Tag Archive: Robert Griffin III


NFL Weekly Picks: Week 3

Hey guys, sorry I didn’t have time to get my weekly picks post up last week. I just moved back to Minnesota so now that I am settling in hopefully I will be able to get into a groove with all of these weekly posts that I want to do. So, without further ado, here are my NFL Weekly Picks!

Eagles over Chiefs- I think the Eagles’ offense will be too much for the Chiefs to slow down, but it may come down to whether or not the Eagles defense can stop anyone. Thus far the answer to that question is no. Still, I’m going with Chip Kelly and the home team Eagles in this match-up, especially since the Chiefs have Dunta Robinson on their roster.

Packers over Bengals- The Bengals got a solid win against the Steelers last week but the Packers offense looked borderline unstoppable last week against the Redskins. The Bengals defense is a significantly better unit, but I think the Packers will be able to put up enough points to win this one. If Andy Dalton plays well he could make things interesting though, and I’m not sold on the Packers defense yet. Still, it’s tough to bet against Aaron Rodgers in this match-up even on the road.

Rams over Cowboys- This might surprise some people, but the Rams are a good football team and they gave my Falcons a run for their money last week. The Cowboys couldn’t quite figure out the Kansas City Chiefs, and while the ‘Boys have a lot of talent on offense the Rams are a talented defensive football team that I think has a chance to match-up with the Cowboys on offense. Of course, if Dez Bryant goes off for 180 yards and a touchdown like Julio Jones did last week then I would be completely wrong on that. Still, I have a feeling the Rams will play well in this game and I think they can beat Tony Romo and the Cowboys on the road.

Chargers over Titans- I’m realizing I’m picking a lot of road teams here so far, but I think the Chargers are the better football team in this match-up and it’s tough not to go with Philip Rivers over Jake Locker here. If Locker can pass accurately and use his legs effectively they could give the Chargers defense some problems, but most of us know the likelihood of both of those things happening consistently for four quarters is not likely.

Vikings over Browns- This would have been a more interesting game prior to the Trent Richardson trade, and there is something funny about the Browns making this trade with the Colts just days before they travel up to Minnesota to play the Vikings given that the Vikings are the team that traded down with Cleveland to allow them to move up to number three overall and select Richardson in the first place. The Browns offense has been struggling even with Richardson in the lineup, and it’s hard to imagine them being better without him even with Josh Gordon returning from suspension. The Browns do have a good defense though, so I expect both teams to score less than 20 points. The Vikings have the offensive advantage in this match-up though thanks to Adrian Peterson and a solid game from Christian Ponder, Greg Jennings, Kyle Rudolph and Jerome Simpson should be enough to win this one for the purple. However, it is worth mentioning that this is the kind of game the Vikings traditionally find a way to inexplicably lose.

Patriots over Buccaneers- The Buccaneers aren’t in great shape right now and while the Patriots have barely managed to defeat two rookie quarterbacks in consecutive weeks I don’t think Tom Brady and that offense are going to stay out of synch for more than a couple weeks. That should play to the Bucs advantage this week, but I don’t think it will be enough to get them a victory.

Saints over Cardinals- Originally I had the Cardinals winning this game, but it’s tough to travel into the Superdome and get a victory, particularly since the Saints defense looks significantly better through two weeks than it ever did last season. Carson Palmer has reinvigorated the Cardinals offense, and their defense is still respectable despite the loss of defensive coordinator Ray Horton, but I don’t think it will be enough to go into the Saints’ house and beat Drew Brees on his home turf.

Redskins over Lions- The Lions have shown plenty of flashes through the first two weeks, but I think they are going to come up short against a Redskins team that will likely be very motivated and focused after starting 0-2. It remains to be seen if the ‘Skins defense can get on track, but going up against the Eagles and the Packers in the first two weeks isn’t exactly a fair barometer for a defense, especially since they were essentially the NFL’s guinea pigs against Chip Kelly and his up-tempo offensive scheme. I think the Redskins will be motivated and hungry this week, so I’m giving them the edge over the Lions.

Giants over Panthers- I definitely didn’t expect the Giants to start the season out 0-2, but if Eli Manning can’t stop throwing interceptions they may be in for a long year. However, I am well aware that not all of those turnovers are his fault and I expect he and the Giants to get back on track against the Panthers. It would be really nice if David Wilson would get his act together and stop fumbling the ball, but the addition of Brandon Jacobs back into the fold should help provide at least a little stability in the running game. Maybe Cam Newton and the Panthers will surprise me, but I think the Giants are going to be motivated after starting 0-2 just like the Redskins are. I’m not sure if I can say the same thing about the Panthers yet or not.

Texans over Ravens- The Ravens offense has been ineffective thus far this season and I don’t anticipate them getting back on track against the talented Texans defense. If Andre Johnson can play the Ravens will get to see the Texans explosive combination of Arian Foster, Ben Tate, Andre Johnson AND DeAndre Hopkins who was one of my favorite wide receivers in last year’s loaded draft class. He caught the game-winning touchdown last week against the Titans, so I think the Texans are ready to beat the Ravens on the road this week.

Dolphins over Falcons- It pains me to do this, but the Falcons got way too banged up last week to go on the road and beat the Dolphins in my opinion. I think Ryan Tannehill is about to go off, and Lamar Miller may have a big day as well. Not only that, but Brent Grimes is a sure bet to pick off Matt Ryan in this game and I just don’t think the Falcons will be able to overcome Roddy White not being at 100%, Steven Jackson being out (though Jason Snelling will hopefully get a lot of touches), Kroy Biermann being out for the year, Bradie Ewing being out for the year, AND Sean Weatherspoon being out until Week 11. That’s a lot to replace and account for in one week, and while I think they will be able to survive those set-backs long term I’m not sure they can get away with it this week, so I give the advantage to the Dolphins at home.

Bills over Jets- In the battle of rookie quarterbacks EJ Manuel and Geno Smith I’ve got to give Manuel and the Bills the edge in this one. The Jets defense is still a quality unit despite the departure of Darrelle Revis, but Geno Smith made some questionable decisions and poorly executed throws in the elements against New England last week, and I have been shocked by how well EJ Manuel has been playing thus far. The Bills coaching staff has done a great job managing him thus far, and I trust Nathaniel Hackett to gameplan well more than I trust Marty Mornhinweg to do the same, so I am going with the Bills in this one. May the best rookie QB win. I must say, I was shocked and critical of the Manuel pick at 16 overall, but defeating Geno Smith (who I expected to come off the board first of all the quarterbacks) would be a pretty big vindication for EJ Manuel and the entire Bills organization. It would also make me look stupid, so that’s probably why it will happen.

49ers over Colts- This is an interesting one and it will be worth monitoring just how involved Trent Richardson will be in this game given that he is unfamiliar with the system and has no chemistry with the team at all, but the 49ers are the better squad and are likely very pissed off after the way they lost that game to division rival and offseason Cold War opponent Seattle on Sunday Night. The 49ers should come out firing and it will take a terrific performance from Andrew Luck to leave Candlestick with a victory.

Seahawks over Jaguars- #BecauseJaguars and #AllRussellWilsonEverything

Bears over Steelers- I thought Marc Trestman might give the Bears offense a tune-up and he appears to have done just that, and it makes me happy to see Jay Cutler playing well. The Steelers offense is completely devoid of playmaking at this point and I don’t anticipate they will be able to take advantage of the Bears defense enough to come away with a victory even at home.

Broncos over Raiders- The Broncos are playing some terrific football right now and they are looking especially sharp on the offensive side of the ball so far. They simply have more talent than the Raiders do at this point, though I think Terrelle Pryor and Darren McFadden may give the Broncos defense a few headaches. It would be a truly fantastic upset if the Raiders were able to come away with a victory against the Broncos on the road, I just don’t see it happening.

