Sanchez vs Stafford Rescout, The (not so) Great Quarterback Debate of 2009
I must say, when I started my research for this article nearly two weeks ago, it appeared far more likely that Matthew Stafford of Georgia would be available for Seattle to pick. Since then, reports have surfaced that Detroit is in negotiations with Stafford and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is signed before the draft begins. At the time I began my research, I was trying to answer a rather unlikely question: If Matthew Stafford AND Mark Sanchez were available, who would be the best choice. While I admittedly scout players as fits for the Seahawks, I do think this analysis can be applied for any team. For fun, we can ask if Detroit is making the correct choice, since asking if Stafford would be a good Seahawk appears to be a purely academic exercise.
I had scouted both Sanchez and Stafford previously (Stafford in November, Sanchez a few months later), but one lesson I have learned this season is that it is hard to compare players scouted several months apart from each other. I wasn’t truly confident that my grades (a 6.9 for Stafford, and a 6.5 for Sanchez) were “correct” representations of each player. So I decided to go back and watch four games of each player.
My goal was to get the worst game from each quarterback, the best game from each quarterback, and a couple games that were good but not perfect (seeing as how these are two elite quarterback prospects, “good but not perfect” is about average for them). For Stafford, I felt his best game was against Louisiana State University, his worst against Florida, and the “in between” games worked out as Georgia Tech and Michigan State University. I don’t have quite as large a selection of USC games, but I was able to pick up Sanchez’s Penn State blowout, his loss to Oregon State, and strong games against Ohio State and Oregon. All games were during the 2008-2009 college football season, as I am not a big fan of using tape from prior years if I can avoid it.
Now, onto the comparison!
Short Accuracy: My notes revealed both quarterbacks as quite accurate passers in the short game, but the data was interesting. To start it off, I want to clarify that accuracy is not the same as completion percentage – a well thrown ball can be dropped, bobbled, and even intercepted. I’m simply measuring their ability to read short routes and send the ball where it needs to be.
Sanchez, in 4 games, threw nearly twice as many short passing attempts as Stafford did. Another interesting note was what type of routes were thrown: Sanchez hit his TE and slot WR a lot in the middle of the field for 6 yard curls, and in fact the curl route appeared to be his “favorite” short route. Stafford, on the other hand, threw far more WR screen passes than Sanchez, and has truly mastered that throw – it’s placed for the WR to catch while on the run, and that is something I didn’t see from Sanchez’s routes. However, Sanchez did complete a higher % (86% vs 81%) and threw significantly more of them. In terms of pure accuracy, I would say Sanchez is a slightly more accurate passer in the short game; however I believe Stafford may be more effective in the short passing game due to arm strength (discussed later).
I might as well measure it here, but the level of competition faced was not even remotely similar. USC WRs often had 3-6 yards between them and the cornerback, while the Georgia WRs usually caught the ball with another player draped on top of them. This could be due to Sanchez being more decisive, but indecision is not something Stafford is known for and I feel this lends credence to the “SEC is the best conference” talk. As well, Sanchez received significantly better protection in the pocket, as Georgia’s OL was the weakest part of that team. There is no doubt in my mind that the supporting cast and competitions influenced all of these grades heavily, one reason why scouting can’t be done on a purely statistical basis.
Pocket Presence: Another interesting category was the pocket presence shown by each player. This category isn’t really as close as accuracy, Sanchez is significantly nimbler than Stafford (who has lost at least 10lbs since these games) and was much better at avoiding tacklers and using his blockers to buy extra time for himself. While Stafford was not terrible at this (indeed, he shows the ability to step up in the pocket and alter his throwing motion), Sanchez looked very impressive doing so and has a clear advantage. Sanchez also does not look like a deer in the headlights when DBs are sent on blitzes, something Stafford needs to work on.
Reading Defenses: This is an area that was far closer than I expected. One reason this is closer is because after a couple series in the 2nd half, I stopped the UGA v FLA game. Why? Stafford sustained an elbow injury that really hurt his game. Interestingly enough, he was one of the few players who showed up ready to play in that game and had as good a 1st half as could be hoped for against a great Gators team, but after the elbow injury his arm strength went from very good to average. His first interception (of three, but the only one I saw) would’ve been a 20-yard completion had his arm been healthy, but due to the lack of velocity the defense had time to react to it. I did not a couple more “bad reads” for Stafford than Sanchez, but it was far closer than I expected. Both QBs do a good job locating their secondary targets but usually take too long to find their tertiary targets, the main difference being USC had more check-downs and the USC OL lasted quite a bit longer. However, I do think this is an area where Sanchez presents more value.
Proper Mechanics: Finally, Stafford wins a category! Truthfully, it isn’t even close. While Sanchez is much quicker in his drop back (and looks better doing it), once it is time to throw the ball Stafford has a clear edge. Sanchez holds the ball too low, which would’ve created a lot of fumbles if he hadn’t been extremely well protected. Holding the ball low makes it easier to strip the ball, and it also lengthens the release or makes it low to the ground. Sanchez has a very quick release, but the ball is released about 4 inches lower than Stafford’s. NFL DL are much better at getting their hands up than college DL, and I could see batted balls being an issue for Sanchez until/unless this is corrected. Sanchez also has a long release on deep tosses, whereas Stafford is able to throw the deep ball with almost the same motion he throws the 12 yard curl.
