Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Arizona Cardinals 2014 draft grades: Deone Bucannon

#27 Deone Bucannon  SS  Washington State, 6-1 211.

There are four different aspects to this pick: the trade from #20, potential trades back, who else was available, and the prospect.

The trade from #20.  Picking up 91 while only moving back 7 spots at 27 is a nice gift.  However, the Browns are a team I targeted right away to trade with and we passed.  Two picks later the Eagles got 83 from them to only move back to 26.  It’s reasonable to assume we missed a +7 gain in the 80’s on this trade.  Two assumptions here: first Keim screwed up and didn’t persuade Cleveland strong enough, or second Cleveland is stupid.  There is so much evidence to the latter that I’m going with it. 

The second thing to consider in the trade back is who we passed on: Cooks, Dix, Manziel, Ford, Dennard, Verrett, and Smith.  Only Dix and Dennard were real considerations.  I’m actually a bigger fan of Deone at SS than Dix at FS so I like the pass here.  Dennard hurts.  He’s a legit all purpose CB.  But he doesn’t quite help us now and we got a 91 out of it. 

Potential trades back:  5 picks later at 32, Seattle trades back with the Vikes to 40 and picks up 108.  I was pining for another trade back, because 40 is the perfect spot to land Deone, right before the Rams and the Bears.  Or so I thought.  As it turns out the Niners picked up Jimmie Ward at 30 and rumor had it the Patriots wanted Deone at 29, which might be why they reached a bit for Easley.  It looks like Keim used his Spidey Sense well here. 

Who else at #27?  Teddy Bridgewater, that’s who.  I still have him atop my target list.  I just think this is a mistake sacrificing the potential future for the potential present.  Even though Deone should play for a while, Teddy is a solid QBoF prospect and he’s a steal at #27.  This will be the one that Deone is ALWAYS held up against.  Just like Levi was to A.P. or Housler to Justin Houston.  Passing on Teddy downgrades the selection.

Outside of him I have no one that much better than Deone.  This is my 2nd best choice.

Deone Bucannon:  A great prospect.  He will fit perfectly into our system.  I love his size and athleticism.  He has good instincts and throws his body into harms way for his team.  He can cover a TE, but needs some more work to become elite.  Seems to have the desire to do so.  He will help the run the way Bell did.  He will help the pass way better than Bell did. 

Overall Grade: A-

Sunday, March 9, 2014

10 reasons to not sign Branden Albert

I’ve been pretty reluctant to buy in on signing Brendan Albert.  Yes, he’s an upgrade over Sowell.  But I’d estimate the Cost/Production ratio is rather high.  I do not think we should sign him and here are a number of reasons why.

1.  $10M does not properly reflect his overall value to a team.  The only reason I’d offer him close to $8M is because our LT is so awful.  (I’d rather give it to Anthony Collins). 

2.  He is lazy when he run blocks.  He graded out okayish this year on the run, again. (I’ll admit that his “laziness” could be due to playing with an injured back.  But isn’t that still bad?)

3.  He missed 4 games last year with back issues.  Big guys and bad backs don’t mix.

4.  He gets lots of penalties:  2 illegal formations, ties him for most in the league.  5 false starts, 5th most in the league.  3 offensive holding calls, very middle of pack.  And remember, this was only in 12 games.  Project him at 16 games and you get 2.7 IF (1st), 6.7 FS (4th), 4 OH (top 40, negligibleish.  Remember this is out of 160 starters, which puts him in the top 25%)

5.  He reaches when he pass protects.  (He also does it when he run blocks).  He’s very athletic so he can compensate well, but he doesn’t use his feet correctly.  That will hurt him against elite pass rushers in a pass heavy offense.

6.  His offense ran tons of screen plays for an elite pass catching RB. (Charles had 104 targets. 1st for RBs)  They ran the ball a lot (top ten in rush attempts, bottom ten in pass attempts).  The defense was always on their heels because of Charles, which gave him an advantage.  The combination of screens and runs might have masked his deficiencies in pass protection.

7.  In years past he did not handle his contract situation like a professional.  Going through the media was not wise.  When we’re hearing him whine all the way in AZ., something is wrong.

8.  He just played in a contract year, and even then he wasn’t elite.

9.  Eric Fisher was very shaky at RT before he got injured.  Even then, KC would rather go with Fisher than Albert at LT.  That screams warning.

