Impact Players At Positions Of Need For Washington- Tony Jefferson & Brian Winters

Anyone worried about not having a first round draft pick? I’m not. Ask any NFL talent evaluator worth his salary and he will tell you that the scouts and GMs who keep their job are the ones who know how to find talent outside of the first round. With that In mind, during the next few weeks I will profile 32 players who will likely find their way out of the first round, but could still make an impact in the NFL.

Tony Jefferson, S Oklahoma. (5’11 212)

NFL COMPARISON: Michael Griffin, Tennessee Titans.

Strengths:

His ability to change direction is the biggest asset he will take with him to the NFL. Jefferson glides up and down the field, shifting effortlessly at full speed making plays sideline to sideline. While other players at the position may run a faster 40 yard dash, none of them can maintain the speed Jefferson can while changing directions. He also takes very little time to hit top gear when coming in and out of his breaks, which aids to his already very good ability to close on the ball in run support and pass coverage. While he needs to play under control more, Jefferson is fearless and throws his body around in run support. When he gets his angles right he can deliver a big hit and separate the receiver from the ball, but he also flashes the ability to actually play the ball and avoid the dreaded highlight hit/15 yard completion combo that plagues so many NFL safeties. Jefferson is also a very good run and pass blitzer, hitting the hole with explosion and has a knack for timing his attack perfectly.

Weaknesses:

The concerns I have about Jefferson’s game is his lack of ability to consistently play the position with his brain and eyes. Too many times I’ve seen him get jumpy instead of trusting his reads and this has led to him being badly out of position. Jefferson needs to work on his angles and playing under control, as his tackling technique in the open field is good enough for the most part, but what really hurts him is he doesn’t always turn on the breaks a bit when he has to and flings himself at the ball carrier, resulting in avoidable missed tackles.

Tony Jefferson’s three consecutive interceptions (5:oo, 5:40, and 7:10) vs Ball State in 2011.

Brian Winters, OT Kent State

NFL COMPARISON: Mark Tauscher, Green Bay Packers

Strengths:

Gets into his pass pro stance in the blink of an eye.Extremely quick feet allow him to shadow speed rushers and guide them around the QB. Very good lateral quickness makes him effective in sliding and picking up blitzers. At times he flashes the quickness and ability to change direction of a tight end which makes him tailor-made for a zone blocking scheme. Has the agility to get his body in position to hit a moving target while blocking on the run. Technique and hand placement usually right where it should be.

Weaknesses:

Won’t overwhelm anyone with his strength which is something he has to improve if he is to add to his value by adjusting to different positions at the next level. Lacks the strong hands to latch on to his defender and steer him in whatever direction he needs to and can be moved off-balance by club and rip moves as his hands aren’t strong enough to win those pseudo boxing matches that often go on in the trenches. While he is quick to his stance and plays with good knee bend, his first punch is severely lacking and will not jar defenders backwards in the NFL unless he gets stronger.

* The players profiled are only ones relevant to our needs, fit what we run and realistically attainable in accordance to our draft position.

REDSKINS INTERVIEWS AT THE EAST/WEST SHRINE GAME

The East/West Shrine game kicks off at 4pm, here is a list of players the Redskins have interviewed this week in St.Petersburg, Florida. Three of the Redskins 2012 draft picks participated in the shrine game: Alfred Morris, Josh Leribeus, and Tom Compton. Washington also signed 3 UDFA’s who played in the game. We may never see these names in Burgundy & Gold but you can never be sure.

Safety- Keelan Johnson #10: Arizona St – 6’1, 207Lbs

Safety- Bradley McDougald #24 : Kansas – 6’1 210Lbs

Corner- Rod Sweeting #6: Georgia Tech – 6’0, 187Lbs

Corner- Brandon McGee: Miami #21 – 6’0 197 Lbs

D.Tackle- Will Pericak # 83 : Colorado – 6’4, 295Lbs

linebacker- Sam Barrington #36: South Florida – 6’1 230Lbs

Wide Receiver- Marcus Davis #7: Virginia Tech – 6’4 232Lbs

JUSTIN’S NEW 7 ROUND MOCK DRAFT

So with the end of the Redskins season its time now to get into what makes teams great, the offseason. Washington has now been able to start identify the big needs and hopefully can now make some changes. Now I wont predict FA signings since they are almost impossible right now so I’ll only do a 7 round mock.