Arm Strength: Having watched Mike Holmgren’s dink-and-dunk offense for almost half my life, I believe Arm Strength is overrated. However, it does have some uses, and what is truly interesting is how Stafford’s elite arm strength influences his shorter passes. This is another area where I feel Sanchez was sheltered a little at USC. Sanchez has a strong arm when throwing over the middle, but for some reason I can’t really explain, the velocity on his passes to the sidelines lack zip. I noticed this multiple times, he could’ve gotten the ball to his WR much sooner (giving the WR more time to go upfield) but the ball took a while to get there. This was somewhat shielded by Sanchez’s talent, because he faced very little man coverage – I went through 2 games (about 45 pass attempts (I left off some I couldn’t accurately comment on) against Ohio State and Virginia) and noted 13 passes where the defense played man coverage on the receiver targeted, and 32 passes thrown into zone coverage.
I wish I had thought of this concept earlier, because it would’ve been interesting to see what the numbers said about Stafford. I didn’t even think of it until I noticed how every deep pass by Sanchez seemed to be going against zone coverage. I can say my memory tells me it would’ve been far closer to even, and that concerns me. It’s a lot easier to accurately hit a WR sitting in a soft spot in zone coverage than it is to throw to a spot, hoping your WR breaks his route to get there with a defender right next to him. Now, some of Sanchez’s passes were against zone with the defender right next to the target, and honestly reading the coverage of linebackers covering a hitch route isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but I do feel my numbers are accurate. I have some concerns about Sanchez’ ability to throw from the middle of the hash to the opposite sideline against man coverage. Ironically, Sanchez actually was more accurate on deep routes than Stafford, though Stafford threw deep with greater frequency and threw a ton of passes 12-25 yards (Intermediate passes, 67% accuracy rate) past the LOS. On fly routes, Sanchez tends to throw with a lot of arc under the ball (Stafford throws ropes), but both throw post patterns with good velocity and frankly both were better at post patterns than fly patterns.
Intangibles: This is another area I feel favors Stafford. I’ve heard great things about Sanchez’s leadership, and I believe it, but I actually see Stafford’s on the field. Both are willing to take a hit, both play with energy, I just saw more toughness from Stafford. I think this is an area where both are good picks from a leadership perspective.
However, Intangibles involves more than just leadership. While there are some embarrassing pictures of Stafford on the internet (including a party where he drew a play on a girl’s stomach with cake frosting), he hasn’t gotten busted the same way Sanchez has. I don’t think Sanchez was guilty in the well-publicized sexual assault case, but I’ve read unverified reports that he has been in trouble for a fake ID, minor in possession, and breaking a window (what is it with USC players and broken windows?) at a party. As well, I found a very unverified rumor that Sanchez had a juvenile record, but the courts ordered it sealed so we may never know the exact details. When it comes to over $30 million in guaranteed money, Stafford is the guy I trust not to get in trouble off the field. As well, NFLDraftScout’s David Te Thomas calls Stafford a film-room junkie and Sanchez, well, not. That could be very important as well.
In the end, I feel Matthew Stafford is the better pick. I don’t like big risks, and while any quarterback is a gamble, what I saw from Stafford affirmed my 6.9 grade and what I saw from Sanchez actually made me consider lowering my 6.5 grade of him. It isn’t that either is a bad prospect, but I’d rather hitch my horse to Stafford than Sanchez. Sanchez could still wind up being the better player, one reason why scouting is so inexact is that it’s hard to tell how a guy reacts to the NFL environment (maybe Sanchez becomes a film-room junky who corrects his flaws while Stafford merely collects paychecks), especially when all of your scouting is done from a television. From what I have seen on film, however, I feel Stafford’s best comparison lies somewhere between Jay Cutler and Brett Favre, while I can’t shake images of David Carr when I watch Mark Sanchez (low release, tendency to hold onto ball too long) and that worries me quite a bit.
Other random notes: Stafford was far more likely to throw short passes (curls, outs, screens) to his right and slants/posts to his left.
Both quarterbacks showed good touch on short routes, each making almost the exact same touch throw for ~10yds (Sanchez Penn State, Stafford MSU).
Sanchez threw over the middle of the field far more often, and threw to his TE/RB more than Stafford.
Sanchez threw far more crossing routes (Stafford can elevate the ball too much when throwing them) than Stafford did.
Stafford can fit his screen pass into tight places, but needs to lead his WR a little more on them as he often throws it a foot behind the WR rather than a foot ahead.
Sanchez was less likely to throw off his back foot than Stafford.
Sanchez was involved in a lot more rollouts and threw on the run more, and does an excellent job on that (sets his feet when rolling left, which a lot of NFL QBs don’t do and pay because of it).
Stafford is a surprisingly good runner when he tucks the ball in, showing decent mobility and loose hips, and is better than Sanchez (who has more quickness than speed).
Name: Michael Hamlin
Height: 6015 E
40 Time: 4.50 E
Athletically I was not terribly impressed with Hamlin. He has decent quickness, but is not an especially fluid athlete changing directions especially when supporting against the run. He’s a little high-cut, and while he seems to have good hip flip in coverage, he looks a little stiff in his lower body against the run. There is nothing “bad” here, but nothing that makes you love Hamlin either.
Physical Talents: 6.0
Hamlin’s frame probably does not deserve a 6.0 right now – he looks very skinny for a SS (well, Clemson called him a “CAT” back, but basically SS). However, he looks to have the ability to add weight, which should give him an advantage later on. Right now he doesn’t have the strength needed to play in the NFL but, again, can add strength. Hamlin has decent burst for the safety position but is not a truly elite safety by any means.
Body Type: 6.0
I was not especially thrilled with Hamlin the first time I scouted him, as he looked tentative attacking the pile. While there are still a few concerns (certainly not recklessly diving into the fray), he isn’t as afraid of contact as he first appeared. He has a good understanding of how to play his position, but occasionally tackles high. One of the most impressive things that stood out to me was how he switched to FS seamlessly when FS Chris Clemons got hurt early in a game – no problems at all. That indicates he has a solid understanding of the playbook.
