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March 2010

10 Reasons Why the Crimson Tide Defense will Prosper in 2010

Published on: 31st March, 2010

10 Reasons Why the Crimson Tide Defense will Prosper in 2010  | read this item

Since the departure of athletes such as Terrence Cody, Rolando McClain, and Javier Arenas, most of the sports world has been trying to figure out how Nick Saban can rebuild his championship defense of the Crimson Tide. How do you replace All-American, Award-Winning, Gap-Shooting athletes?

If Coach Saban isn’t asking that question, why should anyone else? Start the slide show and see why no one is worried about Alabama’s defense, except those on The Tide’s 2010 schedule.

Begin Slideshow

Alabama To Play Texas Tech in 2012: Tommy Tuberville Can Run, but He Can’t Hide

Published on: 31st March, 2010

Alabama To Play Texas Tech in 2012: Tommy Tuberville Can Run, but He Can't Hide  | read this item

It looks like Tommy Tuberville has decided to take on Nick Saban once again—only this time, Tuberville will be the head coach of a different team.

According to ESPN.com, Alabama and Texas Tech discussed playing a game at a mutual site. The mutual site they agreed upon is Dallas Cowboys Stadium.

So, this game sounds pretty exciting, right? Well, do not get too excited yet.

Texas Tech athletic director Gerald Myers told the n that the school had agreed to it. He also said he thinks Alabama has agreed to it.

He also stated that a contract has not been signed yet.

Saban told ESPN’s Chris Low that Alabama has not agreed to it.

“We have a lot of options for 2012. We’re in the process of weighing them. That’s one of them,” Saban said.

Despite this, Myers also stated that Saban and Tuberville were on board with the game.

So really, both sides have been back-and-forth with the decision.

If Alabama is smart, it would agree to this game. I still believe the Tide will play.

Alabama has had a tendency to start out its seasons with interesting games such as this one. During the past two years, the Tide have opened the season against tough ACC opponents in the Georgia Dome.

They will not open the 2010 season with what you would consider an interesting game, but Alabama still found a way to catch people’s attention by having the second home game against Penn State.

Now if this game were to actually happen, it would be much more interesting than people think. Just think about it: Saban was the last coach Tuberville lost to before he got fired at Auburn.

There would be much raw emotion for Tuberville in this game. The game being played in Dallas Cowboys Stadium is just icing on the cake.

I believe a contract game will be drawn up and signed soon because of the level of interest it has attracted from fans—even though fans know it is not official yet.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

2010 NFL Draft: Players That Could Slip and Others That Could Rise

Published on: 31st March, 2010

2010 NFL Draft: Players That Could Slip and Others That Could Rise  | read this item

I recently wrote my 2010 NFL Mock Draft, in which I argued some non-conventional ideas about the upcoming Draft.

Such as, Detroit taking Russell Okung; Cleveland taking Eric Berry; CJ Spiller falling to Philadelphia; and Kansas City taking Jason Pierre-Paul.

I think people need to remember that the Draft usually does not follow “Best available player.” You also need to consider that club’s current prospects; holes; and system.  Sometimes, the best available player does not fit the system.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Look at New England for instance. The Patriots often trade down and collect picks that fit the system, rather than the most talented player. Obviously, that philosophy has worked well for the Pats.

 

Russell Okung

Detroit should model itself after the Saints and continue to build the offense. Okung could play for 15 years, while the career span of the average d-tackle is much less than that. 

The other thing is that coach Jim Schwartz is a defensive-minded coach that can “coach up” defensive players better than he can “coach up” offensive players. Thus, it makes the most sense to take the best offensive player available.

 

Jason Pierre-Paul

Jason Pierre-Paul would be the best fit for the Kansas City defense, which needs more help than the offense does. 

The fact is that Jamaal Charles ran over a 1,000 yards and 40 receptions.

The draft is loaded with offensive lineman and surely there will be value in the second round. Most of the pass-rushers will be gone by then, however. Thus, it would make sense for KC to take the best rusher at 5th overall.

 

Bryan Bulaga

Some think that OL Bryan Bulaga is a top ten pick, yet I’m not convinced. Bulaga reminds me of Raiders guard Robert Galley. 