2ND ROUND- DAVID AMERSON S NC STATE
David Amerson is one of those guys I consistently go back and forth with about what he could be in the NFL. I watch him as a CB and I know he can’t be it in the NFL, but I do feel with his ball hawking ability he could make a very good FS in the NFL. Amerson will provide some stability to the FS position finally and allow Washington to finally feel comfortable on the back end. This video below gives you a solid viewing of Amerson the CB and what he could become as a S.


3RD ROUND- BRENNAN WILLIAMS OT NORTH CAROLINA
Brennan had a down year for UNC and mainly due to his shoulder injury. Reports so far are that he’s doing well and should have no problem playing next year. Brennan is a very athletic OT who would be able to come in right away and be the starter at RT for the Washington Redskins

4TH ROUND- SANDERS COMMINGS CB GEORGIA
Like KC, Commings is a favorite of mine in the 2013 class. An athletic CB who plays the ball well, Commings has proven to be a very good coverage CB. With the talent Commings has, he could very well come in day 1 and lock down the #2 CB position. Below is a very solid video of a Commings against Tennessee


5TH ROUND- JONATHAN CYPRIEN SS FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL
This is one of my sleeper picks of the year with Jonathan Cyprien. Jonathan is a lesser-known safety from FIU, but plays a very physical game. Effective in the run game as well as coverage, Cyprien has proven to be a guy who can be relied upon in the secondary. Check out this video below of Cyprien against Western Kentucky


5TH ROUND- DENNIS JOHNSON RB ARKANSAS
Come on guys its Mike Shanahan did you not expect me to have us draft a RB? With the question of whether Roy Helu can come back healthy from his foot issues, Washington needs to look for an upgrade over Evan Royster. Johnson has been a very good RB at Arkansas who had some fumbling issues, but when given the opportunity he’s always made the most of it. Look for Johnson to come in and be a very good 3rd down RB right away. Here’s a pretty solid cut up of Johnson against multiple teams in 2011


6TH ROUND- JASPER COLLINS WR MOUNT UNION
One of my favorite small school prospects this year, Collins is another one of the good WR’s to come out of Mount Union. Collins has a little Garcon to his game with his ability to go across the middle and make the tough catches, but also doesn’t have the same speed that Garcon has. Collins is one of those guys who will make a contribution early on whether it is special teams or anything else and work his way up the depth chart.

7TH ROUND- STEVE GREER ILB UVA
With the final pick in the 7 round mock, the Washington Redskins have selected Steve Greer an ILB from UVA. Greer has been a starter for a long time at UVA and has experience in both the 4-3 and 3-4 fronts. Greer isn’t a burner at LB and won’t wow anyone with his athletic numbers, but he just gets the job done and is in the right place at the right time.

So with those picks done Washington has now added some help at positions that are currently lacking. While the Redskins take 2 O guys later, both Johnson and Collins can provide immediate results. As seen throughout the 2012 season, the D and in particular the secondary needs big upgrades and the get it with Amerson, Commings and Cyprien. Look for the 2013 class here to help provide a big upgrade to the Redskins team overall.

Questions? Comments? Hit me up on twitter @JTPartlow21

KC’S 7-Round Redskins Mock Draft 1.0

2nd Round.) Baccari Rambo, Safety, Georgia

God willing, Madieu Williams will be A.T.C (at the crib) in 2013 instead of in a Washington Redskins uniform. The Redskins safety position still hasn’t recovered from the hole left by Sean Taylor’s untimely death. There will never be another Sean Taylor; the man had the talent and ability to be the best ever to play the position.

Baccari Rambo was suspended the first four games of the season, but came back and did nothing but make plays for the Georgia Bulldogs. The Redskins need a player who can play the single high safety role with instictiveness and range, and Rambo brings both to the safety position. He’s a solid tackler who can come up and play the run. He can also make big time plays in the secondary. Rambo may not replace Sean (no one ever will), but he can help fill the void left by his absence in a big way.

3rd Round.) Desmond Trufant, Cornerback, Washington

I’m not sure the Washington Husky will last this long, but everyone needs a miracle every once in a while. If it’s one thing the Redskins lack, it’s a corner with size; Cedric Griffin is the only lengthy corner the team has, and he may not be back. DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson are both 5’10″, as is Chase Minnifield if he returns healthy. Richard Crawford is 5’11″. The 6’0″ Desmond Trufant may not seem like that big of a difference, but he’s lengthy; he’s got long arms and legs. he can come up, press and play man, and his ability to change direction means he likely won’t get spun around. His range means that bigger corners won’t simply be able to jump ball him like they can Wilson and Hall. He’d be an instant upgrade to a secondary that continues to struggle defending the big play.