Thanks for reading, hopefully I do better this week than I did during the openers. Enjoy the games this weekend!

–Tom

Current 2013 Pick Record: 9-6

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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

Why Mike Shanahan Was Wrong

If you follow me on Twitter you can tell that I was pretty surprised that Mike Shanahan left Robert Griffin III in the game against the Seahawks on Sunday. He started out by leading two scoring drives, but he clearly aggravated his knee and was noticeably limping after he did. Not only that, but he was clearly not 100% before he aggravated his knee and it was obvious any time he tried to use his normally elite mobility. But after he aggravated his knee (the same knee he tore his ACL in when he was at Baylor) there was no question in my mind- RGIII needed to come out of the game.

I can understand wanting to keep him in until halftime, but at halftime if I am Mike Shanahan I would have benched RGIII and put Kirk Cousins in the game. I’m sure some will claim that hindsight is 20/20, but I was calling for this to happen in real time on Twitter, go read my timeline. I’m not saying that Cousins would have led the Redskins to a glorious victory, but I think he gave them a better chance to win than a clearly hurt RGIII.

I understand this was a huge game for Washington and really for the entire city of DC. And honestly, Shanahan would have likely caught flak either way no matter what he did. If he pulls RGIII and he loses he’s a moron, but if he keeps him in, loses, and it results in his franchise QB doing serious damage to his knee then he’s an even bigger moron. I don’t expect Shanahan to bend to the will of the fans and the media (and he shouldn’t) but that is just another reason why he shouldn’t have been afraid to take RGIII out. This team is building for the next decade, not just for this one wild card game. You have to be able to see long term, and while advancing in the playoffs is awfully important this is the exact situation you drafted Kirk Cousins for: your star quarterback is hurt, he can’t run effectively so the zone read is a glorified hand-off, and he can’t drive off of his plant leg because of the pain from his injury leading to inaccurate throws (and an interception by Earl Thomas). Put Cousins in. He knows the offense, he isn’t as mobile as RGIII but he can run the zone read and make plenty of the same throws that RGIII can make. He’s not the same, but if he was as good as RGIII he would have gone much earlier in the draft. He is a capable back-up, and this is why you drafted him- PLAY HIM!

But Shanahan didn’t play him, and there are going to be people defending his decision to not do so. One of those people is Mark Schlereth. Another is Skip Bayless. I don’t know about you, but those aren’t the kind of people I want backing up my decision making. In fact, I’d prefer the opposite. Regardless of who agrees or disagrees with Shanahan though, he left his QB in after the half instead of playing his capable rookie back-up. As the head coach, that is his decision. Some are already saying “Well I’m sure RGIII wanted to stay in the game, I agree that Shanny should have left him in if he wanted to be in.” That is irrelevant. Very rarely will an athlete, hurt or not hurt, ask to come out of a game. Everyone can remember what happened when Jay Cutler came out of the game right? He was torn apart in the media and even some players criticized him (here’s looking at you Maurice Jones-Drew). Was it fair? Maybe, maybe not, but my point is that in one of the rare instances where a player requested to be removed from the game he was torn apart for it. I personally believe that RGIII is a much better leader and honestly a more likeable person than Cutler is, and it’s not a surprise that he would want to stay in the game. And I won’t be surprised when he defends Shanahan’s decision to leave him in the game- it’s almost certainly what he wanted. He wanted to lead his team to a playoff win and he wanted to do it whether he was playing on one leg or two. I respect that, and it was alright for the first half despite the fact that he was noticeably less accurate after he was injured. However, the head coach is responsible for telling RGIII that even though he wants to play, it’s not worth the long term risk of injury, especially given how much less effectively he has been running the offense. That is why he gets paid a small fortune every year; to make tough decisions that while possibly unpopular are better for the team even if the players involved are vehemently opposed to his decision. I think Shanahan understands that, but inexplicably he still left Griffin in and we all saw the result- he got hurt.

I really hope that RGIII didn’t do any structural damage to his knee. He tore that same ACL when he was at Baylor and doing damage like that to it again would likely be very problematic. It sure looked like he did something to it though, it buckled when he planted it after that bad snap and he crumpled to the ground. He did walk off under his own power, but I have seen plenty of players with serious knee injuries walk off under their own power only to find out they did structural damage to it. It may seem encouraging, but it doesn’t guarantee he didn’t do any serious damage. We will have to wait for the result of that MRI, but regardless of what happened to his knee I believe that he should have been taken out. He couldn’t throw accurately, he was throwing with awful footwork and mechanics because he couldn’t drive off of his plant leg, and the one time he kept the ball on the zone read he literally limped for 9 yards and went out of bounds. He should have been taken out of the game.

Honestly, I am in disbelief that RGIII even played as long as he did and I have a ton of admiration for Coach Shanahan. In fact, I’m about to buy his book. But RGIII could barely jog back to the huddle. He couldn’t drive off of his plant leg. He couldn’t throw with his normal velocity or accuracy. He couldn’t run the ball effectively. He couldn’t even roll out on a bootleg. James Andrews, a man who seems to perform more surgeries on serious knee injuries than anyone ever has or will, said he was worried about RGIII playing today. They decided to play him anyway, but there were a number of times where Shanahan should have, in my opinion, asserted himself as the Head Coach of this team and taken him out. In the heat of the moment you can’t expect an athlete, especially an athlete as talented and tough as RGIII, to willingly take himself out. A leader like that will lie, cheat, beg and steal to keep himself from being taken out. RGIII did that tonight and now he got hurt. He was very professional after the game as we expected him to be, but that doesn’t make Shanahan’s decision the correct one. Here’s hoping he didn’t do any structural damage, but even if he didn’t that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t have come out of the game. It would only mean that he is lucky.

Alright guys, I went 1-1 yesterday (I should have known better than to pick the Bengals) but the Packers came through for me. Today we have two more games to pick so I’ll try to finish strong today.

Indianapolis-Baltimore:

This is a tough game to pick and it could completely go either way in my opinion. The Colts are playing great and are playing with a lot of emotion for their Head Coach Chuck Pagano after his battle with cancer, and betting against Andrew Luck has never been a wise decision. However, betting against a Baltimore Ravens team that has just gotten their general back in Ray Lewis is an equally risky decision, and not one I’m inclined to make. I think the Ravens are going to be incredibly motivated to win this game for Ray Lewis, and while the Colts are a good football team (and vastly improved thanks to Andrew Luck at the helm) they won’t have their offensive coordinator Bruce Arians calling plays today and while they can survive without him, that’s not something you want to have to compensate for the day of the game. I’m picking Baltimore even though I’m not a big Joe Flacco fan (and wasn’t when he was coming out) but if the Ravens feed Ray Rice and play better on defense with Ray back in the fold I think they can pull this off.

Seattle-Washington:

This one is a tough game for me to call, but as much as I like Russell Wilson I think I have to pick Washington. The Seahawks aren’t the same team on the road as they are at home, and Washington is going to play with a chip on their shoulder since they probably aren’t getting the respect they deserve since they are an underdog in their own house. The Seahawks have a good defense though and if the Redskins are going to win this game their running game is going to have to be good, because the Seahawks two corners Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner will take away any receiver they want on the Redskins. I hate to bet against Russell Wilson and I often say that doing that is a fast track to being wrong, but I have to go with the Redskins today.

Let’s see how I do and enjoy the games today! I’ll be live tweeting them so follow me @TMeltonScouting if you haven’t already.

–Tom

I had a few question marks surrounding Williams’ game coming into the season, but he has answered them emphatically with his fantastic play this year.

