Welcome to The 3-4, a website dedicated to NFL analysis, predictions and recent events. We wrote 32 extensive team previews and will be writing about all things football throughout the year. We will be scouting players off game tape, evaluating them, predicting NFL and NCAA games, and much more! If you would like us to write about something in particular, let us know!
Showing newest 10 of 38 posts from January 2011. Show older posts
Showing newest 10 of 38 posts from January 2011. Show older posts

Monday, January 31, 2011

The3-4.com is covering Texas vs. Nation!

Texas versus The Nation, NFLPA Game

This week from early Tuesday morning at weigh-ins, till the end of Wednesday's practices for both squads, The3-4's Alex Brown will be down in San Antonio covering the 3rd All-Star week of the NFL Draft season. Follow Alex on Twitter @abxxv25 and The3-4 @The3_4 for continued updates for the next couple of days.

After each day of practice, The3-4 will post a report on the scouted positions for the day; here is a list of the agenda:

1. Weigh-ins Tuesday morning: Will work hard to post these before practice (2/1 before noon)
2. Day 1 Practice Impressions for both squads (TX and Nation), covering OL, DL, and LB (2-1 before midnight)
3. Day 2 Practice Impressions for both squads (TX and Nation), covering QB, RB, WR/TE, and CB (2-2 before midnight)
4. Risers/Fallers from the Texas versus The Nation week (Before the game on Saturday)
5. Game Predictions (Before the game on Saturday)
6. Individual Scouting Reports on player practices (timeline TBD)

Texas vs. Nation Game, also known as the NFLPA Game

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Greg Little Scouting Report

WR Greg Little, University of North Carolina, 6'3" 220 lbs. 

Size/Ball Skills - 10 - Little possesses a well strapped together 6'3 220 frame, has long arms, and naturally plucks the ball out of the air. Brings ball in tight immediately after the catch; strong hands that really snatch the ball. 

Speed/Quickness - 9 - Has good speed to stretch the field vertically, understands how to just get open. Really quick in space and is an excellent open field runner. This has a lot to do with his background as a player. To read more about Greg Little's versatility, check out my Sleeper Special Edition.

Production - 7 - With only one full season at wide receiver, Little is somewhat a raw talent. With that being said, his production in his first season at WR in 2009 was solid (62 receptions ranking 4th all-time in UNC history, 890 all purpose yards, and 6 total touchdowns). Production is more of quality than quantity for Greg Little.

Route Running - 8 - Not very sharp in and out of his cuts, Little makes his money in the quick hitting, timing routes. Very efficient on drags and crossing patterns, Greg Little needs the ball in space where he can be most effective. Shows his great ball skills when asked to run deeper post and corner routes; Little can run the entire route tree. Bodies up his man more often than he separates, Little understands how to utilize his frame well.

Best Fit: Little would fit in with a unique offensive scheme that needs a playmaker at the wideout position. He will need more refinement in his route running ability, and Little needs a veteran presence around him to teach him the position. Best fit would be with the Baltimore Ravens, who are in desperate need for more talent at wide receiver.

X-Factor: How will teams view Greg Little, who was declared ineligible for the 2010-2011 college football season? In such a deep wide receiving draft class, will Little get lost in the mix? Greg Little's upside and current draft stock combine for one of the best bargains of the 2011 draft.

Where he will be picked: Day 2: Rounds 2 thru 3

Where he should be picked: Mid 2nd Round

NFL Comparison: Devin Thomas, New York Giants

Greg Little vs. Florida State (2009)

Greg Little vs. Pittsburgh (09)

Greg Little 2009 Highlights

What to watch for: Senior Bowl 2011

Ryan Succop, former Mr. Irrelevant of 2009

After going over the practice tape and following throughout the past season, I have listed each player by position, and also have listed their possible draft stock. The NFL Draft is broke up into three separate days: day 1 being round one, day 2 being rounds two and three, and day 3 culminating the final rounds of three through seven. From the cash in winner at pick number one, to Mr. Irrelevant*

