was named as an All-American twice and he also won the Jim Parker Trophy in 2007.
Fisher went to Central Michigan and certainly did not play against elite competition. This was something I addressed earlier and is one of the few question marks I have with Fisher.
Was he picked this high because of his talent or because of the less than stellar quarterback class which had no standout stars? In reality, it is likely a mixture of both.
With the only other competition for the number one overall pick coming from a fellow offensive lineman in Luke Joeckel, Fisher turned out to be the preferred pick for Andy Reid and the Chiefs.
The pressure is now on him to succeed in the NFL and show why he was picked first overall.
So that’s my scouting report on Eric Fisher.
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Last week I looked at how the offense was shaping up going into this season (see https://mrnfl.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/san-diego-chargers-post-draft-offensive-outlook/) and now it’s time to look at the defensive side of the ball.
It seems almost impossible to think that the Chargers had the number 1 ranked defense in all of football just two years ago under former defensive coordiantor Ron Rivera.
But after Rivera leaft to become the Head Coach of the Carolina Panthers last year, the Chargers defense struggled and finished the season ranked 16th in the league.
To go from the best defense in the NFL to just about average isn’t something Chargers fans were hoping for. But with the introduction of new defensive coordiantor John Pagano and after several key offseason moves like re-signing Antonio Garay, signing Jarret Johnson and drafting Melvin Ingram, the defense is looking to bounce back this season.
So what will the defense look like in 2012? Let’s find out.
Starting with the defensive line and it looks like it’s going to be a mixture of veteran leaders with promising young players at defensive end.
The team drafted UConn defensive tackle Kendall Reyes in the second round of the draft and he’ll be asked to make the transition to 3-4 defensive end for the Chargers.
Reyes will compete with last year’s first round pick Corey Liuget to start at defensive end. Liuget will be looking to improve on an inconsistent first season during which he showed flashes of potential along with rookie mistakes.
On the other side of the line and the team welcome back Luis Castillo to the mix. Castillo was initially released but has since reworked his contract to stay with the team. If he can stay clear of injuries, he should continue to be a key player for the defense. Veteran Jacques Cesaire should serve as Castillo’s backup.
Projected DE Depth Chart: LE: 1- Luis Castillo 2- Jacques Cesaire RE: 1- Corey Liuget 2- Kendall Reyes
Defensive tackle is looking like one of the strongest positions on the Chargers defense.
Antonio Garay is the only true nose tackle on the roster and he was re-signed to a new two-year deal this offseason. He is a solid run stopper who is a real force inside but is usually replaced on 3rd down passing situations.
Aside from Garay, there are two improving defensive tackles waiting in reserve.
Vaughn Martin and Cam Thomas both made solid contributions on defense last year career-high numbers last year (Martin had a career-high 47 tackles and Thomas had a career-high 4 sacks) and both will see plenty of playing time again this season.
Expect to see Martin line up at both defensive end and tackle as he is a versatile d-lineman.
Thomas will be used more at defensive tackle and should step in to replace Garay on passing downs.
Projected DT Depth Chart: 1- Antonio Garay 2- Vaughn Martin 3- Cam Thomas
A couple of familiar faces return from last season along with a few new additions at outside linebacker.
Veteran Jarret Johnson was signed as a free agent acquisition from the Baltimore Ravens and is expected to start alongside Shaun Phillips. Johnson is an experienced run stopper and Phillips will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing year in which he had a career-low 3.5 sacks.
Waiting in reserve are rookie Melvin Ingram and Antwan Barnes. Barnes was the team leader last year with 11 sacks and should continue to fill in for Shaun Phillips as a pass rushing specialist.
Ingram will be used at a number of positions in his rookie year and could possibly have an Aldon Smith-type impact for the Chargers. Despite the fact that he isn’t likely to start, don’t be surprised to see Ingram finish the year with 10 sacks.
Finally we get to former first-round pick Larry English. English is entering his fourth season with the team and has just 7 sacks in his NFL career. He should see some playing time as a converted DE/OLB pass rusher.