Intro: Terrance Williams is a player I’ve been watching since he was a sophomore at Baylor. That was back when Josh Gordon looked like the top WR prospect on the team, and Kendall Wright played a supporting role along with Williams. After Gordon’s dismissal Wright stepped into the spotlight and Williams was the second option, albeit a good one. This year, Williams was expected to be the man but he had never been a #1 option during his college career. I was unsure how he would do, and actually expected him to finish with similar production that he had as a junior- about 60 receptions, 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. Well, I was completely wrong. Williams has completely gone off this year, totaling 89 receptions, 1,693 yards and 12 touchdowns through just 11 games. He has totaled under 100 receiving yards just three times, producing 84, 87 and 91 yards in those contests. He has also only played three games where he hasn’t had a touchdown this year. Needless to say he has been incredibly impressive, and I have seen improvement from him in more than just his stat line. Here are my updated thoughts on Terrance Williams as he projects to the NFL.

Size: Terrance Williams is listed at 6’3”, 205 pounds. He looks like he could add a little bit of weight, but he isn’t skinny by any means. He has been learning how to use his size to shield defenders from the ball and it gives him an advantage on jump balls down the field.

Speed: Williams has legitimate sub 4.5 speed and I think he will run around 4.45 at the NFL combine. His straight line speed is definitely an asset and it allows him to beat athletic defenders using nothing but pure speed. He has shown that he can pull away from defenders when running vertical routes and when running after the catch, and that’s something that will appeal to a lot of evaluators. A kid with his size and athleticism doesn’t come around very often.

Quickness: Williams’ quickness isn’t as good as you might think considering his straight line speed. I wouldn’t say he has “build-up” speed, but I don’t think he has great quickness either. He isn’t stiff or anything, but I don’t think he’s a “quick-twitch” athlete either. Some players are quicker than fast, and I personally believe Williams is faster than he is quick. I don’t think this will hold him back much, but based on what I’ve watched I don’t think his 10 yard split at the combine will be particularly impressive.

Release: This is one of the areas where I think his quickness shows up. He doesn’t “explode” off of the ball, and part of that may involve his stance. I haven’t seen him jammed a single time so far since I have been watching him, so I have no idea how he deals with physical press man coverage. I don’t think he’s especially tough when he’s contacted when running routes though, so I’d definitely like to see him pressed to see how he handles it.

Route Running: This is one area where Williams still needs some work. I went back and watched a couple of his games from 2011 and his route running was a serious question mark. He was running curl routes by simply running and then stopping without sinking his hips or chopping his feet. He got away with that with RGIII at quarterback, but someone must have taken him aside and told him he needs to run better routes because he has improved significantly this year. He can still get better, but he runs better routes on curls and slants than he did last year. Like I said, he can improve, but the fact that he has already shown improvement is very encouraging. He’s not great at this yet, and I’m not quite convinced he has a complete route tree since he runs a LOT of curls and 9 routes, but despite my questions about his quickness I think he could develop into a good route runner at the next level if he continues to work and gets good coaching.

Hands: This was another question mark for me the past couple years with Terrance Williams, but I am comfortable giving him a good grade in this category right now. He has consistently shown that he can make catches with his hands outside of his frame, tough catches in traffic and that when he’s concentrating he can make very tough catches whether they are diving receptions on low throws or catches that require good footwork on the sideline. His concentration is the only question mark for me because he still drops routine catches more than he should, but he has improved on this from 2011 and that is good to see. If he has a mentor at the position or a good position coach I think he will continue to work on and hopefully eliminate this problem. His hands aren’t the issue, it’s his concentration. But like I said with his route running, it is encouraging to see him improving in this area.

Body Control: Williams’ body control is one of his best assets in my opinion. He adjusts very well to deep passes, attacks the ball in the air at its highest point and I think he may have the best footwork and feel for making receptions along the sideline of any receiver in this draft. He consistently gets not one but two feet in-bounds, doing a great job contorting his body to make the reception and get his feet in. This was something I definitely didn’t identify until I watched him more extensively in 2012, but his body control is definitely impressive.

In Traffic: Williams may not be the toughest receiver in the country, but he consistently makes tough receptions in traffic and has shown that he can go over the middle (though I have rarely, if ever, seen him make a catch and take a huge hit). I do think there are times when a defender gets a little handsy or grabby and he throttles down and looks for the flag, and I would prefer to see him fight through it and force the refs to throw the flag rather than expect them to. He shows that he will fight through contact to make the catch, but I think there are times he looks for flags when he should attempt to keep running his route.

YAC: Williams is definitely dangerous after the catch, particularly if he can get up to speed and outrun some angles. He’s not particularly shifty and I haven’t seen him break many tackles so I wouldn’t expect him to do so at the next level either. But if he catches a crossing route with space in front of him he will pick up plenty of yardage, and if he catches a deep pass in stride he can run away from the defense. He won’t have many electric runs where he makes a lot of guys miss with his short area burst and shiftiness, but he can pick up yards after the catch.

Blocking: I have seen a solid but not spectacular effort blocking when I watch Williams. He isn’t a dominant blocker by any means, but he has shown some ability to sustain and help the ball-carrier gain additional yardage as a result of his block. He can stand to improve here, but in an offense like Baylor’s I wouldn’t expect him to be a dominant blocker.

Overall: Williams was a guy who I characterized as a size/speed guy coming into the season, but I wasn’t sold on him from a hands/concentration aspect or from a route running perspective when I previewed Baylor this summer. However, Williams has answered a number of questions I posed before the season- Can he match his production without Kendall Wright? Obvious yes, he has vastly exceeded it. Can he be the go-to receiver or is he more of a complementary guy? This year he has proven that he can be extremely productive as the go-to guy and he has shown he can thrive in a complementary role in the past. Not only that, he has shown that he can be a go-to guy without a Heisman winner at quarterback. I’m not sure if he’s a NFL #1 yet, but thanks to his size and speed he has that upside. Can he improve his route running and work to eliminate his concentration lapses? He hasn’t completely fixed these issues, but he has definitely improved on them from what I saw from him in 2011. That’s a very good sign and it makes me think he’s going to end up in the first round. This is one reason I like to watch players before they are draft eligible, not just after they are seniors or likely to declare juniors. Being able to see their progression and improvement with your own eyes, not just on a stat sheet, is really beneficial in my opinion.

Projection: 1st round. I think Williams looks like a top 40 pick right now and he still has a couple games left (the regular season finale against Oklahoma State and then a bowl game) to attempt to boost his stock. I expect him to be at the Senior Bowl as well where I look forward to getting a chance to talk to him more in depth. Guys that are 6’3” with 4.45 speed don’t grow on trees, and Williams has really improved his overall game since his junior season. He’s becoming a more complete receiver, and even though he has things to work on I am really intrigued by his upside. He’s not all the way there yet, but the improvement he has shown is more than encouraging enough for me to give him a 1st round grade at this point.

Florence has a near impossible task he will try to accomplish- replacing Robert Griffin III. He’s not a great prospect, but I am looking forward to seeing what he can do with a surprising number of weapons at his disposal this season.

Nick Florence, QB- Nick Florence has the unenviable job of attempting to replace a living Baylor legend in Robert Griffin III who won Baylor’s first Heisman trophy in the program’s history during his remarkable junior campaign last year. But because RGIII left for the NFL Draft Florence will have a year to show NFL scouts what he can do at the helm of Baylor’s still potent offensive attack. It will look different with Florence at the helm, the 6’1”, 205 pound quarterback isn’t the athletic marvel that Griffin is, but Florence got some playing time as a freshman when RGIII went down with a knee injury so he isn’t completely new to the starting role. The results weren’t exactly pretty; he threw for 1,841 yards, 6 touchdowns and 9 interceptions in 7 starts that year. He was efficient in his mop-up duty last year, but the team will have a LOT of offense to replace now that the lethal combination of RGIII and Kendall Wright has left for the NFL. Luckily for Florence they return some talent along the offensive line, Lache Seastrunk will get a chance to show what he can do after sitting out a year due to transfer rules, and he has four or five wide receivers capable of picking up big chunks of yardage to throw to in addition to a 6’6″, 260 pound tight end. I’m not that familiar with Florence’s game yet, but when I saw him as a freshman I wasn’t particularly impressed with his arm strength. A lot can and does change in a player’s growth from his freshman to senior season though, so I’ll withhold judgment until I see him the whole year this year barring injury. However, as of right now I would say Florence is a fringe draftable prospect.