Possible Day 1* Prospects to watch during the Senior Bowl Game
LB: Von Miller (TAMU)
DE: Cam Jordan (Cal), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue), Christian Ballard (Iowa)
OT: Derek Sherrod (MSU), Gabe Carimi (UW), Anthony Castonzo (BC), Nate Solder (CU)
J. Locker, above needs to answer questions about his accuracy within the pocket.
QB: Jake Locker (Wash.)
WR: Leonard Hankerson (Miami)

*Day 1: First Round of the 2011 NFL Draft

Possible Day 2* Prospects to watch during the Senior Bowl Game
LB: Mason Foster (Wash.), Kelvin Sheppard (LSU), Greg Jones (MSU), M. Herzlich (BC)
3-4 OLB: Brooks Reed (Arizona), Sam Acho (UT), Jeremy Beal (OU)
OT: Jason Pinkston (Pitt), James Brewer (IU), Demarcus Love (Ark.)
OG: Danny Watkins (Baylor), John Moffitt (UW), Clint Boling (Georgia), R. Hudson (FSU)
DE: Allen Bailey (Miami), Pernell McPhee (MSU)
DT: Jarvis Jenkins (Clemson), Phil Taylor (Baylor), Terrell Mcclain (USF)
CB: Kendric Burney (UNC), Rashad Carmichael (V.Tech), Jalil Brown (CU)
S: Quinton Carter (OU)
QB: Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Andy Dalton (TCU), Ricky Stanzi (Iowa), C. Ponder (FSU)
RB: Kendall Hunter (OSU), Demarco Murray (OU)
WR: Titus Young (BSU), Austin Pettis (BSU) Vincent Brown (SDSU), Niles Paul (Nebraska)
TE: Lance Kendricks (UW), Lee Smith (Marshall), D.J. Williams (Ark.), Luke Stocker (Tenn.)
D.J. Williams of Arkansas, is one of my favorite H-back/TE prospects
Williams, from what I hear, possesses 4.6 speed
 *Day 2: Rounds 2-3 of the 2011 NFL Draft

Players who need a big game
Jeremy Beal (OU)- Where does Beal best fit into the NFL game?
Greg Salas (Hawaii)- Is Salas just another Hawaii system receiver or the next Davone Bess?
Jake Locker (Wash.)- Can Locker throw within the pocket accurately versus skilled D?
Colin Kaepernick (Nevada)- How much developing will teams need to spend on Kap?
Andy Dalton (TCU)- Another spread QB or a budding NFL starter?
Christian Ponder (FSU)- Can Ponder stay healthy and does he have the arm strength?
Demarcus Love (Arkansas)- An awful week of practice, is he a tackle or guard prospect now? 
James Brewer (IU)- Are his foot injuries a thing of the past?
Casey Matthews (Oregon)- Is Casey gifted enough to be a starter like his brother Clay III?
Can Casey reach the heights of his brother's, Clay Matthews, pro career?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Quick Senior Bowl Practice Overview

Senior Bowl Practice Impressions
through practice #3

Good Surprises:

Ballard (center) "...dominated his opponents"
Christian Ballard- Displayed excellent hands and powerful rush techniques. Explosion was evident in Ballard, and at times he dominated his opponents.

Danny Watkins- Perfect guard prospect for the NFL, heavy hands, tough anchor, and bends well. Really was the only true offensive guard that jumped off the screen.

Vincent Brown- Coming into the week, I knew Brown was a special type of player, however I did not know to what degree. Brown came out against top notch corners and really looked like the most athletically gifted receiver on field. Firm hands that naturally pluck the football out of the air, and Vincent Brown got in and out of his cuts nicely.

Kendric Burney
Kendric Burney- The best cornerback in Mobile this past week, Kendric Burney showed vast improvement in man to man coverage, while making plays on the football.  Always gets his hands on the football, broke on routes quickly all week long; very aggressive football player who is physical on the line.