4th Round.) Sanders Commings, Cornerback, Georgia

Sanders is another tall, long corner with long arm and great range. The Redskins double up on corners here to cover their bases and solidify their secondary, making it significantly younger in the process. This would allow D-Hall to play more in the slot and more in the Charles Woodson nickel safety role. The secondary gets a huge boost with it’s first three picks in the weakest area of the defense.

5th Round.) Mychal Rivera, Tight End, Tennessee

The Redskins depth at tight end got thin in a hurry, didn’t it? Fred Davis is coming back from an Achillies injury, Logan Paulsen is a restricted free agent, the Niles Paul experiment is looking to be a dud, and Chris Cooley, basically, can’t run anymore. The Redskins need to add a tight end big time, just to cover their backsides. Rivera is a good receiving tight end that could use a little work on his blocking. But he’s got good hands and runs great routes. He’d be a solid option in the pass game and an even bigger asset if we re-sign Fred Davis and he comes back healthy.

5th Round.) Brandon Williams, Nose Tackle, Missouri Southern State

When Justin for showed me footage of Williams, I immediately went “whoa”. Brandon Williams is a big nose tackle that can definitely move and cave a pocket. Barry Cofield improved a ton in his second year as a nose tackle, but his bread and butter would still probably be playing at defensive end and being used in pass rush packages. Brandon Williams is a nose tackle in the Casey Hampton or B.J Raji mode; he’s a load to move, he caves the pocket, and he’ll command double teams. This 3-4 needs an anchor in the middle; if we can mold him, he’d be a fixture and a fan favorite for Redskins fans for years to come.

6th Round.) Marquees Wilson, wide receiver, Washington State
Wilson quit the Washington State Cougars football team after alledging abuse from their coaching staff. The allegations may hurt Wilson’s draft stock, which is a shame, since he seems like an altogether great kid with a lot of talent. Wilson is not a burner, but he’s big, tall and physical. He has a little trouble separating, but he has excellent body control and excellent hands, which provide a large target for a quarterback. He puts his body in between the defender and the ball. The Redskins are still looking for a guy who can make the tough jump ball type of catches. If developed properly, Wilson can be that guy.

7th Round.) D.J Harper, running back, Boise State

We can’t leave the draft without a running back; it’d basically be sacriledge. Harper is a 6th year senior who’s college football career has been unfortunately hampered by injuries. It also didn’t help that he played behind Doug Martin most of his career. This season was his first year as the fulltime starter and he racked up 1,137 yards and 15 touchdowns. He’s solid in pass protection, and while he’s a bigger back, even on a surgically repaired ACL he possesses a surprising amout of burst and speed, not to mention breaking tackles after contact.

Other Team Needs:

Linebacker, inside and outisde. Brian Orakpo and Rob Jackson are both free agents, as is Chris Wilson. The depth the Redskins built up in there linebacker core is looking thin again, even at inside linebacker, as no one knows how much longer London Fletcher will want to play. Perry Riley is the obvious candidate to fill London’s shoes, and Keenan Robinson would likely be the man next to him, but still, the Redskins need to secure their depth. Taking someone like a Michael Mauti (LB, Penn State) or Kiko Alonzo (LB, Oregon would fill that hole), while a pick like Quanterus Smith (DE, Western Kentucky) could help us fill out our outside linebacker depth.

Offensive line, particularly right tackle. Mike Shanahan’s approach to the offensive line has always been to take later round picks and develop them into viable starters. It’s hard to forget that Tom Compton is waiting in the wings to possibly take over that role, but taking someone like a Kyle Long, Oday Aboushi or Justin Pugh could not hurt. Like, at all. As long as Tyler Polumbus isn’t in that role.

KC and Justin’s 2013 NFL Mock Draft— Version 1.0

So KC and I felt that doing a joint mock draft where we each did picks would be something cool for the HTTR24-7.com website. With that in mind I(Justin) will be doing the odd numbered picks and KC will do the even numbered picks. After each selection, we’ll have a brief reasoning as to why we chose the player. So with that we hope you all enjoy this article!