10. He was charged with 4.5 sacks allowed this season (Washington Post).  That projects to 6 sacks if he played 16 games (against a very middle of the pack division in sacks: 13th, 18th, and 23rd).  It’s certainly not bad, but for a guy expecting to make his $10M PRIMARILY off of pass protection that is a sour number.  (Again, look at opponents and type of offense)

For my money, I’d rather sign Collins.  Sure, only one year to go on, but it was a dang good year.  Monroe gave up a lot of sacks (8.5 and a new offense), but he’s still worth the money over Albert. 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Earl Watford

I was listening to Kent Somers on MJ’s show yesterday who reported that the coaching staff is liking what they see from Earl Watford.  He’s hit the weight room and really used his one year on the bench to his advantage.  This is potentially great news.  If this guy can just become an average starting RG then he’ll be a huge boom to the line.  Somers also said that he thought they view Fanaika as a back up (which he would be a solid one). 

With Cooper coming back at LG the assumption was that Colledge (who’s contract is untenable) would take a pay cut and move to RG.  But Keim/BA didn’t draft Watford in the 4th to sit, especially if he’s making progress.  That could leave Colledge without a starting gig.  If he was willing to become a back up he’d be the BEST back up in the NFL.  Remember, he can play T, G, and C if needed.  Plus, he’d still be a solid leader in the locker room.  However, I wouldn’t advise him to do it, because he could start for half the teams out there.  If he stays we might have something we haven’t had in quite a while… a plethora of startable Gs.  

Therefore, drafting or signing a G would make little impact on our team for the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tackle prospects analysis

So I've been storing up my prospect list on my computer.  I need to start clearing these out so let's go after Tackles first.


Jake Matthews LT Texas A&M

The ultimate technician.  Great base, great hands.  Always seems to be in the right place at the right time.  Gets a moderate push from the line.  Can move when needed and finds his assignment at any level.  My one concern is that he doesn't look to have the typical agility and arm reach of a LT.  Looks like he has an above average ceiling there, but an elite ceiling anywhere else.  I wouldn't be surprised if he could go AllPro at every position on the line.  At the very worst he's a stud RT.  He is the safest bet in the draft.

Cedric Ogbuehi LT Texas A&M

A great athlete.  The guy can really move.  Can pull from the right to the left of the line with little effort.  Is a bit raw, which might lead to him going back to school.  Locks in well enough, but needs to learn to position his body through the whistle.  Top notch lateral movement.  Gets a decent push on the line.  Won't overpower his man, so he really needs to harness his technique.  A great prospect at LT, but not completely ready right now.  Ironically might play LT in the NFL while Matthews might play RT.

Cyrus Kouandjio LT Alabama

Big and strong.  Pushes guys around.  Decent lateral movement.  Dominates on the run and against power rushers in pass prot.  Tends to not finish plays though.  Once he locks in, guys don't get by him.  Arms are his greatest strength and weakness:  strong with hands, but tends to try to use arms instead of legs to prot.  Got eaten alive by Va Tech no name speed rusher (J.R. Collins).  Enough to make me very concerned for him at LT.  With some strong commitment to using his legs more, he could be a very good LT.  Otherwise he will be a very good RT.

Cameron Erving LT FSU

Plays off balanced, but it doesn't diminish his production by a lot.  Needs to gain technique with his feet or vet Dlinemen will eat him alive.  Good push on the move in run blocking, but not phenomenal.  He doesn't get there quick, but he does get there.  Love that he doesn't give up on any plays, but he overplays every play.  Needs to gain control and let the game slow down.  He also needs work picking up delayed blitzes on his inside hip.  Could use a trim on his waist line, which might balance him out a bit.  Needs to go back to school for another year or fall in the lap of a top quality Oline coach.

Taylor Lewan LT Michigan

A solid LT prospect.  Solid base.  Solid footwork.  Solid seals.  And a nasty streak.  Is good pushing on the run and keeps his man out of position to make a play.  Great against power rushers and is above average against speed in pass prot.  Needs to be disciplined and not get dumb penalties for unnecessary hits.  He is also huge.  Fits the mold of the ideal LT.  Always looking to hit a guy.