Both come from the Iowa program of Kirk Ferentz that is known for being finesse. The Raiders took Gallery in 2004 at 2nd overall because the Raiders wanted a left tackle, but after several years, the Raiders accepted that Gallery was best suited to play guard.

Bulaga’s speed is questionable and not likely to suffice in protecting the blindside.  Bulaga though would make an excellent left guard.

 

Eric Berry

Safety Eric Berry is highly talented, but safeties are generally not in high demand.  Berry should go in the top ten, but I doubt that a top five team will invest in a premiere safety. 

Many people wonder why a team would not want a great player, and really it is just economics. Some positions have larger talent pools. Defensive backs can be found in spades, so why pay millions when the market is flowing with d-backs?

 

C.J. Spiller

Spiller is quickly rising on many boards, but that neglects the issue of need in the top 15.

Cleveland, Buffalo, Miami, San Francisco, and even New England do not truly need a halfback, as much as those teams need to fill another position.

As much as people love to predict the next “crazy” move by Al Davis, they never bother to study other teams. 

Bill Parcells for instance has never put a high premium on halfbacks. 

Assuming that an offensive lineman is available, I would expect the Dolphins to reinforce the line. Sometimes, predictability is a good thing, because those who succeed usually stick with what has worked.  I see no reason why Parcells would change that.

Seattle is possible, but if an offensive lineman is available, I think Seattle will opt for that instead. After all, Spiller is a speed runner and not very physical. A lousy line would present a difficult time for Spiller.

The Patriots offense is not run-oriented. I realize that coach Belichick knows how to adapt to his roster, but Spiller is in many ways similar to current Pat Laurence Maroney. My money would be on the Pats taking a receiver or tight end, especially since WR Wes Welker is expected to miss much of 2010 with injury.

The Niners are possible, but SF has Frank Gore and Glen Coffee. The Niners best bet would be to beef up the defense.

Read more NFL news on BleacherReport.com

Alex Brown: Losing Him Could Be a Disaster for the Bears

Published on: 31st March, 2010

Alex Brown: Losing Him Could Be a Disaster for the Bears  | read this item

We have seen this before. Players come and players go.

But with the Chicago Bears organization, the players who leave seem to have success elsewhere.

I understand the business of sports and running a professional team. You need to get new, fresh players in while balancing a salary and trying to save money.

But with the Bears all but making it official in letting Alex Brown go, that decision could turn on them.

With the addition of Julius Peppers, I believe Brown could have had a really good season in 2010.

Brown doesn’t put up the big Pro Bowl numbers, but he simply gets the job done.

With Peppers being double-teamed at times, guys like Tommie Harris and Brown go sort of unnoticed on the defensive line. Teams won’t worry about them as much.

I truly believe having Peppers on the line would benefit a guy like Brown into becoming more of a threat to opposing teams.

With Brown’s apparent departure, the Bears are left with a question mark on the defensive line. Losing Adewalte Ogunleye leaves Peppers, Harris, Jarron Gilbert, Mark Anderson, and Israel Idonije—a somewhat unproven line.

In a Cover Two defense—which the Bears run—a good defensive line is key to the success of the defense. Last year, we saw the Bears struggle on the line—forcing the secondary to struggle at times.

Brown could produce big numbers with other teams, though—something that should concern Bears fans to an extent.

We’ve seen this before—and recently, too. Bernard Berrian left Chicago in free agency, and he is playing a key role in Minnesota’s offense. Chicago hasn’t seen a better receiver here since.

Chris Harris left the Bears in a trade—and he would be the starting safety today if the Bears had decided not to trade him. Harris is playing well in Carolina.

The biggest example is Cedric Benson. Now we know he had legal troubles, causing the Bears to release him. But he put up stellar numbers for the Bengals last season— something Matt Forte couldn’t do.

And we all know about Thomas Jones, who has played great during his two seasons with the Jets.

So before the Bears really think this was the right move for the team and Alex Brown, they should have thought this over. I’d hate to see a guy like Brown, a locker room leader and a quality stat guy, go shine with a team not named the Chicago Bears.