Jarred Salubi, RB- Salubi is entering the season as the projected starter with the talented Seastrunk as his back-up, though I imagine they will both get quite a few touches. Salubi has been productive when given the opportunity to be, but he was stuck behind Terrance Ganaway last year. That is no longer the case as Ganaway has moved on to the NFL, and Salubi has a chance to show was he can do as the feature back. Salubi is a much different back than Ganaway as he is listed at 5’9”, 210 pounds versus Ganaway’s listed 6’0”, 240 pounds. Salubi doesn’t look like he has elite straight line speed to me, he’s probably a 4.5 guy when it comes to that, but according to my notes from the Alamo bowl (where he had 101 yards, 2 touchdowns and nearly a 3rd on only 5 carries) he has plenty of burst, quickness and shiftiness as a runner. Packing 210 pounds onto a 5’9” frame is impressive, and I am certainly intrigued by his skill set. I expect him to get a lot of touches this season, and it will be interesting to see if he can be productive in an offense in which he is not the least of the defense’s concerns. With RGIII and Kendall Wright gone the headliners of the program will be absent, but the offense should still be productive. Salubi will play a big role in replacing all of Ganaway’s rushing production.

Lache Seastrunk, RB**- Seastrunk is a redshirt sophomore thanks to the season he was forced to sit out due to transfer rules. I wish he hadn’t been required to sit out, because seeing Seastrunk’s speed in the backfield with RGIII while Kendall Wright, Terrance Williams and Tevin Reese were split out wide would have been a sight to behold. Regardless, it is my understanding that Seastrunk is eligible for the draft after this season and even if he was only a true sophomore I would probably have him on this list anyways. He’s a truly dynamic athlete even if he is only 5’9”, 190 pounds. Obviously we haven’t seen him play an actual game in college yet, but his speed is undeniable even if you watch his highlights from high school. He may have true 4.4 flat speed, has very impressive acceleration, burst and change of direction speed as well as the ability to run through sloppy arm tackles and shows impressive balance to keep himself upright despite being a small, speedy running back. He should be lethal if the Bears continue to run a lot of zone read plays like they did with RGIII and Ganaway because Seastrunk has the speed to get the edge even against defenders taking solid angles. What I will want to see from Seastrunk is vision and patience. He has the gamebreaking speed to score a touchdown every time he touches the ball and to rip off a big run every time he gets a carry, but that won’t happen as often in college as it did in high school and keep in mind, that was the last time he played in a game that counted (aka, Spring Games don’t technically count). He’s going to be so amped up for his first game and probably for his entire first season in college that he will probably try to make plays right off the bat. That’s good, but he can’t try to bounce everything outside and turn everything into a sprint down the sideline. He needs to take what the defense gives him sometimes and let his blocks set up in front of him. I think he can do it, it’s just going to be interesting to see how quickly he adapts to the college game this year. My guess? It won’t take very long.

Terrance Williams has 1st round upside, but NFL teams will be looking to see how he handles being the “go-to guy” for Nick Florence this season. Is he up to being a #1 in the NFL? Or is he better as a complementary guy? We will have to see, but I’m hoping that he will clean up his route running and improve his concentration on some routine receptions.

Terrance Williams, WR- Williams is Baylor’s top NFL prospect and for good reason, he is listed at 6’3”, 205 pounds and has legitimate sub 4.5 speed. Last season he did what many assumed Josh Gordon, now a Cleveland Brown, would do for Baylor’s football program: provide vertical speed on the outside as well as the height and leaping ability to win jump balls, not to mention a lot of production. Williams had a career year last year with 59 receptions, 957 yards and 11 touchdowns. I’m not sure he will be able to best those numbers without Kendall Wright opposite him and without RGIII throwing him the ball deep, but he should still be productive despite increased attention from defenses. My problem with Williams previously was his hands. After watching him as a sophomore I had questions about his hands as I saw him drop catchable balls, but when I recently watched him his hands seemed to have improved a bit. I saw him make catches in traffic, catch the ball with his hands a bit, adjust to the ball well on deep balls, and catch the ball well along the sideline with full awareness of where he was on the field. He still drops some catchable balls and has concentration lapses at times, and I will be watching for that during his senior season. He seems to catch the more difficult passes, but let a few of the easy ones get away from him. He also has shown that he is willing to block and block downfield which is good to see, and his long arms are certainly an asset when doing so.

My biggest concern aside from his hands is his route running, which needs considerable work. Frequently when I’ve watched him I have seen him round off breaks and at times just slow down and turn around when running curl routes instead of sinking his hips, chopping his feet and exploding back out of his cut to create separation. Because Baylor spreads defenses out so much with all of their speed and talent on offense this wasn’t often an issue, particularly with RGIII holding zone coverages thanks to his ability to scramble and pick up big chunks of yardage. He doesn’t run crisp routes, and he doesn’t have a well developed route tree at this point and that will add to his learning curve when he heads to the NFL Draft after this season. He’s definitely got 1st round upside and I will certainly be writing a scouting report on him before the season starts, but his route running has to improve if he wants to contribute to a NFL team. He’s got NFL size, athleticism and he has the tools to be a good route runner thanks to his speed and burst, but he just hasn’t needed to run great routes to get open yet. That will change at the NFL level, but if his hands and route running continue to improve it will be hard not to like Williams as a NFL prospect. It will be very telling how he does when faced against quality cover men in the Big-12 (Texas, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma should provide good tests for that) and it will be interesting to see if anyone ever jams him. They likely won’t thanks to the threat of getting beaten deep, but that’s something that I’ve never really seen anyone try against Williams. He isn’t the most physical guy even though he catches the ball well in traffic, and his long arms and quickness should help him beat the jam, but it’s a part of his game that is certainly unproven at this point.

Lanear Sampson, WR- Sampson isn’t the same dynamic prospect that Williams is, but he has a shot to get drafted in his own right. Sampson is listed at 5’11”, 200 pounds (just a few pounds less than Williams despite being 3 inches shorter) and looks like he has legitimate sub 4.5 speed as well. I haven’t seen as much of Sampson since I was always more focused on Kendall Wright and RGIII when I was watching the Bears, but Sampson has quietly been a 4 year starter in Waco and that won’t slip past the scouts who are evaluating him. He may not be an elite athlete, he may not be the biggest or the fastest, but he is consistent and reliable. Baylor’s wide receiver depth chart will be crowded again this year thanks to Williams, Sampson, Reese, Levi Norwood and the addition of senior Daryl Stonum from Michigan, but Sampson still has the inside track to being the #2 receiver on Baylor’s offense this year.

Tevin Reese, WR*- Reese is a bit of an enigma for me. He’s got all the speed you could ever want despite only being 5’10”, 160 pounds and I think he could be a sub 4.4 guy in the 40 yard dash. He’s got very impressive acceleration, burst and obviously is tough to catch once you let him get going. He’s one of the best vertical threats in the Big-12, yet his hands are SO inconsistent and it’s very frustrating. I’ve seen him drop some potential BIG plays, especially down the field, and it’s infuriating. They run a lot of bubble screens to get him the ball on easy receptions to let him use his speed, and run him on reverses to try to get him in space, but the reason they have to do as much of that as they do is because he just can’t be expected to come down with fairly routine deep passes even when he is open. He certainly does make the play sometimes, you don’t produce 51 catches, 877 yards and 7 touchdowns if you can’t catch at all, but if he wants to be taken seriously as a NFL prospect he is going to need to work his ass off to improve his hands. His speed will get him noticed, but teams will roll their eyes if they see him drop some of the passes I’ve seen him drop during his first two seasons in Waco.

