22

April

Cory’s Corner: Don’t underestimate Derek Carr

One of the first things that pops into people’s heads when talk turns to Derk Carr is his team’s schedule.

I thought Wichita State buried the schedule theory once and for all this past spring after becoming the first team to enter the NCAA men’s basketball tournament undefeated for the first time since 1991.

Derek Carr is rated as the seventh-best quarterback according to ESPN. He led the nation this year in total offense, passing yards, passing yards per game, passing touchdowns and completions per game.

Derek Carr is rated as the seventh-best quarterback according to ESPN. He led the nation this past year in total offense (5,199), passing yards (5,082), passing yards per game (390.9), passing touchdowns (50) and completions per game (34.85).

Don’t get me wrong, having a solid all-around schedule does help but it shouldn’t be what leads your resume. Production should.

And Carr has certainly been productive as a three-year starter for Fresno State. Carr has 25 school records and 21 Mountain West Conference records after capping off a senior campaign where he led the nation in passing yards (5,082) and passing touchdowns (50).

Carr is rated as the seventh-best quarterback in the NFL Draft according to ESPN, but what I like about Carr is how he moves the chains.

Consider that his average third-down percentage was 58 percent last year compared to his percentage on third down with 10 yards or more to go was 66 percent.

Carr’s career record of 24-15 may not look imposing. But then again, Carr wasn’t playing alongside future top NFL picks like quarterbacks that played at LSU, USC, Alabama and Notre Dame — all schools that recruited him. The last Bulldogs player to be taken in the first round was Ryan Mathews in 2010. Carr has started from 2011-2013 and the highest Fresno State player drafted in that span was the fourth round.

Another negative for Carr, fair or unfair, is that Carr’s brother David didn’t exactly have an enjoyable time in the NFL. In a six-year starting span he only tallied a 23-56 record. But a lot of that was because he played behind a sieve of an offensive line which propelled him to lead the league in number of times sacked in a season three times.

Carr says that he most admires Brett Favre because he never quits, which is why he proudly wears a No. 4 jersey. That never-say-die attitude is easy to spot in wins, but I was glad to see it in a loss. With Fresno State down by 18 with 4:46 left in the game to San Jose State this past year, Carr completed 6 of 10 passes and promptly led his Bulldogs to a touchdown and a two-point conversion.

20

April

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

As we sit here waiting…and waiting…and waiting for the NFL draft to come around, now is as good a time as any to look back on Packers general manager Ted Thompson’s draft classes.

This draft will be Thompson’s 10th. Let’s rank his first nine classes best to worst, even if it’s still too early to judge some of the more recent classes.

  1. 2005. How do you not put the draft where Thompson selected Aaron Rodgers and Nick Collins in your top slot? I scratched my head when Thompson took Rodgers (apparently he couldn’t find a trade partner in time), but, unlike 23 other general managers, Thompson pulled the trigger and rescued Rodgers from the green room at Radio City Music Hall. It might have been a bit of a head-scratcher at the time, but now the Packers have the best quarterback in the league. The Packers would probably still have one of the best safeties in the league if Collins didn’t have his career shortened by a neck injury. Thompson’s first draft was 2005 and was a helluva way to start off as the new general manager. I suppose if you’re a glass-half-empty type of person, you could say Thompson’s drafts have all gone downhill since.
  2. 2009. After taking B.J. Raji ninth overall, Thompson traded back into the first round to nab Clay Matthews. He also picked up T.J. Lang in the fourth and Brad Jones in the seventh. Yeah, Raji fell off a cliff last season, but let’s not forget what he did to help the Packers win a Super Bowl. When Matthews is healthy, he’s one of the most dynamic defensive players in the game. Grabbing a starting guard in Lang and solid backup/fringe starter in Jones later in the draft gave 2009 a slight edge over…
  3. 2008. I probably would have given 2008 the nod over 2009 if not for Brian Brohm, a complete bust of a pick in the second round. But Thompson did end up finding his backup quarterback/oh-crap-what-if-Aaron-Rodgers-flops option later with Matt Flynn in the seventh round. Before finding Flynn, Thompson took Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finely and Josh Sitton. Yeah, that’s a helluva haul.
19

April

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: TE Troy Niklas

Player Information:

Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame, 6-6, 270 pounds

Hometown: Fullerton, CA

 

Troy Niklas' physique is so imposing that his teammates have nicknamed him "Hercules."

Troy Niklas’ physique is so imposing that his teammates have nicknamed him “Hercules.”

STATS

NFL Combine:

40 time: 4.84

Vertical jump: 32″

225 lb. bench: 27 reps

Broad jump: 9’06″

News and Notes:

Began his career at Notre Dame as an outside linebacker and started one game as a freshman. … One of five Notre Dame receivers to tally multiple catches of 25 yards or more in 2012 … Had a career-high six catches for 76 yards and a touchdown in a  41-30 loss at Michigan on Sept. 7, 2013.