Read more NFL news on BleacherReport.com

10 Things You Need To Know About a Donovan McNabb Trade To Oakland

Published on: 31st March, 2010

10 Things You Need To Know About a Donovan McNabb Trade To Oakland  | read this item

You cannot look at a sports page or web site and not find the story about the Oakland Raiders trading for Donovan McNabb. This is one of the most interesting reads, especially for Oakland and Philadelphia fans.

 

Talking to several die hard Oakland fans, some are excited about this possibility and some are enraged about it. The one consistent thing is there is no middle ground. Either they love it or they hate it; that is what makes it such a great topic of discussion.

 

We first heard that several teams had contacted the Eagles about their quarterbacks. Buffalo, Detroit, Oakland, Cleveland, Minnesota, etc. Detroit became the front runner for awhile until their GM came forward and said “Absolutely False.”

 

ESPN says that “The Oakland Raiders are the leading candidate to land Donovan McNabb.” Two sources with the organization say they have not spoken to the Eagles about McNabb.

 

McNabb says he would rather stay with the Eagles, but if he is going to be traded, he would prefer to go to the Vikings.

 

With all of these rumors floating around, there are 10 things that need to be taken into consideration about this possible trade:

 

1. Donovan McNabb is in the final year of his contract. If the Raiders were to make this trade, they have to realistically take into consideration that he could be one and done. He has already said that he wants to go to a contender. If he decides to leave after his final contractual year, the Raiders would be giving up a top 40 pick for a one year rental. 

2. Donovan McNabb is 33 years old. He played on a pro bowl level last year. He has been a very good player, but he also has shown signs that he is getting old. No one knows how much more he has left in his tank. The Raiders’ offensive line is not very good and he would take a beating unless it is upgraded significantly.

3. The cost would be $11.2 Million. The Raiders would have to pay Donovan McNabb $11.2 million. With us franchising Richard Seymour and still having JaMarcus Russell on the team, and Nnamdi’s new contract, the Raiders have a LOT of money tied up into a few players. What is that going to do for the team over the next few years if this persists?

4. What does this do for the Raiders’ future at Quarterback? If the Raiders were to trade for Donovan McNabb, they would have an answer for next year, but not for the future. This is something that has killed this team since Rich Gannon left. If they are going after McNabb, that shows that they have lost confidence in Russell and are looking to move on. The bigger question is what do they do for the future? They have to draft a young quarterback to develop.  

5. Will this trade happen? Two sources form the Raiders say that the team has not even spoken to the Eagles. ESPN says that the Raiders are the leading candidates to land McNabb. The Eagles say there is no leading candidate. This thing is all over the place. It could be a smoke screen by the Raiders. McNabb wants to stay, but if a trade is going to happen, he wants it to happen quickly. The longer that this thing takes, the harder it is going to be for both teams. Each team needs to build a level of trust with their starting quarterback. If McNabb is traded to the Raiders, he needs time with the receivers and to learn the offense.

6. McNabb has only played one full season over the last five seasons. McNabb has taken a beating over his career (357 sacks), especially over the last five years. Is this the direction the Raiders want to go? If McNabb was here and went down for a period of time, where does that leave the team? The Raiders need to find a young stud (Clausen, Bradford, McCoy, Tebow, LeFevour, Crompton, Skelton, or Brown) in this year’s draft to develop for the future.

7. Does McNabb fit the Raiders’ offense? McNabb has been playing in the West Coast Offense since he came into the NFL. The Raiders’ offense is built on the receivers running longer routes and calls for longer throws. McNabb has the arm strength, but he does not have the legs he once had. The Raiders’ offensive line is not very good and has to be upgraded immediately. If McNabb does not have the time he needs to get rid of the ball, what difference does it make who is playing quarterback?

8. Is McNabb worth a top 42 pick? The Eagles want a top 42 pick for McNabb. The Raiders own the 39th overall pick; is he worth it? The Raiders really need to investigate this trade hard. Giving up such a high draft pick could continue to keep this team where it is. There are so many areas that need to be addressed on this team, that giving up such a high draft pick for a short-term fix could really hurt the Raiders.