Understands Playbook: 7.0
Proper Technique: 6.5
I love proving myself wrong (read my impressions on Matthew Stafford and then read my later scouting report for proof), and I was hoping Hamlin would show me that my concerns about his aggression were not true. Alas, I still have those concerns. It isn’t like he is Deion Sanders or anything, but he does not play with the aggression that I like to see from safeties – Chris Clemons is definitely more into the physical aspect of the game. I did appreciate his overall stead level of play and how he seamlessly played FS in a moment’s notice, but the lack of physicality is not something I like to see.
Clutch Play: 6.5
Football Character: 6.0 Good character type with leadership credentials.
Personal Character: 6.5 Can’t find any problems, seems like a good kid.
Durability: 6.0 Has had injuries to both his feet, so that’s a concern, but in general does a good job staying healthy. If his feet aren’t expected to be a problem I’d feel comfortable taking Hamlin.
Read & React: 6.0 Good job making quick reads, but is prone to biting on play action.
Man Coverage: 6.0 – For a safety he has very good man coverage instincts.
Zone Coverage: 6.0 – I’m not sure he has the speed to play in deep coverage, but even without elite speed he should be alright. Good instincts.
Tackling Form: 6.0 – Doesn’t deliver the power behind his hits that you’d like to see, but is a reliable tackler usually.
Hit Power: 5.5 – Doesn’t blow up the ball-carrier at all, more of a drag-down type.
Blitz Ability: 5.5 Hamlin has decent burst, but lacks the elite speed to be a dominant blitzer.
Deep Speed: 6.0 – I’m not convinced he is the guy you want in deep coverage all the time, but he did perform well in the few chances he had running deep.
Block Shedding: 5.5 – Does not have the strength to disengage especially well.
Ball Skills: 6.5 – Has good hands for the interception and anticipates well.
Errors: 5.5 – Bites on play action too much.
Summary: Hamlin has two strikes against him – he’s not a physical, intimidator type safety and he is not in possession of elite speed. However, he does do several things well – he has a nose for the football, is a secure tackler, and is a decent athlete. I think Hamlin is a guy who can stick in the NFL, but I think he needs some time to add weight and work on his reads, but there is the potential he becomes a good player. If he does, however, he will do it with his coverage and decent tackling form (interestingly enough, a decent comparison is Deon Grant with better hands). While he has some value, I don’t see what people are excited for. There are a lot of safeties who become good players because they’re put in the right system and master the mental side of the game, and that will be Hamlin’s key to success, but there is nothing on tape to distinguish him from anyone else.
Final Grade: 5.8
Notes: I reserve the right to change this grade until the 2009 NFL draft.
Games Scouted: UVA, Alabama, and Nebraska
Name: Knowshon Moreno
Height: 5107 E
Weight: 217 V
40 Time: 4.60 V
Knowshon lacks great top-end speed, and that is a big deal at the halfback position (more likely to rip off 15-20 yard runs than 40 yard runs), but otherwise Moreno is a great athlete. He has the best balance I’ve seen from a college halfback in the years I’ve been scouting, and is a very fluid athlete who runs with good pad level and changes directions very well. I can’t stress how good the balance is, I thought last year Jonathan Stewart had great balance because he always kept his feet from underneath him, but that had more to do with his great strength than anything. Moreno just has a natural feel for how to keep himself off the ground and often gets 5+ yards more than other RBs would because he keeps his feet moving while he is being tackled.
Physical Talents: 6.5
Moreno has an odd frame. At 5’11, he’s the height I like from my halfbacks, but even though he played at 207lbs, he is a thick 207lbs and plays even stronger than his weight room numbers would suggest. Moreno doesn’t have great long speed, but he has very good burst after the hand-off and can accelerate past most defenders.
Body Type: 6.0
Moreno is a very polished player, and aside from one missed play (thought it was pass, but Stafford had called run) he played extremely smart football at UGA. Moreno plays with so much emotion that you almost wonder if he is fully in control, but I’ve seen 6+ games this year and no penalties were called on Moreno. He understands pass protection very well, and does everything you want as a runner (and bounces off the ground as soon as he hits it, which sometimes gets other players to get flagged for hitting him). As a receiver, you’d like to see him use his hands more to catch the ball (reliable, but more of a body catcher), which isn’t the end of the world, it just means he isn’t Brian Westbrook but he is a good receiver. Moreno’s instincts are excellent, as he has a sense of the 1st down marker and reads blocks well.
Understands Playbook: 6.5
Proper Technique: 7.0
Moreno is one competitive player, and one reason I love him is I believe he can raise the energy of an offense. He is very physical for a smaller back (best blocker out of college I’ve seen from the HB position in 3 years of scouting), understands sometimes he just needs to get to the LOS, comes up big in the clutch, and plays with a ton of intensity. The only concern I have is if he might draw a rare flag for unsportsmanlike or jaw with defenders too often, as he is running on pure adrenaline.
Clutch Play: 7.0
Football Character: 7.5 Good upper-body build, plays with his hair on fire.
Personal Character: 6.5 Nothing here to suggest he will be a problem, and in fact is a really likable kid.
Durability: 6.5 Has taken some pops, but is tough and finds a way to get on the field.
Run Instincts: 7.0 Great feel for rush lanes, follows blocks well and anticipates holes opening. Best I’ve scouted the past 2 years.
Tackle-Breaking: 6.5 Moreno isn’t a bruiser, but like Kenny Irons he keeps his feet moving and often manages to get 3+ yards more than you’d expect.