Bad Surprises:

Jeremy Beal- Tweener in every sense of the word, Beal doesn’t have the athleticism to truly excel at 3-4 OLB nor the size to play with his hand down. Can’t get around the edge because of a lack of burst, relies on hand usage solely for success. Great work ethic, great production, and talent doesn’t seem to matchup…

Jeremy Beal struggled versus upper level competition in Mobile, AL

Demarcus Love- Looked a little overweight, struggled mightily versus elite talent. I don’t know if he’s a better guard or right tackle prospect. Add that to the fact that all top 4 tackles (Carimi, Sherrod, Castonzo, and Solder) played excellent all week, and you have Demarcus Love sliding down draft boards

Pierre Allen- Constantly making technique errors, athleticism didn’t translate into him dominating anyone this week. Bottled up against elite offensive line talent, Pierre Allen had a very quiet week.

Late Adds:
Richard Sherman- Showed physicality in coverage. I liked his hands and hips, but really lacks the top gear necessary to play cornerback in the League. Sherman is more of a safety prospect or an instant nickel/dime cornerback; possible contributor on special teams.

Jock Sanders can contribute in KR/PR game
Jock Sanders-  Insignificant impact, but can make up with a strong Sr. Bowl game

Terrell Mcclain- Terrific East West Shrine week, obviously has got the attention of teams and scouts. The invite itself is an accomplishment.

Late drops:
Stephen Paea- Knee injury knocked him out of sr bowl week, but will not keep him out of the nfl combine.

Edmund Gates- Was beginning to leave a good impression on me until he tweaked/pulled his hamstring (unsure exactly what the injury was). Looks like a better built Johnny Knox.

Draft Risers
Future Top 10 Pick- Cam Jordan (right)
Cam Jordan-  A lock first round draft pick before the senior bowl week in my opinion, Jordan took his game to a whole new level. His sheer dominance against top notch offensive line prospects has pushed him into the Top 10 of the 2011 draft.

Titus Young-  Thanks to Mike Mayock’s gushing over Titus Young, now the cat is out of the bag. Formerly under the Boise State radar, Young is now considered to be the next coming of Desean Jackson. I was very surprised at how well his speed and versatility translated to the senior bowl week of practice; the difference in talent meant nothing to Titus Young and he showed scouts that he can excel in any circumstance.

Von Miller- One of the most explosive players in the coming NFL draft, Miller’s performance this week has been perfect from the weigh in until the last practice. He came in with bigger than expected size, long arms, and consistently beat whoever was blocking him. Very polished as a pass rusher, great hands, ability to speed rush and counter against elite blockers such as Derek Sherrod, Von Miller stood up to the top tier of o-linemen and exceeded expectations. Add him to the list of potential top 10 picks in the 2011 draft.

Keep in mind all evaluations are from the Senior Bowl Practices in the entirety of which they were aired on NFL Network

Monday, January 24, 2011

Does Jay Cutler Deserve to be Labeled a Quitter?

Never before has the football world seen anything like this. Fans, current and former players, former coaches, and analysts are all lining up to call out a player’s toughness. Publicly his teammates have shown support for Jay Cutler, but privately some teammates don’t believe Cutler did everything he could to go back out onto the field.

Chicago is a city that doesn’t let its scapegoats off very easy (See Steve Bartman). Cutler wasn’t exactly the most popular Bears player on the team before this incident, due to his high interception totals and off-putting personality, and surely now after the NFC Championship game he is the most despised. Cutler may not survive the offseason as a Chicago Bear, but is it really fair that he is receiving all this criticism?

As a lifelong Packers fan, I have seen my share of Jay Cutler. Throughout his career he has reminded me of Brett Favre without any of the leadership ability. He relies a lot on his arm strength and has a complete lack of fundamentals. His decision making ability leaves a lot to be desired, and he defiantly said after throwing 4 interceptions to DeAngelo Hall in Week 7 that he’d, “Still go after (him).” He has gotten the reputation of a jerk, which is probably part of the reason so many NFL players were quick to call out his toughness. Quite frankly Jay Cutler has a lot of traits that I would not want my starting quarterback to have, but I don’t think Cutler possesses a lack of toughness.

