Tag Archive: Maurkice Pouncey


NFL Quick Hits: Week 2

This post will have to be more brief than my original one, partially because I missed the majority of the late afternoon games as well as the 49ers-Seahawks game (despite the delay) because of my move. Still, I want to write up my thoughts on the games I was able to see this week, so here there are.

New Message: Missing You. Sender: Tom Brady. Recipients: Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez: The Patriots are 2-0, but barely. They eeked out a win week one against a rookie quarterback and the Buffalo Bills and needed three interceptions from their defense to hang on for a 13-10 win against Geno Smith and the New York Jets this past Thursday. Shane Vereen got hurt after a very productive opening week and Stevan Ridley has started slowly in the first two weeks. On top of that, Danny Amendola was hurt against the Jets, Gronkowski is still out, Hernandez is long gone and so is Wes Welker. Julian Edelman was the only receiver Brady could trust to catch the ball and he targeted him very frequently as a result, though Aaron Dobson had three solid catches for 56 yards and the Patriots’ only touchdown. However, he caught those three passes on a whopping 10 targets from Brady and had at least a couple drops from what I saw watching the game live. Brady let his frustration show throughout the game and it’s easy to understand why. He’s used to sure-handed receivers that are on the same page as him, but it was clear that everyone on the unit outside of Edelman was still working out the kinks with Brady. This was perfectly shown on one 3rd down play in the red zone where Dobson was running a corner route and as he got to the goal line Brady fired a pass expecting him to have read the coverage, recognize the hole in the zone and sit down for an easy touchdown. Instead, Dobson continued running his route and the pass fell incomplete and led to a field goal attempt which left Brady incensed as he came off the field and on the sideline. Hopefully Amendola won’t be out for longer than a couple weeks and Gronkowski should be back either this week or next, so Brady won’t have to put up with this indefinitely. As frustrating as this is for him right now it might pay some dividends later in the season if he gets on the same page with Dobson and rookie undrafted free agent receiver Kenbrell Thompkins early on. Once Amendola and Gronkowski are back (and if they stay healthy) having Dobson, Thompkins and Edelman as reliable complementary options could provide this offense with a significant spark, not to mention if the running game gets going and Vereen returns healthy after he is activated from the injured reserve. The silver lining for the Jets is that Geno Smith flashed some upside in this game despite his three interceptions (though some of the throws he made late in the game were awful and complete head scratchers) and Chris Ivory seems poised to take over as a potential bell cow as he comes back from injury. That would be great for the Jets because they need a running game to help take some of the pressure off of Smith’s shoulders, there’s no way he should be throwing the ball 35 times in poor conditions against Tom Brady and the Patriots in his second career start. As out of synch as the Patriots offense was at times, the Jets defense has been better than a lot of people assumed it would be after losing it’s best player in Darrelle Revis, further proving that Rex Ryan may not be a media darling but he is a very good defensive football coach. We’ll see if that continues, but I don’t expect the Patriots to continue to struggle on offense like this for more than two or three weeks, and hopefully Chris Ivory will stay healthy and help keep Smith from needing to attempt 30+ passes in a game for a while.