Cutback Ability: 6.5 Moreno is an excellent “cut-ter” (makes good cuts), but does not make the cuts across the whole LOS. When he does, he shows good balance and burst, but lacks the speed to run around a defense.
Inside Running: 7.0 Excellent inside runner due to balance, vision, and toughness.
Outside Running: 6.0 Moreno is very good on off-tackle runs, but lacks the pure speed to beat defenders around the corner.
Receiving Skills: 6.5 Moreno body-catches most of the time (shows the coordination to bring in off-target throws), but is very reliable and is a true threat.
Run After Catch: 7.0 Lacks great speed, but is very capable of moving the chains and is deadly on screen passes due to vision, patience, and open-field ability.
Open-Field: 6.5 The one thing Moreno can’t do is take a pass to the house, but he is extremely tough to tackle in the open field, even in relatively small spaces (like the backfield).
Pass Blocker: 7.5 Lacks great size, but loves blocking on WR screens (when split wide) and in pass protection for the QB. Best I’ve seen in years from a college kid.
Fumble/Errors: 6.5 No fumble problems here, overall a smart player.
Summary: I’ve made no secret that Moreno is one of my favorite players in this draft, or frankly any draft, and there is a good reason. Too often we make a big deal about size/speed, especially at the HB position, but there are tons of HOF/Pro-bowl backs who don’t have exceptional size/speed combinations but make up for it in other ways. IMO, Moreno is one of those backs. He has the best balance I’ve seen, the best pass blocking I’ve seen, and the greatest intensity I’ve seen in the few years I’ve been scouting. He’s a good all-around back capable of running any play, and as a receiver he is excellent at generating 1st downs. Two players I am reminded of are Shaun Alexander (due to vision and inside running, but Moreno is a killer blocker and receiver where Alexander was poor at both) and Clinton Portis (the 2005+ version who is a great blocker and inside runner, not the 200lber from college), and I feel Moreno could be better than either because he truly is the best thing about each of those two backs. While I don’t recommend drafting a RB #4 overall due to money and the overall fungible nature of the RB position, Moreno had huge success behind a pretty bad Georgia OL and if given a decent OL I see pro-bowls and possibly Canton in Moreno’s future.
Final Grade: 7.1
Note: It is unlikely, but I reserve the right to change this grade up to the 2009 draft.
Games Scouted: Florida, LSU, Michigan State, Georgia Tech
Name: James Davis
Height: 5104 E
Weight: 218 E
40 Time: 4.60 E
Because Davis is not CJ Spiller, it is easy to think he is slow or unathletic, but I don’t believe that is the case. While he lacks eye-popping athleticism, he has a decent bit of speed (can challenge the corner occasionally) with good balance and change of direction. There is nothing eye-popping and he certainly isn’t LeSean McCoy, Knowshon Moreno, or Beanie Wells, but he has enough athleticism to succeed in the NFL.
Physical Talents: 6.0
Davis gave me a bit of trouble when attempting to give him a grade here. There might be some disagreement over his body type, but I personally like my backs short and stocky (the only thing he could do better would be to add some upper-body weight, as 5’10 225 is my ideal), so a 6.5 seems fair. Davis has enough strength to run inside at a high level, and he has enough burst to hit the hole, but both grades may be closer to 6.0 than 6.5 and 5.5, respectively.
Body Type: 6.5
It doesn’t require a rocket scientist to understand technique at the halfback position, but Davis has an above-average understanding of blocking, body lean, and interior running. He could improve his pad level on outside runs, but it isn’t bad. He does a good job finding the hole and rarely makes a bad read when running inside.
Understands Playbook: 6.5
Proper Technique: 6.5
I saw nothing really extraordinary about Davis. He was very consistent and earns a high grade here, and clearly enjoys the physical aspect of the game, but overall he did not do anything out of the ordinary (good or bad) to stand out.
Clutch Play: 6.0
Football Character: 6.0 Can’t find anything to distinguish him, looks solid.
Personal Character: 6.5 Squeaky clean reputation.
Durability: 6.5 Has taken a lot of hits over the years and has remained relatively healthy.
Run Instincts: 6.5 Does a good job finding the hole and getting through it.
Tackle-Breaking: 6.0 While Davis has good strength and sheds arm tackles easily, he does not truly play as powerful as his “thunder” nickname implies.
Cutback Ability: 6.0 Davis has good vision and sees the hole well, with enough burst to make cuts when needed.
Inside Running: 6.0 Does a good job finding his hole and getting through it, but lacks the strength or wiggle to make astonishing plays.
Outside Running: 5.5 While Davis can run outside well enough at the college level, he lacks the elite speed to beat defenders and is not especially dangerous in the open field.
Receiving Skills: 6.0 While Davis is a body-catcher, he does do a decent job looking the ball in and has enough burst to get a few yards.
Run After Catch: 6.0 Nothing special, but can pick up first downs.
Open-Field: 5.5 He lacks the elite speed you’d like to see, but he does have enough COD to work angles and is tough enough to get yardage after contact.
Pass Blocker: 6.0 Does a good job here, I read concerns about his blocking but more than once he took on DEs and bought enough time for his QB to make a dumb mistake.
Fumble/Errors: 6.5 No fumble problems here, overall a smart player.
Summary: James Davis is BORING. That’s both a good and a bad thing. There is really nothing remarkable about him. Good size, average speed, good instincts, decent 3rd down value, good character. The only thing he is deficient in is, well, excitement. You don’t oow and aww watching him run, but he does a good job at most aspects of the game – doesn’t offer a lot on tosses, but you can run them with him if you have good blocking. While Davis is the kind of back that is easy to find (reminds me of Tashard Choice), there is value in what he brings to the table and he would be a great choice if Seattle does not address running back earlier, but is not the kind of back you select before the 4th or 5th round.