Daryl Stonum, WR- I’ll admit, I’m not overly familiar with Stonum despite him spending his career with Michigan until recently. He was never a huge stat guy at Michigan, but not many of their receivers are due to Denard Robinson’s relatively erratic passing. Stonum is listed at 6’1”, 195 pounds and is also listed as having 4.5 speed. Baylor’s depth at receiver is pretty surprising given that they lost their top target in Kendall Wright, but with the addition of Stonum they have five legitimate targets now, assuming Levi Norwood gets more playing time as a sophomore. Stonum has made some mistakes in his past that led to his dismissal at Michigan. In 2008 he was put in jail for violating probation for charges of operating a vehicle while intoxicated and driving with a suspended license. In June, 2011 he was sentenced to two years of probation for operating a vehicle while visibly impaired, and violated that probation in January, 2012 when he was found to be driving with a revoked license. That led to 10 days of jail time and his ultimate dismissal from Michigan. It’s tough to argue that his decision making has improved despite this string of incidents, and given the sheer volume of drunk driving incidents the NFL had this summer NFL teams are going to be slow to pull the trigger on a guy like Stonum in the draft, but if he can stay out of trouble for the rest of the year until the draft he will greatly improve his chances of being drafted.

Not many people are familiar with Najvar, but his combination of size, athleticism and soft hands are going to make him very popular in scouting circles once he starts to get more targets. I think he has 1st round upside.

Jordan Najvar, TE*- Najvar is an intriguing prospect that I think could become very popular over the next two years in scouting circles. He’s a huge tight end that is listed at 6’6”, 260 pounds and has a listed sub 4.8 40 yard dash time. He’s an athletic kid and even though he only had 15 receptions, 146 yards and 2 touchdowns last season as a sophomore I think he is ready to break out. To give you some perspective, he is a Stanford transfer, and we all know how unbelievable their tight end depth chart was. He has shown that he is a willing blocker, though I haven’t seen him much as an in-line blocker, but his size and athleticism is going to make him a hot commodity, particularly if Florence figures out that it’s a lot easier to throw to a 6’6”, 260 pound tight end in the middle of the field than it is to try to hit a 5’10” WR. He’s flashed the ability to make nice seal blocks even on defensive ends, and seems to block down effectively. The true test will be seeing how he can do 1 on 1 when he isn’t blocking down. He’s got the size, athleticism, and effort level to be a stud. Keep an eye on him, I LOVE Najvar’s upside.

Cyril Richardson, OG*- Richardson is a large man, listed at 6’5”, 335 pounds. He played 12 games and started 4 of them at left guard as a freshman before moving outside to left tackle as a sophomore to protect RGIII’s blind side. Now he is shifting back inside to guard where he is probably a better fit due to his natural size and power, but lack of ideal lateral agility to stay at tackle. He could be a solid tackle in my opinion, perhaps more if he was played at right tackle, but I think his highest upside is inside at guard due to his size and arm length. He isn’t overly explosive out of his stance, but he has shown the ability to pancake defenders in the run game and generate some push. I’ve seen him make a few mistakes mentally in pass protection, particularly on stunts or strange blitz packages, so that will be something to keep an eye on this season at guard.

Cameron Kaufhold, OG- Kaufhold is Baylor’s “worst” starting interior offensive lineman, but that’s only because Cyril Richardson is a potential 1st or 2nd round pick depending on his development and Ivory Wade was a quality starting right tackle last season and now moves inside to center. The surprising thing is that Kaufhold is the second most experience offensive lineman with 26 career starts, second only to Wade. He is listed at 6’4”, 300 pounds and has shown the ability to generate some push off the ball, to anchor in pass protection and overall appears to be a solid guard. Will he be a top pick? Probably not, but now that he is moving from left guard to right guard his versatility could make him an attractive commodity to talent evaluators. It will be interesting to see how he does at that new spot.

Ivory Wade, C- It will be interesting to see Wade inside at center this season. He was very effective blocking down on defensive tackles last season and showed the ability to consistently shock his defender with his initial punch and drive him off his spot. He’s listed at 6’4”, 310 pounds and he has shown that he can generate push in the run game and also shows the ability to get to the second level and get his hat on a linebacker. He didn’t look that comfortable outside at tackle, but an interior of Wade, Richardson and Kaufhold returns a whopping 73 career starts, and all are listed at 6’4”, 300+ pounds. That interior offensive line should be impressive, and if the two new, young tackles can hold their own this could be an even better offensive line than they had last season. Keep in mind, Baylor has a knack for churning out quality centers. The coaching staff has shown no hesitation to move quality offensive linemen inside to Center and Wade is just the latest to do so. Don’t overlook that.

Terrance Lloyd, DE*- I am not that familiar with Lloyd since I didn’t focus on him much during his sophomore season with Baylor, but at 6’3”, 235 pounds he managed 36 tackles, 4.5 TFL and 2.5 sacks while starting 13 games. He enters the season with 17 career starts, and is a kid I am going to keep an eye on. He needs to add weight and get stronger at the POA, but I’m intrigued to see how he continues to develop from a pass rushing standpoint.

Gary Mason, DE- Mason is a guy I’ve had my eye on for over 2 years now, and it’s a little unbelievable to me that he is now a senior. He’s listed at 6’4”, 275 pounds and has 19 career starts at defensive end. He managed 26 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks and 2 pass break-ups in his 8 starts last season, and while I have had my eye on him for a while he’s never really lived up to the expectations I had for him. He has the size and athleticism, but until he takes that next step and really starts to produce consistently I don’t think he’s much more than a fringe draftable prospect. He has his chance to step up this year though, as his main competition, junior Tevin Elliott, was charged with sexual assault on April 15th and is still suspended indefinitely from what I have been able to find. That means if there was ever a time to step up and make plays, it’s now for Mason.

Tevin Elliott, DE*- Until the charges are cleared up, Elliott likely doesn’t have a football future, but if he ever does play a down of football for Baylor again he certainly has a NFL skill set. He’s listed at 6’3”, 250 pounds and has a lot of speed and burst off the ball to beat offensive tackles off the edge. He’s never really put it all together, much like Mason, and even though he had 27 tackles, 5 TFL, 3 sacks, 1 pass deflection and an interception last year, none of it matters if he is guilty of sexual assault. I can’t speculate at all as to whether he is guilty or innocent obviously, but if he does play for Baylor again he has the potential to be an impact player. Now we have to let the legal system play out.

Ahmad Dixon, LB/S*- Dixon is a difficult player to project because he is safety sized but loves to play in the box like a linebacker. He’s listed at 6’0”, 205 pounds, so he is undersized for the linebacker position, but Baylor likes to keep him on the field as a nickel corner to keep him closer to the action and allow him to make plays near or behind the line of scrimmage. He’s a playmaker and is one of the best players on Baylor’s defense, and managed 89 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 3 pass break-ups and an interception last year. His 5.5 TFL were tied for the most on the team with Gary Mason, and while I haven’t watched Dixon much I am very interested to see if he is a good tackler. Baylor had a TON of problems tackling against Washington in the bowl game, and their secondary in particular had a lot of issues. I’m interested to see more of Dixon to see if he is part of the tackling problem or not.

Joe Williams, CB*- Williams is an undersized corner, listed at 5’9”, 185 pounds, but he was very productive as a sophomore. Because he was a younger kid I didn’t pay much attention to him last season, but he had 43 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 12 pass deflections and an interception in 9 starts. I haven’t been able to see much of him, but if he continues to demonstrate quality ball skills he will give himself a shot to get drafted in spite of his size. Keep an eye on him this year.

