FanPost

The Defense

[Note by JimmyK, 01/22/11 7:24 PM EST ] - Front page'd from the fanpost section.  I'm pretty sure this is great work here by d-jackfan10, but I didn't have 3 hours to read the entire thing, so I just figured "Screw it," and promoted it.  The fanpost section is on fire lately.

I’ll try not to beat a dead horse with this, I’m going to try and put my opinions out there, hope you guys put yours out there in the comments, I’m going to talk some prospects on defense and if I can’t talk accurately about a prospect I’ll be sure to link you somewhere that can. Get ready fellow Eagles fans… This is going to be a very long one.  

I lost my patience waiting for the new defensive coordinator hire. I've had a large portion of this done days ago but I put it on hold because of the defensive coordinator hunt but now that school is about to really get going again I really don't have time to wait anymore.

For those of you who are here on cell phones I’ll just list out the outline this thing before the jump.

Major Problems in the 2010 season:

-The RCB Spot

-Inconsistent LB Play

-The pass rush down the stretch

Thoughts and solutions on the defense for the 2011 season:

-The 1 Gap System

-The solutions at corner

-The lack of a tone setter on defense

-My first defensive prospect rankings

So I think we’re all unhappy with the defense, we were all told how good it was going to be. Stewart Bradley was coming back, there was a shark in the water, we drafted a ton of defensive talent and it was supposed to be the year where Sean McDermott improved because he had "his guys". Oh… We were so misguided and apparently so was Andy Reid and the Eagles organization as Sean McDermott is now a member of the Carolina Panthers.

Here is what ended up happening under Sean McDermott:

Screenshot2011-01-04at83243pm_medium

Yuck.

Major Problem Points From My Perspective:

The RCB Spot

-It amazes me how the Eagles can have the best CB in the NFL and still have a terrible pass defense, I’m still sort of shocked at how terrible that RCB spot ended up being.

For those who don’t believe Asante is the best CB in football:

http://www.footballoutsiders.com/game-previews/2011/2010-nfc-wild-card-preview

During the first half of the season, when Samuel played in seven games, the Eagles had the sixth-best pass defense DVOA in the league. During the second half of the year, Samuel played in just four games, and the Eagles were 25th. While that’s also attributable to other factors, Samuel’s charting numbers suggest a player that is performing at an astounding level. With 35 passes charted in his direction, Samuel has allowed just 3.0 yards per attempt and put up a Success Rate of 77 percent. Those are filthy numbers. No other cornerback with 30 targets or more even comes within a yard of Samuel’s rate, and the only other cornerback to hit even 70 percent in Success Rate this year is Darrelle Revis.

But the other side was just an abomination. Need proof? Okay... Kenny Britt, Mario Manningham, Hakeem Nicks and Greg Jennings all completely owned whoever the Eagles decided to put at RCB that day. I lost count of how many touchdowns happened on every corner not named Trevard Lindley and Asante Samuel, a talent overhaul would be nice. The pass defense really struggled with giving up big plays and TD passes which is a big reason why the Eagles scoring defense was so bad.

Inconsistent LB Play

-I hate Ernie Sims because he is awful in every facet of the game. Honestly, what does this guy do well? Blitz? I think that’s it and even that is questionable. In run support he is a weak tackler because he is tiny, in coverage he covers grass because he is stupid, he overruns plays because he has no semblance of football intelligence, he has 4.4 speed but he can’t run with Brandon Jacobs down the field, he gets in fights and he is just terrible at just about everything. But I’ll be honest, there were a couple weeks where Ernie played well but that just won’t cut it, I don’t want to rely on a guy who performs well 2-3 times a season.

Stewart Bradley is overrated. I never really understood why some Eagles fans were calling him the next Brian Urlacher and some other crazy stuff. I think we had a realistic perspective on him and then Peter King came in and just screwed everything thing up when he named him an all-pro which made expectations for Big Stew unrealistically high. Stewart Bradley is a solid player, a guy who you can live with on defense but he can definitely be upgraded too. In pass coverage he struggles and he is sort of hit and miss from week to week, a perfect example of this is the first New York Giants game where Stewart Bradley played amazingly and then his performance against the Bears was just incredibly bad.

I’m willing to say that Moise Fokou is the Eagles best and most consistent linebacker at this point. His upside isn’t as good as Stewart Bradley’s but from week to week I feel like we know what we can expect from Moise Fokou, a high energy, physical presence at the SLB spot who doesn’t really mess up and doesn’t really impact plays either. I’m perfectly comfortable with Fokou at the SLB spot.

I think that Jamar Chaney definitely has potential but I think he is a long way away from reaching it. Brian Baldinger for whatever reason decided to say that Jamar is one of the best middle linebackers in the NFL after his first start which really caught me off guard (keep in mind though that this is the same guy who said Patterson-Samuel was the best CB tandem in football…). Jamar Chaney has a nose for the football and he definitely shows leadership skills on the field but in pass defense he just isn’t ready. Jamar Chaney gets turned around, he doesn’t get good enough depth in his drop, he doesn’t really have great zone coverage awareness, he picks up crossing patterns a bit late and he just looks lost out there in pass coverage.

The guy I really like is Keenan Clayton but I’ll get to him a bit later.

Pass Rush Down the stretch

Early in the year, pass rushing was not a problem but in games after the Bears game not including the glorified pre-season match-up against the Cowboys the Eagles notched a grand total of 7 sacks and 13 QB hits down the stretch which means that in the Eagles last 4 games the starters averaged less than 2 sacks a game and just over 3 QB hits a game. That’s not going to cut it, I think the Eagles need to upgrade the pass rush again and here is why.

What’s the golden rule of the NFL Draft?

-Never Pass on a franchise QB

Why is that the golden rule?

-Because a great quarterback wins games and championships

How do you win a championship?

-You win playoff games

So what type of QBs are you most likely to face in the playoffs?

-Great, franchise caliber passers.

Using logic like that you can see that in the playoffs you’re going to face the best quarterbacks in the NFL and if you’re going to beat them, you need to get pressure on them and if you can’t… Well then you better hope they have an off day. A pass rush that struggles down the stretch is a HUGE problem if you want a team to make a playoff run

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I want to cover a few things:

1.     The 1 Gap System

2.     The solutions at corner

3.     The lack of a tone setter on defense

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The 1 Gap System

There has been much ado about the 2 gap scheme and how it didn’t fit the Eagles scheme, well fret no more, Jim Washburn is here!

 For those of you haven’t read what I wrote on Jim Washburn already I’ll just link you there instead of rambling on about him some more (Believe me, I can, I love this move). Link.

The 1 gap scheme, or more specifically Jim Washburn’s system is very aggressive. Its not aggressive in the sense that his pass rushing relies on blitzes like Jim Johnson’s did, it’s aggressive in the sense that there is one goal and Jim and his players will stop at nothing until they rattle the QB.

So first thing is first, the gaps. In order to understand just what a 1 gap system is and a 2 gap system is you have to understand the very basics.

Gaps_medium

For those who don’t know what that is, the letters are the gaps. Based on which gap you’re playing and your positioning in regards to the offensive lineman opposite you that will determine what technique you are, we’ve all heard the terms over and over and over, 0 technique, 3 technique, 5 technique, 2 technique etcetera, ecetera and those are the numbers you see placed slightly above the offensive line placeholders in the graphic above.As a defensive lineman your job is to play your gap and remain disciplined so that you won’t get toasted on counters, draws, end-arounds and things of that nature. Its really more simple than I think some of you might make it. As a defender you’re assigned a gap, whether it’s the A gap or the C gap and your job is to make sure that you control your gap and stay disciplined unless the play call says otherwise. 

I want to elaborate on one ‘technique’ in particular, one that is surely going to be utilized more under Jim Washburn: The infamous three technique. If you are a defensive tackle lined up in the B gap, but shifted over a bit towards the guard, you're called a 3-technique. A 3-technique tackle is supposed to run through his gap immediately. He is a 1-gap player. His job is not to block or get tied up in a block, but rather to be athletic and get himself into the offensive backfield and disrupt their plans.

This is your ideal 3 technique:

Nfl_g_sapp_580_medium

Warren Sapp.

http://subscribers.footballguys.com/2009/09bramel_idpguide.php

Both Bear Bryant and Bum Phillips have been credited with developing a system of numerical alignments for defensive linemen. Bryant himself credited Phillips with the innovation. While the intent is the same, different playbooks may vary slightly on the theme above. In the majority of systems, even numbers denote an alignment that is head-up or helmet-to-helmet on an opposing offensive lineman while odd numbers denote an offset alignment, i.e. over the inside or outside shoulder of an opposing lineman. Letters describe the spaces, or "gaps," to either side of each offensive lineman.

It may seem silly to fuss over the distinction between a helmet-to-helmet and over-the-shoulder alignments - after all, they're only a few inches apart - but those few inches make a big difference in how a defensive lineman must approach his job.