While most fans idolize the players who will do everything they can to play through injury, few people stop and think of what is best for the team. It’s one thing to play through an injury, but a completely other thing to be able to play well through an injury. Many analysts are comparing Jay Cutler’s situation to that of Philip Rivers’ AFC Championship game where he played on a partially torn ACL. I even listed it as the 7th toughest performance by a player this decade. However what most people forget is that Philip Rivers had a terrible game, going 19 of 37 for 211 yards and 2 interceptions with no touchdowns. Perhaps the injury really hampered Phillips’ ability and the Chargers would have been better off going with a backup.

Same thing goes for the NFC Championship game. Before coming out of the game, Cutler had gone 6 of 14 for only 80 yards and an interception. There was no indication from watching the game that Cutler was going to figure it out in time to lead the Bears to victory. It doesn’t really matter if Cutler came out of the game because of injury or ineffectiveness, because the Bears were not going to win the game the way Cutler was playing. Maybe Cutler could have stuck it out there and played through the pain like his peers would have done, but doing so likely would have been going against what’s best for the team. Bringing in 3rd string QB Caleb Hanie actually sparked the offense and gave the Bears a legitimate chance at winning the game.

Maybe if Cutler was more concerned with public perception, he would have hobbled along on the sidelines and done everything he could to look injured like a certain quarterback did this year. But that’s just not Cutler’s personality. You can blame the Bears’ loss on Cutler’s performance and I would agree, even though a terrible offensive line didn’t do him any favors. You can also admire a player’s determination to do anything he can to stay on the field and play through injury and conversely despise a player who is not willing to do so. But before people crucify Cutler, I would argue that Cutler’s rational and selfless decision to let a healthy QB play didn’t hurt the team, but ultimately gave the Bears a chance at winning. Maybe Cutler doesn’t have what it takes to be a QB in this league, but he doesn’t deserve to be given the worst label you can give to an athlete in a team sport: A Quitter.

AB's Mock Draft

Updated 1-23

AB’s Mock Draft
1. Carolina Panthers- Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
2. Denver Broncos- Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
3. Buffalo Bills- Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
4. Cincinatti Bengals- Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
5. Arizona Cardinals- Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
6. Cleveland Browns- A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
7. S.F. 49ers- Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
8. Tennessee Titans- Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
9. Dallas Cowboys- Cam Jordan, DE, Cal
10. Washington Redskins- Jake Locker, QB, Washington
11. Houston Texans- Von Miller, OLB, TAMU
12. Minnesota Vikings- Tyron Smith, LT, USC
13. Detroit Lions- Robert Quinn, DE, UNC
14. St. Louis Rams- Julio Jones, WR, Bama
15. Miami Dolphins- Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
16. Jax. Jaguars- Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
17. NE Patriots- (from Oakland Raiders) Marcell Dareus, DE, Bama
18. San Diego Chargers- Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri
19. New York Giants- Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
21. Kansas City Chiefs- Jon Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh 
22. Indianapolis Colts- Anthony Castonzo, LT, B.C.
23. Philadelphia Eagles- Gabe Carimi, RT, Wisconsin
24. New Orleans Saints- Mikell LeShoure, RB, Illinois
25. Seattle Seahawks- Ryan Mallet, QB, Arkansas
26. Baltimore Ravens- Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland
27. Atlanta Falcons- Brandon Harris, CB, Miami (Fl)
28. New England Patriots- J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
29. New York Jets- Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
30. Chicago Bears- Derek Sherrod, LT, Miss. St.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers*- Mike Pouncey, OG, Florida
32. Green Bay Packers*- Nate Solder, OT, Colorado

Slots 31 and 32 are subject to change, and represent AB’s Super Bowl pick with the GB Pack.