It’s A Good Thing the Falcons Played at Home Because They Know Where All the Hospitals Are: Steven Jackson is already hurt and may be out another two to four weeks with a thigh injury. Bradie Ewing is out for the season with a shoulder injury. Kroy Biermann is out for the season with a torn Achilles. Sean Weatherspoon is on IR and is eligible to return week 11 because of a Lisfranc injury. Roddy White is playing through his injury but was clearly limited in week two as he was targeted just three times for three receptions and 21 yards. Julio Jones was on the injury report but thankfully went off for 181 yards and one touchdown against the Rams. The Falcons can survive without Steven Jackson thanks to Jason Snelling (if they ever give him the ball) and Jacquizz Rodgers as a change of pace back, they can survive while Roddy White is largely a decoy if Harry Douglas keeps catching 80% of his targets like he did against the Rams (4/5), they can survive without Ewing at fullback like they did all last season, and they can find a way to replace Biermann’s production as a pass rusher and hopefully his versatility to drop into coverage as well as his terrific motor. However, it’s going to be hard to replace ‘Spoon’s value to the linebacking corp because the Falcons were already thin there and relied on rookie linebacker Joplo Bartu from Texas State to help solidify that unit already. Now they will be scrambling to either add a veteran or will be forced to call up one of the young linebackers who didn’t make the team such as Pat Schiller. The Falcons have been hit hard by injuries already this year, but it’s not time to hit the panic button yet. However, they really need to work on establishing the run game against the Dolphins this upcoming week because running the ball 16 times for 36 yards (2.3 ypc) is embarrassing, particularly when your most effective runner (Jason Snelling) only got 2 carries and managed 19 yards and a touchdown despite the coaching staff almost deliberately trying not to give him the ball. Ryan was brilliant despite the lack of even a semblance of a running game, but expecting him to be that brilliant without a running game consistently is asking for a let down. Feed Snelling and let him take some of the heat off Ryan by getting him in more favorable 2nd and 3rd down situations. I haven’t been able to go back and rewatch the game yet, but Sam Bradford finally seems to have some weapons around him to do some damage with. Chris Givens gives him a deep threat that the Rams have been missing for years, and despite not liking him out of Boise State Austin Pettis has stuck around and remained productive despite lacking any explosiveness what so ever. The Rams, too, need to establish a running game and Daryl Richardson is the man they expect to do it. Still, he only got 10 carries and mustered 35 yards, but I still hope the Rams will give Benny Cunningham a chance to show what he can do. He is my favorite running back on the Rams roster and I really think he and Isiah Pead could do some damage splitting carries. The Rams defense is definitely talented enough to contend, it all comes down to whether Sam Bradford and the offense can take that next step this year now that he has some weapons to throw to.

Aaron Rodgers Is Still A Robot: I watched almost the entirety of the Packers-Redskins game and it honestly scared me watching Rodgers play quarterback. He had 335 yards passing at HALFTIME and finished with 480 yards, tying the passing record set by Packers legend Matt Flynn. He also threw four touchdowns while completing an insane 34 of his 42 passing attempts. His “QBR” of 80.9 is proof that ESPN’s rating system for quarterbacks is a complete joke because Rodgers was nothing short of masterful against the Redskins. On top of that the Packers also got 132 yards and a touchdown out of James Starks who was forced into action after Eddie Lacy was knocked out of the game with a concussion. RGIII on the other hand had a tougher day and started much slower than Rodgers did (though Rodgers was under pressure frequently during the first couple series). He still managed to finish the game with 320 yards, three touchdowns and one interception on 26/40 passing, but only ran the ball four times for a total of one yard. The Redskins are clearly trying to limit the contact that RGIII is taking, but it’s hurting the offense’s effectiveness early on in games if you ask me. The ‘Skins are 0-2 now and RGIII and that offense will have to get things going earlier if they are going to turn things around. We’ll see when the Shanahans are comfortable turning him loose on his surgically repaired knee.

Rivers Gets Redemption, Steals Victory From Vick, Eagles: Philip Rivers bounced back from a disappointing loss to the Texans the week before by winning on a last second field goal against the Eagles this past week. Rivers completed 36/47 passes for 419 yards and three touchdowns, all of which went to his new favorite target Eddie Royal who now has five touchdowns in just two games. Who saw that coming? Not me. I wasn’t happy to see Malcolm Floyd sustain a neck injury when he got sandwiched by two Eagles defenders over the middle, but his injury gave Keenan Allen a chance to get on the field and he caught two of his three targets for 34 yards including a BEAUTIFUL route on a deep in for his first NFL reception. Allen was my #1 ranked wide receiver in the 2013 NFL Draft class so I am excited that he might be getting more playing time even if it is because Floyd went down with an unfortunate injury. Rivers’ performance also overshadowed a terrific game from Mike Vick who threw for a career best 428 yards on 23 of 36 passing and two touchdowns. He also added six rushes for 23 yards and another score on the ground. LeSean McCoy only got 11 carries for 53 yards but he and DeSean Jackson were lethal in the passing game as McCoy totaled 114 yards on just five receptions and Jackson reeled in nine passes good for 193 yards and a touchdown. Chip Kelly’s offense is certainly fun to watch, but I am not surprised that the Eagles’ defense is struggling to stop opposing offenses from gaining a lot of yards and putting up a lot of points. They’re giving up 30 points per game through the first two weeks and that isn’t going to cut it in a division with the Giants, Redskins and Cowboys all capable of putting up a lot of points on any given Sunday.