In most defensive fronts, a defensive lineman playing an even technique is responsible to play the gap on either side of the offensive lineman opposite him - a 2-gap technique. The traditional space-eating nose tackle plays a 0-technique and is responsible for both center-guard "A" gaps. A defensive lineman playing an odd technique is responsible only for the gap directly in front of him - a 1-gap technique. A 3-technique tackle aligns over the outside shoulder of an offensive guard, responsible only for the "B" gap opposite him. Most traditional 3-4 defensive linemen play 2-gap techniques (though not all as we'll see later) and most current 4-3 defensive tackles play 1-gap techniques.

Enough technique talk, let's get back to the trash-talking odd couple of David Carr and Warren Sapp. Why was Carr able to get to the heart of Sapp's struggles with one sentence? As a 3-technique tackle matched up against a guard and responsible for only one gap, Sapp was free to explode off the ball and play the run in his gap on the way to the quarterback. Those responsibilities were a perfect match for his natural size and athletic ability. In the Raider multiple 3-4 front, Sapp frequently aligned in a 4-technique (some playbooks may refer to this as a 5-technique) role. Responsible for the gaps to either side of the offensive tackle, Sapp had to hesitate for a split second and read the play before working his way upfield. More often than not, Sapp (as most 3-4 ends are expected to do) became a glorified blocking dummy, fighting double teams and holding the point of attack. An important job, but very different than his days as a penetrating all-around force.

Why was Sapp so dominant when asked to simply beat the man in front of him? Well… When you’ve got the "power of a Cortez Kennedy and the quickness of a Russell Maryland" that helps things. Warren Sapp is simply an absurd athlete, he played with a violent temperament, he played with fantastic leverage, he had a powerful lower body and he was insanely quick (at 300 pounds he ran a 4.69 40 yard dash). Warren Sapp is the ideal 3 technique.

 Another ‘technique’ that is key in a 1 gap line, the 1 technique. A 1 technique player is lined up in the A gap and you’re shifted over towards the center. This is the better run stopper of the two players. As you can see in the graphic I showed you earlier the 1 technique is lined up in the middle of the field, they’re not quite a 0 technique nose guard but they’re the closest thing to it in the 1 gap scheme. Ideally this player would take on double teams against the run and get penetration when asked to rush the passer. This isn’t a glitzy spot but it is very important and guys like Anthony McFarland and Brandon Mebane have thrived in this role.

Brandon_mebane_wild_card_playoffs_new_orleans_cgcui8nmzv7l_medium

The best 1 technique player in the NFL today was Albert Haynesworth but given his inconsistency and lack of production over the past two seasons I’ll give the nod to Brandon Mebane, the most underrated defensive tackle in the NFL. The reality of the matter is that Brandon Mebane is both a playmaker – in that he can get sacks and stuffs – as well as a cog/role player. The thing about cogs and role players is that they usually tend to get no respect in the 4-3 defense. If that same player plays in the 3-4 defense though than they get respect for being a force that occupies double teams. Mebane does just that for the Seahawks and it is evident from the play of their linebacking corp since he arrived in the rainy city.Prior to Mebane’s arrival Tatupu was prone to making plays all over the field. After Mebane’s arrival a lot more of Lofa’s plays came up the gut because it was a lot easier to maneuver through traffic. If Lofa Tatupu’s success up the middle isn’t enough to sway you than perhaps we can look at David Hawthorne’s success as a MLB in 2009. Hawthorne made most of his plays up the middle and never let a ball carrier get beyond 10 yards down field. With all due respect to Hawthorne – who is probably a good player in his own right – I would be willing to wager that he owed a lot of his success to Mebane.

The 1 Gap System

Yes, it is as simple as it sounds. In a two gap system you’re responsible for two gaps. In a one gap system you’re responsible for one. Lets say that you’re sitting at home and you’re doing two things at once, that’s going to take a while in comparison to when you’re doing one thing at a time. That’s basically what this scheme is, now instead of checking for the run first and plugging the middle before going up-field to rush the passer you  play one gap and you charge up-field and maul whoever gets in your way.

Jim Washburn’s Unique 1 Gap System

I know that DSmith215 already brought you guys up to speed a bit, beat me to the punch (darn the long defensive coordinator search, making me wait!) so I’ll direct you all there so you can see what he wrote on the situation, most of which I completely agree with.

I’ll seek to expand upon this with some screen shots to prove those statements (click them and they get bigger). 

Screenshot2011-01-21at10039am_medium

Notice how wide the splits are here.

Jason Babin the LE is actually playing the 8 technique he is split out so wide, playing the 8 technique means that you’re playing outside the tight end and he is split way outside of TE on the strong side.

Jovan Haye is playing, the UT (#75) is playing the 4 technique which isn’t as common as one would think. He is playing the B gap with an inside shade on the right tackle, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to see a defensive end in this spot.

The NT (who looks like Senderrick Marks, can’t tell though) is lined up as a 1 technique as he appears to be lined up in the A gap and shifted over towards the center.

The RE Dave Ball is split out wide as well playing the 5 technique where he has an outside shade on the left tackle.

This is a perfect example of what Jim Washburn does, he splits his ends out wide and he puts his tackles in situations where they can penetrate and then he sets them loose.

Screenshot2011-01-21at125420am_medium

This is nearly the same as the one above the only difference is that Jason Jones is playing the 3 technique instead of the 4. 

Screenshot2011-01-21at125349am_medium

In this look both tackles are lined up as three techniques, Dave Ball is playing the 6 technique and Jason Babin at LE (you can tell by the 4 point stance) is playing 5 technique.

Those are three clear examples of Jim Washburn’s system, he uses wide splits, he is very aggressive, he gets creative with stunts and he sells out to get to the QB. The Titans had a very aggressive defensive line even compared to other 1 gap schemes. Its like DSmith215 so eloquently stated, "This isn't the cagey Samurai staring down his target for 20 minutes before swinging his Katana. This is the crazy, paint-covered Scot swinging a fucking axe."

PS- I’m praying that the Redskins, Giants and Cowboys all keep their right tackles, they’re either terrible or not athletic enough to match up with such wide splits, especially Columbo.

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New_orleans_saints_v_oakland_raiders_go2dwso9il1l_medium

The Solutions at corner

Lets get the obvious solution out of the way…

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I would gush about how good he is but we all know how good he is and like I said, I don’t want to beat a dead horse. I would absolutely love to get Nnamdi but I’m not so sure the Eagles will do it. The Eagles still have contract situations with Vick and DeSean that need resolving. The Eagles underwent a HUGE youth movement and Scrabble will be turning 30 this year and he will want a monstrous contract and I’m not so sure the Eagles will be willing to give an aging CB franchise QB money especially considering how much they’re already paying Asante. But… I hope I’m wrong.

Potential solutions:

For those of you who I haven’t read it, I am about to send you to a fan post by fellow BGN member Route36, he covers a lot of the big free agent names and I don’t want to rehash what has already been done, plus I think he did a good job with it so follow the link. (ß That’s the link)

There is one guy that Route36 didn’t get though, Josh Wilson.

Using the same system that Route36 used (since this is essentially just a continuation of that) here is what I’ve got on Josh Wilson.

Josh_wilson_buffalo_bills_v_baltimore_ravens_dzezm6-ugzel_medium

*** (Solid Starter)

Josh Wilson is a smaller corner who can be characterized as a cover corner, meaning that he isn’t going to be a guy who supports the run all that well. In coverage he can be overmatched against bigger receivers at times but he is physical and his athleticism helps compensate this. At Maryland Josh Wilson had timed in the 4.2 range in the 40 yard dash, he has speed to burn. While Josh Wilson would ideally be a nickel corner he is more than capable of moving outside, his versatility would definitely be nice to have once the Eagles get a real RCB and Wilson could move to the #3 spot which is very important in the pass happy NFL these days. As an added bonus Josh Wilson is a good kick returner and he has experience at the NFL returning kicks including an 89 yard return for a touchdown his rookie season.

Now for potential solutions via the draft:

Jimmy_smith_colorado_v_texas_t44lfvkr5xcl_medium

Jimmy Smith CB Colorado:

Jimmy Smith has fantastic size at 6’2" and 200 pounds. He is a lock down corner at Colorado, he doesn’t give up much at all. I’ve watched him against Oklahoma and Landry Jones and that prolific Oklahoma offense didn’t complete 1 pass on Jimmy Smith. Most big corners are cast as cover 2 guys or free safeties but Jimmy Smith is fluid and really specializes in man coverage, especially when asked to move close to the line of scrimmage and press his man. He is really physical and he has no issues supporting the run. He doesn’t break on the ball because he is never really in position to do so but he has no issues sticking his long arms up and using his big hands to bat the ball away. He doesn’t make a lot of interceptions but he is a lockdown corner for Colorado, in fact he has only allowed 11 completions in the past two seasons. His footwork does need to be cleaned up because he gets by on athleticism and physicality at the college level. Colorado claims that Smith runs a 4.35 in the 40 yard dash and maybe he does but he doesn’t play that fast on the field in large part due to his footwork. The weaknesses I can think of are that his lack of game changing plays and his footwork. Smith is asked to do a lot of man coverage and a lot of press coverage. He is certified kosher character wise, couldn’t ask for a nicer more humble guy. Not a rah-rah talker like Asante is for the Eagles. Jimmy Smith shut down AJ Green when he matched up against him at Georgia.