Final Grade: 5.8
Note: There is a high probability that I will watch more Clemson games in the future, and for that reason I reserve the right to change this grade up until the 2009 NFL Draft.
Games Scouted: Virginia, Nebraska, Alabama
Name: LeSean McCoy
Height: 5105 E
Weight: 204 V
40 Time: 4.44 V
McCoy is a very good athlete who hides his athleticism well. In particular, he doesn’t always show his quickness when running the football, but when he gets into the open field or when he has to outrun a defender to a spot, he can turn up the speed. McCoy has excellent balance that allows him to escape would-be tackles and turn 3 yard gains into longer runs. He has excellent change of direction ability that allows him to make great cuts and he runs with good pad level.
Physical Talents: 6.0
McCoy has decent physical talents because of his very good acceleration, but his lack of size and only adequate strength are legitimate problems. He has been an excellent inside runner for Pittsburgh, but his ability to break arm tackles might not translate to the NFL. For a back his size, he has good functional strength but in order to maximize his talent as an inside runner he will need to improve in this area.
Body Type: 5.5
McCoy has a decent understanding of the playbook (though he did have a couple of miscues, it was in a pro-style offense that showed a lot of looks) and has a firm grasp of running technique (pad level, body lean, turning the corner). He does have a tendency to make one or two ill-advised bounces outside a game, but normally shows excellent instincts waiting for and locating the hole. He has improved on his tendency to bounce runs outside and his ball-security issues but needs to continue to improve here.
Understands Playbook: 6.0
Proper Technique: 6.0
McCoy is a competitive player who does a few things that you really like. His freshman year, McCoy had problems consistently running for 5 yards (tried to hit a homerun all the time) but was much improved as a sophomore here and was more consistent than his offensive line. He shows the leg drive to fight for the first down and displays good effort while running (poor effort as a blocker lowers his grade from 7.0 to 6.5). In the clutch McCoy is a guy who you want to give the ball to, as he seems to play well with pressure on the line (WVU game, 3rd/4th and short).
Clutch Play: 7.0
Football Character: 6.5 In general gets high marks – still learning to be a complete back but has a good reputation.
Personal Character: 6.0 I just don’t expect to see any problems from McCoy. He went from one of the top recruits in the nation his junior year to almost losing his career after a nasty ankle injury and academic issues, spent a year in prep school, then burst onto the scene again at Pitt. He still has some growing up to do, but when all is said an done I don’t think he will be much of a problem.
Durability: 6.0 Ankle injury in high school is several years old, but with his frame you would be a little concerned about his durability. Overall, not a guy you expect to have problems.
Run Instincts: 7.0 Has a good feel for rushing lanes and who will be open.
Tackle-Breaking: 5.5 He did this well enough in college, but will need to add weight to do this in the pros.
Cutback Ability: 6.5 McCoy is deadly making cuts, sometimes tries to go against the grain when he shouldn’t, but also gets some nice gains when he does so.
Inside Running: 6.5 Best on runs between the tackles or just outside the tackles. Vision, patience, and cutback ability allow him to shine here despite a mediocre OL. If he adds weight, he could be even better.
Outside Running: 6.0 McCoy has the speed needed to run outside a lot, but seems to do his best work inside.
Receiving Skills: 6.0 McCoy is a reliable receiver, though rarely runs more than 5 yards past the LOS in his routes. About what you’d expect from a good starting back.
Run After Catch: 6.0 McCoy could be even better if he ran more decisively after the catch, but has the raw physical tools needed to be deadly in space. I’d love to see him on screen passes.
Open-Field: 6.5 McCoy has the loose hips, plus speed, toughness, and a spin move to make him tough to bring down in the open field.
Pass Blocker: 5.0 Terrible. An okay cut-blocker but unenthused when asked to pick up the blitz. Needs a lot of improvement here.
Fumble/Errors: 5.5 McCoy is improving here, but still has work to do. Doesn’t make a ton of mental errors, but more than you’d love to see. When it comes to ball security, he exposes the ball too much and doesn’t always transfer it between arms well. I think he can improve this.
Summary: Due to a certain Youtube video, some people are under the impression that McCoy doesn’t run inside much. That is simply not true, as McCoy runs inside more often than outside by a significant margin. He’s actually pretty good running inside because of his burst, vision, and leg drive. McCoy definitely has some areas for improvement, however, as he needs to work on his blocking, continue to improve ball security, cut down on mental errors, and add weight. The potential to be a very good ball carrier is there, but McCoy probably needs a year before he is ready for a starting role and even then I question his ability to be a 3 down back. Some offenses release their backs on routes more, while others have them block. Under Holmgren, Seattle sent their back out on routes frequently, but it is unlikely Knapp will retain that philosophy so McCoy’s blocking problems could be amplified. I probably wouldn’t take McCoy 37th for Seattle, but I think some team would be justified doing so and I think McCoy would be worth a pick around 50-60 for Seattle.
Final Grade: 6.1
Note: There is a possibility that I will watch more Pitt games in the future, and for that reason I reserve the right to change this grade up until the 2009 NFL Draft.
Games Scouted: USF, WVU, ND, OSU
Name: Aaron Curry
Position: Outside Linebacker
School: Wake Forest
40 Time: 4.50
Curry has incredible athleticism for his size, and very good athleticism period. COD is good, he keeps his feet underneath him, and he backpedals extremely well. He will be among the more athletic 4-3 OLBs in the league when he gets to the NFL.
Physical Talents: 7.0
Curry has an almost-perfect LB body type, being just a tad shorter than is “ideal”, but certainly nothing to complain about. He has superb strength in his body and above-average explosion when asked to blitz. The only real problem is a tendency to sometimes out-think himself.