 What they’re saying about him: 

  • CBSSports.com: Prototypical build for today’s matchup nightmare at tight end. Excellent height, long arms and a well-built frame. Experience on the defensive side of the ball is shown with his physical nature on the field. Uses his height and strength to get open against tight coverage, consistently winning the physical battle with opponents to create space. Good leaping ability, flashing the ability to extend and pluck. Used in a variety of roles for the Irish, including as an inline blocker from both sides, split out wide and even used as an occasional H-back or as a third tackle in pass protection. Secures the football quickly and turns aggressively upfield, dragging would-be tacklers along the way. Good bloodlines. Nephew of Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews.
  • NFL.com:   Work in progress as an in-line blocker — lacks ideal base strength, grip strength and overall body power. Bends at the waist and falls off some blocks. Route running needs refinement. Is still learning to use his frame advantageously — inconsistent traffic player. Lacks elite top-end speed. Average elusiveness and creativity after the catch. Could stand to play with more physicality and become a better finisher

Video:

Video Analysis:

  • This is a highlight reel so don’t forget, it doesn’t show the plays he missed.
  • It is scary how much Niklas resembles Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.
  • Does a good job of coming back to the ball.
  • Has developed soft hands after transitioning over from defense.
  • Sheds and can give blocks with ease.
  • Is a little slow getting out of his break, which forces him to post-up his huge frame.

If drafted by the Packers:

18

April

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: LB Ryan Shazier

 

Ryan Shazier

LB Ryan Shazier

Packers prospect profile:  LB Ryan Shazier

Player Information:

Ryan Shazier  LB, Ohio State,  6-1, 237 pounds  Hometown: Pompano Beach, FL

STATS

NFL Scouting Combine:

40 time: 4.36 (unofficial at Pro Day)

Vertical jump: 42″

225 lb. bench: 25 reps

Broad jump: 10’10″

News and Notes:

Declared for NFL draft following his junior season at Ohio State. . . had over 100 tackles during his sophomore and junior years. . .44.5 tackles for loss during college career. . .Two-time first-team All Big-10 in 2012 and 2013. . .Butkus award finalist (nation’s top college linebacker) in 2013. . .tied an Ohio State record with a 20-tackle game vs. Indiana and first time a Buckeye defender had 20 tackles in a game since A.J. Hawk vs. Wisconsin in 2004.

What they’re saying about him: 

  • CBSSports.com:  Rangy athlete with terrific closing acceleration and burst. Explosive first step as a blitzer to force the QB from his spot. Very good bend off the edge with momentum to fight through blocks and disrupt the pocket. Flexible ankles and flattens easily. Uses his length well at the point of attack with good take-on strength to deliver a pop, filling hard vs. the run. Eyes are always elevated with good ball vision and anticipation. Breaks down well on the move and gets low, showing clear improvement with his tackling technique. Smart and puts himself in correct position to make plays. Sniffs out the ball and almost always finishes when he’s in the area. Never quits working to the ball and relentless in pursuit. Team leader and uplifting teammate with strong personal and football character. Versatile skill-set to drop in coverage, blitz and cover both sidelines. Lean frame and lacks elite bulk. Doesn’t have the body type to get too much bigger. Needs to continue to get stronger to better shed at the point of attack. Too easily engulfed when attacking the line of scrimmage. Sometimes content throwing his shoulder and not wrapping up. Overaggressive at times in coverage and needs patient and alert. Will lose track of his assignment in man. Needs to stay disciplined and tidy up his timing to avoid late hits and unnecessary flags. Needs to keep his composure and keep his emotions in check.
17

April

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: WR Jared Abbrederis

NFL, Green Bay Packers, 2014 Packers draft, Jared Abbrederis, Jared Abbrederis draft profile, Packers draft profiles

Wisconsin WR Jared Abbrederis

2014 NFL Draft prospect profile: WR Jared Abbrederis Player Information: Jared Abbrederis, WR Wisconsin, 6-1, 195 pounds, Hometown: Wautoma, WI

STATS

NFL Combine:

40 YARD DASH: 4.50 SEC

BENCH PRESS: 4 REPS

VERTICAL JUMP: 30.5 INCH

BROAD JUMP: 117.0 INCH

3 CONE DRILL: 6.80 SEC

20 YARD SHUTTLE: 4.08 SEC

60 YARD SHUTTLE: 11.39 SEC

News and Notes: Former walk on, led the Badgers in receiving yards the past two seasons. Started 12 of 13 games each of the past two seasons. Will go down as one of the most pproductive receivers in school history despite walking on and redshirting 2009. Won the Burlsworth Trophy in 2013 for most outstanding college player that began his career as a walk on. First team All-Big Ten in 2012 and 2013.

What they’re saying about him:

NFL.com: Uses his hands well to swat away press. Stems his routes. Sells his patterns. Nice hands. Good field and boundary awareness. Gives effort to engage and shield cornerbacks as a blocker. Outstanding football intelligence — like a quarterback on the outside. Productive three-year starter. Mature and humble. Hardworking and coachable.