Brandon_harris_miami_v_south_florida_odvyotnhjpkl_medium

Brandon Harris CB Miami

I’ve been saying it for a while now, Brandon Harris is overrated. He was a good college player but I think people are giving him credit for things he really shouldn’t be given credit for. Popular draft site Walterfootball proclaims that Brandon Harris has shut down his side of the field which IMO is questionable at best. Has Brandon Harris’ side of the field been very quiet at times this season? Yes, very. But what I think people forget about is how much the pass rush affects pass coverage and Miami’s defensive line is as good as any in the entire country (tied for 8th in the country in sacks). Against Pittsburgh people proclaimed that Brandon Harris shut down Jon Baldwin but I’m not so sure he did, that Pitt offensive line was working like a sieve and that young QB couldn’t avoid the pressure and push the ball downfield if his life depended on it. 

As you can see there were times where Baldwin got behind Brandon Harris and Brandon Harris doesn’t even line up on the outside all the time. And for those of you who are about to say that you can’t scout via youtube, I made this video and I watched this game very intently. When the Miami defensive line couldn’t get pressure, Brandon Harris was beaten. In the bowl game, Michael Floyd made a fool out of Brandon Harris.

Brandon Harris has all the physical tools, he has nice size at 5’11" and 195 pounds, he runs a 4.4. and is a track athlete at Miami and he has never had injury problems thus far. What I think Brandon needs to work on is technique, I don’t know if you watched that video but there is a play where Brandon is dropping back in zone coverage and Brandon notices but his footwork keeps him from breaking on the ball quickly and the RB goes for a huge gain, his footwork is very inconsistent. Because of his inconsistent footwork when breaking on the ball Brandon Harris isn’t the best zone defender at this stage and he is at his best in man coverage where he can use his physical skill to stick with receivers. Brandon Harris needs to work on his hand usage as he doesn’t get a consistent jam at the LOS. But if Brandon Harris doesn’t work out in the NFL, it won’t be because of a lack of effort, he is a team oriented player who works hard and will do it all. Brandon Harris is a very willing participant in run defense, he is Sheldon Brown-esque in that aspect of his game. What I really think will hold Brandon Harris back is his lack of ball skills, he flashes the ability to make plays on the ball but he doesn’t consistently do it enough to make me feel comfortable with him, he only had 4 interceptions in 3 years where he saw significant play time.

Aaron_williams_texas_v_oklahoma_steldoduve-l_medium

Aaron Williams CB Texas

-Purely as a physical specimen, Aaron Williams is about as good as it gets. Aaron Williams has the height (6’1"), the bulk (195 lbs.) and he has the speed (4.4). Aaron Williams is very long, he has a big wingspan and large hands to blanket receivers and knock away passes. He is very quick too and can run with any college receiver. Overall, Aaron Williams has a nearly ideal frame that could probably hold even more weight, he has the speed and he is a very fluid and flexible athlete. With a frame like Aaron Williams’ you would probably assume that he is a press corner but he isn’t. Aaron plays mostly off coverage (ala Asante) at Texas but with his frame, long arms and big hands he profiles as a very good press corner if he gets the right coaching. He has received great coaching in Austin though, his technique is ahead of both Jimmy Smith’s and Brandon Harris’, Will Muschamp did a fantastic job coaching up defensive back talent at UT. Aaron Williams comes with a pedigree that is unmatched in the 2011 NFL Draft, he hails from the same program as Quentin Jammer, Nathan Vasher, Michael Huff, Cedric Griffin, Aaron Ross and Earl Thomas and in this draft there are two other Texas corners who profile as good players at the next level as well in Curtis and Chykie Brown. Aaron Williams isn’t a very good tackler but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a willing run supporter, he doesn’t shy from contact but he just doesn’t break down well in space and he would prefer to just sort of dive and lunge at ball carriers. The negatives on Williams are actually very similar to those of Asante Samuel. Aaron Williams is very very aggressive and while this can occasionally lead to a nice play, he can get burnt on double moves. He can get a bit out of control at times looking to make a play. And as I mentioned earlier he doesn’t have much experience in press coverage. Aaron Williams drops more than his fair share of interceptions as well. Oh and I forgot to mention that Aaron Williams is a very good special teamer and he has blocked 3 kicks in his career.

Brandon_burton_utah_v_san_diego_state_gnpmbrql6o-l_medium

Brandon Burton CB Utah

-Brandon Burton is another guy who is a very physically gifted corner. He has the length at 6’1", he has adequate bulk at 185 pounds and he runs a 4.4 40 yard dash. Much like the aforementioned Jimmy Smith and Aaron Williams, Brandon Burton is a lanky corner with long arms and big hands. Brandon Burton and Aaron Williams are actually extremely similar prospects IMO, there are only slight differences. Brandon Burton has more experience as a press corner and he was very effective in press coverage at Utah. Brandon Burton did not receive NFL caliber coaching at Utah like Williams did at Texas so Brandon Burton’s drop back is not as clean and efficient as Williams’ is. Brandon Burton is very willing in run support much like Aaron Williams but Brandon Burton is much better at breaking down in space and wrapping up. And Brandon Burton blocked 2 kicks this season on special teams, again, very similar to Aaron Williams. Brandon Burton has everything you could want from a corner, he just needs some polishing in zone coverage. He can get into you in press coverage, he will support the run, he can turn and run downfield in man coverage and he can go toe to toe with big receivers and his quick, choppy steps allow him to stick with smaller, shiftier receivers as well. But he really has issues with zone coverage, he is very inexperience in zone coverage and he wasn’t really coached up all that well on the nuances of zone coverage because the coaches asked him to go man to man a vast majority of the time. 

Johnny_patrick_indiana_state_v_louisville_4gpu0xwkic2l_medium

Johnny Patrick CB Louisville

-One thing that always rings true when it comes to the draft is this: NFL teams love potential. Johnny Patrick is just oozing with potential which makes him a real sleeper option for the Eagles late in round 1 and into round 2. Johnny is a former WR who has been coached by 4 different defensive coordinators in his career, you can safely say he is fairly raw at the CB spot. But what you can’t ignore about him is his athleticism, his ball skills, his size and his mentality on the field. At 6’ tall, 190 pounds and with 4.4 speed he really has close to ideal triangle numbers for a corner. As a former WR you can imagine how good his hands and ball skills are, in the past two seasons he has picked off 7 passes (5 of them this season). He is a very explosive athlete, he flashes fantastic click and close skills on the outside. He can high point the football in coverage with the best of them and fight for the ball at its highest point. He is very physical, of the corners in the draft I would argue that he is the most violent and physical athlete at the corner spot. He has deep speed and he is a fluid athlete who can turn and run with receivers down the field. He can and will deliver big hits when defending the run and he seemingly thrives on contact. Athletically and mentality wise, he is a great corner prospect capable of matching up with anyone in the draft. But technically he is just so raw, his footwork is questionable in his backpedal, he stays too high, he doesn’t consistently flip his hips at the right time (too early, too late), he gets very aggressive and will bite on double moves and just overall he lacks the polish that other top corners in the draft usually have. Give him a year or  two and I bet he’ll be a player. Did I mention he was aggressive and violent? Well same goes for off the field where he was arrested for assault over the summer, off the field concerns are there.

A Tone Setter

"I’ll tell you what, I wanted to set a tone. We wanted to set a tone as a defense, its not just me, it’s the defense, its my line, its Burgess, its Kearse, all them boys, Trot. We came and we brought it every doggone play!"

How does one set a good tone? Well…

Like that…

And what are the effects of setting a tone? It makes everyone around you better and the attitude you emit on the field affects the entire defense, even after you leave. Here is a perfect example: 

But what is tone?

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tone

10. a : healthy elasticity : resiliency 

b : general character, quality, or trend <a city's upbeat tone>

c : frame of mind : mood

 Every team has a tone, every great defense has/had at least one good tone setter. The Eagles had Brian Dawkins and Jeremiah Trotter. The Baltimore Ravens had Ray Lewis. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had Warren Sapp and John Lynch. The Green Bay Packers have Clay Matthews. The Bears have Brian Urlacher and Julius Peppers. The Bears had Mike Singletary. The Steelers have James Harrison and Troy Polamalu. The Steelers have Joe Greene, Jack Lambert, Jack Ham and Mel Blount. The Giants had Lawrence Taylor. Every single great defense has a great tone setter. 