9. What would trading for McNabb do for the business side of the Raiders? It has been a long time since the Raiders had a true face of the organization. If the Raiders did trade for McNabb, this would immediately improve the team’s image. They would improve season ticket sales and would get more games in prime-time, especially if the team starts to win. Merchandise sales would go up and the Raiders would be one of the most talked about teams in the league. This team needs to sell-out during the regular season for more exposure, and adding a franchise quarterback like McNabb would go a long way in doing that.

10. Could McNabb help turn the Raiders into a playoff team? With the talent on this team and the leadership that McNabb has shown over his career, this could be the best thing to happen for the Raiders. Last year, there were several games that this team showed it can play with the right motivation and leadership (see the games against the Eagles, Steelers, Bengals, and Broncos). McNabb would be the leader on offense that this team has been missing for quite some time. The division is fairly weak and is going through a transition. The addition of McNabb would give the Raiders steady quarterback play and produce at least another 7 to 10 points a game. This should produce three to five more wins. That would put the Raiders in a position to challenge for a playoff spot.

Overall, this trade could be the biggest and best thing for the Raiders, or it could set the team back another two years. Weighing the pros and cons, personally, I say pull the trigger and bring him to Oakland. We need to get this team winning again and that needs to happen now.

 

One thing that no one can deny? McNabb would be a HUGE upgrade compared to all of the quarterbacks on the team now. He brings leadership, pro bowl performances, and a winning record with him; he would immediately make the Raiders a contender.

 

Finally, we all need to look at the big picture, this team has lost at least 11 games since 2003 and that is not good. They have drafted some good players and have also drafted some bad players. Trading for a proven winner like McNabb could be a shot in the arm. We have drafted a quarterback and it has not worked out; let’s bring in one that has a winning record and a proven track record.

Read more NFL news on BleacherReport.com

San Diego Chargers: Does Nathan Vasher’s Signing Affect the NFL Draft?

Published on: 31st March, 2010

San Diego Chargers: Does Nathan Vasher's Signing Affect the NFL Draft?  | read this item

San Diego has appeared to have shored up its cornerback situation for 2010 with the signing of free agents Nathan Vasher and Donald Strickland.

This gives the team four solid cornerbacks to give both quality and depth at the position along with an added physicality.

It is far from a long-term solution, however. 

Vasher and Strickland are 28 and 29 respectively, with both having a history of injury and just two-year contracts.  Quentin Jammer, while a solid and consistent number one starter, will be 31 when the 2010 season begins.

The team has a young talent in Antoine Cason who may or may not lock down a starting role in the upcoming year, but otherwise the Chargers are lacking in long-term potential at the corner position.

It was considered that even after signing Strickland, the team may have attempted to pursue a cornerback fairly early in the draft (while the first round was unlikely, the second was a definite possibility).

It would appear that an early cornerback pick is now virtually (granted, never completely given Smith’s unpredictability) impossible given the team’s decent list of other needs.

The team could easily elect to forgo the position entirely in this year’s draft, which would make a bit of sense considering the team’s need for the position being in 2012 rather than 2010, as well its five picks in the first three rounds in 2011.

But cornerbacks are rarely instant successes.  It is perhaps the most difficult defensive position to learn in football, with technique and nuance paired with the requisite athleticism to cover both a 180-pound speedster and a physically imposing 6’4’’ receiver. 

Given this and the depth of this year’s cornerback class, it might still be possible that San Diego spends a mid to late-round pick on a cornerback who can have two full years to be groomed and simply absorb San Diego’s system, as well as just the overall pace of NFL football.

If Cason cannot prove himself in the coming years, it gives the team another young corner waiting in the wings to supplement the former first-rounder.  Should Cason develop into a strong starting corner, it gives the team a young option to potentially succeed Quentin Jammer, whose physical brand of play may begin catching up to him as his mid-thirties draw nearer.

But where should the team look? While the order is debatable, it is safe to say San Diego has likely earmarked the first and second rounds for the running back and nose tackle positions.

The third round would be the earliest option, and could still see several strong options.  Brandon Ghee of Wake Forest is probably the strongest candidate who still has good potential to be available.  Ghee is a mid or late second-round talent who could fall purely by way of the deep corner class.