Greg Robinson LT Auburn

The guy can flat out run block.  Stays engaged with the block and punishes his man throughout the play.  Looks to hit guys whenever he can.  Has been known to push DTs to the second level.  Gets his body lows and forces even the stoutest guys backwards.  WARNING:  in Auburn's offense he exclusively ran blocked at LT.  When they finally threw a pass, which was rare, he either blocked like it was still a run play (screens), or the TE/RB or pulling LG pass protected the edge while he shifted to LG. On the few plays he was on an island against moderate pass rushers he didn't look good.  His base is solid, but he didn't show good lateral adjustment to their edge rush.  He got beat too many times.  It looks like Auburn did a superb job of hiding his weaknesses.  This guy is an NFL G not a T.  A monster NFL G that is.  And he has to be considered an elite prospect at RG.

Antonio Richardson LT Tennessee

Not the most agile of linemen.  But he uses his fully extended arms to fend guys off.  Shows some undisciplined tendencies by lowering his head when engaging and loses sight of his man, which results in some off balance issues.  Seems to get his body to the right spot and seals well.  Explodes off the line and meets his man at the edge.  Could be susceptible to inside moves because he launches so fast to the edge.  Doesn't always play through the entire play.  It looks like he lumbers through and keeps his legs stiff, which brings questions about his knees.  Makes really good adjustments on stunts.  As long as his man is within elbows reach he can really lock a guy up.  Is a very good 2nd round prospect at LT.

La'el Collins LT LSU

When he uses his legs to get position he is formidable but sometimes lunges throwing him off balance on the run block and ends up on the turf.  Slight questions on his balance when he's engaged in pass prot.  Compensates well with his use of hands, although most of the time he should probably get a flag.  Still, he disguises his holds well which is all that matters.  Shifts his feet well and maintains his position waiting for contact.  Gets to the second level well enough, but doesn't always look for guys to hit.  He finds himself in no mans land and doesn't help his team.  There are many moments in film where he looks really good.

Seantrel Henderson RT Miami

A total physical specimen at 6-7, 350lbs.  He moves really well and has decent enough lateral movement.  Is above average on the run and average on the pass.  He is always looking to hit someone.  A real nasty streak to him.  His greatest strength is his athleticism.  Unfortunately, it's his vice.  He plays undisciplined and relies completely on his physical attributes.  Needs to become technically sound in all areas.  His body looks out of control too often.  He also has major off field red flags as he's been suspended numerous times.  If he matures he can become dominant.

Morgan Moses LT Virginia

Fits the physical mold of a LT at 6-6 325.  Has good movement on the run, but doesn't always use his base to drive his guy backward.  He wants to punch and push with his arms.  Needs to get lower in his base.  Gets to the second level showing good athleticism, but has a hard time finding his target and ends plays with no block attempt.  In pass protection, he moves well laterally and uses his length fully to his advantage.  Transitions well on blocks and has the potential to be a good pass protector.  Has a tendency to not play through the whistle.  After engaging blocks he tends to turn his head away from his man to watch what's going on around him, only to let his man make the play unblocked.  Doesn't seem to fully grasp the position that well.  Makes surprisingly poor decisions at times.  Athletically has the skills needed, but questions about heart, weight, and mental skills bring some red flags.

Addendum:  as the year progressed, he made great strides on finishing plays.  Made good progression at LT, considering he just made the move this year.  Showed great skill blocking potential 1st round pick Vic Beasley.  He would be a very solid RT prospect at the very least.

Joel Bitonio LT Nevada

A competitor.  Always looking to make a hit and help his team.  Uses a variety of moves to get the job done.  On the run makes good seals and stays with his man until the whistle.  Gets a good drive and likes to make his man disappear.  Marginal skills in pass protection.  He uses cut blocks to slow guys down, which won't always work at the next level.  Did a superb job against Anthony Barr.  Can't really see him as a LT, but is technically sound enough to hold up at RT.  Might be better suited to play LG.

Zack Martin LT Notre Dame

A clone of Jake Matthews only smaller.  Absolutely technically sound in all facets of the game.  A team player.  Excels at locking up man.  Excellent seals.  Drives man where he wants.  Uses hands to keep man locked up.  Very good pass protector.  However, speed rushers get to the edge and his lack of arm length can be a problem.  A solid prospect at any position.  A potential stud at LG if he can't hold up at either T position.