Who is the tone setter on the Eagles? Who goes out there and fires up the defense? Who goes out there and leads this defense? Who consistently makes game changing plays? Who can shift momentum? Who is the guy that offenses can’t avoid? Who goes out there and sets the tone? 

Who is the tone setter? As far as I can tell the tone setter is Quintin Mikell. I love Q’s game but the guy just isn’t a defensive leader. Is he a guy that I would love for every young player to emulate? Sure, but he is more of a quiet guy who takes care of his responsibilities rather than a rah-rah, momentum shifting, impact defender. 

Who goes out there and fires up the defense? This season I heard Ernie Sims and Juqua Parker being vocal guys on defense. Asante Samuel stepped up as a vocal leader late with his "Heart" speech at halftime against the Giants but I think its tough for a corner to be the tone setter, especially a guy like Asante known for being a bit of a softie. The reason I think its hard for a corner to be a tone setter is because the offense can just avoid them and that’s exactly what teams did to Asante as he was barely targeted twice per game. 

Who leads the defense? Honestly who the hell knows, you’ve got rah rah guys who can’t back it up (Ernie, Juqua), you’ve got a guy who can just be avoided (Asante), you’ve got Q who is a quiet, lead through actions kind of guy and the one guy who should be the leader (Stew) has played 12 of 32 games the past two seasons. 

Who consistently makes game changing plays? No one. 

Who can shift the momentum? Any one can but the only guy who ever does is Asante and he can be avoided. 

Who is the impact guy offenses can’t avoid? No one. Brian Dawkins at safety couldn’t be avoided you had to face him. Ray Lewis can’t be avoided. Most of those good tone setters I mentioned and most of the most disruptive defensive players in history are up the middle of that defense (DL, LB, S). Of course you can argue that of course 3 positions will have more impact defenders than CB guys but I’d argue that there is a much higher percentage of tone setters who aren’t corners.

Now some of you might’ve noticed by now that I haven’t mentioned Trent Cole. I’ve got a bone to pick with Trent Cole. I’ll start with this though, I will readily admit Trent Cole is one of the best defensive ends in football. But, Trent Cole never shows up in big games (division and playoff games) and I can’t recall a time where Trent Cole made a momentum shifting play.

 For those that are scoffing at that notion, here are the stats:

Statistcal Category

Since 2006 (37 games)

Forced Fumbles

3

Sacks

13

TFL (Not Sacks)

13

 

In 30 games against rivals since 2006, Trent Cole has registered 11.5 sacks. In 7 playoff games since 2006 Trent Cole has sacked the QB 1.5 times. In 30 games against rivals Trent Cole registered 8 TFL and in 7 playoff games Trent Cole registered 5 TFL. And in 30 regular season games against rivals Trent Cole has only forced 3 fumbles and he has caused zero turnovers in the playoffs.

So… What do my thoughts on all this intangible stuff (tone, momentum, leadership) mean for the Eagles? I think the lack of a tone setter who can shift momentum means the Eagles have to go find one.

The Eagles have a bunch of good players like Trent Cole, Antonio Dixon, Mike Patterson, Trevor Laws, Brodrick Bunkley, Moise Fokou and Quintin Mikell. In addition to those guys the Eagles have a bunch of young players who are on track to develop into good players like Brandon Graham, Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman, Trevard Lindley and Jamar Chaney. 

There is one guy on the defense I think can develop into a playmaker that can be a nightmare for offenses: Keenan Clayton. 

Keenan_clayton_new_york_jets_v_philadelphia_yiz66gp2_bul_medium

Keenan Clayton is a guy who in limited time has impressed. Late in the year he started taking snaps from Ernie Sims too. I really hope that Clayton starts next season. Keenan Clayton has been good in coverage, the Eagles used him as a safety-linebacker hybrid against the Colts to confuse Peyton Manning. He sacked Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs in a key situation, he forced a fumble late against the Giants and he has shown good ball skills for a linebacker.

In limited time, Keenan Clayton has made plays. And this isn’t an anomaly, all Keenan did in college was make plays. In Clayton’s last two years at Oklahoma he forced 8 fumbles, sacked the QB 6 times, defended 15 passes, intercepted 3 passes and recovered 1 fumble (for 53 yards I might add). That is a bunch of impact plays.

But I’m not sure that’s enough, Keenan Clayton can be a momentum shifter but can he lay the wood, be physical and set a tone for the defense? That’s a question I’ve got for Keenan. This defense needs a guy who is going to bring an attitude to this defense. You know what defenses have nasty attitudes? The Ravens and Steelers and I love watching those defenses play because of it, the Eagles need to look at the team’s history and find that nasty attitude. Jim Johnson’s defense with Dawkins and Trot were mean, physical and savvy. Buddy Ryan’s defenses were pretty much the definition of nasty, dirty, mean defense. And even Chuck Bednarik played with that toughness that this defense lacks.

So who could the Eagles get that would bring back the tough tone to the Eagles’ defense?

Potential Free Agent Options:

*Potentially, I’m thinking the Redskins will cut him

*Albert Haynesworth DT Washington Redskins- As much as we get on him for throwing hissy fits there is no denying the attitude that he can bring to a defense, the man is just mean. His playing style could immediately give a defense an attitude. And I know that we hate him and bash him because he is a Redskin but the guy was the most dominant force on the defensive side of the football prior to Shanny coming in and screwing things up (Shanny is seriously a bad coach). Haynesworth gets his and he makes everyone else better too as he commands double teams on just about every single snap – only single blocked 49 times in ‘09 – and at times requires triple teams. It is no coincidence that the Redskins went from a bottom feeder to middle to a respectable team in regards to sacks in 2009. And when he stops getting play time, his teammates regress. And did I mention the guy was mean on the inside? But he is a diva off the field which is a problem but that could be a non-issue with Jim Washburn as his coach. 

Richard Seymour DL Oakland Raiders-

http://www.projo.com/patriots/content/sp_fbn_patsjo22_01-22-08_0O8N1U7_v7.279e987.html

This time it was Chargers center Nick Hardwick, who was directing his ire at New England defensive lineman Richard Seymour. Hardwick called the five-time Pro Bowl selection a "dirty, cheap little pompous (expletive)," and accused him of being unnecessarily violent on the field.

"He’s cheap and dirty and the head man just let him get away with it the whole time," Hardwick said. "They’ve got 10 great players on that team and when Jarvis Green comes on the field, they’ve got 11 great players who compete how you’re supposed to play. But Richard Seymour is the biggest (expletive) I’ve ever played."

Hardwick said Seymour was stomping players’ feet after a field goal, slapping heads, punching players in the back and generally being a "punk."

 And he punched Ben Rothlisberger… How soon can this guy sign his name on the dotted line? Oh and I guess I should mention the guy is a really good football player too, just ask King Dunlap.

LaMarr Woodley LB Pittsburgh Steelers- I know this is unlikely, Woodley is having trouble getting a new contract but if he loses, whatever team gets him will be thrilled. The Eagles probably won’t go after him because they have a bunch of ends and Woodley will be expensive but I really want to include him in this list. LaMarr Woodley doesn’t just sack the QB, he attacks them, you’ll see him wrap a QB up and then most of the time you’ll see him body slam the QB into the turf, Woodley always makes sure the QB remembers who hit him. Plus the guy is relentless too, Brandon Graham will hopefully turn into what Woodley is now as a pass rusher. 

David Harris LB New York Jets- David Harris is the odd man out of the "core-four" the Jets have (Ferguson, Mangold, Revis are in) so David Harris might be available for the Eagles to snatch up and that is a great thing because David Harris is a pro-bowl caliber linebacker who would be the best MLB Andy Reid ever had. David Harris is the leader of the Jets defense that has been so impressive the past two seasons. Over the past two seasons all Harris has done is make plays with 8.5 sacks, 6 passes defensed, 2 interceptions and 3 forced fumbles. David Harris reminds me of a more athletic Jeremiah Trotter with his aggressive, downhill play.

 Roman Harper SS New Orleans Saints- Of all the safeties available in free agency Roman Harper is the closest thing to a tone setter. Roman Harper was owned against the Seahawks but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have a solid year. Harper is a big guy at the safety spot and he uses his frame in run support. Gregg Williams started using Harper as an in the box safety and Harper’s play has improved dramatically, over the past two seasons Roman Harper has put up 200 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 13 passes defensed, 1 interception, 8 forced fumbles and 12 TFL. It isn’t likely that the Eagles sign him given the fact that they’ve got Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman, Quintin Mikell and Colt Anderson already on the roster.