1. Kansas City Chiefs- Geno Smith, QB , West Virginia

hen you look up and down the Kansas City roster there really isn’t a ton of needs, except the one glaring weakness at the Quarterback position. While the QB class of 2013 isn’t the same as the 2012 class, Geno Smith has certainly solidified himself as the top QB. With new HC Andy Reid in Kansas City, the acquisition of Geno Smith could be one that puts the Chiefs back into the playoffs in the 2013 season.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars- Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State

The Jaguars were so desperate for a pass rush this season, they took on the big contract of Jason Babin even though their season was long over. The Jaguars fell off as a team defensively and have had trouble generating a pass rush for several season. Bjoern Werner instantly upgrades their d-line, and should the Jags decide to keep Babin on, they would have one heck of a one-two punch as pass rushers

3. Oakland Raiders- Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah

Oakland has struggled to generate any pass rush and it doesn’t just stem from one area of the DL. With young talent with Lamar Houston, adding in Star at DT would be one of the best moves for Oakland, especially with the talk of moving to a 3-4 D. What makes Star an impressive prospect is his ability to be a multi scheme player. Expect the DL to take off with Star manning the middle.

4. Philadelphia Eagles- Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M

Quarterback Nick Foles was sacked an astounding 20 times in 5 games as the Eagles starter, and quarterback Michael Vick didn’t do much better behind the Eagles line as he was sacked 28 times and had his season ended early again. Luke Joeckel is the best pure offensive tackle in this draft, bar none, and whomever is the Eagles quarterback in 2013 will do well with this franchise left tackle.

5. Detroit Lions- Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

While I can certainly see the Lions here taking a DE, there are many needs in the defensive secondary and with that I chose Milliner for them. Dee provides a strong CB who plays well in man coverage. He should be able to come in right away and compete for the #1 CB job and help provide some stability in the back half of that D. Look for the Lions to address DE in round 2 then.

6. Cleveland Browns—Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia

Despite their bad record, the Browns have a team that’s closer to being good than being bad. The inability to get pressure on the quarterback was a consistent problem for them throughout the year, however, as second year defensive end Jabaal Sheard, while showing some progress, never took that next step to become the pass rusher he was meant to be. Jarvis Jones gives the Browns the pass rush they’ve desired, while also helping improve their linebacker core. If things go correctly, Jones could be the drafts’ Von Miller, excelling in passing situations.

7. Arizona Cardinals- Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon

While I know the Cardinals need OL help in the worst way, Jordan is too good of a prospect to pass up here for them. Jordan would provide a versatile pass rush threat who would fit very well in the 3-4 D. Since we don’t project trades in this mock I can’t do it, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Arizona trade down and take Chance Warmack.

8. Buffalo Bills— Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas

It’s not a secret that the Bills want to get a quarterback in this draft. Buddy Nix has flat out said the Bills are looking to address their quarterback woes, after Ryan Fitzpatrick failed to live up to expectations. As usual in the draft, quarterbacks all tend to get pushed higher in the draft than expected.

New head coach Doug Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett will want to install a high tempo, spread type of offense, and they need a smart quarterback to run it. Tyler Wilson has a strong, accurate arm, sneaky athleticism of the Aaron Rodgers variety, and operated a true pro style attack in college. If the Bills throw their support 100% behind developing this young quarterback, they may have finally solved the answer to the “who can replace Jim Kelly” riddle.

9. New York Jets- Keke Mingo, OLB, LSU

As long as Rex Ryan is the HC I fully expect the Jets to continue to add parts to that D. Barkevious(Keke) Mingo is one of the more dynamic players in the 2013 class, but also had a down year. This is a bit of a gamble pick, but if this plays out correctly, then watch out for the Jets D as they’ll finally have a dominate pass rusher. Look for the Jets to possibly look at WR help here, but if they do so I’d expect them to trade down and acquire more picks. If not I expect them to take one in round 2 and attempt to target a player like DeAndre Hopkins from Clemson.

10. Tennessee Titans —- Matt Elam, FS, Florida

The Titans defense got absolutely scorched last year, in no small part due to poor safety play. Both of the Titans starting safeties Jordan Babineux and Michael Griffin are set to become free agents next year, which leaves a gaping hole in their secondary should either, or even both, leave.