Jack Mewhort LT Ohio State

Strong hands.  Once he locks up, keeps his body in position by holding his man in place.  Gets a good lane seal by positioning his body using his strong hands to make it happen.  Doesn't quite get low enough to drive his man backwards, but compensates with arm strength and position.  When he gets to the 2nd level, has a difficult time blocking in open space.  Struggles with speedy guys.  In pass protection will meet his man immediately to play to his hand strength.  Could lose out to speed if they beat him to the spot.  Maintains good body control and position.  Never gives up on plays.  His man rarely got to make a play, because Jack commits solely to him.  Transitions well by keeping his head on a swivel to look for someone to block.  May not have the complete athleticism to be a lock at LT, but could still be good.  Great prospect at RT.

James Hurst LT UNC

A solid run blocker.  Drives guys back with great base and strong arms.  Pounds guys at the second level.  Limited in pass protection.  Just doesn't have the lateral movement to keep up.  Gets beat to the corner and moves inside.  Can get driven back by bull rush.  Not a good LT prospect, but could be an okay RT.  His injury will certainly hurt his value.

Jawuan James RT Tennessee

Played RT opposite Richardson, but has some of the skill sets to play LT.  Hustles through each play.  Gets a good push off the line and seals his man well.  Will get down field with some ease, but doesn't always find his target in the open field.  Good step off line in pass coverage.  Uses extended arms well to fend off man.  Strong enough to maintain base and lock in.  Good enough agility to fend off rushers.  Held up very well in limited time against Clowney.  Transitions well on stunts.  A very good prospect at RT and a good prospect at LT.  I'd bet he'd be a top LT prospect if he took over for Richardson next year.

Billy Turner LT North Dakota State

Don't let the small school prospect fool you, this guy is legit.  At 6-6 315, he has elite NFL size, elite agility, and elite NFL heart.  This guy should fly up the boards as May approaches.  Will absolutely maul his man on the run.  Locks in and drives him back.  Swiftly gets to the 2nd level and makes contact with his target.  Hits big slows guys and knocks them back, and finds little guys and destroys them.  Will race down the field yearning for someone to hit.  Even when he's seemingly completely out of the play, the guy guns it to try to help his team.  Has a mean punch to his blocks.  In pass protection has some footwork issues, but will still keep his man at bay.  Transitions well with stunts.  Will double well and break assignment when help is needed elsewhere.  Tends to drop his head upon contact and can lose sight of man.  Twists his body sometimes and turns his back to the play losing sight of potential targets.  Recovers ferociously however.  Did not play elite talent, but played elite in the victory over Kansas State (a respectable 8-5 team).  This guy has only a slight touch of rawness to him, but more than compensates with heart.  A great RT prospect for this year, and a very good LT prospect for years to come.

Justin Britt LT Missouri

Decently consistent.  Gets a moderate push on the run.  Plays through the play.  Moderate talent in pass pro.  Feet are a bit slow to the edge, but compensates with full extension and push of his arms.  That won't work in the pros.  A poor LT prospect, decent RT prospect, looks to be a back up.

Michael Schoefield RT Michigan

Athletic enough to be a good prospect.  However he has strength issues.  Gets okay push off the line but doesn't blow anyone away.  Has a difficult time locating target and making contact.  In pass protection his feet move okay, but when he goes to meet his man he misjudges his timing and allows his man to gain advantage on his outside hip.  He appears to have depth perception issues, or just doesn't have the "it" needed to play the position.

Wesley Johnson LT Vanderbilt

Got man handled by Clowney.  Doesn't use his feet well enough to maintain contact.  Needs to gain fluidity with his feet and hands to play through the play.  Has balance issues upon contact.  Strong enough to drive a guy sometimes, but at 290 he's going to need to be technically sound.  Doesn't show that soundness yet.  He is in on every play though.  Needs to gain strength and technique to play at the next level.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Tackle Prospects

First of all, I should clarify that I’m separating the Ts into their best fit.  Some of these guys just don’t look like good pass protecting LTs.  And the fundamental difference between LT and RT is LT guards the blind side against the elite pass rushers.  So if they don’t have the lateral skills to guard the blind side, they shouldn’t be considered to play there.  But, since there is such an advantage at RT because the QB can see the rush, RTs ideally have more power to benefit the run game.  So here’s my list of the top Ts in this draft.