Projected OLB Depth Chart: LOLB: 1- Jarret Johnson 2- Melvin Ingram 3- Larry English ROLB: 1- Shaun Phillips 2- Antwan Barnes
Both starting middle linebackers from last year stay in tact as Takeo Spikes looks set for a second season starting alongside Donald Butler.
Spikes will be hoping to follow up his successful first season with the team in which he had over 100 tackles. Butler is still improving and will only get better in his second year as a starter.
In reserve, Demorrio Williams and Jonas Mouton are expected to serve as backups. Williams is a former Kansas City Chief who was one of the Chargers first free agent signings this offseason and Mouton is hoping to bounce back from a rookie season ending shoulder injury and could see playing time on special teams.
Projected MLB Depth Chart: 1- Takeo Spikes 2- Donald Butler 3- Demorrio Williams 4- Jonas Mouton
Cornerback apears to be the weakest position on defense going into the season. Starters Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason have both had individual issues in the past.
Jammer will be 33 years-old by the time the season starts and is clearly coming towards the end of his career. Cason can often be exposed by better quarterbacks in the league and is still showing signs inconsistency despite being a four-year veteran.
Last year’s rookies Marcus Gilchrist and Shareece Wright are the only other cornerbacks currently on the roster. Both showed signs of promise but it is still unclear if they will ever develop into full-time starters.
The Buffalo Bills recently released former Drayton Florence and the former Charger may be worth bringing back to San Diego to compete at cornerback.
Projected CB Depth Chart: 1- Quentin Jammer 2- Antonie Cason 3- Marcus Gilchrist 4- Shareece Wright
And finally we get to the safety position where Eric Weddle returns as one of the league’s best.
Weddle has been an All-Pro for the past two seasons and is coming off another impressive season in which he had 7 interceptions. He will continue to start at free safety.
Moving to strong safety and the Chargers have three players fighting for the starting role. Darrell Stuckey has yet to start a game for the Chargers and should continue to act as a backup this season, perhaps moving to play behind Weddle at free safety.
Atari Bigby is another possible option. Bigby is another offseason signing and despite being injury prone in the past, he can still be a solid contributor when healthy.
The final candidate for the starting job is rookie Brandon Taylor. Taylor was drafted in the third round and should step in to start immediately at strong safety.
Projected S Depth Chart: FS: 1- Eric Weddle 2- Darrell Stuckey SS: 1- Brandon Taylor 2- Atari Bigby
So that’s my breakdown of the San Diego Chargers Defense. Check back next week when I conclude my breakdown of the Chargers roster with a brief breakdown of the Chargers special teams.
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Now that the Draft is finally over, it’s time to look ahead to the season ahead.
The Chargers are coming off the back of a disappointing 2011 season in which the team finished 8-8 and missed the Playoffs for a second consecutive year.
However, there is hope. The team retained head coach Norv Turner and also kept faith with general manager A.J. Smith. After a busy free agency and an impressive draft class, the Chargers are looking in good shape for this year.
Over the next three weeks, I shall be breaking down the Chargers roster for the upcoming season and this week begins with the offense.
So what will the offense look like in 2012? Let’s find out.
The Chargers leader on offense is undoubtedly star quarterback Philip Rivers who is one of the best passers in the league.
Rivers was uncharacteristically inconsistent at times last season and threw a career high 20 interceptions.
However, much of this was due to the lack of weapons at his disposal and I fully expect him to bounce back this season.
Long time backup Billy Volek was released by the team back in March and was replaced by a familiar face in Charlie Whitehurst. Whitehurst spent the last two seasons competing for playing time with the Seattle Seahawks and should provide solid backup for Rivers.
Projected QB Depth Chart: 1- Philip Rivers 2- Charlie Whitehurst
Starter Ryan Mathews is coming off his first 1,000 yard rushing season and appears to be developing into one of the NFL’s best running backs.
He still has some issues with fumbles and is often injury-prone but he should be in line for another 1,000 season once again.
There are several potential backups on the current roster including rookies Edwin Baker and Michael Hayes but it’s Curtis Brinkley who is expected to win the job. As a backup, Brinkley isn’t going to be a speedy change of pace back like the way Darren Sproles was but he should still provide solid support for Mathews.