Matt Elam seems like the kind of candidate who will have a Mark Barron-esque rise in the first round. Elam combines the talents of being a hard hitting, firm tackler in the box safety with the range, speed, and instincts it takes to play free safety in deep coverage. That kind of versatility will serve the Titans well.

11. San Diego Chargers- Jesse Williams, NT, Alabama

I look at the Chargers here and I see a team that needs to fix a lot of areas between the O and D, but also I see a good need at NT and Williams is one of the best NT prospects in this class. Williams will provide an anchor for the Chargers 3-4 D and provide some stability to that DL. Williams does need to improve on his pass rush technique and still is a raw player at times, but the pay off is a possible 10+ year NT for the Chargers. Look for the Chargers to possibly look at Chance Warmack here or possibly an OT like Eric Fisher or Lane Johnson.

12. Miami Dolphins —- Terrence Williams, WR, Baylor

Ryan Tannehill may have had some of the typical rookie struggles in his first year, but he showed more than enough talent and ability to showcase that he could finally be the Dolphins’ long awaited franchise quarterback woes. Tannehill’s struggles seemed more based on the talent (or lack thereof) around him rather than his own ability. The Dolphins could use an offensive lineman as Jake Long struggled this season before going on IR, and he’s scheduled to hit the free agent market. But with Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan both returning for their senior seasons, the depth at tackle takes a tiny bit of a hit.

The Dolphins absolutely need a playmaker at wide receiver, as Brian Hartline and Davone Bess, while solid, don’t provide a solid, number one receiving option. Baylor’s Terrence Williams proved this season that his production was not solely a side effect of having Robert Griffin III throw him the ball; he lead the nation in receiving yards with 1,764 with 95 receptions and 12 touchdowns. He’s a solid route runner with great hands and ball skills. Tannehill to Williams could get the Dolphins offense rolling in a big way.

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State

Tampa Bay has a pretty solid O and DL, but that secondary does need help as they can’t rely on guys like Eric Wright to be outside starters. Banks has a so-so year for the Bulldogs, but still in my mind is a top 20 pick. The Bucs could go other routes and a trade down here could be a great option for them, but adding in a player of Banks caliber has to be tempting and could help push Tampa back into the playoffs. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tampa does look at QB at some point in the draft after another mediocre year from Josh Freeman. Not something they do immediately, but if they find value they could very well select another QB to groom under Josh.

14. Carolina Panthers— Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee

If Hunter is available at 14, the Panthers will run up to the podium. Cam Newton took a solid step forward in 2012, but it’s clear he still needs pieces around him. Steve Smith is still capable of making plays, but he’s not getting any younger, and Brandon LaFell has showed flashes, but hasn’t proven he can be “the next” guy. A Newton-to-Hunter combination could turn an already potent Panthers attack into an even more explosive one. Hunter has the size, speed and ball skills you want in a number one receiver. Even though he’s got rare athletic ability, he’s a little raw, and he’s still trying to regain back some of his explosiveness, but in the Panthers can develop him, they have a potential All-Pro at the wide receiver position.

15. New Orleans Saints- Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri

If Richardson(who I believe is a top 10 pick) falls to 15 past the Panthers, the Saints have to be running up the podium to make this selection. Richardson is one of the more dynamic D players in this class with his quickness he has even though he’s a DT. New Orleans this year struggled on D both in the pass game and also in the run game, but adding a player of Richardson’s caliber to collapse the pocket will be huge for Steve Spagnuolo who had a great DL in New York. Richardson needs to work on his ability to become an overall player, but Richardson can come in and provide immediately what the Saints hoped they had back when they drafted Sedrick Ellis.

16. St. Louis Rams— DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson

This first pick for the Rams will say a lot about their draft strategy. Sam Bradford was able to remain healthy and played solid if not outstanding football for the Rams. The Rams tried to solve their wide receiver woes in round 2 of the 2011 NFL Draaft when they drafted Brian Quick, but Quick was rarely on the field. They also drafted Chris Givens, who, while a nice surprise as a deep threat, isn’t a number one receiver. Danny Amendola is oft injured and is staring down free agency.