Texans “Nuke” Titans: For years Texans fans and NFL Draft analysts alike have been waiting and wondering when the Texans would get a legitimate wide receiver to play opposite Andre Johnson and 2013 was finally the year as the Texans added DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins was my #4 ranked wide receiver in an absolutely loaded class but I am a huge fan of his and was not surprised to see him help the Texans rally despite losing Andre Johnson to a possible concussion in the 4th quarter. He finished the game with seven receptions for for 117 yards and the game winning touchdown in overtime in just his second game during his rookie season. It’s clear “Nuk” Hopkins is living up to the hype so far, and it’s great to see such a talented player blossom under the tutelage of a longtime NFL star in Andre Johnson.

Bengals, Bernard Burst Past Steelers: This wasn’t as fun of a game as I was hoping it would be largely in part because the Steelers offense is in a very bad way right now. Outside of Antonio Brown and occasionally Emmanuel Sanders there are no playmakers (Markus Wheaton has barely gotten any snaps the first two weeks) and Heath Miller was out for this game as well. Big Ben will be happy once Le’Veon Bell and Miller return because Bell should help perk up the running game even though Maurkice Pouncey will be out the entire season. Ray Lewis seemed to think that this was a devastating blow to the Steelers, and contrary to what I have read from some media members I tend to side with Ray. It’s easy to overlook how critical a center is to the offensive line sometimes, but players like Pouncey (even if he hasn’t been at his best for the last year or so) don’t come around too often. Add to that the departure of Mike Wallace and Miller’s injury and it’s not hard to see why the Steelers are struggling out of the gate this year. The defense is still strong, but they struggled to match up with the quickness of Giovani Bernard out of the backfield as well as the athleticism of Jermaine Greshman and Tyler Eifert. The Bengals continue to look like a very good team at pretty much every position except quarterback where I still have my reservations about Andy Dalton despite the fact that he is entering the final year of his rookie contract. The Bengals have done well to surround him with weapons to get the most out of him that they can, but I think he plateaued after his rookie season and I don’t think he will ever take the next step from being a solid quarterback to being a good or great one. He settled down in this game and helped steer the Bengals to victory, but he was missing some throws he has to make to Eifert and AJ Green, two players with massive catch radii, that he has to make if he wants to lead the Bengals to the playoffs consistently, much less on a deep playoff run. The Bengals don’t seem to be totally convinced that Dalton is “the guy” yet either or they probably would have signed him to a contract extension, so it will be interesting to see how the season plays out, if Dalton takes the next step, and what the Bengals elect to do with him prior to him becoming a free agent.

Well, it was slightly more brief than last week. Hopefully you all enjoyed my thoughts, let me know what you think and if you agree or disagree with anything I’ve written here.

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Scouting Report:

Pouncey has ability as a guard but he struggles mightily when asked to drive block.