Projected RB Depth Chart: 1- Ryan Mathews 2- Curtis Brinkley 3- Edwin Baker
Former Kansas City Chief Le’Ron McClain was signed in free agency and he will serve as lead blocker for Mathews this season.
McClain is a former pro bowler during his time with the Baltimore Ravens and he should see some carries in goal line situations as a running back.
Jacob Hester will act as McClain’s backup and will also be one of the team’s key contributors on special teams.
Projected FB Depth Chart: 1- Le’Ron McClain 2- Jacob Hester
The current group of wide receivers are looking dramatically different to the ones that ended last season. There are only two recievers left on the roster (Malcom Floyd and Vincent Brown) that had a catch last year. So what’s changed?
For starters, long time number 1 receiver Vincent Jackson has left the team after signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency. Robert Meachem, Eddie Royal, Roscoe Parrish and Michael Spurlock were all signed in free agency to help replace his production.
Quarterback Philip Rivers couldn’t be much happier with this group of receivers and they should play a role in contributing to the offense this season.
Projected WR Depth Chart: 1- Malcom Floyd 2- Robert Meachem 3- Vincent Brown 4- Eddie Royal 5- Roscoe Parrish 6- Richard Goodman
Although he is coming towards the end of his career, Antonio Gates is still one of the top tight ends in the NFL. In fact, when healthy, Gates would rank behind only New England Patriots’ Rob Gronowski and New Orleans Saints’ Jimmy Graham as the league’s best. (In my unbiased opinion)
Gates has been injury-prone over the last few seasons and so the team were busy this offseason in acquiring some competition to provide depth at tight end.
Kory Sperry and Brad Taylor return from last year’s roster but I don’t expect either of them to make the final cut this time around. Veteran Randy McMichael was re-signed on a one-year deal and should serve as the primary backup to Gates.
In a surprising move, Ladarius Green was drafted in the fourth round and will bring some added speed to the tight end position. He isn’t much of a blocker but with tutoring from Gates and some solid coaching, he could go on to become a key player for the Chargers.
Projected TE Depth Chart: 1- Antonio Gates 2- Ladarius Green 3- Randy McMichael 4- Dante Rosario
Unlike other areas on offense, the offensive line looks like its going to be pretty much the same as the one that ended last season.
On the left side of the line, Jared Gaither will start at tackle now that Marcus McNeill is no longer with the team and Tyronne Green will replace retired Kris Dielman at guard.
The right side will be the same as it has been for the past few seasons with Jeromey Clary at tackle and Louis Vasquez staring at guard.
Veteran Nick Hardwick was re-signed on a three-year deal and will continue to start at center.
Overall, the offensive line looks to be set and there is also plenty of depth with 15 offensive linemen currently on the roster.
Projected OL Starters: Left Tackle- Jared Gaither Left Guard- Tyronne Green Center- Nick Hardwick Right Guard- Louis Vasquez Right Tackle- Jeromey Clary
Projected OL Backups: T- Mario Henderson T/G- Brandyn Dombrowski G/C- Rex Hadnot C- David Molk
So that’s my breakdown of the Chargers offense. Check back next week for the breakdown of the defense.
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After three days and 253 picks, the 2012 NFL Draft is finally complete.
As expected, Andrew Luck was the first overall pick and he will be leading the Indianapolis Colts in their post-Peyton Manning era.
This year’s Mr. Irrelevant was quarterback Chandler Harnish and he was selected by the Colts with the 253rd pick.
The Chargers struck gold in the round 1 when South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram surprisingly fell all the way to number 18 and the team didn’t waste much time in selecting the former Gamecock.
But how did the rest of the Chargers Draft turn out? Here’s a quick recap.
Round 1: Pick 18
Melvin Ingram- Outside Linebacker- South Carolina
Pick Analysis: The Chargers couldn’t be happier with this pick as they landed the best pass rusher in the Draft without having to trade up.
What will he bring to the team: He brings speed and toughness coming off the edge and should help improve the team’s sack totals for 2012.