Options in the draft that I really like:

Nick Fairley DT Auburn- I know the Eagles can’t draft him but I love spouting off about Nick Fairley mainly because I was on the bandwagon way before any one else, I’m driving this wagon, feel free to hop on. I love the way he plays the game, he is going to hit you and he is going to like it. Against Georgia he was getting all kinds of late shots in and he would walk away with a grin on his face. When Georgia linemen tried to fight him he just laughed. The guy is going to dominate in the NFL just like Suh did. For a man of his size to be as quick and fluid as he is, its sort of unfair and then when you toss in his disposition, he can be unstoppable. Here is a little scouting report I did after watching Fairley for a couple weeks straight:

-Never stops moving forwards against the pass

-Extremely quick

-Has the strength to simply toss linemen aside

-Strong and violent hand usage

-Holds the POA relatively well for a guy who is known for his penetration

-Easily splits double teams with his acceleration

-Moves down the line very well

-Makes plays away from his frame

-Plays with inconsistent leverage

-Can get off blocks and explode through the line to make TFL

-Fantastic jolt off the line, he’ll knock blockers backwards just on initial contact

-Great fundamental tackling skills, makes big hits on QBs but none of them are illegal

-Great motor

-Plays through the whistle

-Against the run he can negated by double teams, doesn’t anchor as well as others in the class

-Thick upperbody, barrel chested

-Strong upperbody

-Carries his weight well

-Not a real big bubble, not as good a base as Marcel Dareus

 

JJ Watt DL Wisconsin- JJ Watt is just awesome, flat out awesome; he goes out on the field and gives his all 100% of the time. He leaves his heart on that field every Saturday and it shows. I’ve seen him put big Marcus Cannon on his butt. I’ve seen him single handily dominate Ohio State. I’ve seen a guy I would be thrilled to have on the Eagles. Instead of giving you guys a giant run down of how much I really like JJ Watt, I’ll link you to a scouting report that you can read if you’re interested in him.

And just so you don’t question how much JJ Watt loves the game:

If this guy ends up on the Steelers, Ravens or Patriots I will be ticked, he fits those teams like a glove and his work ethic, heart and talent combined with those teams’ mentalities, leadership and coaching just wouldn’t be fair. 

Brooks Reed DE/LB Arizona- I’ve seen a few Arizone games and this guy always sticks out, always. Now that can partially be attributed to his long, flowing locks of hair but it can also be attributed to his on field demeanor, the guy plays like a man possessed. The one play that sticks out in my mind was on the last drive in the game against Iowa, Reed sacked Stanzi to put the game on ice. His appearance and demeanor on the field are really reminiscent of Clay Matthews IMO, he probably doesn’t have the same amount of skill but he really does remind me of Clay. This is another guy who just leaves his heart on the field every Saturday. Brooks Reed could probably move to LB but I think he will be just fine at DE too. Reed does a great job with a variety of pass rush moves to run around, through, and over opposing offensive linemen. He is an incredible athlete but for some reason that doesn’t really translate to a real explosive athlete on the field, personally I think its more of a technique issue so its fixable. His athleticism flashes on the field when he is closing in on quarterbacks and he even displays potential in coverage because of his athleticism. Unlike a bunch of other players Reed makes the little plays, guys like Richard Quinn, Aldon Smith and Allen Bailey will go above him but Reed is more fundamentally sound and disciplined than any of those 3 I mentioned.

Oh and here are those freaky workout numbers I hinted at: Reed power-cleans 450, squats more than 600 and ran a 4.62 40-yard dash this spring.

This guy’s stock is going to move way up after the combine if those numbers are accurate, he could sneak into round 2 with his combination of tenacity/athleticism.

Ryan Kerrigan DE Purdue- Run and hide everyone, it’s a HIGH MOTOR MAN!! And we thought they were mythical… I can assure you Big 10 QBs can tell you just how real Kerrigan is, he has been terrorizing them for years. Ryan Kerrigan has put up 30.5 sacks, 55.5 TFL and a Big 10 record 14 forced fumbles in the past 3 seasons. Yes, this man is very, very real and he has a high motor! GASP! Oh and his nickname is Superman… Very real indeed. Ryan Kerrigan shows up in the biggest moments, he works hard, he fires his team up on Saturdays (but is really calm every other day, reminds me of someone I may have mentioned earlier…) and he makes game changing plays.

http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/players/1243851

You know who that sounds like? Jared Allen, this guy sounds EXACTLY like Jared Allen. I’m willing to bet that Ryan Kerrigan turns into the best DE from this class.

 

For the full clip, click this link

Greg Jones LB Michigan State- There is a Confucius quote that I think fits Greg Jones very well:

 

"Wherever you go, go with all your heart."

Heart. How does one quantify one’s ‘heart’? Is it staring defeat in the face and still playing with pride? Is it going out there and putting your best foot forward no matter what? Is it never giving up no matter the circumstance? Is heart going out on the field and leaving every bit of energy you had there? What is heart? Is heart just another name for courage? Can heart even quantifiable or is it something you just know when you see it? 

Brian Dawkins had heart. Jeremiah Trotter had heart. Sheldon Brown had heart. Who on this Eagles team plays with that kind of heart on defense? Who has the courage, the fire inside them and the ardor to go out there and give everything they’ve got for the team? I’m sure everyone on the team would love to say they play with ‘heart’ but do they?

 Greg Jones has heart. At 6’1" and generously listed at 240 pounds, Greg Jones doesn’t have the size as a Martez Wilson but every where he goes on the field, he goes with heart.

"[He is] a tackling machine who is the heart and soul of the Michigan State defensive unit" -Pat Narduzzi, MSU Defensive Coordinator

 "Greg Jones is passionate about the game, and when he's on the field, nothing is going to stop him from getting to the football."- Mike Tressel MSU Linebackers Coach

"Greg Jones has developed into not just a great playmaker, but a leader for us. He does everything a hundred miles an hour and wins with effort, whether it's the winter conditioning program, studying film, or practice on a spring day, he's going to give everything he's got - it's important to him." -Head Coach Mark Dantonio

 

Greg Jones is a guy who despite his size is an impact linebacker who makes plays, sets the tone, leads his defense and is one of the most humble, team oriented players you’ll likely ever see. In 4 seasons Greg Jones collected 465 tackles, 46.5 TFL, 16.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 15 QB hurries and 2 interceptions. Everything Greg does on the field he goes all out and it shows.

 

Nate Irving LB North Carolina State- Irving knows what its like to have football nearly taken from him.

Nate-irving-car-crash_medium

That car, is Nate Irving’s. That is what happens when you hit two trees when you run off the highway. How did this happen? It happened because he fell asleep at the wheel. Irving was lucky to walk away with a separated left shoulder, a cracked rib and punctured lung on his left side, and a badly fractured left leg. Nate Irving is lucky to be alive.

"I just want to beat the man across from me or the man with the ball mentally and physically. We are legally allowed to hit ‘em and punish ‘em and that’s what I want to do, I want to impose my will on the opposite player and I won’t stop at anything until I get it done."

Nate Irving is explosive and plays with an attitude. He plays the game the right way, he isn’t afraid to hit people, he flies around the football field and he sets the tone for his defense. Nate Irving plays with a huge chip on his shoulder and he plays with a big mean streak. He is athletic in pass coverage and he is aggressive in run support. He processes information very quickly and makes fast decisions on the move, which is a big reason for his high TFL numbers. His change of direction skills are great and that is something the Eagles really value, it is actually the original reason they benched Omar Gaither for Akeem Jordan. Nate Irving is a smaller guy at 6’1" and 230 pounds (can be engulfed, won’t overpower as a blitzer) and he has big time injury concerns. But he is generally a reliable tackler who flies around the field making plays for his defense. In Nate’s last two seasons starting he had 170 tackles, 32.5 TFL, 8 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 4 interceptions. And before he was a starter, he was a special teams force at North Carolina State and when I say force I don’t think that accurately describes it, the guy was a monster.

Casey Matthews LB Oregon- Its weird, Casey Matthews isn’t even close to Clay Matthews athletically but Casey Matthews just makes plays. Casey Matthews plays fearless on the field. Casey Matthews has instincts that Clay Matthews never had in college. Casey Matthews just makes plays.

Here is what Chip Kelly had to say about Casey Matthews:

"He’s probably the most instinctual football player we have. I know he’s the most instinctual football player I’ve ever had," UO coach Chip Kelly said. "You watch plays (from practice) on tape where we’ve taken two steps on offense and he’s already diagnosed the play and he’s reacted faster than anybody else to it. He just has an innate ability to know what the offenses are doing." 

Casey Matthews instincts really compensate for the lack of athletic talent, he flows to the ball very nicely, he will explode through gaps, he will take good angles and he wastes very little motion. And he is smart in coverage too, he doesn’t have great long speed so you might not want him running down the seam with a slot receiver or athletic tight end but he has quick feet and a good feel for the game. Casey Matthews could probably play MLB or WLB in the NFL and at the very least you want a guy like Casey Matthews on the field because Casey puts everything he has got onto the field every game and he will play his butt off. His intensity and work ethic are very good and that really makes me think that even if he doesn’t find a starting job, he will find a niche in the NFL. At the very least you have to think this guy is going to be a good special teams player.