Even the third round seems a difficult sell, however.  Positions like right tackle and defensive end could use a more immediate upgrade, while depth at receiver and insurance at linebacker are also possibilities.

Looking to the fourth or fifth rounds would make more sense.  The talent is still there, but the team can focus the upper ranks of its 2010 draft on more immediate concerns.

Amari Spievey may still be available by the time round four reaches San Diego.  He is a late-second to upper-third round talent, but could see eight to ten corners drafted ahead of him. 

That many other options and a lukewarm 40 time could leave him falling a round or more beyond his overall talent level.

A.J. Jefferson of Fresno State steps in with all the measurables, but is very raw. 

If he can fall to the fifth round, that may be perfect for a team that should have plenty of time to develop him before he is pressed into service.  If he falters as a corner, he still could provide the team with a great option for the return game, which Sproles underwhelmed in last year.

Donovan Warren is similar to Jefferson in that he will need some time to develop, but has tremendous upside.  He isn’t the pure physical talent that Jefferson is, and his poor 40 time shot him down draft boards all around.

That said, the league is full of good football players with mediocre measurables who have translated that into solid careers.  When the college season ended he was a solid second-round candidate, his current fifth round projection has only come because of results measured in a non-game setting.

Thanks to names like these and a host of other mid-late round prospects who could slip up to two rounds below their quality simply from the sheer volume of solid cornerback prospects , it may make sense for San Diego to make a reach in this year’s draft.

The Chargers may not need to address the position for the upcoming season, but that does not mean they should not draft a cornerback at all when the draft rolls around.

Like running back and wide receiver, this year’s draft has few guaranteed first-round talents at the corner position, but makes up for it with a deep supply of day two (second and third rounds in this year’s new draft format) prospects that could provide a savvy team with a steal that could be ready to take over when the need does arise in two years time.

San Diego should take advantage of this, regardless of the newfound depth from signing two free agent corners.  It could pay off, especially if Cason does not prove to be the answer along the outside.

 

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Ohio State’s Spring Cleaning (and Questions): Part Two

Published on: 31st March, 2010

Ohio State's Spring Cleaning (and Questions): Part Two  | read this item
A few days ago, I posted the beginnings of what I consider to be Ohio State’s main concerns as the Buckeyes begin spring football on April 1. I have ranked the concerns from low priority to high priority.
This article will focus upon what I consider to be Ohio State’s top concerns from now until the opening game against Marshall on Sept. 2.
5. How Will Ohio State Address Its Running Back Situation?
As it relates to the running game, head coach Jim Tressel is fond of saying that a team needs “a pair and a spare.” Ohio State has accomplished that feat with its recruiting—but will the Buckeyes be able to keep everyone happy?
Senior Brandon Saine returns, and he is the projected starter at tailback. Saine, along with redshirt junior Daniel “Boom” Herron, will get the majority of the workload. Neither Saine nor Herron is the type of back to carry the ball 20 times a game, but both have been effective for Ohio State.

Now we are getting into the concern area. Sophomore Jordan Hall, who had limited work but played well when given the opportunity, also returns. Hall reminds me of former Buckeye Pepe Pearson, who also wore No. 29. Supposedly, Hall may be willing to redshirt this coming season —and that may be a good decision.

Redshirt freshman Jaamal Berry, who battled injuries all last season, will get an opportunity to win some carries. I have suggested that Berry be given opportunities to contribute as a kickoff returner —at the very least. Rumors persist that Berry may transfer over lack of playing time.
Redshirt sophomore Jermil Martin moved to tailback from fullback last season. Martin played well against Minnesota, then hardly played after that.
Incoming freshman Carlos Hyde has enrolled and will participate in spring football. Hyde spent last season at Fork Union Military Academy, and he is the stereotypical big back Ohio State fans are used to—such as Jonathan Wells or Chris Wells.
Last—but not least—on this list, Ohio State has also signed Roderick Smith out of Indiana. Smith will arrive in the fall, and he was arguably the top-rated player in Ohio State’s 2010 recruiting class.
Concern Level: I am going to give this a six. How will Tressel keep everyone happy? Here’s the answer: He will not. The best thing Tressel can do is find various roles for these players, redshirt some (Hall? Smith?), and try to incorporate as many into the game plan as possible. Saine and Herron will get the bulk of the carries, but this is going to be an area to keep an eye on throughout the spring and well into the season.
4. Who Will Emerge As Ohio State’s Backup Quarterback?
In the painful aftermath of Ohio State’s loss to Purdue, Joe Bauserman was a very popular choice to take over at quarterback. In the wake of Terrelle Pryor’s Rose Bowl performance, now the question is: Who would play if Pryor were hurt?