Verdict: Ingram was a fantastic pick by the Chargers and I’m expecting big things from him in his Rookie season.
Round 2: Pick 49
Kendall Reyes- Defensive Tackle/Defensive End- UConn
Pick analysis: The defensive-line now appears to be set with the addition of Reyes and he will become a solid contributor to the Chargers’ run defense.
What will he bring to the team: He brings a mean streak and adds plenty of power to the d-line.
Verdict: Reyes will likely play as a defensive end in the Chargers 3-4 front and play alongside last year’s first round pick in Corey Liuget.
Round 3: Pick 78
Brandon Taylor -Safety- LSU
Pick Analysis: The Chargers needed to take a safety at some point in the draft and decided to reach a little for Taylor in Round 3.
What will he bring to the team: He brings a physical presence to the secondary and will be asked to help out in run support.
Verdict: Taylor will likely challenge Atari Bigby for a starting spot at strong safety to play alongside Eric Weddle.
Round 4: Pick 110
Ladarius Green- Tight End- Louisiana-Lafayette
Pick Analysis: A surprising move to add another tight end to the mix but Green could become the eventual successor to Antonio Gates.
What will he bring to the team: He brings some much needed speed to the tight end position and at 6′ 6″ and 238 lbs, he could be a valuable red-zone target for Philip Rivers.
Verdict: Green is still a work in progress but if he can get the right coaching and learns from a future Hall of Famer in Antonio Gates, he could turn out to be a 4th round steal.
Round 5: Pick 149
Johnnie Troutman- Guard- Penn State
Pick Analysis: After going defense for the first three picks, the team went for offense again with this pick and added another body to block for quarterback Philip Rivers.
What will he bring to the team: He brings some much needed toughness and strength to the interior line and will add depth at guard.
Verdict: Troutman faces a battle at Training Camp to make the cut but he should earn a spot on the final roster as a backup for starting guards Tyronne Green and Louis Vasquez.
Round 7: Pick 226
David Molk- Center- Michigan
Pick Analysis: Offensive line is improved again with this pick as the Chargers draft a Michigan offensive lineman for the second straight year.
What will he bring to the team: He brings experience and strength as evident by his impressive career at Michigan and his 41 bench press reps at the combine.
Verdict: Molk could turn out to be a 7th round steal and the former Rimington Trophy Winner will challenge Colin Baxter to serve as Nick Hardwick’s backup.
Round 7: Pick 250
Edwin Baker- Running Back- Michigan State
Pick Analysis: With their final pick, the team decided to take a running back to provide backup for starter Ryan Mathews.
What will he bring to the team: He brings a decent combination of speed and strength and will challenge Curtis Brinkley for carries.
Verdict: Baker will have to have a solid training camp/preseason if he is going to make the final roster and faces an uphill task.
So that’s my recap of the San Diego Chargers Draft. Let’s hope these Rookies can help the team return to the Playoffs this season.
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With Round 1 out of the way, it’s time to look ahead to the second day of the draft with Rounds 2-3.
The Chargers selected Melvin Ingram with the 18th overall pick and are likely to look towards improving the defense again with their couple next picks.
Offensively, the only needs that the team should be looking to improve on are finding a new backup running back and adding depth to the offensive line.
In Rounds 2-3, the Chargers hold the 49th and 78th overall picks respectively. I shall be looking at the best players still available that may be of interest to the Chargers.
But who should the team be targeting? Let’s find out.
Position: Guard/Offensive Tackle
College: Iowa State
Height: 6′ 5″
Weight: 333 lbs
Big Board Ranking: 34th Overall
Osemele is a talented prospect but he will need a lot of coaching in the NFL. Although he has the right size and power needed to succeed as an offensive lineman, he sometimes struggles in his technique and will have to learn to improve sooner rather than later.
A dominant run blocker, He would be worth taking in the second round if he’s still available at 49 overall. With the retirement of Kris Dielman, the Chargers could use another guard. Osemele would push Tyronne Green for a starting spot at left guard.