KJ Morton, CB*- Morton is another junior corner opposite Williams, and like Williams he had a productive sophomore year as well. He had 75 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 6 pass deflections and 4 interceptions on the season. It would be HUGE for Baylor if Morton and Williams were able to step their game up to help stop some of the big plays that they gave up last season, because RGIII isn’t on the other side of the ball anymore to mask some of the defense’s issues. Morton and Williams will be under plenty of pressure in the pass-happy Big-12, but it will be interesting to see how they stack up. If Baylor’s defense is going to be any better, the secondary will have to step up, though the safety play was arguably more of a problem than the play of the corners.

For weeks or months, the NFL Draft community has been speculating about what the St. Louis Rams will do with the #2 overall selection in the NFL Draft. Will they keep it and select Matt Kalil or Justin Blackmon? Will they trade down with the Browns? Will they trade down with the Redskins or the Dolphins? I’ll be honest and say that I expected the Browns to get Robert Griffin III when all was said and done, but that does not appear to be likely anymore.

Jay Glazer is reporting that the St. Louis Rams have agreed to swap 2012 1st round selections (Rams own #2 overall, the Redskins own #6 overall) and the Rams will receiver two future 1st round selections as well as “additional” picks. I will update this with details later once they are finalized and confirmed. **UPDATE The additional pick is a 2012 2nd round pick from Washington** What we do know, at least for now, is that the Redskins have mortgaged a significant part of their future draft picks to move up to #2 overall. In all likelihood, they will be selecting Robert Griffin III with that selection, and they will have their quarterback of the future.

I’m not often in favor of these blockbuster trades, and I worried that the trade for Julio Jones may have been too much for one player and that it might have put too much pressure on Jones to perform well as a rookie. That was a trade for two 1st round selections as well as other valuable picks. This trade is for three 1st round selections and other picks, and because Griffin plays quarterback the pressure will be even more intense than it was for Jones. I personally don’t believe Griffin should play Day One, but I tend to be conservative with quarterback development (as I believe more NFL teams should be). Regardless, the Redskins made a very bold move to move up to #2 overall and will likely come away with their quarterback of the future with that selection.

I know I’ve been absent for a while, but I’m officially back in the saddle. Keep checking in for more NFL Draft news as the draft draws near!

Thanks for reading,

–Tom

Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor: Everyone knows Robert Griffin is the Heisman, but he wasn’t even the most productive player on his team or on the field tonight. Regardless of how terrible the defensive play was in this game Griffin demonstrated his ability early on making a couple stick throws when there was good enough coverage to warrant such a throw. However, he left the pocket prematurely pretty regularly in this game and didn’t seem comfortable standing tall in the pocket to deliver throws downfield. He’s shown the ability to do this at times, but I would like to see more consistency from him there. Because of the amazing season he’s had not a lot of people are talking about the question marks around his game, and continuing to develop his pocket poise instead of scrambling after his initial read like he was doing after facing consistent pressure in the 2nd quarter against Washington. He’s got insane upside and he has a very high football IQ according to all I have heard, however he needs to continue to study to improve his pre-snap reads. Baylor runs a very up-tempo offense and he runs it very well, however at times the desire to snap the ball quickly outweighs making a good pre-snap read and adjustment. In the 2nd half you saw Baylor make an adjustment for this which led to snapping the ball later in the play clock and also led to more successful plays and less sacks. It proves that Griffin can do it, I just want to see him do it more consistently and from under center versus the shotgun. I still don’t think Griffin should start Day 1, but I don’t think that young quarterbacks should play Day 1 at all except for special exceptions. However, the NFL has established a poor precedent by continually starting rookie quarterbacks not only during their rookie seasons (which I can understand if they prove they are ready) but day one. Here’s hoping Griffin goes to a team with a solid veteran ahead of him on the depth chart so he can learn for half the season before he enters the line-up.

Terrance Ganaway, RB, Baylor: Ganaway had the game of his life against Washington last night with 200 yards on only 21 carries (9.5 ypc average) as well as a staggering FIVE touchdowns on the night. Washington’s defense was absolutely dreadful, especially against the run up the middle, but Ganaway still helped himself by taking advantage of it. He has NFL size at 5’11”, 240 pounds but his 40 time is listed as a 4.62. He demonstrated some of his speed and as a power back it’s not expected that he run a 4.4 flat, but he ran with more power this season and has the potential to be selected late on day three of the NFL Draft in my opinion. He was very productive this season, perhaps due to defenses keying in on Griffin so intently, and it’s hard to think of a way he could have ended his career at Baylor with a better performance than 200 yards and 5 touchdowns. He demonstrated more burst than I thought he had a couple times last night, and showed his value as a short-yardage or goal-line back by punching in a couple of touchdowns inside the 10 yard line. He’s shown that he can run through arm tackles and pick up yards after contact this year, so he has some value. Unfortunately for him there’s not a huge market for one-dimensional power backs any more but I do think Ganaway can make a roster as a late round pick or as a UDFA.

Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor: Wright is a 1st round pick as far as I’m concerned. He’s been a stud all season and while he may not have been the focal point of Baylor’s offense last night he has definitely improved his draft stock all year long. I’d love to see him at the Senior Bowl, but at this point all it can do is hurt him. He’s a top 32 guy without a doubt, and should have a great NFL career. There’s not much else to say about him at this point. Here is my scouting report on him.

Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor: Williams has potential due to his 6’3” size though he only weighs 190 pounds. He has a listed 4.49 40 yard dash time which is good given his height but he needs to get stronger. He was incredibly productive given his relatively inconsistent hands as he produced 59 receptions, 957 yards (16.22 avg) and 11 touchdowns in 13 games. There’s almost no way he will be this productive next season as a senior without Robert Griffin should he declare as I expect him to, so his stock will move up or down based on how hard he works to add weight and how hard he works to improve his hands. He dropped too many catchable passes this year and because he can’t expect to replicate his statistics this year without Griffin it will be up to him to make the most out of all of his targets. Right now he isn’t doing that and that limits his NFL potential.

Lanear Sampson, WR, Baylor: I think Sampson is Baylor’s second most reliable wide receiver. He produced 42 receptions, 572 yards (13.62 avg) and three touchdowns this season. He demonstrated some impressive body control and footwork by catching passes on the sideline last night against Washington and should have a quality senior season because as far as I have seen he has the second best hands of any of the Baylor receivers short of Kendall Wright. He isn’t a huge receiver as he is listed at 5’11”, 200 pounds but he has a blistering 4.39 listed 40 yard dash time. I wasn’t sure I thought he was that fast, but Baylor has one of the fastest groups of receivers in the country, so I can’t say I’m that surprised by that time. It will be interesting to see how Sampson does without RG3 next year, but he should be the highest ranked of the Baylor receivers coming into the season despite only solid statistical numbers. This is because of his athletic ability and his dependability as a receiver even though he wasn’t as statistically successful as Terrance Williams.

Tevin Reese, WR, Baylor: Reese may be Baylor’s most explosive receiver outside of Kendall Wright as he had 51 receptions, 877 yards (17.20 avg) and 7 touchdowns receiving plus 102 yards rushing on only 5 rushing attempts this season. He’s only listed at 5’10”, 160 pounds so he is not a big guy by any means and only has a listed 40 yard dash time of 4.48. He looked a lot faster than that to me on film, but there is no doubt he has the speed to threaten defenses deep. Like Terrance Williams he also had issues with drops this season and needs to correct this if Baylor is going to remain competitive that season. He’s got upside despite his limited size, but he won’t be as effective if he doesn’t catch passes that hit him in the hands more consistently next year.

Keith Price, QB, Washington: Keith Price may have been the most impressive player on the field in this game which is saying a lot considering the Heisman winner was the other starting quarterback. Price threw for 438 yards as he completed 23 of 37 passes for 4 touchdowns and ran for 39 yards and 3 more touchdowns. He demonstrated impressive maturity for such a young player in his first year as a starter and definitely displayed impressive arm strength, accuracy and athleticism. He’s listed at 6’1”, 195 pounds so his size will definitely be scrutinized as he develops as a NFL prospect, but his arm strength and athleticism make him an intriguing quarterback. He had a terrific season as a first year starter and Steve Sarkisian has a great reputation for developing quarterbacks, so there is reason to believe that “Sark” will get the most out of Price’s substantial upside. Hopefully Price stays for his senior season, but that decision is obviously well over a year away.