Bauserman and Kenny Guiton will be given every opportunity to win the backup quarterback position, with Pryor being limited because of his offseason knee surgery. I would expect Bauserman and Guiton to play extensively in the spring game on April 24.

Concern Level: I will give this a six. By all indications, Pryor will be fine by the beginning of the season in September. My concern level comes from watching what Oklahoma experienced last season when Sam Bradford went down —and how a talented team’s season can suddenly unravel.
3. Who Will Emerge As Ohio State’s Defensive Line Depth?
Ohio State loses starting DE Thaddeus Gibson and DT Doug Worthington—as well as reserves DT Todd Denlinger, DE Robert Rose, and DE Lawrence Wilson. Senior Cameron Heyward returns at one defensive end spot, while redshirt senior Dexter Larimore will return at a defensive tackle spot.
Junior DE Nathan Williams is projected as a starter at one defensive end position, while sophomore DT John Simon is projected as a starter on the interior. Williams and Simon have had extensive playing experience.
Returnees include DT Garrett Goebel, DE Jonathan Newsome, DE Keith Wells, DE Melvin Fellows, DE Solomon Thomas, and DT Adam Bellamy. Incoming freshmen include DE JT Moore, DE Jamel Turner, DE Darryl Baldwin, and DT Johnathan Hankins.
Concern Level: I will give this a six. As you can read up above, Ohio State has several defensive linemen on the roster, but the bulk of this talent is relatively unproven and untested. Ohio State prides itself on having a dominating defensive front. This spring will help answer what kind of depth Ohio State has within its defensive line pool.
2. Who Will Win the Offensive Left Tackle Position?
I believe this song will be the theme song for Mike Adams this spring. Adams was one of the most hyped members of his recruiting class —and he has not developed into the dominant offensive tackle most projected when he signed with Ohio State.
Andy Miller will return to battle Adams for the starting spot. Miller started last season when Adams was suspended, and then he was sidelined with the flu. Miller lost 18 pounds as a result, so Jim Cordle played left tackle the bulk of the season for Ohio State. Cordle did his best, but it would be charitable to say that he was a natural for the position.
Ohio State is secure throughout the rest of its line. J.B. Shugarts and Marcus Hall may also be given an opportunity to win the job if either Adams or Miller is unable to seize control of the position.
Concern Level: I will give this a seven. Ohio State needs someone—anyone—to rise up and become a solid left tackle. Considering this is the position responsible for protecting Pryor’s blind side, I can only hope Adams finally rises to the occasion and becomes the player most expected him to be when he signed with Ohio State.
1. Who Will Win the Safety Positions?
In my estimation, here is the biggest concern for Ohio State heading into spring football—and possibly the 2010 season. Losing a three-year starter in Kurt Coleman is challenging. Former starter, contributor, and favorite Ohio State fan whipping boy Anderson Russell has also run out of eligibility—and Ohio State needs to replace a lot of experience at the last line of defense.
Jermale Hines returns at one projected starter position. Hines replaced Russell after the Navy game—and he is a hybrid linebacker and safety. Hines has extensive playing experience.
Orhian Johnson is the projected front runner for the other safety position, but Johnson will have competition for the starting spot. Aaron Gant, Nate Oliver,  Jamie Wood,  Zach Domicone,  and C.J. Barnett will all try to win the starting position and precious playing time. All of these players—with the exception of Wood— have playing experience gained through special teams contributions.
Concern Level: I will give this a seven. As I wrote up above, Coleman was a solid, dependable three-year starter. While not a big hitting safety in the mold of former Ohio State greats Jack Tatum or Mike Doss, Coleman provided tremendous leadership and was a steadying presence on Ohio State’s defense. I will be anxious to see how this critical position shakes out during the course of the spring practices.
As I wrote previously, it is possible that these questions may not be answered definitively by the conclusion of Ohio State’s spring practices on April 24. Many of these questions rank low in comparison with other football programs around the country.  Regardless, I am hopeful that many of these questions will be answered—and I look forward to seeing how the answers will help to predict Ohio State’s 2010 season.