Positives: Pouncey has impressive size and strength for an interior lineman and is also quite athletic for his size. He moves well and shows the ability to pull and execute cut blocks which helps his stock as a guard out a lot. He shows a pretty quick first step coming out of his stance which helps him get in position to wall off blockers or seal on double teams. He shows good fundamentals when executing a wall-off block or a seal block and has a good wide base, doesn’t play too high, has good hand placement and sustains well. He also shows ability as a pass blocker. Again he plays with a good base, picks up twists and stunts pretty easily, sustains his blocks well once he gets his hands on the player and moves well enough laterally to mirror quicker, undersized defensive tackles. While he struggled mightily as a center early in the season he certainly improved as the season went on and while I don’t think he should play there in the NFL there is something to be said for how far he came from botching multiple snaps in Florida’s first game to at least avoiding bad snaps by the end of the season. He moves to the second level well also which speaks to his mobility, and shows some nastiness when finishing blocks at times.

Negatives: Pouncey really struggles as a drive blocker. It might sound funny to hear someone say that, but even though he is fundamentally sound when walling off defenders or when pass blocking his technique is just awful as a drive blocker. He bends at the waist and he leans into his blocks nearly every time he’s asked to drive block. That hurts his ability to balance and it makes it very difficult to sustain blocks, and not surprisingly he ends up on the ground a lot and rarely gets a good push as a drive blocker because of it. Either he is stalemated at the line of scrimmage by the DT or he pushes them off the ball before being discarded shortly after his initial surge. At times he will struggle with pad level when run blocking, seemingly when drive blocking or when trying to block a linebacker on the second level. He also struggles with combo blocks at times as he seems to wait too long to leave the double team to get downfield to block an incoming defender. Pouncey should not be a center in the NFL in my opinion because while he did better snapping the ball as the season went along his struggles to begin the season were well documented both when snapping the ball and when calling out blitzes and adjusting blocking assignments.

Overall: Pouncey is an overrated prospect to me. I would not pick him in the first round, and I openly wondered while watching him if his best fit might be in a zone blocking scheme, not in a man blocking scheme that requires a lot of drive blocking from their guards. While Pouncey is not an ideal puller or cut blocker he has shown some promise in these areas and I think he could be coached up at both pulling and cut blocking once he gets to the NFL. If that is the case then he would be playing to his strengths as a run blocker and wouldn’t be asked to drive block which is struggles mightily at due to seriously flawed technique. I think Pouncey’s stock is getting help from his brother’s tremendous success in the NFL and while Pouncey is a pretty good prospect in his own right he is not nearly on his brother’s level as far as drive blocking is concerned, nor is he as polished as a center. Pouncey can have a quality career as an offensive guard in the NFL, but unless an offensive line coach really works with him to help stop him from leaning into his blocks so much he will never be an effective run blocker in the NFL. I think if he gets drafted to a man blocking scheme like he probably will then he will be a disappointment because of his issues when drive blocking.

Projection: Late 1st round. I wouldn’t pick him here, but I have to say I’d be surprised if he made it out of round one at this point. He may go in the top 20, I just don’t know. But I would probably consider picking him in the middle of round 2 if I was a zone blocking team.

SKILLS
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite

Strength: 3.5
Pass Blocking: 3.5
Run Blocking: 2.5
Footwork: 3.0
Technique: 3.5
Mobility: 3.5
Mean Streak: 3.5

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

I thought this would be interesting to look at to see how certain players were doing thus far. There are some players who are playing great and exceeding expectations and there are players who are not living up to the hype thus far, just like every year. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at each players’ stat-line now that we are more than halfway through the season. Unfortunately the stats for the offensive lineman that were drafted in the first round are only current through week seven.

NFL Draft Pick Stats:

Sam Bradford- 201/334 (60.2%), 5.76 YPA, 12 TD/8 INT

Ndamukong Suh- 33 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 3 TFL, 1 INT

Gerald McCoy- 21 tackles, 0 sack, 5 TFL

Trent Williams- Only 2 sacks allowed through week 7

Eric Berry- 50 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 1 FF, 2 INT, 4 PD’s

Russell Okung- Injured for majority of season

Joe Haden- 34 tackles, 2 INT’s, 7 PD’s

Rolando McClain- 42 tackles, .5 sacks, 3 TFL, 3 PD’s

CJ Spiller- 41 attempts, 164 yards, 4.0 ypc, 18 receptions, 81 yards, 4.5 ypc, 1 TD, 1 fumble