Feel free to comment about what your team should/should not do in the 2011 NFL Draft, as our staff will be glad to talk about the NFL with you.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

NFL Picks Against the Spread: Championship Weekend

Date & TimeFavoriteSpreadUnderdog
1/23 3:00 ETGreen Bay-3.5At Chicago
1/23 6:30 ETAt Pittsburgh-4NY Jets

Jake Locker Scouting Report

Jake Locker, QB, Washington, 6'3, 230 lbs

Size / Arm Strength: 10  Prototypical size for an NFL QB, Locker has a nice, muscular build. Locker packs a cannon of an arm, the arm strength needed to be an elite NFL quarterback. Strong bodied runner who displays a deceptive strength through contact. Can hit all areas of the field, and Locker can throw the deep post/corner routes with effectiveness.

Accuracy: 7  – Accuracy has been sporadic; great at times, awful others. Locker throws with pinpoint accuracy outside of the pocket, when flushed or on designed rollouts, but the fact remains that he has not been able to consistently throw with accuracy from within the pocket. I feel this is more of a product of the players he is playing around, rather than his inability. At times will miss wide open receivers. When comfortable in the pocket, has great ball placement, keeping the football away from defenders. Able to put the ball in tightly contested windows because of rifle arm and ball placement.

Throwing Mechanics/Footwork: 8 – Locker's throwing motion is mechanically sound. Generally does not overstride on deep throws, gets the ball out with a quick release, and his hips generate a ton of throwing velocity. Hips, athleticism, and release are easily seen when Locker works the short and screen passing game. When he climbs the pocket, he has shown the ability to really drive the football down the middle of the field. 

Windup is quick and efficient, no wasted movement, and Locker rips through the ball. Ball really shoots out of his hand, once again, strong arm and excellent velocity.

Sets and fires quickly and accurately in the short passing game; Hybrid QB that I envision changes the dynamics of the WCO to suit his personal strengths (obviously consisting of short-intermediate and screen game, but also add QB designed runs, and also deep attacking rollout throws).

Footwork within the pocket is inconsistent at best, doesn't always plant and deliver. Jumpy feet in the pocket, and really presses the issue when faced with a pass rush. Footwork outside the pocket on designed rollouts is actually quite impressive, keeping balance and fluidly shifting his hips into position. Best rollout passer heading the 2011 QB draft class.

Mobility/Athleticism: 10 - Very mobile quarterback, Locker has elite speed for any position. A 4.4's 4.5's runner in the 40 yard dash, Locker has the acceleration to reach top speed quickly, and his low center of gravity allows him to avoid and/or break tackles. Extremely fast and explosive, a playmaker whose ability to avoid the rush rivals even the unstoppable Cam Newton, Heisman winner and BCS National Champion. At his best when throwing on the run, moving the pocket, and utilizing his physical attributes. 

Intangibles/Decision-Making: 8 – A 4 year starter, Locker became the face of the Huskies football team; a leader on and off the field, Locker seems to be a great locker room presence. Having spent 2 years under Steve Sarkisian, a well profiled QB coach, Locker has a high football IQ and is devoted inside the film room. He is the hardest worker on his team and a constant competitor, even in defeat.

Decision making is a question mark. Locker forces the issue when faced with pressure, leading to ill advised turnovers. Gets away with some throws that will be picked off in the NFL. Has a really hard time handling long pass reads, doesn't allow routes to develop. Limited field vision.

Has an edge about him; the football savvy/mentality of a Phillip Rivers. Able to fight through adversity/injury, and has the fortitude to put the team on his back.  

Production: 8   – Locker burst onto the scene as a freshman, rushing for 13 TDs and throwing for 14 TDs. However his interceptions outnumbered his TDs, throwing 15 INTs. Locker continually progressed the next few years, lowering his interception rate, increasing his passing touchdowns, and completing a higher percentage of passes. Considered the top candidate for the top overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Locker decided to return to school and finish his career at Washington. A bad decision to say the least, Locker suffered from a weak supporting cast. His touchdowns dropped from 21 his junior season, to 17 this past season, while his interception rate decreased from 11 his junior season, to 9 this past season. 