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2010 NFL Draft: A Look at Two More Chicago Bears Prospects

Published on: 31st March, 2010

2010 NFL Draft: A Look at Two More Chicago Bears Prospects   | read this item

We have focused a lot on safeties and offensive guards in the past.

Now, we should take a look at some of the other needs the Chicago Bears have heading into the 2010 NFL Draft. 

The release of cornerback Nathan Vasher, although probably more of a good move than a bad one, has left a little bit of a hole in Chicago’s secondary—in particular, at the cornerback position—and something will have to be done about it during this offseason.

The Bears are also thin at the offensive guard and tackle positions.  They need to find someone who could either back up and then eventually start in a year or two—or, if at all possible, find someone who can compete with Kevin Shaffer and either start or add some depth.  Without some additional depth at the offensive tackle position, the Bears could have a difficult season on the offensive line. 

The following is a look at two players—one at the offensive tackle position and one at the cornerback position—whom the Bears may be interested in heading into the 2010 NFL Draft.

 

 

Sam Young—Notre Dame

 

If the Bears are looking for a starting-caliber offensive tackle when they make their first pick, they need look no further than Notre Dame’s Sam Young.  Young has improved over the course of time—and after a good Senior Bowl showing, he’s thrust himself into the spotlight for many NFL scouts.

Some things that he does well include great size with the kind of physical traits you would like to see in an offensive tackle.  He is a solid and strong run blocker with a very good, aggressive streak.  He finishes his blocks and gets the best of the defender.  He is also a solid pass blocker with a good mirror and great feet.

What Young doesn’t do well is block effectively at the second level—and he doesn’t possess the speed or athletic ability that the ideal offensive tackle has.  He would need to work on his mechanics a little bit in the league—meaning that he won’t be quite ready to go when he lands. 

Young also needs to learn how to control himself better, because he was guilty of several personal fouls during the 2009 season.  That won’t help him in the NFL.

Young should be around when the Bears make their first pick—and depending on which way they go, they could quite possibly turn him into a starting-caliber offensive lineman who could step in and start in short order.

 

 

Javier Arenas—Alabama

Arenas may have dropped down a little bit in the cornerback rankings after having a subpar season with the Crimson Tide, but he is definitely worth a look when the Bears make their first selection in the third round.

What the Bears might like most about Arenas is that he is an accomplished return specialist and is a threat to run the kick back every time he gets his hands on it. 

He has strong instincts for the position and can be used to blitz the quarterback—which he did well at Alabama—and this might come in handy for the Bears.  Arenas is also a solid tackler, and he has the ability to judge where the quarterback is going to throw the ball and jump the route to make the interception.

On the downside, Arenas is not the ideal size for a cornerback, and the Bears like their cornerbacks bigger to help support against the run.  There are times when he will take risks that have ended up backfiring on him. 

He will struggle at times against larger receivers and doesn’t have a lot of upside—but he does have enough to be effective.

Arenas is working out well this offseason, but some question his ability to be a starter.  The Bears could use him not only as a backup but also on special teams—and that may be enough to at least get them interested.  If he can learn behind the guys slotted to start, he could eventually develop into a quality cornerback that fans could see starting on Sundays.

These are just two of the many options that the Bears have when they start making their first few picks.  They at least have to get some help on the offensive line and add some depth at the cornerback position—and perhaps these are two guys who could help them out in the future.

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Next Question: The 10 Most Media-Unfriendly College Football Coaches

Published on: 31st March, 2010

Next Question: The 10 Most Media-Unfriendly College Football Coaches  | read this item

Most people in sports believe that college football coaches have the most controlling personalities in the business.

Whether those tendencies relate to how coaches talk to the press is up to the individual.

Certain coaches such as former FSU headman Bobby Bowden were open books to the press, leaving everything out in the open.