Tyson Alualu- 24 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 2 TFL

Anthony Davis- 6 sacks allowed through week 7

Ryan Matthews- 87 attempts, 382 yards, 2 TD, 15 receptions, 92 yards, 3 fumbles (all lost)

Brandon Graham- 7 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 TFL, 1 FF

Earl Thomas- 47 tackles, 1 TFL, 4 INT’s, 5 PD’s

Jason Pierre-Paul- 10 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 PD’s

Derrick Morgan- 5 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 PD (injured in 4th game)

Mike Iupati- 1 sack allowed after 7 weeks

Maurkice Pouncey- 1.5 sacks allowed after 7 weeks

Sean Weatherspoon- 29 tackles, 1 sack, 1 PD

Kareem Jackson- 46 tackles, 2 INT’s, 7 PD’s

Jermaine Gresham- 40 receptions, 297 yards, 3 TD’s, 2 fumbles (1 lost)

Demaryius Thomas- 19 receptions, 266 yards, 2 TD’s, 2 fumbles (1 lost)

Bryan Bulaga- 4 sacks through week 7

Dez Bryant- 41 receptions, 539 yards, 5 TD’s, 14 PR’s- 202 yards, 2 TD’s

Tim Tebow- 1/1, 3 yards, 1 TD

Dan Williams- 16 tackles, 1 TFL

Devin McCourty- 48 tackles, 2 INT’s, 8 PD’s

Jared Odrick- 1 tackle, 1 TFL

Kyle Wilson- 18 tackles, 4 PD’s

Jahvid Best- 124 attempts, 380 yards, 3.1 ypc, 4 TD’s, 45 receptions, 360 yards, 1 TD, 1 Fumble (1 lost)

Jerry Hughes- 3 tackles

Patrick Robinson- 21 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 PD’s

Now, obviously stats don’t tell the whole story, but considering the fact that I have not had time to watch all of these guys play individually (much less multiple times) I thought it would be interesting to compare some of their stats. Some guys have been better than others, and it is still far too early to determine who has “panned out” as a prospect and who hasn’t, but there are a few guys that warrant additional conversation: Sam Bradford, Ndamukong Suh, Trent Williams, Eric Berry, Joe Haden, Earl Thomas, Kareem Jackson, Dez Bryant and Devin McCourty.

Sam Bradford- Bradford has definitely outperformed my expectations for him, but my expectations for him were that he would play very badly if he were to start as a rookie. He has certainly played better than I expected, and I can readily admit that I am wrong in that regard. Sam Bradford is not a bust, at least not yet. His stat line looks solid, especially for a rookie QB, but 210 of his 324 passing attempts have been on throws that are 10 yards or shorter as far as distance downfield from the line of scrimmage. He has attempted almost as many passes (54) on throws behind the line of scrimmage as he has on throws 11-20 yards downfield (56). I think it is fair to say that his stat line, therefore, is misleading. He is not being asked to make a lot of tough throws or difficult reads, and that makes sense. He is a rookie QB transitioning from a spread offense to a pro-style offense. I definitely underrated his intangibles which played a significant role in me thinking he was going to be a bust. I didn’t know whether I should believe everyone who said he was smart and made all of the calls at the line of scrimmage or whether I should believe my eyes that seemed to indicate he was taking audibles and calls from the sideline every play. I went with my gut and I was wrong, but I can admit that. However, I am going to be watching him carefully to see how he does when he is under pressure, how well he goes through his progressions and how often he checks down before going through all of his reads this weekend. I am very excited to see him play because I haven’t seen much of him this year.

Ndamukong Suh- Suh has frankly lived up to all of the hype he had going into the draft this year. 6.5 sacks for a rookie defensive tackle is absolutely absurd, especially at this point in the season. It is not unrealistic to assume that he could hit 10 sacks as a rookie defensive tackle on a young, relatively inexperienced defense. He is just an absolute beast, and that is why I had him graded as the top player in the draft this past year. He has played as well as anyone could have expected so far this year from a statistical standpoint, and I have a feeling he is going to be an incredibly disruptive and dominant player throughout his NFL career.