Best fit: A team with a coaching staff that is great with the development of young quarterbacks, and is committed to his success in the NFL. Buffalo to me is not a good fit at all, seeing how he would have similar receiving options and another porous offensive line. Seattle to me is the best fit, as Pete Carroll has a history in producing QBs at USC. Their style of a West Coast Offense, which attacks a defense with short pass game, quick hitting screens, and rollouts, suits Locker's skill set well. Also the offensive line is developing with potential to be good, and he would have a bevy of young receiving options in TE John Carlson and WRs Mike Williams, Ben Obumanu, and Golden Tate.

X-Factor: Can Jake Locker convince teams that his unique skill set will translate into immediate NFL success? Or will teams see him as a player needing an extended period of development? This alone will determine the draft range of Locker, but even more of a factor is how teams view the other quarterbacks in the draft.

Each of the next top 3 QBs pegged as possible first rounders (Gabbert, Newton, and Mallet), has their own unique problem or cause for concern. Here is a quick synopsis of their weaknesses.

Gabbert to me, has an issue climbing the pocket, keeping his poise in the pocket under pressure, and is unable to consistently extend a broken play. That ability of extending the play is a must in the NFL nowadays. Don't get me wrong, he has mobility and speed, but struggles to extend the play.

Cam Newton has character issues; with the illegal solicitation by his father and also being labeled by some NFL scouts as having a "Me personality". I am a die hard Auburn fan (my father is alumni, and my family lives in Alabama), however I am not ignorant of these very real concerns. This combined with his unpolished footwork inside the pocket, will pose real concerns to NFL organizations.
Ryan Mallett has character concerns that may be blown out of proportion or actually just hidden for the moment. Mallet aside from those issues, has a huge problem when faced with pressure. His big frame is unable to reset his feet and avoid the rush. Also trusts him arm strength too much, throwing into highly contested windows. Reminds me of Jay Cutler in a way.

I do not have the resources or the facts to establish these claims of character concerns, but NFL teams are sure to have done their own investigative work. Thus both Mallett's and Newton's draft stock is going to be determined based on these NFL team's findings. 

I believe Jake Locker's issues to be more easily corrected, and at the same time, feel he is the most talented quarterback in the draft.

Where he will be picked: Late 1st/ Early 2nd Round

Where he should be picked: 1st Round

NFL Comparison: John Elway, Denver Broncos

Extra Notes: On the Elway comparison, I am not trying to just throw Jake Locker into the HOF automatically. By no means do I mean that. Rather I would like to just remark that his innate athleticism, physical strengths, and overall work ethic, make it a distinct possibility that he could become a very good NFL QB. Elway is one in a million...But his NFL career didn't exactly start off smoothly....He worked his craft, devoted himself to success, and overcame a lot of adversity in becoming one of the great QBs of all time. Jake Locker similarly will have a long way to go, in terms of developing into an elite level quarterback.

Here are some interesting facts: 

1) Locker and Elway have similar athletic ability, mobility, and arm strength

Jake Locker runs a reported 4.4 40 yd dash (more than likely a 4.5); John Elway ran a 4.6...

Both were characterized in college as having outstanding arm strength, but inconsistent accuracy. Both players had similar issues with interceptions; Locker- evident in college and Elway- evident in the pro's. "Gunslinger mentality"

2) Both played in the Pac-10, had similar win-loss records, and lack of success in terms of bowl wins.

John Elway played for Stanford, Jake Locker for Washington

John Elway was 20-23 as a starter, and Jake Locker was 15-24; both losing records.

The two combined for only 1 bowl game victory; Jake Locker the only one of the two with even a bowl appearance, let alone a bowl win.

3) John Elway was listed as 6'3, 215 lbs; Jake Locker is currently listed as 6'3, 230 lbs....