Chris Polk, RB, Washington: Polk definitely caught some people’s attention yesterday but he’s been an impressive back since he started to get carries at Washington two years ago. He was overshadowed by Jake Locker but he has been integral to Price’s development this year because of his running and his receiving out of the backfield. He’s got NFL size at 5’11”, 222 pounds with a listed 40 yard dash time of 4.48. He doesn’t have great speed but he has good enough speed to be a feature back in the NFL. He’s got great vision, very reliable hands, good footwork, impressive power and really seems to be the total package as a running back. I haven’t seen him much as a pass blocker, but if he declares for the draft officially (which I expect him to do) I’ll take a much closer look at him to evaluate that. Polk definitely has top 40-50 overall pick potential, so if your team needs a feature back then you need to read up on Chris Polk.

Jermaine Kearse, WR, Washington: Kearse is a player that I never really thought would be much of a NFL Draft prospect. In the two years I watched him play with Jake Locker he demonstrated his upside thanks to his solid 6’1”, 200 pound frame as well as his solid speed evidenced by his 4.50 40 yard dash time. He’s not a freak athlete by any means, but he has NFL athletic ability and solid size for a NFL receiver. However, his hands were always a HUGE question mark for me and I thought they would prevent him from being anything more than a 5th-6th round pick when it was all said and done. I haven’t seen enough of him to say that his hands are no longer a concern, but his hands have definitely improved based on what I have seen of him this year and last night. He had 5 receptions for 198 yards and 1 touchdown last night and while 80 of those came on one reception he made catches on throws that last year he may have dropped. That progression is important and when I go back and study Washington’s games from this season I will be evaluating his hands very closely. Hopefully he will be at the Senior Bowl or the East-West Shrine Game so I can evaluate him even further, but keep an eye on him. His stock is rising.

Kasen Williams, WR, Washington: Williams is probably going to be the go-to guy at wide receiver for Price now that Kearse and Devin Aguilar are both graduating. He is listed at 6’2”, 212 pounds but just looks huge for a freshman on film. He’s got NFL size and hands and he demonstrated that this year by producing 36 receptions, 427 yards (11.9 average) and 6 touchdowns as a freshman. If Price stays for his senior season in two years then Williams and Seferian-Jenkins would both be juniors and that offense could be awfully fun to watch. That’s a long way away, but Williams has legitimate NFL ability and could be another very talented receiver in the Pac-12. Keep an eye on this kid.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington: Seferian-Jenkins is almost without a doubt the best freshman tight end I have ever seen in my entire life. Some of the catches this kid was making last night reminded me of Rob Gronkowski or Tony Gonzalez, and that is not an exaggeration. He is a 6’6”, 258 pound FRESHMAN tight end who produced 41 receptions, 538 yards (13.1 avg) and 6 touchdowns in his first season as a starter. That is absolutely remarkable, and his upside is absolutely staggering. I think he has the potential to be the #1 TE off the board in two years and honestly looked like he could have been a 1st round pick in this NFL Draft based on his receiving capability. Obviously he has a lot of time to continue to develop, but I can’t say enough about how impressed I was with this kid last night. His future is very, very bright.

Josh Shirley, DE, Washington: I had honestly never noticed Shirley before when I watched Washington but he definitely stuck out last night as he sacked the reigning Heisman winner THREE times. He wasn’t effectively blocked very often, but he definitely generated a lot of pressure and like so many of the Huskies impressive players last night he is only a freshman. He is listed at 6’3”, 229 pounds and produced 28 total tackles (23 solo), 12.0 TFL, 8.5 sacks (3 against Baylor), 2 forced fumbles and one pass break-up on the year. His future seems to be bright as well and seems like a possible candidate to be an OLB in the future. I thought he was a linebacker at first when I saw how well he was moving, but he is listed as a DE on Washington’s depth chart on the site I use. Look out for this kid in the future.

Alameda Ta’amu, DT, Washington: Ta’amu seemed like a top 40-50 lock before this game and many were raving about how hard it was to move the 6’3”, 337 pound mammoth defensive tackle off the ball. That was not the case for Baylor last night and that led to a huge game for just about anyone that elected to run with a Baylor uniform on. Washington gave up 482 rushing yards on 52 attempts and a few of those were negative yardage because of a sack on Robert Griffin. They also gave up 8 rushing touchdowns and on many wide open runs through the middle of Washington’s defense Ta’amu was nowhere to be found. He did not have a productive season with only 30 total tackles (15 solo), 7.0 TFL, and 3.5 sacks but often with run stuffing nose tackles the stats don’t tell the whole story. Unfortunately for Ta’amu the story being told now is not a positive one as his stock seems to be slipping. Here’s hoping he will be at the Senior Bowl so we can see him against quality competition with more support from the rest of his defensive teammates. Washington’s whole defense was god awful last night, but that includes Ta’amu.

Matt Barkley has decided to return for his senior season at USC. I like this decision and I am excited to see him play for one more year, but there will be a lot of pressure on him to be great.

I may have told some of you that I had a hunch that Barkley would come back for his senior season. It didn’t always seem particularly likely, but I had a feeling he might. He seems like the kind of guy who wants to win and wasn’t just in college to help him make it to the NFL. It seems that is the case after all as Barkley announced at 4 pm ET live on ESPN that he would be returning to USC for his senior season. He stated that he felt the 2012 Trojan squad had “serious unfinished business” and made it clear that his goal was to return to USC to try to lead them to a Rose Bowl or perhaps even a BCS National Championship. That will be a tall order, but Barkley returns to a team loaded with talent especially on the offensive side of the ball. The offensive line is the only potential question mark, but he has two future first round picks at wide receiver in Robert Woods and Marqise Lee plus an emerging star at running back in Curtis McNeal. I am very much looking forward to watching him for his senior season, and I’m kind of glad he decided to come back. It is worth noting that he is losing star left tackle Matt Kalil, so the offensive line will need some tweaking. I think he had more to gain from coming back for his senior year than Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Landry Jones do. Luck has made it clear he is leaving, but Griffin and Jones have not made their decisions public yet. Personally, I would be surprised if both didn’t declare considering Griffin has become the clear #2 quarterback due to Barkley’s absence and Landry Jones’ stock has moved up as well due to the lack of 1st round talent at QB this year outside of Luck, Barkley and Griffin.

Now, I like the decision Barkley has made, but it’s not a perfect one. He is opening himself up to a lot of risk. He could get injured, he could have a down season, and even if neither one happens he is opening himself up to a boatload of nit-picking criticism because media pundits and draft evaluators have an extra year to evaluate him to try to figure out every aspect of his game. I think the decision makes a lot of sense, but the attention he will have on him may end up being comparable to what Luck endured this season. He isn’t quite the prospect that Luck is, but he is going to be the consensus #1 pick for the 2013 NFL Draft now. That means a lot of attention for everything he does. I think he is probably ready for that, but it’s still a lot of pressure on a pretty young kid.

I think it will work out for the best though and I think Barkley will help lead USC to the Pac-12 Title Game and a possible Rose Bowl berth. I’m not sure I’d bet on them for the National Championship game, but anything is possible. Regardless of how USC finishes the season it would be foolish to bet against them going to a bowl game for the first time since Barkley’s freshman year considering all the talent they are returning. I for one can’t wait to see them play next year.

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Robert Griffin has great tools and fantastic upside. It's easy to see why talent evaluators are gushing about his potential.