And the craziest part is that he is still maturing physically, his vertical jump was the most improved on the Oregon Ducks team this year, he had his best season this year and his father (Clay Matthews Jr) says that he is still putting it all together and I believe him as the Matthews kids are notorious late bloomers.

 Mason Foster LB Washington- My favorite linebacker and that’s saying a lot considering how much I like Greg Jones and Nate Irving. Here is a quick scouting report I’ve got on him:

-Needs to play downhill a bit more, makes a lot of his stops downfield

-Flashes the ability to meet the running back in the hole and shoot gaps when playing downhill

-He is an inconsistent blitzer, on one play he’ll get pressure and the next he won’t. Shows potential as he is strong and he has a great motor (gasp!), he has sacked the QB 8.5 times the past two seasons but pass rushing moves need to be worked on.

-He has good range in zone coverage and he gets good depth in his drop and he doesn’t turn his back to the QB in zone coverage, nice zone awareness.

-He is versatile, he played all three linebacker spots in his time at Washington

-He doesn't over pursue things, his instincts and nose for the ball are fantastic

-He is solid in coverage until you force him to put his back towards you, he should be a good zone defender, not a good man defender.

-Stiff hips and is best when the play is kept in front of him.

-Needs to learn to turn and find the ball, poor ball skills in coverage.

-He is a secure tackler, solid fundamentals and he will drive through his tackles and will occasionally deliver a big hit.

-Is inconsistent disengaging from blocks but he doesn’t really have an issue with taking on a block, he doesn’t get rocked backwards its just a matter of getting off.

- I noticed him playing special teams

-He is seemingly the emotional leader of the Huskies defense.

-He has very active hands (7 forced fumbles)

-He is a thick linebacker, he isn’t long and lanky, he has a compact frame. 

Mark Herzlich LB Boston College- I already have one comeback story in this and this is another one, I think we all know the story about how Herzlich beat cancer and if you don’t… Well you must be living under a rock in which case I have to ask, how are you reading this? The guy is crazy on the football field, he hits hard, he plays with passion that is unmatched and he is a crazy man on Saturdays. He is a dichotomy just like Dawkins was, Mark is a really nice, well spoken, humble guy but on Saturdays he just becomes an entirely different animal. 

http://nflmocks.com/2010/07/13/2011-nfl-draft-scouting-report-mark-herzlich-boston-college/

You will be hard pressed to find any highlight or game film in which Mark isn’t around the football moving like a freight train.

http://www.draftcountdown.com/ScoutingReports/OLB/Mark-Herzlich.php

Has a non-stop motor

Fiery, intense and is extremely competitive

Very mature and is a respected team leader

Super tough and has a fantastic work ethic

 http://www.sidelinescouting.com/rankings/olb/mark-herzlich.shtml

Loves to hit, never shies away from contact, forced seven fumbles in four years at Boston College... Fearless and very instinctual on the field… Has the mentality NFL teams look for in a linebacker and team leader.

 And that doesn’t even really cover it, the guy is super intense.

Its tough to get a good read on Mark Herzlich as a prospect because he was so dominant in 2008 and never really returned to form this season although he improved as the season went on. If Herzlich can reach his potential you could have one of the biggest steals in NFL Draft history.

This is what former NFL scout Tom Marino wrote about Mark during the 2008 campaign:

Physical Make Up: Well conditioned / Tall tight skinned individual / Muscular with adequate peaks (not near full potential) / Arms appear long and has a v-shaped torso. A medium strider with sudden qualities. Moves laterally well with impressive feet and balance.

Strong Points: Size stature (can add significant weight to his frame) / Competitiveness / Highly intelligent (learns and assimilates quickly) / Instinctive and overall football awareness / Key and diagnose skills / Runs extremely well with A-1 playing range / Use of hands / Control (meet pressure) and get off blocks / Doesn’t linger on blocks / Can blow up lead and iso and maintain leverage on the ball / Special teams potential and background / Physical tackler who wraps up effectively (can deliver the knockout punch) / Zone pass drops were more than efficient / Excellent awareness and route recognition / Good reactions and hands / Can cover the tight end and match up with the back on the flat and down the field / Playing production and consistency / Change of direction (can stick his foot in the ground and go) Excellent secondary pursuit (doesn’t give up on plays or coast) Took good angles and once he saw it showed closing speed / Natural playing strength and leverage (very explosive on contact) / Blitz speed and timing.

Weak Points: Needs to add additional upper body strength (does have broad shoulders and long arms).

Potential: Herzlich was a truly outstanding football player. I loved his game to game consistency and the way he performed with the game in the balance. He’s big, athletic, runs like a scalded dog, yet appeared to play totally under control. A disruptive force on the football field.

Oh and he grew up an Eagles fan, perfect fit. 

Quinton Carter S Oklahoma- Dichotomy:

something with seemingly contradictory qualities

Quinton Carter is known as a head hunter on Saturdays, he plays like his trademark dreads are on fire and he will hit anything that moves and he’ll enjoy doing it. So how do you go from being a fiery, mean and borderline dirty player on Saturdays to being one of the best people in the entire football world? 

Don’t believe me? He is a member of the Allstate Good Works Team for his efforts off the field. As a college student, Carter started a foundation, he didn’t wait until he had the millions of dollars of an NFL star. His foundation is called the SOUL Foundation which stands for Serving Others through Unity and Leadership. He holds a free football camp for children every year in Norman and in his hometown of Las Vegas (Yeah!!). He has adopted a class of 4 year olds at a Norman Kindercare center where he is called "Mr. Q". And he has even organized free thanksgiving dinners for students at Oklahoma who had no where to go on Thanksgiving. And the best part is, this is only the start. 

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/andy_staples/10/22/quinton-carter-oklahoma/index.html 

By 2012, he hopes SOUL also will help fund a practice in Las Vegas that will offer physicals, mammograms and other basic medical services to low-income citizens.

"In my heart, I think God really put me in a position," Carter said. "Not only is it a dream come true, but I'm in a position to help others. I'm going to take advantage of my position. There are young guys who have no dreams." 

And this might be one of my favorite excerpts I’ve ever read:

Carter, normally quiet and reserved, lit up at Tuesday’s football press conference when a 4-year-old girl barely taller than his kneecap ran up to give him a hug.

The Las Vegas native "adopted" a class of about two dozen 4-year-olds from Norman KinderCare, and they were present Tuesday to see Carter honored for giving back to the Norman community.

"They make me have a reason to wake up each morning," he said.

Carter helps teach the kids reading and writing, and also participates in activities like nature walks and recycling programs. He has started his own charity — the SOUL Organization — and also has served the University Center for Student Advancement and the OU Black Graduate Student Association.

"I don’t seek recognition for the things I do," Carter said. "I am in a position to give back, so I do." 

I am proud to say that Quinton is from my home town and I would be even prouder to say that he is a Philadelphia Eagle. He is a tone setter on and off the field, on the field he is physical and energetic and off the field he is a gentle man who is just looking to pay it forward. 

 

D-Jackfan10’s Defensive Big Board:

*I’ll make notes on players that I didn’t mention above

Defensive Ends: 

1. Ryan Kerrigan :: Purdue

2. Cameron Jordan :: California - (DT)

-A 3-4 DE in college, projects to 3-4 DE or 3 Technique in the NFL, fantastic frame (6’4", 287 lbs, 35" arms, 11-1/8" hands), polished, strong, intelligent, tough, durable, versatile, quick feet, plays the piano keys well (lateral agility), will not be a 4-3 DE in the NFL and can be too aggressive. Perfect fit for Jim Washburn as a DT.  

3. Da’Quan Bowers :: Clemson*

-Fantastic athlete, amazing frame (6’4", 275 lbs), potential through the roof, quick (4.6 40 yard dash), fluid, powerful, fantastic run defender, gets off blocks well with long arms and makes plays behind the line. Not quick off the line, inconsistent, one year wonder, not a polished pass rusher, limited pass rush moves and feasted on poor ACC competition.

4. JJ Watt :: Wisconsin* - (DT)

-Very good fit for Jim Washburn as a DT

5. Robert Quinn :: North Carolina* - (OLB)

-Amazing athlete, great frame (6’5", 260 lbs.), all-pro potential, can be very explosive off the snap, great second burst, decent pass rushing moves, fluid athlete, game changing pass rusher (8 FF in 2 years), inconsistent get off (poor awareness), undeveloped frame, not very strong, not a good run defender, generally regarded as a high character guy (he got into trouble with an agent), overcame brain cancer (medical?), one year wonder and he was suspended his final year.

6. Jabaal Sheard :: Pittsburgh

-A solid athlete, stout frame, good strength, received great coaching, pro-ready, great leverage, powerful bull rush, not the fastest player but he varies his power/speed moves nicely, he plays the run very well, great movement down the line, non-stop motor, was unblockable at times in the weak Big East, dominated Orlando Franklin whenever they matched up. Limited upside? Anger issues (once threw a man through a window)?