Trent Williams- Williams is another player that I was simply off about. I didn’t think he could stick at LT in the NFL, but it seems I was wrong. Through week seven he had only given up two sacks, which is impressive for a rookie LT (especially one that I thought had Pro-Bowl potential at RT but would only be a solid/pretty good starter at LT). I’m sure some of this has to do with having a veteran QB in Donovan McNabb under center, and though I have not watched him and scouted him specifically he seems to have played well this year. He has certainly outperformed my expectations for him as a LT thus far. I look forward to getting a chance to watch him play more soon so I can see how he plays for myself.

Eric Berry- I have not seen any Chiefs games this year, but Berry’s stat line is awfully impressive for a rookie safety. I think it is safe to say that he is going to be a dynamic playmaker in that secondary for a long time, and while I can’t specifically say how he has been playing in coverage or versus the run I know what he was capable of in college and he was definitely one of my highest rated prospects in last year’s draft class. Thus far, he seems to have been a good selection.

Joe Haden- Haden was a guy who seemed to have some controversy surrounding him. Now, I haven’t scouted him specifically this year, but his stat line is pretty impressive for a rookie corner on an overall bad team. Two interceptions and seven pass deflections speaks to the ball skills that I thought would make him a top corner in this league, but I am very much looking forward to re-watching the Browns-Falcons game so I can see how he played with my own eyes.

Earl Thomas- Thomas was another one of my favorite prospects from last draft. I had him in my top 10 on my Top 100 Big Board and for good reason: the guy is really talented. I loved the Seahawks draft last year with Russell Okung and Earl Thomas, but unfortunately Okung has been injured and has not had much of an impact yet. Thomas, however, is a different story: 47 tackles, four interceptions and five pass deflections? That is pretty incredible for a rookie defensive back, especially on a defense with as many issues as Seattle’s. He seems to be playing very well so far, and I hope he continues to make me look smart.

Kareem Jackson- Jackson was a guy that I thought was a very quality early 2nd round pick at corner, but he went #20 and that was a little earlier than I thought he would go. He has had his ups and downs this year, but overall he has been impressive for a rookie corner. Corners playing this early in their career are going to get beat, and he has had those experiences, but 46 tackles, two interceptions and seven pass deflections is a stat line you shouldn’t scoff at for a rookie corner. I liked him as a corner coming out of Alabama, and he seems to be playing well for the Texans thus far.

Dez Bryant- Ah, Dez Bryant. The “prima-donna” WR with bad work ethic and serious character concerns. What a joke that has turned out to be. I thought Dez Bryant had top 10 talent and pro-bowl potential written all over him, and so far it looks like I (and many other people who didn’t get sucked in by the media’s bullshit) were right. He is a dynamic playmaker as a receiver and as a punt returner and he is one of the only reasons the Cowboys are still worth watching at this point.

Devin McCourty- McCourty was a guy that I thought was a little overrated when the draft finally came around, but I was pretty surprised to see him get selected in the 1st round. He seems to be playing well though and I can admit that I was off on him. 48 tackles, two interceptions and eight pass deflections is a nice stat line, and the Patriots are one of the best teams in the NFL at drafting players that make quick impacts and transition well to the NFL. Clearly they saw something I didn’t in McCourty, but they seem to have made the right choice so far.

I would love to go through every draft pick and write a blurb about them, but it would take a really long time and I am so long-winded that this would easily be a 3,000-5,000 word blog post, so I am going to stop it here. I am going to get to work on a new mock draft as well as some RB rankings shortly, but I thought that it would be interesting to see how some of the most highly publicized draft picks have performed thus far. Later on I might talk about some guys who were not drafted in the 1st round who are having a significant impact if I have time.

Thanks for reading!

–Tom