Jake Locker Junior season highlights

Jake Locker Senior season highlights

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Packers: The Team to Root For

With only four teams left in the playoff picture there is a pretty good chance that your team is not in the running. The question for most NFL fans become 'who should I root for?' I think the obvious answer to this question and the team that most people are pulling for is the Green Bay Packers.

Why the Packers?

1. Aaron Rodgers - You have to like the way Rodgers goes about his business. Rodgers was snubbed in the draft and was passed up by his home town team the 49ers (who picked QB Alex Smith who is considered a bust at this point). He had to wait as 23 more teams passed on him only to be drafted by the Packers and sit behind QB Brett Favre. Instead of complaining, Rodgers sat quietly and waited his turn even though he was probably the better quarterback. When he finally got a chance to start in 2008 he played really well (28 TDs -13 INT) in essentially his rookie year. Since then he has quietly become one of the best quarterbacks in the league. You don't see Rodgers in lots of commercials or constantly in the media like the quarterbacks that lead some of the other playoff teams. Rodgers just goes to work and does his job and leaves the media focus for others, you have to respect a guy like that.

2. They are the best option left - It is really tough to root for the rest of the teams in the playoffs. You have the Jets who love talking almost as much as winning. I loved Hard Knocks and thought Rex Ryan and the players were a really fun team to watch. But now the trash talk and cocky attitude are just getting tiresome, its like hearing a song you like on the radio over and over until you begin to hate it. The Bears are likable except for their whinny quarterback Jay Cutler who is the epitome of a spoiled superstar. Then there is the Steelers, I don't think any fan wants to see them win again, because winning would mean they have become a dynasty. Unless its your team, no one likes seeing a dynasty.

3. Packer Fans - Its hard to imagine what its like being a Packer fan. Brett Favre coming out of retirement only to sign with the Packers rival the Minnesota Vikings was probably the worst day in Packers fans history. They found out a guy they idolized and believed in did not care as much about them. You have to be pulling for the Packers and there fans. If they can win the super bowl, and I think they have the best chance, then Favre and his antics will be long forgotten.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sleeper Special Edition: Highlighting Greg Little

Greg Little, WR, UNC, 6'3 220 lbs*
*estimated height and weight: Official UNC player profile

Over the past college football season, I have spent ALL day on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as studying prime time games throughout the week, in preparation for the NFL Draft; evaluating and scouting NFL talent.

However in my "scouting", my resources for game tape was DirectTV tivo recordings that I cut around with the remote, and other game tape that is showcased on Youtube™. All the while attending a major collegiate university full-time.

Needless to say, I believe I have not been thorough enough in my evaluations, and will learn from the past season's experience, and improve on my mistakes.

Now to the bit; sleeper special? Everyone talks about, "their" sleepers, so what? Well first off I want to clarify the reason for my new edition.

Every college draft, no matter what the talent pool may hold, has its booms and busts. More busts than booms. I am not trying to be cute or funny, but quite frankly it's so damn unpredictable how successful late round talents can be (i.e. Trent Green, Tom Brady, Kurt Warner, Marc Bulger- also note that 3 of those 4 VERY successful QB's played for St. Louis. I credit the player personnel department.), and how unsuccessful high round draft picks can be (i.e. Ryan Leaf, Cade McNown, Tim Couch, Ki-Jana Carter, Jamarcus Russell..etc).

I could write 500 scouting reports and it wouldn't matter because for one, I'm not doing the drafting or advising, and two, you guys (and girls) like to read interesting articles or something different than the rest. I do want to say that we as The3-4 will continue scouting reports, and that was just a point for my reasoning in creating this type of article.

In essence, my goal is to highlight the lesser hyped ESPN™and NFLNetwork™prospects, and promote a deeper prospect pool for the general fan bases to think about on draft day. Everyone who watches the draft is between one and/or all of these descriptions; A) Is a football nerd. B) Has a friend/former alum/SOMEONE SOMEHOW CONNECTED WITH YOU ...facebook does count for some weirdos. C) a College/NFL fan wanting to see how your team "does" in the draft, or how many players come from your school...Which in reality is impossible to predict (success/failure of draft) during the immediate hours following the draft. or D) Are actually affiliated with the NFL, NCAAF, or Athlete management (I.E. agent(s)).