Taylor Lewan (Behemoth with elite skill set.  Starts at LT day 1)
Billy Turner (Has the greatest potential of the group due to freak athleticism and heart)
Jake Matthews (Looks to have capped his potential, but that’s a high cap.  Starts day 1)
Zack Martin (Undersized, but a technician)
Juwuan James (Athletic, but a 1 year project)
Antonio Richardson (Stiff, but gets the job done)
Morgan Moses (A work in progress.  Needs 2 years, but has great potential. )
Seantrel Henderson (Bigger Behemoth.  Bigger bonehead.  If he matures then he’s elite)


Greg Robinson (Pure power on the run)
Cyrus Kouandjio (A bit slower, but strong)
Jack Mewhort (A solid all around T)
Joel Bitonio (Probably more G than T, but still good)
James Hurst (Needs lots of refinement.  Project and injured)
Cameron Fleming (Stanford)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A tale of two halves

I’m just as sick as anyone that the Cards, who are a top 5 team, aren’t likely to make the playoffs. And yes, I think tons of things happened outside our control to put us in this situation, including the Philly game.

But if we put the onus of control back on us, I think there is a pattern to our season that we had full control over.

Split the season into two halves: the first 7 ending at the home Seattle game and the last 8 beginning with the Atlanta game. One caveat stat is that the teams in the first half were a lot stronger than in the second, so that should temper the stats a bit.
(Percentage of opponents who won 7 or more games: 1st half: 86% 2nd half: 50% )

But the rest of the stats give us an insight to the changes BA made from the 1st half of the season to the 2nd.

What was our winning percentage?
1st half: 43%
2nd half: 86%

How many times did we rush the ball over 90 yards?
1st half: 2
2nd half: 7

What was our percentage of run plays?
1st half: 37%
2nd half: 49%

What was our time of possession?
1st half: 28 minutes per game
2nd half: 32 minutes per game

How many interceptions did CP throw?
1st half: 13
2nd half: 8

What was CPs average QB rating?
1st half: 69
2nd half: 99

After 3 years of watching Ken avoid running the ball I was mortified to watch BA do the same thing in the first 7 games. My stomach hurt as I thought, “here we go again”.

And then came the Atlanta game. It’s quite obvious that was our turning point of the season. It was the first time we actually committed to running the ball early in the game and continued throughout. From that game on we ran the ball almost half the time, which in this age of the game is remarkable. We started to watch CP carry much less of the burden and therefore become more efficient with his passes. We saw Ellington find an increased role while continuing to pound Mendy between the Ts. We watched our scrubby Oline find life with a dramatic increase in run blocking (something all Oline guys preach about). As a result we saw our D get less and less time on the field. And we saw us win 7 of 8.

I have no doubt that our great 2nd half is primarily due to BA balancing our offense out. However, he deserves as much credit for the positives of the 2nd half as he does blame for the negatives of the 1st. Of course, the controversial question would be, “What if he had made those changes week 1 and not week 8?” I certainly don’t know the answer to that, but I’d bet we’d have one more win. That being said I, for one, am just happy to have a HC who isn’t so arrogant he won’t adjust. I wish it had been sooner, but better late than never.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

I'm still pining for running the ball

The Jets pounded out ANOTHER victory today with their rookie QB against a Patriot powerhouse.  The same rookie some of us wanted in the 2nd round over Minter.  He wasn’t brilliant, mind you, but he got the job done.  I was more impressed with Rex Ryan who gave the ball to Chris Ivory for 34 carries.  Geno only got 33 attempts.  All in all, the Jets ran the ball 52 times out of 85 plays for 61% of the time.  And the RBs combined for only 3.0 yards per carry.  It sure seems to me like Rex is trying to protect his QB at the same time as trying to win games.  Reminds me of what Belichick did for a young Tom Brady.

I wish the Cards would follow suit.  A simple plan might be:
1. Design whatever run strategy they want to be known for. (ZBS, w/e)
2. Get the best players they can to fit that strategy. (Even if it means current FAs)
3. Run that strategy over and over and over…
4. Continue to commit to the run until we get a QBoF. (next year)
5. Let him get acclimated to the O while we continue to run the ball.
6. If he shows promise let him handle more of the O.

I watched Seattle do that with Tarvaris Jackson at the helm.  I don’t think anyone’s questioning that decision now.  Russell Wilson was handed an offense that is dominant on the run.  And on Thursday they ran over the Cards without their two starting Ts.