Body Type: 7.0
For all you hear about how safe he is, his polish needs some work. He’s not a project by any means, but he doesn’t always make the best reads against the run (can get too aggressive) and really has some problems anticipating the pass in zone coverage. Makes the tackle, but would be better off stopping the play before the catch.
Understands Playbook: 6.5
Proper Technique: 6.0
Curry seems to have a great head on his shoulders, shows great toughness (was hurt in one game I watched, but overall track record is great) and effort, even playing special teams at a high level. He sometimes bites on play action or doesn’t read the run well, but it isn’t an effort or competitive drive problem.
Clutch Play: 66.5
Football Character: 7.0 Supposedly an extremely hard worker, and has a great NFL-ready body that shows dedication in the weight room.
Personal Character: 7.0 Should be a star in the community.
Durability: 6.5 Seems to have a good record, did get knocked up a bit in one game but was back for the rest of the season.
Linebacker Specific Skills
Read & React: 6.5 Generally reads very well, but does make some errors. Does a great job against the option, though, which is important with the spread of the “Wildcat” offense.
Initial Quicks: 7.0 First 2 steps are great, though not always maximized due to somewhat slow reaction to the play.
Hit Power: 6.0 He was asked to do so much for WF that he didn’t get to make the riskier tackles. Very safe tackler, but not a real hard hitter on a consistent basis. Certainly not a weakness.
Block Shedding: 7.5 TEs and even OL are going to have trouble blocking him at the NFL level on running plays, not as strong on passing plays.
Tackling: 7.0 Makes a lot of tackles and usually does a good job – only problem comes when he takes poor angles, but is generally secure.
Range: 7.0 Can cover vast areas of the field quickly, actually this is most prevalent in coverage as he spent a lot of time attacking the LOS against the run, opening things up for his teammates.
Man Coverage: 6.5 Athletically he has the ability to match up with anyone in the league at TE to RB. He jams TEs well but gives them a little too much room to prevent the big play.
Zone Coverage: 6.0 Again, the athleticism is there. But he seems to get picked on a bit by QBs (BC game in particular) in this area. Instincts don’t look great in this area, as he’s a little sluggish to pick up guys entering his zone.
Pass-Rush: 6.5 He’s big and strong and fast, with good explosion. He looks a little tight when asked to change directions, and is more of a “pressure” edge rusher than a guy who seals the deal.
Errors: 6.5 He doesn’t always read the run right, and he seems to have trouble with the passing game. Puzzling because he supposedly gets high marks for his smarts off the field, just not seeing any kind of genius on the field.
Summary: Curry is a very good player, and possibly the best defender in this draft. However, he is not a guy who is perfect as is, despite what some in the media say. He has great athleticism and strength, is a good person, and works hard. Mentally, his game still needs refining. My only real issue with Curry is that I don’t think, in a 4-3, he’ll have the kind of production to justify what a top-10 pick will earn. I’d rather put him in a 3-4 and let him do a mix of blitzing, short coverage, and playing gaps in the running game. He deserves a top-10 grade because he will be a great player, but like Alex Mack, I’m not sure I’d take him that high.
Final Grade: 6.7
Games Scouted: Baylor, Boston College, Navy, Vanderbilt
Name: Shonn Greene
Height: 5105 E
Weight: 227 V
40 Time: 4.65 V
Greene is not a great athlete because he lacks much in the form of quickness, speed, and burst. However, for a running back balance and the ability to change directions is key and Greene does a good job at both. It is clear that Greene’s lower body strength enables him to take a hit and keep going, and he has enough change-of-direction ability to make a cut.
Physical Talents: 6.0
In my eyes, at 5’11 227 Greene has the prototypical body type for an NFL back, able to maintain a low center of gravity while running and strong enough to break tackles and consistently fall forward. Greene lacks the long legs (and thus deep speed) of a player like Beanie Wells but has good durability and the frame to suggest that will continue in the NFL. He plays with very good strength and while his burst is not good, it isn’t terrible either.
Body Type: 6.5
For a guy who spent 2007 moving furniture because he was struggling in school, Greene is a surprisingly polished back with a great understanding of the playbook. I liked his ability to determine where pressure was coming and make the block. His technique is very refined in all areas except pass catching, where he struggles mightily.
Understands Playbook: 6.5
Proper Technique: 6.0
This could be a 7.0 and I wouldn’t argue. I was impressed with the grit and toughness I saw from Greene on the field. He consistently picked up whatever yardage was available for him and fell forward more often than most backs I’ve seen. He has played well against good competition even when his line has struggled a bit, and his effort as a pass-blocker is noteworthy for it’s consistency.
Clutch Play: 6.5
Football Character: 6.0 When he was academically ineligible (hard to tell if lazy or just not too bright), rumors are his weight ballooned to linesman levels. However. He worked it off and I feel he’s mature.
Personal Character: 6.5 No known problems off the field and seems to have more maturity than many college players. I’d expect him to have no problems.
Durability: 6.5 Long term durability is in doubt, but with his frame and low wear I expect he can carry a team.
Run Instincts: 6.5 A good sense of where the hole is while running and how to protect his QB while passing.
Tackle-Breaking: 6.5 I was hoping to see more broken tackles, to be honest, however Greene does break more than his share of arm tackles. Not elite, but very good.
Cutback Ability: 5.5 Greene can make cuts up to 75 degrees pretty well, but lacks the burst and doesn’t show the ability to make against-the-grain cuts.
Inside Running: 6.5 Greene does a good job finding the hole and falling forward while running inside – consistent grinding.