**UPDATE** After Griffin’s recent performances against Kansas and most notably Oklahoma I have changed some of my thoughts on Griffin. Because this report is not 100% reflective of these opinions, I wanted to note that Griffin’s performance on Baylor’s last drive against Oklahoma was very impressive and displayed ability to make critical plays and decisions for his team late in close, important games. He played terrific against Oklahoma, and I will eventually have a further updated Robert Griffin post now that I believe he has taken a significant step forward in his development into a potential future NFL starting quarterback. Enjoy the rest of my report!

Size: Solid size for a NFL QB, listed at 6’2”, 220 pounds but looks very skinny on film and could stand to add 10-15 more pounds in my opinion. He regularly takes hits and stays down for a long time but then pops right back up after a while. Seems to be a little dramatic in that instance.

Arm Strength: Griffin has quality arm strength, can make all the NFL throws. He has solid zip on intermediate throws and knows when to take a little off of his throws. Sometimes his zip is lacking on intermediate throws, but he throws a very good deep ball. However, they often have a lot of air under them and at times will be underthrown because he doesn’t have elite arm strength.

Accuracy: Griffin’s accuracy has definitely improved each season and this year is no exception but he still has room to improve. His ball placement overall is definitely better, he throws a very accurate deep ball to the correct shoulder and he has good touch as a passer. However, he has a tendency to miss high when he does miss which is an issue, especially when you attempt throws over the middle in the NFL. His accuracy under pressure is significantly impaired, and I think this has to do with some throws coming off of his back foot. He also has solid accuracy on the move.

Mechanics: Griffin’s mechanics have definitely improved, but they still need work. He has a clean throwing motion and a quick release, but he will hold the ball near his hip when scrambling. This has led to fumbles in college at times and it will lead to more in the NFL. He has to hold the ball high and tight which will help speed up his release even more. His footwork is improving, but he will still throw off of his back foot at times especially in the face of pressure. He also doesn’t keep his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage when he is scrambling to his left, doesn’t reset his feet well when outside of the pocket, throws off balance, and will throw across his body. Because he spends so much time in the shotgun he will have to transition from a purely shotgun and pistol offense to an offense that relies more on three, five and seven step drops. This is a significant change, but if he works hard at it he will be able to improve his comfort level with those drops fairly quickly.

Mobility: This is obviously one of Griffin’s greatest strengths. He’s a fantastic athlete with a listed 40 yard dash time of 4.52. He is a very elusive runner, can extend plays very easily and can gain substantial yardage with his legs. He probably has the speed to attempt a transition to WR, but he has progressed so much as a QB at Baylor that I would be very surprised if that happened. He’s going to get a shot at QB.

Griffin has improved each season he has been at Baylor, but he still has plenty to work on.

Pre/Post-Snap Reads: Griffin has flashed the ability to do this but it isn’t consistent in my opinion. Occasionally he will find his hot receiver versus a blitz and get the ball out fast, but he has progress to make with his pre-snap reads, especially once he is taking more snaps from under center at the next level. He makes solid post-snap reads and seems to be patient, but sometimes it is tough to tell if he is being patient or if he just isn’t processing everything he is seeing. I don’t see many anticipation throws at all and rarely throws his receivers open. The offense he’s in allows him to wait until his receivers are open, but I want to see anticipation throws from him because they have been few and far between. He also doesn’t seem to trust his eyes, will hesitate to throw and start his motion but then pull back and often scramble afterwards. This indicates potential issues processing information and making NFL reads at this time. I think he struggles to make reads on routes over the middle, and this leads to a lot of sideline throws in the games I have seen. He throws over the middle, but they aren’t anticipation throws and often the throw comes after his receiver has ran himself open. At times it seems like he waits for guys to get open, and will force throws into coverage when he is pressured. He doesn’t always make very good decisions, especially when he is pressured. Additionally, he makes lots of one read throws and doesn’t make a lot of progressions, but he does make them at times. I am told he is very smart and has a great work ethic, so he can continue to improve in this area. I underestimated Cam Newton’s ability to do this last year but he has gotten much better at this, so there is no reason Griffin can’t continue to improve either. It also bothers me that he seems unwilling to throw the ball away. When he is flushed from the pocket and has the option he frequently just runs out of bounds and loses his team yardage. Part of that is maturity and coaching and he can easily learn and develop that tendency, but it is something that he doesn’t do at this juncture.

Intangibles: From what I have heard about him, Griffin has great intangibles and a fantastic work ethic. He’s smart, disciplined and has a lot of upside because of the combination of his athleticism, arm talent and the intangibles and work ethic that he brings to the equation. He has improved significantly each year and I think that speaks to his work ethic and determination to get better. However, I am not sold on him as a leader or as a field general so to speak. It is tough to evaluate, but after poor plays he shows frustration and sometimes needs to be calmed down a bit. He doesn’t always stay poised and composed, and I’m not sure he is the guy I want at QB with two minutes left down four points with one time out left in college or in the NFL. He doesn’t seem to have a great sense of urgency that great leaders have, and is almost non-chalant at times on critical downs late in games. He has lost all three games against legitimate Big-12 teams (Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Texas A&M) but did beat TCU week one. However, in those three losses against those teams he has thrown all four of his interceptions on the season and didn’t necessarily play his best games against the best teams on his schedule, which is something I take into consideration. He has shown he can put up video game numbers against bad defenses (and to his credit, he had a great statistical game against Kansas State with 23/31 passing (74.2% completion), 346 yards, 5 passing touchdowns and only one interception) but hasn’t been as reliable against better teams. I don’t want to take anything away from how good he has been this year, but he got a lot of hype after playing TCU, Stephen F. Austin and Rice in his first three games. I just don’t think I have seen him make clutch throws late in games and I personally wouldn’t trust him to do so at this point in his career. So overall, I believe he has quality intangibles and work ethic, but I am not sold on him being a quality leader.

I am not convinced that Griffin is a good leader and that he is a winner. He wouldn't be my choice at QB for a critical drive late in the fourth quarter.

Character: Griffin has a lot of character from what I know of him. Very disciplined, responsible and smart from what I have been told. He’s a hard worker, a film junkie and has shown improvement from year to year his entire career at Baylor. That speaks to his determination to get better.

Overall: Griffin has top 10 potential and may ultimately end up there should he declare because of his great set of tools. He has a nice combination of size, arm talent, great athleticism and quality intangibles, football IQ and work ethic. There aren’t a lot of mobile quarterbacks who have the same tools that he has which makes Griffin incredibly rare as a prospect. That makes him a very desirable commodity since he has so much potential and upside. He has plenty to work on, but he has the work ethic that should allow him to continue to improve especially with quality coaching. But will he ever be a franchise quarterback? At this point, I don’t think he will be. He’s obviously subject to improvement and I think he can be a good/very good starter if he keeps improving, but I don’t think he’s got the leadership capability that other great QB’s do. I don’t think he makes everyone around him better, and I don’t think he comes up huge late in games when his team needs it most. I don’t know if he will ever win a Super Bowl, but if he is developed correctly I think he can be a productive QB. I just don’t necessarily think he is a “winner.” Some guys have that aura about them, and I don’t think Griffin is one of those players. I personally don’t think he will be ready to start week one as a rookie, but I tend to be more conservative when it comes to QB development. Therefore it is entirely possible that he could study hard, pick up the playbook and force the team that draft him to start him week one much like Cam Newton did with the Panthers.

Projection: Top 15: If Griffin comes out he will blow people away with his athleticism in post-season workouts and in interviews and one or more teams will fall in love with his potential. Like I said, I don’t think he’s a franchise guy, but he’s got a ton of upside that will have NFL teams salivating.

Thanks for reading, I’m looking forward to what everyone thinks of this. Obviously I’m not as high on Griffin as others are, but I think that I’ve identified some things he needs to work on here. Hopefully you enjoyed my report even if you disagreed with me.

–Tom