The Rams still need an offensive tackle, but getting Bradford a playmaker like Hopkins could be just the thing to help him take the next step. Hopkinss speed and YAC ability makes him a solid option that can be put in the starting line up right away; it’d be hard to argue you could find another receiver like him later in the draft.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers- Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

The Steelers are starting to get a little older on D, but that offensive line is still one of the worst in the NFL. While adding in DeCastro was a huge upgrade for the Steelers, but now adding in a player of the caliber of Eric Fisher would be huge. Fisher has good feet and is the epitome of a technician. Uses sound technique and makes sure to consistently stay in front of his opponent. This would allow Mike Adams to stay at RT and now the Steelers have the makings of a solid offensive line now. Possible that the Steelers look for a S here with guys like Polamalu getting older in that case I’d expect them to look at a guy like Kenny Vaccaro from Texas.

18. Dallas Cowboys— Kenny Vaccarro, S, Texas

The Cowboys spent a first round draft pick and big time money “fixing” their secondary when they took Morris Claibourne and signed Brandon Carr. Unfortunately, the addition of two solid corners did not make up for poor safety play; Danny McCray and Gerald Sensabaugh were victimized much of the season. So Jerry Jones continues his somewhat surprising trend of making sensible, not-completely-flashy draft picks and takes Kenny Vaccarro. If the Cowboys can find a solid d-tackle and another safety, they could have the beginnings of a very good defense.

19. New York Giants- Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU

This pick just makes too much sense right? I mean Ansah is another pass rush guy who fits well into what the Giants love to do. Ansah is a raw product and will take time to develop, but just see his development the past 2 years has been remarkable. He has very good awareness already but is raw with his pass rushing ability and his technique. He would be a great fit to sit behind Osi, JPP and Tuck and let him develop slowly, but when he’s ready watch out.

20. Chicago Bears— Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and general manager Phil Emery have both mentioned that they need to get better at attacking the middle of the field; i.e, they need a consistent tight end, and none of the guys they have on the roster are it. Eifert improved as a run blocker, but his role in the Notre Dame offense somewhat shrunk because of inconsistent quarterback play. Still, Eifert has the kind of skillset you dream for in a tight end, and he can certainly make the plays in the middle of the field that guys like Matt Spaeth couldn’t. The Bears have a near continuous need for offensive linemen, but getting Cutler another weapon is almost as important.

21. Cincinnati Bengals- Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU

The Bengals have a need at DE and with Michael Johnson set to hit FA this offseason they may be looking to replace him. Sam Montgomery is a gifted pass rusher, but has noted off the field issues as well as some worrisome issues on the field. If there was a DC who I felt could get the most out of Montgomery though it would be Mike Zimmer. Another option here could be Giovanni Bernard from UNC, although I just don’t see a RB going in the 1st round this year. Bengals could go Jonathan Hankins here if they want to develop two of the top DT’s in football, but Montgomery seems to be the better pick here.

22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington)— Chance Warmack, G, Alabama

The Rams offensive line has given up 35 sacks a season for the past three season. While the Rams could use a left tackle, there’s no one available at this point. They also need help in the interior line. Chance Warmack is the best guard in the draft and the best lineman available. The Rams would be foolish not to take him if he’s there. Their line needs all the help it can possibly get.

23. Minnesota Vikings- Johnathan Hankins DT Ohio State

Well the slide for Hankins stops here with the Minnesota Vikings. Hankins is a talented player, but didn’t play well his senior year and at the same time disappointed many scouts with his play against lesser competition. The Vikings need help though with the interior of their DL and Hankins can provide that early on. Hankins needs to provide a better pass rush ability, but early on can be a good run stopping DT. Hankins and Kevin Williams would be a nice tandem for that talented Vikings DL.

24. Indianapolis Colts- Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina

Andrew Luck was one of the most hit and most sacked quarterbacks in the league this season. While part of that is due to Colts’ offensive scheme, the Colts o-line lacks talent and depth. They need an upgrade at left tackle to allow Anthony Castonzo to play right tackle, but with the prime left tackle talent gone, they take the next best offensive lineman in Jonathan Cooper, who will have to add some size if he wants to play guard, but could also be a good fit for the Colts at Center.

25- Baltimore Ravens- Manti Te’o LB Notre Dame

The free fall for Te’o ends here as he goes to the Ravens to take over for the retiring Ray Lewis. Te’o had a great story this year at Notre Dame and was a key player for the Fighting Irish, but also a lot of this season overrated Te’o from where he truly should be taken which is in the 15-25 range. Te’o is a very good 3-4 ILB fit and having guys like Haloti Ngata in front of him will allow Te’o to flow to the ball and make plays. Expect Te’o to have a long career in Baltimore.