With that being said, an hour ago to this day I would not have thought I would be writing this article, but reading over additional materials on smwwearena.com I stumbled across Structure Organization of player personnel departments and most notably Positional Breakdowns for an unspecified NFL team.

In reading over the positional breakdown of wide receivers in particular, a few phrases stood out to me:
"Former running backs that are converted are best when they have the ball in their hands.  Even former HS running backs have those traits.  We want players that are good with the ball in their hands"
"In High School what position did he play?...Can he add to the return game?"
and finally; "Does he score touchdowns?  Big time players make big time plays.  Need scores from the great ones."
First thing I thought of was Greg Little of UNC.

Now obviously, due to "Agent Gate" (scroll down to the paragraph following the Cam Newton 2010 description) Little and other UNC players were declared ineligible for play in the 2010 season. Early on I knocked the players "character" and "integrity", but have now drawn the conclusion that it is a two way avenue, and the agents are just as much if not more guilty than the college players. These kids were foolish in their judgement, but swindled altogether by the greedy and selfish agents.

The reason I thought of Little was that I had heard people mention his former days in HS and even at UNC playing the running back position. I never gave it much attention, but by reading the position breakdown (for what team I do not know), I realize the importance entirely.

Guys who can get out into space, make plays after the catch, secure the ball downfield and NOT FUMBLE THE GAME AWAY...

...those are the players I want on my football team. Multiple position ability in high school and college means two things 1) he's the best athlete on the team and 2) he is unselfish and willing to put team goals ahead of personal goals.

On UNC's profile of Greg Little, it had this to say of his high school achievements:
"High School: SuperPrep All-America • USA Today All-America selection • Ranked the No. 2 player in the state of North Carolina and the No. 6 athlete in the country by SuperPrep • Member of Tom Lemming's All-America team • Has been hailed by most recruiting analysts as the most versatile player in the country• Excelled at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, linebacker, safety and cornerback while helping Hillside to a 10-3 finish • As a senior, had 55 catches for 969 yards and nine touchdowns as a receiver, 800 yards on 140 carries and 14 touchdowns as a running back and four interceptions on defense • Returned one interception for a touchdown • Named the Gatorade Player of the Year in North Carolina • All-conference selection • Coached by Ray Harrison • Also competed in basketball and track and field • "

Woah! I was blown away after reading that on my "background check" on Greg Little. Not only was he the best athlete on his team and debatably in the state of North Carolina, but Little was "...hailed by most recruiting analysts as the most versatile player in the country."

Stat busters, talent risers, and freakish athletes pop up all the time, yet are they always successful? To be for certain, an evaluator has got to take into consideration his production and specifically versus comparable talent. Do they dominate lesser competition? I mean without a doubt. Little things like that go a long way in whether or not a kid's talent translates to the NFL level.

Here are Greg Little's statistics according to ESPN.com

Hakeem Nicks: One of UNC's all-time greats
I do like the fact that in his first full year as a WR, he hauled in the fourth most receptions all-time in UNC history with 62 catches (Hakeem Nicks leads all-time with 74 receptions). He also led UNC with over 1,100 all purpose yards- 85 yards amassed per game.

Now you may sit and look at this stat sheet as, "...well he's unproven and hasn't put up numbers like other draft prospects." Jerrel Jernigan without a doubt is a top notch draft prospect, I'm just choosing the best 4 year career to compare Little to.

If you get right to the matter, Greg Little was asked to do these certain things- run, catch, and make an impact on the offense- and he did those things very well. From an offensive standpoint, Little generated 1,774 yards on just 252 touches (rushing or receiving) during his 3 year career at UNC. That's over 7 yards every time he touched the football!

3 yards and a cloud of dust? I'll take 7 yards and a Lombardi Trophy!

Until next time...