Has a slender build and needs to bulk up and get stronger. Ordinary pop off the line. Builds to average speed. Could struggle to separate vs. quick-twitch covermen. Lets throws into his body and breaks stride to catch.Not a jumpball player (30 1/2-inch vertical jump). Straightlinish after the catch — pedestrian agility and elusiveness. Has a history of concussions. Bench-pressed 225 pounds just four times, lowest of all combine participants.

CBSSports.com: Sneaky quickness to get behind the secondary. He does a nice job selling routes and is able to create separation with his footwork, most notably a stutter-and-go double move that he uses to burst past corner. Sets up his moves and understands how to deceive defensive backs. Abbrederis displays excellent field savvy, tracks the ball very well and makes the proper adjustments to extend and pluck with his quick, soft hands. He has excellent field awareness and always appears to know where he is on the field.

Only an average athlete with ordinary straight-line speed. Lacks ideal size. Very little muscle definition.

Video:

Video Analysis:

Lines up all over the field, versatile in formations

15

April

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: CB Justin Gilbert

Justin Gilbert

CB Justin Gilbert

Packers prospect profile:  CB Justin Gilbert

Player Information:

Justin Gilbert,  CB, Oklahoma St.,  6-0, 202 pounds  Hometown: Huntsville, TX

STATS

NFL Combine:

40 time: 4.37

Vertical jump: 35.5 inches

225 lb. bench: 20 reps

Broad jump: 126 inches

News and Notes:

Second team All-American in 2013. … Averaged 26.8 yards per kickoff return, second all-time at Oklahoma St. … Six kickoff returns for touchdowns in college. … Picked off 12 passes during his career. … Fastest 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine among defensive backs. … One of three finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award given to the nation’s top cornerback. … Appeared in 51 games and started his final 39. … A former track star in Texas.

What they’re saying about him: 

  • CBSSports.com:  Gilbert changes directions fluidly and has impressive acceleration to handle deep coverage responsibilities against speedy receivers. Gilbert possesses prototypical height and overall frame for the position with broad shoulders and long arms. He extends well to snatch the ball out of the air and times his leap well. Gilbert is a willing tackler, who closes quickly and effectively…Gilbert can be physical and tough in press coverage, but his technique and footwork are inconsistent. He is too grabby in tight coverage, and his contact downfield will easily attract penalties at the next level.
  • NFL.com:  The most talented cover corner in this year’s draft class, Gilbert has size, speed and flexibility to blanket receivers at the next level. Also brings impact ability as a kick returner. Is capable of stepping into the starting lineup from Day One and playing at a high level if he adheres to a professional approach to the craft. Could stand to improve in run support.
  • Ninersnation.com: The tape says he may have a rough rookie year, but has potential to be pretty good. I’m souring on the idea of taking him in the mid-first round, though someone probably will. If he falls to 30, I’m OK with it, but not jumping up and down. In the 2nd I think you’re starting to talk about a real value with what he brings to the table, though there’s likely a fat chance of that happening.

Video:

 

Video Analysis:.

  • His speed is no joke. Appears to be as fast on the field as he was at the NFL Combine.
13

April

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers football.

Last season it was Mike Daniels. The season before it was Randall Cobb. If the Packers are going to contend for a Super Bowl in 2014, at least one player will have to make the leap from potential to breakout star.

Here are the top contenders:

WR Jarrett Boykin
Boykin is probably at the top of most people’s most likely to break out lists. He was successful last season and he has Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball. Teams will be ready for him in 2014, though. If he’s going to make the leap, he’ll have to do a better job of getting separation.

DL Datone Jones
Unlike Boykin, Jones is probably near the bottom of most people’s lists. Fans soured on Jones late last season and, apparently, so did the coaching staff as fellow rookie Josh Boyd got more snaps down the stretch. I still have high hopes for Jones and I think he can fulfill those hopes. You need to be patient with young defensive linemen. They rarely break out in their rookie seasons. Let’s see what year two brings for Jones.

CB Davon House
We’ve been waiting for House to take the next step for a while now, haven’t we? If he doesn’t take it in 2014, he probably never will. House’s size appears to make him an ideal fit in Green Bay’s defense, but whenever he strings together some good plays, he follows it up with a couple of stinkers and winds up on the bench. With Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Micah Hyde and Casey Hayward on the roster, House doesn’t have much room for error.

LT David Bakhtiari
We all groaned when Bryan Bulaga went down and the rookie Bakhtiari ended up starting at left tackle. By the end of the season, those groans turned into “Huh. That kid can play.” Yes, it was a good debut for the kid whose last name I hate spelling, but his ceiling is higher than just a feel-good, surprising rookie playing well in a tough spot. The Packers offense can be a whole lot better if Bakhtiari transforms from promising rookie to left-tackle anchor.

TE Brandon Bostick
Based on what little I’ve seen of him, Bostick seems to do everything well except catch the ball. He especially seems to struggle with drops in traffic. If he develops his hands, especially in tight spaces, I like what he can do in the passing game.