26. Seattle Seahawks— Da’Rick Rogers, WR, Tennessee Tech

Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider and Pete Caroll’s first three draft picks were characterized by high risk, high reward players. Before getting kicked out of Tennessee for a positive drug test, Rogers was a near shoe-in to be a first-round draft pick. He’s got rare physical gifts that would make him a huge asset to Seattle’s receiving core, which, while good, doesn’t have a true number one. Caroll and Scheineder took a chance on Bruce Irvin and were able to get solid production out of him, and Caroll was even able to milk a solid year out of “Big” Mike Williams. If anyone can manage to turn Rogers around, it’s the Seahawks.

27. Green Bay Packers- Robert Woods WR USC

I usually don’t know what to project for the packers since they usually play things very close to the vest. Last year they made a great selection with Nick Perry who can become an immediate starter for a long time. Adding Robert Woods would add another dynamic weapon to add to that receiving corps. With the likely departure of Greg Jennings in FA, Woods can come in right away and be a very good player for the Packers. Look for woods to be a potential OROY candidate in this scheme.

28. San Francisco 49ers—Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia

Last season, the 49ers shocked many people when they chose Syracuse prospect A.J Jenkins in the first round. Jenkins struggled in training camp, struggled more in preseason, and hasn’t recorded a single catch this season; he’s only been active in 3 games this year.

If the Niners are committing to Colin Kaepernick going forward, they will need more explosive players. Tavon Austin is just the guy they need; explosive, great route runner, awesome kick returner. He adds an element to this offense they’re still looking for; downfield speed, to compliment receivers like Michael Crabtree and a (hopefully healthy) Mario Manningham.

29. Houston Texans- Arthur Brown ILB Kansas State

The Texans have a pretty good D, but with the loss of Brian Cushing they just haven’t been the same since. While the secondary does need some help, they can’t pass up taking one of the best ILB prospects in this class. Brown has had a great 2012 and while he isn’t the biggest guy, he makes plays and will always be a force in either a 4-3 or 3-4 D. Look for the Texans to take the a playmaker in the 2nd round to help add weapons to that O.

30. New England Patriots— Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State

In all likelihood, the Patriots will probably trade down here, as they only have 5 draft picks, and none in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds. But if they do stand pat, they’ll look to continue to upgrade a defense that, while improved, still needs some tweaking, particularly if they don’t re-sign Aqib Talib.

Jordan Poyer has been a favorite of mine and Justin’s for a while, hoping he’d last until the Redskins second round pick. That’s unlikely, as Poyer has all the makings of a potential stud. Good in man or zone, and good as a returner as well, the Pats would love to have a guy like Poyer in their defense.

31. Atlanta Falcons- Zach Ertz TE Stanford

Tony Gonzalez could very well be retiring at the end of the year and the Falcons need to find a replacement for him. Zach Ertz is the top overall TE in this class and provides exactly what the Falcons will love. Ertz is a mismatch problem who will prove to be a long term starter in the NFL. Atlanta could go other routes here if they want to especially DE if they want to upgrade that part of the D. CB is another option if they truly do lose Grimes in FA.

32. Denver Broncos— Kawann Short, DT, Purdue

If it’s one thing the Broncos playoff lost did, it was showcase that the Broncos still need to generate a pass rush. They have Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil off the edges, but they don’t have anyone in the middle of their d-line to create pressure. Kawaan Short was slowed by an ankle injury, but getting someone on the d-line who can shove the pocket around has to be a priority for Denver going forward.

NOTE: This mock draft was created before this weekend’s playoff games so the order has changed.

formats A closer look at Mike Shanahan and drafting of Offensive Linemen

One of the common misconceptions with Mike Shanahan and in general with Zone Blocking teams is that you need high draft picks in order to be successful. After studying and looking at previous OL’s that Shanahan and other zone teams have used, it paints a completely different picture than what is portrayed.

Lets take a look first off at the Denver OL’s from 2000 to 2008 and the draft positions of their offensive linemen. In 2000 Denver had an offensive line consisting of Tony Jones, Mark Schlereth, Tom Nalen, Dan Neil, and Matt Lepsis. Of those 5 guys, Schlereth was drafted in the 10th round. Nalen the 7th round and Neil the 3rd round. Tony Jones went undrafted and Lepsis was also an undrafted free agent.