On the other hand, there are coaches that are more tight-fisted and closed off to the media.

These coaches are typically the ones that are portrayed as the coaches we love to hate.

Whether that is fair judgment or an unjust assumption of the coaches personality is up to the opinion of the individual.

But the ones that are the hated ones oftentimes are very tight-lipped and not media-friendly.

Here is our look at the ten coaches who are most unfriendly towards the media.

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San Diego Chargers 2010: How Does Signing Nathan Vasher Affect Secondary?

Published on: 31st March, 2010

San Diego Chargers 2010: How Does Signing Nathan Vasher Affect Secondary?  | read this item

San Diego has surprised more than a few with an interesting offseason. Not only have they signed two significant free agents (roughly the same number as signed between 2006 and 2009), but they signed two free agents at the same position.

Nathan Vasher and Donald Strickland combine to give the team depth if nothing else, at a cornerback position that fielded only three active players in 2009, one of which has since been traded away to the New York Jets.

So what does this do for the secondary?  That is a difficult question to peg down.

The team has Quentin Jammer locked up at the lead cornerback position, but now three players to compete for time as either a the second starter or nickel back.  Aside from Vasher and Strickland, they also will look to see what young former first round pick Antoine Cason can do.

Strickland is the safest player of the group, being a good blend of both consistent and seasoned. He also presents the least upside to the team overall. He gets by on toughness and awareness over physical ability.

Because of this, Strickland is the best bet to be locked into the nickel role. His limited size will be less of a liability against slot receivers, and his solid run-support abilities will be better utilized by lining up closer to the trenches.

That leaves Cason and Vasher to fight for the starting role.

Vasher is more seasoned, with six years and 73 games total experience to Cason’s two years and 32 games.

He showed great potential early, putting up sixteen picks in his first three years in the league while playing for Ron Rivera in Chicago.

The last three years have been something of a disappointment however, putting up three interceptions behind only 27 of a possible 48 games played. It is worth noting however, that aside from injury, his decline also coincides with the departure of Ron Rivera and the overall decline of the once dominant Chicago Bears defense.

Vasher is still only 28 years old, and knows Ron Rivera’s system (albeit modified to fit within the constraints of a 3-4). He is seasoned and proven, while also potentially hungry to prove himself after a disappointing stretch. 

Antoine Cason needs to prove himself more in order to earn added playing time. With two years in San Diego, he knows the 3-4 variation of Ron Rivera’s defense whilst playing behind Quentin Jammer and Antonio Cromartie.

He also failed to unseat Cromartie last season even though team brass had obviously soured on the athletic corner. His limited speed and quickness hurt him in the nickel role, where smaller faster slot receivers could take advantage of his weaknesses.

Taking the outside in a zone scheme Cason should fare much better. He turned in two early interceptions in 2009 seeing some time outside, while providing a more physical presence than the tackle-shy Cromartie.

The team may also have added motivation to see Cason succeed in that he is a former first-round draft pick with three more years on his contract and no history of injury. If he were to succeed in the starting role, the team could have that second cornerback position locked up for quite a long time.

Vasher and Strickland are 28 years old and 29 years old respectively, and have collectively played in 131 of a possible 224 regular season games across their careers.  They are each under two-year deals and neither is projected to be a long-term answer.

Ultimately the team will likely start camp with Vasher as the starter and Cason seeking to unseat him. As historically inactive as they have been in free agency, if the team had complete faith in Cason’s 2010 readiness they would not have signed an additional corner.

A good preseason could see those roles quickly reversed, however; if Cason can wrench the starting role away it would greatly improve the team’s long-term projections. It also ups the competition at the nickel and dime roles, where Strickland and Vasher present a significant upgrade over Steve Gregory and Paul Oliver.

The team may also elect to platoon the starting corner role. In games against smaller, speedster type receivers Vasher could get the nod whereas Cason is put into the starting lineup when facing larger more physical receivers.

No matter who earns which role, having the depth to make a decision rather than be forced into one is a great scenario that should ultimately benefit the team and improve the secondary. Paired with Jammer and Ellison, the team’s new trio should give the secondary an overall physicality that is greatly improved over somewhat soft units of the past few years.

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