7. Cameron Heyward :: Ohio State - (DT)

-Mediocre athlete for a 4-3 DE, good athleticism for 4-3 DT, nice frame (6’5", 288 lbs), polished pass rusher in terms of leverage and hand usage, great teammate, good strength, good run defender, high effort, very physical, very tough, versatile, not a good pass rusher, poor pass rush moves and is extremely inconsistent.

8. Allen Bailey :: Miami(FL) - (DT)

-Absolutely incredible athlete, insanely strong, poor quickness off the line, nice second burst, can knock offensive tackles backwards, poor leverage, poor pass rushing moves, poor hand usage, lacks girth in his lower body and middle section, solid run defender, hasn’t even began to scrape his potential.

9. Jeremy Beal :: Oklahoma

-sub-par athlete, not flexible when turning the corner, isn’t fast, has stiff hips, isn’t big, isn’t strong, is quick off the snap, he plays with good leverage, he has a motor that never stops, he is a good run defender, he is physical, durable, reliable tackler, hard worker and was a veteran leader at Oklahoma, very limited potential, overachiever

10. Christian Ballard :: Iowa (DT)

-looks like a top 10 pick walking off the bus (6’5", 298 pounds, long arms), is very quick for a big man (4.8 40 yard dash), he is versatile, very agile for a big man, is a decent run defender, inconsistent quickness off the line, shoots gaps and blows up run plays, needs more pass rushing moves, needs to work on hand usage, he is a competitor and goes all out, he still has a ton of upside. He is exactly what Jim Washburn looks for in a DT too, reminds me of Jason Jones a bit.

11. Adrian Clayborn :: Iowa

-He will fall like a lead ship on draft day. He isn’t a dynamic pass rusher, he doesn’t have good athleticism, he has short arms, he isn’t fast, he is coming off a bad year, he doesn’t have the length to play 3-4 end, he doesn’t have the size or experience at DT and he doesn’t have the quickness teams want in their defensive ends. Good run defender, good motor, powerful hands and he is physical. To me he profiles as a 2 down LE or a guy who needs to move inside. He will bomb at the combine too. Draft day faller is Clayborn, I’ll bet a lot on that.

12. Pernell McPhee :: Mississippi State

-Big powerful pass rusher who lacks a burst and profiles as a 3-4 end or 2 down LE in the NFL. Powerful run stuffer. Good frame. Good strength. Great experience. Nice potential.

13. Ricky Elmore :: Arizona

-Not physically gifted, he plays balls to the wall, will throw his body around, a good run defender, a high effort pass rusher who dominated the Pac-10, good pass rush moves, underrated quickness, not very fluid, short arms, powerful, can set the edge against the run, very active, not great upside, more of a niche player than a starter.

14. Sam Acho :: Texas

-Great guy, average football player. He is strong, he gives a very good effort and he has a stout frame but he isn’t very quick and he will struggle in the NFL. One of the best characters in the entire NCAA.

15. Brandon Bair :: Oregon – (DT)

-Nice frame with potential for more girth, relentless, he is quick for a big man, he has long arms, he bats passes down, he shoots gaps and disrupts the passing and running game, good pass rushing moves, high effort, versatile, small (273 at 6’6"), he isn’t overly powerful, he doesn’t anchor as well as other big men do and he is older (26 year old rookie). He is dominating Shrine Game practices though, un-block-able they say.

Defensive Tackles: 

1. Nick Fairley :: Auburn* - (DE)

2. Marcell Dareus :: Alabama* (DE)

-Great bulk,  a very thick base, plays with good leverage, has received fantastic coaching, is quick for a man of his size, his hand usage is top notch, good pass rushing moves, good coordination, good quick feet, extremely quick hands, not as powerful as his frame would suggest, plays with more finesse than power, great potential, versatile, pro-ready.

3. Drake Nevis :: Louisiana State

-HUGE fan, he is like the energizer bunny in the middle of the defense, he never stops. He isn’t big. He has a nice, powerful base though. Good leg drive. Very agile. Very quick. Quick off the snap. Shoots gaps very well, makes all kinds of plays in the backfield. Technically sound. Good pass rush moves. Polished. Great pedigree. Very aggressive and mean in the middle of the defense. Not versatile. Not much upside.

4. Stephen Paea :: Oregon State (NT)

-Not a huge fan. Meet Brodrick Bunkley’s clone, he is super strong and he is going to light it up in shorts but he is inconsistent, his athleticism doesn’t translate to a quick jump off the snap and he has been beaten by far less superior competition. Good run defender though. I like he has potential as a NT. Great potential. Great upside.

5. Corey Luiget :: Illinois*

-Freak show. Athletes like this at the DT position are extremely rare. I've been quoted as saying this many times, but this is a kid who was returning kickoffs in high school at 270 lbs to put his athleticism in perspective. He is 6’3" 300 pounds and he runs a 4.8, he is very very quick. Tough to handle in one on one situations. Plays with good leverage. Plays the run well because of his low center of gravity and leverage. Good potential. He is a perfect fit for a 3 technique and he fits the Washburn system like a glove.

6. Muhammad Wilkerson :: Temple* (DE)

7. Sione Fua :: Stanford

8. Phil Taylor :: Baylor

9. Marvin Austin :: North Carolina

10. Jarvis Jenkins :: Clemson (DE)

11. Kendrick Ellis :: Hampton

12. Jurrell Casey :: USC*

13. Cedric Thornton :: Southern Arkansas (DE)

14. Martin Parker :: Richmond

15. Jerrell Powe :: Mississippi (NT) 

Inside Linebacker: 

 

1. Greg Jones :: Michigan State - (OLB)

2. Quan Sturdivant :: North Carolina - (OLB)

-Decent size (6’2" 230 pounds), good athleticism, aggressive, attacks the line of scrimmage, sideline to sideline defender, good at defending the flat, a good pass rusher, good instincts, good at avoiding blocks, good zone defender, versatile, plays recklessly, can be too aggressive, can over pursue plays, not a big hitter and he isn’t a very sound tackler.

3. Martez Wilson :: Illinois* - (OLB)

-Incredible athletic specimen (6’4", 250 pounds, ran a 4.4 coming out of high school), was actually a defensive end recruit that Illinois kept at linebacker, still very raw, a one year wonder, still developing instincts, can be hesitant, effective blitzer, very fluid athlete, can stack and shed, is very physical, special teams performer, long frame, oozes potential, not a sound tackler, one year wonder, injury issues and inconsistent motor.

4. Nate Irving :: North Carolina State

5. Kelvin Sheppard :: Louisiana State

-Not a great athlete, isn’t very big, great instincts, is the signal caller of the LSU defense, good tackler, can lay the wood, very intense, leader of LSU defense, he is versatile, he is tough, he plays special teams, he is sort of frantic in the middle, he wastes a lot of motion, he can’t run in man coverage, he doesn’t blitz often, not powerful and he struggles with blockers.

6. Casey Matthews :: Oregon – (WLB)

7. Mario Harvey :: Marshall

-Slightly bigger, harder hitting version of Joe Mays.

8. Josh Bynes :: Auburn

-Look at Kelvin Sheppard’s notes, very very similar players but Bynes is less athletic and he is more physical taking on blockers.

9. Alex Wujciak :: Maryland

-He has great size, he isn’t very athletic, he is very physical, he is a reliable tackler, he is a big hitter, he takes on blockers extremely well, plays with fantastic discipline, great instincts, high motor, is a liability in coverage, isn’t a good blitzer and he doesn’t have the skill to play MLB in a 4-3 defense.

10. Colin McCarthy :: Miami(FL) (OLB)

-Not a fan. He has a thin frame, isn’t strong, he is fast, he isn’t decisive, he shoots the wrong gaps, he over pursues plays, he is terrible at taking on blockers, he consistently misses tackles, he doesn’t make big hits, he is a decent cover linebacker and he is a good special teams man, consistently the first one downfield covering punts.

Outside Linebacker:

 1. Von Miller :: Texas A&M - (DE)

-Would be a 3-4 OLB, he is an impact pass rusher, he is as good as it gets as a pass rusher, he explodes out of his stance (he stands up on occasion), he can beat tackles to the corner, he displays the ability to flatten out around the edge, very sudden pass rusher, elite closing speed, good pass rushing moves, solid hand usage and strength. Still developing in coverage and run stopping but a guy who can get to the QB as well as Miller can is going to be in demand, he reminds me of Dwight Freeney.

2. Akeem Ayers :: UCLA*

-Elite frame (6’4", 250), great athleticism, long arms, big hands and fluid, he appears to be a bit skinny, he made clutch plays for UCLA often, more than capable of running down the seam with tight ends, long arms to bat the ball down in coverage, fantastic range, good ball skills, poor instincts, will overrun plays, not a polished blitzer, shows speed rush ability, will miss tackles, not particularly fond of contact, great potential. Casual fans think he is a 3-4 OLB because of his background as a DE recruit and his size but anyone who watches him knows he is a 4-3 linebacker who is strongest in coverage, he plays much smaller than he is.