Outside Running: 5.5 Greene was able to run outside some in college, but should not be asked to very often in the NFL.
Receiving Skills: 5.0 Showed bad hands in the limited attempts I saw, shouldn’t be asked to run anything past the LOS.
Run After Catch: N/A I actually didn’t see him catch a pass in any position to run with it, though I saw him drop a few.
Open-Field: 5.0 Not very fast and doesn’t seem to change directions well in the open field.
Pass Blocker: 6.5 Very, very good. I was impressed by how rarely his man pressured the QB.
Fumble/Errors: 6.5 Shonn showed no tendency to make errors or fumble the football.
Summary: I really wanted to like Shonn Greene. I like short, stocky backs more than most anyone, and Greene has the NFL body fewer and fewer college backs have. However, he just doesn’t offer much in the open field, possessing only adequate burst and mediocre speed. That said, a good offensive mind can get some legitimate value from Greene. He’s good in short yardage, he has all the tools needed in the red zone, he’s a very good pass protector if terrible receiver, and brings some toughness. While I would not want to give Greene a starting job (and have to live with him for 400 pass attempts), I think he could be a valuable member of a two-back backfield, as he isn’t entirely one dimensional and is consistent.
Final Grade: 5.9
Note: There is a possibility that I will watch more Iowa games in the future, and for that reason I reserve the right to change this grade up until the 2009 NFL Draft.
Games Scouted: South Carolina, Penn State, Illinois
Name: Mitch King
Position: Defensive Tackle
Height: 6020 E
Weight: 280 E
40 Time: 4.83 E
I’m officially coping out with this grade, a 6.3. I just don’t feel a 6.0 or 6.5 really fit King. He’s a better-than-average athlete, but he doesn’t have the wow that Jerry (Ole Miss) has in the athleticism department. He’s somewhere between Ziggy Hood and Jerry, I’ll just leave it at that.
Physical Talents: 5.5
Physically speaking, it’s a miracle King was so good in college. There have been defensive ends bigger than him who are also more explosive athletes, though King does have surprising lower body strength, which enables him not to get pushed around at the LOS. He has good explosion and is usually the first man off the ball, but only beats the OL off the ball occasionally.
Body Type: 5.5
King has started a bunch of games and seems to have a good understanding of the playbook, but where he really excels is with his understanding of individual technique. He has exceptional hand use, is good at stunting, and even gets his hands up to interfere with the pass. Instinctively, he has a good sense of where the ball is but really isn’t all that special.
Understands Playbook: 7.0
Proper Technique: 7.5
King is a competitive player despite his overall small size. He plays with very good effort – sometimes takes himself out of plays because he plays too fast against the run – but he does a good job in most aspects. You’d like him to take himself out of less offensive runs, but even when he goes whistling past the ball carrier he usually takes an OG with him.
Clutch Play: 6.0
Football Character: 6.5 Leader, plays almost all the D snaps, seems like a hard worker.
Personal Character: 6.5 Should have no off-field problems from what I can find.
Durability: 6.0 While he has been very durable, you have to be concerned about his small frame handling the physicality of the NFL.
Position Specific Skills
Read & React: 5.5 Seems to know where the ball is, but comes off the snap before the RB has the ball and seems to have a pre-set destination. Truthfully, he just doesn’t read/react and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Initial Quicks: 6.5 Typically gets off LOS quickly on runs. Vs pass needs to beat OL with hands.
Play Strength: 6.0 Not as bad as I feared, he plays with decent strength.
Hand Use: 7.5 Really exceptional hand use. Fights off attempts by OL to get into his jersey.
Run At Him: 6.0 Comes off the ball quickly enough that rarely is he stuck matching his strength. Blown off ball by double teams.
Disengage from Blocks: 6.0 Does a good job to avoid being latched onto, but lacks the strength to disengage consistently. Gets high in passing formations.
Pursuit: 6.5 High motor guy who chases plays down from behind.
Tackling: 5.5 Rarely misses tackles when he has a clean shot, but on the run doesn’t get a clean shot often (usually moving too fast).
Speed Rush: 6.5 Has the speed to stunt, beat OL with quicks if caught napping.
Bull Rush: 5.5 Not really a threat here.
Big Errors: 6.0 Does not make dumb penalties, but gets too high in his stance at times.
Summary: King burst onto the national radar with a really good Senior Bowl week. In some ways, the Senior bowl isolates King against a guard with a lot of space, so he wasn’t quite as good as he showed at Mobile. However, King does several things well enough to earn a roster spot as a rotational player. He isn’t a special athlete but his hand use enables him to beat guards who are far better athletes than him. While I like King, his tendency to run rampant in the backfield could create problems against NFL running games and he doesn’t keep OL off his linebackers (like Seattle stresses) so my grade for Seattle is a little lower than his overall value to a team.
Final Grade: 5.8
Note: It is possible I will scout more Iowa games, for that reason I reserve the right to change this grade.
Games Scouted: Illinois, South Carolina, Penn State
Here is my attempt at a mock draft for the Seahawks
WR Michael Crabtree 6-2 215 lbs, Texas Tech: Crabtree is the #1 or #2 rated prospect in the draft and the best WR to enter the draft since Calvin Johnson & better than any WR coming out next year. Perfect fit for the West Coast Offense due to his size, route running, run after the catch, and run blocking. If the Seahawks wait till the 2nd round to draft a WR they will be getting the 5th or 6th best WR in the draft (fairly steep drop off in talent from Crabtree).
FS Louis Delmas 6-0 202 lbs, Western Michigan: Considered the best safety in the draft. Big hitter despite his size, good speed and will be a good fit in any defensive scheme. Safety might be our biggest need now that a lot of holes have been filled through free agency.