Position: Offensive Tackle
Height: 6′ 5″
Weight: 312 lbs
Big Board Ranking: 36th Overall
Martin will be coveted by many teams early in Round 2 and so the Chargers may have to stay put and hope to get lucky just like they did with Ingram in Round 1. He was a surprise omission from the first round even though he rated as the Draft’s third best tackle behind Matt Kalil and Riley Reiff.
Martin is a solid pass protector and also a powerful and aggressive run blocker. Questions have been raised over his ability to play at left tackle in the NFL but he is more than capable of making the switch to right tackle if need be. He would compete with Jeromey Clary at right tackle.
College: North Alabama
Height: 5′ 10″
Weight: 193 lbs
Big Board Ranking: 61st Overall
With Janoris Jenkins, it’s tough to find a place to start. Take away all the off-field issues and there’s no doubting his ability as a football player.
The Chargers are looking to add another cornerback to the mix with veteran Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason as the established starters. Many teams are reportedly interested in taking Jenkins in Round 2 but that doesn’t mean he is sure to hear his name called. A.J. Smith isn’t usually willing to take a risk on a player like this but that won’t stop him from taking a look if he slips all the way to Round 3.
College: Boise State:
Height: 6′ 4″
Weight: 225 lbs
Big Board Ranking: 67th Overall
Iloka has been a solid contributor to the Boise State defense throughout his four years with the school. He is usually stout against the run but can sometimes struggle in coverage.
With Eric Weddle as the only established safety on the roster, the Chargers may be looking to bring in a player to create some competition in the secondary. After missing out on safeties Mark Barron and Harrison Smith, Iloka is the best rated player available.
Position: Running Back
Height: 5′ 8″
Weight: 194 lbs
Big Board Ranking: 76th Overall
James is likely to be highly coveted for teams looking to find a new change of pace back. An elusive runner who can also be valuable to the passing game, James would be the ideal candidate to serve as backup to starter Ryan Mathews.
Mathews is yet to complete a full season with the team and hasn’t yet shaken off his injury prone tag. With Tolbert gone to the Carolina Panthers, the Chargers are still looking for a new backup running back. If James is still available by the time the Chargers are on the clock in Round 3, look for the team to take a chance on this talented playmaker from Oregon.
So those are my possible targets for the Chargers in Rounds 2-3.
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“With the 18th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft the San Diego Chargers select…Melvin Ingram, Linebacker, South Carolina.”
That was the announcement that was made by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last night at Radio City Music Hall.
Like most Chargers fans, I couldn’t be more excited about this pick.
The team’s two biggest needs going into the first round were finding a pass rusher or safety. With Mark Barron off the board, the Chargers selected the best pass rusher available and that just so happened to be my number 1 ranked pass rusher in the entire Draft.
But what will he bring to the team? Let’s find out.
Pass Rush: Ingram’s biggest strength is his ability to rush the passer. He’s had an impressive 19 sacks during his last two seasons with South Carolina and was also named a first team all-american last year.
Versatility: For his Rookie season at least, it’s his versatility that will help out the Chargers the most. Along with being a third down pass rusher, Ingram can also be used on special teams and don’t be surprised to see him line up in a few fake punt formations this season.
Size: The biggest question mark about Ingram is his size. At 6 ft 1 and 264 lbs, some scouts have questioned his ability to play as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense but I’m confident that he should be able to make the switch.
Transition to Linebacker: He is coming from a system in college where he was playing as a 4-3 defensive end and will now be asked to make the transition to 3-4 outside linebacker. For some players, the transition can be rather easy, (see Aldon Smith) for others not so much (see Larry English).
What will his role be?
Defense: Ingram will likely be used as the team’s premier pass rusher during his Rookie season. Although he isn’t likely to see as much playing time as Shaun Phillips or Jarret Johnson, don’t be surprised to see him have 10 sacks this season.
Special Teams: Last season against Georgia, Ingram returned a 68 yard fake punt for a touchdown. Simply put, this sounds like the type of player that the Chargers could use on special teams.
Overview: The Chargers selected what many scouts considered to be the best pass rusher in the Draft and didn’t have to trade up to do so. My early verdict couldn’t possibly be much better.
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Thanks for reading.