3. Justin Houston :: Georgia* - (DE)

-Would be a 3-4 OLB with potential to be an impact pass rusher, he has experience standing up at Georgia, he has fantastic speed, he has more than enough speed to beat his man to the corner, his explosion out of his stance is incredible, displays the ability to flatten out around the edge, very sudden pass rusher, he uses his hands to keep himself clearn, good lateral agility and will make plays down the line. Poor run defender, small and weak for a DE, doesn’t play the run particularly well and is still adjusting to his OLB spot, poor instincts when defending the run and he relies on his speed too much when rushing the passer, needs more pass rush moves.

4. Mason Foster :: Washington – (MLB)

5. Aldon Smith :: Missouri* - (DE)

-Would be a 3-4 OLB, incredible upside, could easily be a 4-3 DE, he is a freak athlete (6’5", 258 pounds, 4.6 speed, humongous wingspan), very effective on stunts, doesn’t consistently flatten out around the edge, very good explosion out of his stance, he is a very fluid athlete for a DE, didn’t register big sack numbers in 2010 but still put up a TON of pressure, he is long and lanky at this point, he isn’t a force against the run, he does a good job forcing plays wide, maintaining contain and he closes very quickly. He isn’t a secure tackler and he doesn’t consistently play with good leverage, he doesn’t have the best instincts and he has great upside.

6. Lawrence Wilson :: UCONN

-Would be a 4-3 WLB, he is small (6’1" and 226) but he plays bigger than he is, he is very athletic, he has good instincts, sideline to sideline speed, he navigates trash well, he is a very sound tackler, he is good enough taking on blocks, sudden and keeps himself clean, plays like a safety in coverage, very athletic in coverage, good zone and man defender, good blitzer, fluid athlete, if he was two inches taller and 15 pounds heavier he would be a top 20 pick, not too much upside.

7. Bruce Carter :: North Carolina

Ernie Sims v.2, extremely athletic but his instincts are questionable, he covers grass and has trouble trailing his man in coverage, he is most effective when blitzing. Should go to an aggressive 3-4 defense and hope to be the next Lawrence Timmons. More athlete than football player. Also just tore his ACL.

8. Mark Herzlich :: Boston College – (MLB)

9. KJ Wright :: Mississippi State

-Big frame (6’4" 250) with long arms, is powerful, can hold up at the point of attack, can set the edge, he is quick for a man of his size, he has good instincts, good tackler, has sideline to sideline range, a good motor, an effective blitzer, tons of experience in the SEC, he doesn’t have good hand usage, he isn’t a very fluid athlete, he has stiff hips and he doesn’t play with good leverage. Good potential, not an impact player, he has a perfect frame and skill set to play the SLB spot and he could be a good 3-4 ILB because of his size/strength. He actually really reminds me of Stewart Bradley pre-knee and arm injuries, solid player who can start.

10. Brooks Reed :: Arizona – (DE)

11. Tom Keiser :: Stanford

-Wonderful frame at 6’5" and 245 pounds, former defensive end, very intelligent, a great person off of the field, hard worker. Don’t know that much about him but I know given his size, position, production, athleticism and character that he will be drafted fairly highly. Versatile too, has the frame to project to 4-3 DE, 4-3 OLB or 3-4 ILB.

12. Ross Homan :: Ohio State

-He is small with a poor frame, he is fairly athletic, he has good instincts, he is a smart run defender who takes good angles, he has good range, he navigates trash well, he is a very sound tackler, sudden and keeps himself clean, plays like a safety in coverage, very athletic in coverage, good zone defender, can man up with tight ends in coverage, good zone awareness, will deliver a big hit on a receiver coming through his zone, sound tackler but not a powerful one, he doesn’t take on and disengage from blocks well and he is a mediocre blitzer at the college level.

13. Doug Houge :: Syracuse

-A former RB who has only played LB for two seasons but is extremely athletic and is catching on quickly. He is a good coverage linebacker and he is a good blitzer but he is still developing instincts against the run and he still isn’t the most sound tackler. He has a ton of upside though.

14. Brian Rolle :: Ohio State

15. Dontay Moch :: Nevada

Cornerback:

1. Prince Amukamara :: Nebraska

-EVERYONE knows about this guy, if you don’t go to google and find one of the billion scouting reports out on him.

2. Patrick Peterson :: Louisiana State* - (S)

-Everyone knows about him but I feel like my opinion is different than everyone else’s. I think that Peterson is overrated and that while he does well in college his footwork and technique will be exposed at the NFL level. Plus I’m not sure that he is the most fluid guy in the draft. I really think he is similar to Antrell Rolle as a prospect. The only problem is that Peterson is completely disinterested in supporting the run. Here is a link that has NFL scouts who agree with me. 

On the surface it appears Peterson is a lock to be selected in the top 5 of this upcoming draft, for sure a top 10 pick and draft projections around the net support it but more then a few scouts are taking a second look.

Several current scouts feel Peterson is a much better athlete then he will ever be a football player. Some question his instincts, some question his desire in run support but most if not all agree that he is simply not fundamentally a great player and all follow that up with "yet".

Two scouts I spoke to say they believe Patrick is an immediate special teams contributor but is two or three years from being ready to implant himself permanently in a NFL defensive backfield.

Another scout I spoke to expanded on this by saying that his athletic traits allowed him to get away with a lot at the college level and wont translate to the NFL. He went on to say that one knock on Peterson at LSU was that he was too much or a "free roamer" and had trouble grasping and understanding schemes.

A current NFL scout for the Saints told me that Peterson reminds him a lot of former Redskins LB Lavar Arrington. An athletic freak that will never produce as expected due to the simple fact there is no scheme that can contain him.

The over whelming consensus was that Peterson's future in the NFL will be made at safety but his responsibilities will need reduced in order for him use his athletic ability to make plays. The problem being as they said is that as a pure safety he's not the game changer that teams typically look for if they spend a top 10 pick on a safety.

He also went on to point out that the two safeties chosen in last years top 15, Eric Berry and Earl Thomas received two of the highest draft grades for a DB let alone safety that scouts have seen in several years and Berry was chosen 5th while Thomas slipped to 15th. He emphasized, Peterson is no where near the caliber player of those 2.

I found it interesting that not a single one of the scouts I spoke to projected Peterson to CB at the next level and were very clear in stating that there were very few teams who are grading him right now as a CB. 

3. Jimmy Smith :: Colorado

4. Aaron Williams :: Texas*

5. Brandon Burton :: Utah*

6. Johnny Patrick :: Louisville

7. Brandon Harris :: Miami(FL)*

8. Davon House :: New Mexico State

9. Curtis Brown :: Texas

10. Rashad Carmichael :: Virginia Tech

11. Ras-I Dowling :: Virginia – (S)

12. Justin Rogers :: Richmond

13. Brandon Hogan :: West Virginia

14. Korey Lindsey :: Southern Illinois

15. Jalil Brown :: Colorado   

Safety: 

1. Rahim Moore :: UCLA*

-Super rangy safety who has fantastic ball skills, he isn’t the strongest run defender and has Ed Reed like potential

2. Quinton Carter :: Oklahoma

3. Ahmad Black :: Florida – (Nickel Back)

-One of my favorite players in the draft, he is small but he holds his own in the box, he throws his body around, he is good in man coverage, he is good in zone coverage, he can play center field, he can play nickel back, he can play in the box, he has potential to be a special teams returner, he will compete on special teams, Ahmad Black does it all but he will be a 2nd or 3rd round draft pick because he is small.

4. DeAndre McDaniel :: Clemson

-A guy who fits a zone blitz defense very well, he has good ball skills but he isn’t great in coverage, he is a former linebacker so you know he is a good run supporter and he is a very effective blitzer from the safety spot. He is a good all around safety.

5. Jeron Johnson :: Boise State

-Extremely similar to Quintin Mikell all the way down to the college they went to.

6. Tyler Sash :: Iowa*

-Poor athlete but he is heady, has great instincts, is always around the ball, is assignment sure and disciplined.

7. Jaiquawn Jarrett :: Temple

8. Jerrad Tarrant :: Georgia Tech*

9. Deunta Williams :: North Carolina

10. Eugene Clifford :: Tennessee State

11. Chris Conte :: California

12. Nate Williams :: Washington

13. Robert Sands :: West Virginia*

14. Shiloh Keo :: Idaho

15. Marcus Gilchrist :: Clemson 

**DO NOT DRAFT WILL HILL!**

The guy has all the talent but what an idiot. Go look at his twitter. He talks about how he smokes weed, how he gets head and how his baby broke it’s arm. The guy is a grade A moron and he obviously has HUGE character issues. What an idiot.

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