OLB Marcus Freeman 6-1 239 lbs, Ohio St: Good speed and should be a good fit as the weak side LB (assuming Hill moves to the strong side LB) in our cover-2 defense.
C Antoine Caldwell 6-3 309 lbs, Alabama: 4 year starter at a big time school. Smart player and makes all the calls on the o-line. Team captain final two years and was considered the heart and soul of the offensive.
QB Stephen McGee 6-3 225 lbs, Texas A&M: Good arm strength, great mobility, good leader/ team captain since 2006. We need to come out of this draft with a QB and McGee might be a good fit for the West Coast Offense. Let him develop a few years under Hasselbeck and he could be the 2nd string QB when Seneca Wallace leaves next year, then hopefully becoming the starter when Hasselbeck retires.
WR Johnny Knox 6-0 185 lbs, Abilene Christian: Great speed 4.29 40-yard dash, 2,000+ rec. yards and 30 TD’s in his two years at Abilene. I envision him as our starting KR and PR. Let him develop a couple of years to eventually take over the slot WR position in a couple of years. Could possibly be the next Wes Welker of the Patriots.
RB Gartrell Johnson, 5-11 220 lbs, Colorado St: Great acceleration, runs with his pads low, tough runner, good hands, and good pass blocker (he is a former FB). He could be a good compliment to Julius Jones and Johnson could even be the 2nd or 3rd string FB. He doesn’t have good speed but neither did Shaun Alexander and he broke off some long runs. Johnson’s running style reminds me of Marion Barber.
I referred to Nfldraftscout.com to know which rounds the prospects where projected to be selected.
(Kyle’s Add: Remember, discussion is okay, personal attacks are not.)
So, running this site (along with the scouting I do this year being much more intense than what I’ve done previously) has been a learning experience. For one, I’m trying to run a full-fledged site on WordPress, which is really just an exceptionally powerful blog. It makes formatting tough, but also free. However, I’m beginning to look towards next year (primarily because, due to other events, I’m taking the summer off) and the new scouting class. I know changes need to be made in how things are run, but since you guys are the reason I actually go to the effort to post this stuff, I want to get your takes… Which means I better ask this before the draft, ’cause 3 days after the draft this will become a ghost-site.
The good news is that this site didn’t get rolling until my External Hard Drive arrived in November or December. I didn’t figure out how to efficiently convert files until February. So, with a plan in place, I ought to be able to get more games, particularly on the smaller-school prospects that I’m struggling with right now (not D2, but just guys from programs like Kansas State, Virginia, or UConn.). There should be a lot more information. The problem is primarily processing it.
One of the biggest problems here currently is that the “normal” scouting reports are just too damn long to write up. I type all of these by laptop, which means no mouse (which makes it take even longer). Furthermore, I’ll spend 10 minutes arguing with myself about if a guy deserves a 6.0 or a 6.5. This may make my reports exact, but it also cuts on the reports you guys get to read (or, inversely, the guys I get to scout). I’m debating alternatives and wanted to present some to you guys, as well as creating a forum for you guys to talk about them in.
Some ideas I’ve thrown around:
If finances work out, I might be able to buy a camcorder/microphone and create podcasts or videos (the videos would probably be of me talking, not of the prospect, I don’t have the time to make my own highlight video of each prospect, no matter how cool an idea that sounds). Advantages would be that the scouting would remain the same, the reports would cover the important stuff, it wouldn’t require a lot of reading. This would probably be predicated on a few economic issues that would let me afford that + a real web domain. The disadvantages would be that I’m not a great orator so expect a little bit of stuttering and such, you probably don’t want to listen to the reports at work where everyone can hear you slacking off, and frankly if we do video I’m not THAT good looking. Truth be told, I can’t think of a reason not to just make it a podcast, but I’m all ears.
Another idea would be, again, the same scouting involved, but shorter reports, I actually didn’t mind writing the Donald Brown/William Beatty abbreviated reports, and I could work on ways to improve the reports. It would cut down on the time I spend formatting, while still providing a good amount of detailed information. Downside is that I wouldn’t mention some skills (like OL lateral slide) unless it was remarkable in some way.
Third idea is one I’m a little hesitant on, but might be the most efficient. Since it will take me until November/December to obtain enough games to scout most players, that leaves a lot of the college football season up in the air. What I would do during that time is essentially present “notes” (like the impressions, but probably a little more focused) during the season. If, say, after a game I decide a guy has 6.5 quickness, I’ll put that down. I take notes during my normal scouting process anyways. I’d be posting these notes as I write them, but the new twist would be using the information on the notes in the reports. So if I takes notes on 3 games for a team, I might only need to pop in 2 more games to finish up a report. It would speed things up greatly. Unfortunately, I have no idea what it would do to the quality of my reports – normall a guy is evaluated over the course of a coupledays, not a couple months. It may be that there is no loss in quality, and of course if I disagree with a grade I can change it.
So those are the three that I have going so far. I’m also debating how to work with my grading system in general (for one, Quickness and Explosion seem to be grades that need more defining, I want to add change-of-direction, etc.) so any input on what you want for that would be appreciated. If you have some other advice on how to improve the format, by all means let me know. I certainly haven’t thought of everything. As well, if there are readers who are not Seahawk fans and would like to see this site take on a less-Seahawks oriented feel, chime in now. I’m debating how I want to work with grades and if the readerbase isn’t as heavily composed of Seahawk fans as I think, that influences my decision as well.
Lastly, has anyone tried to submit a mock draft, I’ve recieved none, but maybe people don’t want to make a Mock this early. I certainly understand that. I just want to know if the mailing feature works or not.