Moving into 2001 the C, RG and RT positions were all the same and moving into the LT position was Trey Teague a 7th rounder and then Lennie Friedman a 2nd round pick. Throughout 2002-2004 the OL stayed the same except for the drafting of George Foster at RT a 1st round pick. In 2008 though Mike Shanahan made a huge change and drafted Ryan Clady at LT with the 12th overall pick. Up until then his LT’s were consisting of late round picks and helped lead a potent rushing and passing attack for the Broncos.

In case the Denver OL wasn’t enough to help convince you, lets take another look at one of the top ZBS teams in the NFL, The Houston Texans. Starting in 2007 with the hiring of Gary Kubiak, the ZBS scheme was implemented and the Texans offense began to finally take shape. Starting in 2007, the OL for Houston consisted of Ephraim Salaam, Chester Pitts, Mike Flanagan, Fred E. Weary and Eric Winston.

Now what you’ll notice is outside of Salaam, the other four offensive linemen were drafted in the first 3 rounds. One thing to realize though is Flanagan was signed as a FA and Weary and Pitts were both drafted under Dom Capers and the former staff and not under Gary Kubiak. Heading into the 2008, Kubiak finally got his OL just how he wanted to have it.

At LT he had his first round guy in Duane Brown, at LG he had Pitts again. At Center he found Chris Meyers a 6th round pick he got in a trade from Denver. At RG he has Mike Brisiel an undrafted free agent and Eric Winston still at RT. Overall throughout Kubiak’s time as the HC, Houston traditionally has drafted OL in the middle to late rounds with the exception of Duane Brown (who has turn into one of the premier OT’s in the NFL)

So what do these numbers mean for the Redskins? Well it’s pretty simple; Mike doesn’t look at OL the way many other teams tend to, just like he is the same way about RB’s. The zone-blocking scheme is a different animal than other scheme because it’s all about athleticism and working in tandem with 4 other teammates. So what can we expect from Mike Shanahan in the 2013 draft?

Look for Mike to target the RT position if he doesn’t feel comfortable in either Maurice Hurt or Tom Compton. If Mike does that, then expect him to look to target the RT with his 3rd or 4th round pick. In Denver, Shanahan made a gutsy pick and took Ryan Harris in the 3rd round to become his starting RT. Harris worked out and helped anchor the line although he did have injury issues throughout his career. Another thing that is asked a lot to me on twitter is why not RT in round 2?

Well as you can see throughout this and also other zone teams draft histories, they just don’t take RT’s in the top 2 rounds traditionally. Now there certainly are exceptions to that and teams will deviate from the norm, but usually with ZBS teams you see them draft a RT in the mid to late rounds and they become anchors on the line.

Finally lets look at the interior OL? Can we expect any draft picks this year? Well after tweeting back and forth with both Russ Lande and Josh Liskiewitz they both agree that Adam Gettis and Josh LeRibeus both have fits to be starters in the zone-blocking scheme. So with that in mind, I don’t see us addressing the interior OL, unless it is late for a center to groom under Will Montgomery.

So with all of that in mind, I hope that this clears up some of the common misconceptions about the OL in the ZBS scheme and just how they are valued and drafted.

Questions? Comments? Hit me up @JTPartlow21

Also give a follow to Russ Lande @RUSSLANDE and Josh Liskiewitz @JoshLiskiewitz

2013 REDSKINS 7 ROUND MOCK DRAFT

Initial Redskins 7 Round Mock Draft

Round 2: Kenny Vaccaro FS Texas

Reason: Vaccaro is the definition of a versatile S. He can play as a nickel back, play the deep half and even play some in the box as a SS. What he does best is make plays and provide an extra spark to the team. If Brandon Merriweather can stick at SS, then Vaccaro can handle the FS position and put this team in a lot better position moving into 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Round 3: Brennan Williams OT UNC

Reason: Brennan is one of my favorite OT’s in the 2013 class. A big and athletic OT who gets to the second level easily. What Williams will bring to the O is what is missing now, and that’s a guy who can seal off the edge and provide a little extra time for RG3. Adding Williams to young OL players like LeRibeus and Gettis provides a bright future for the Redskins OL.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Round 4: Rod Sweeting CB GT

Reason: Washington needs a ton of help in the Secondary and this year Sweeting has elevated his game to being a top 100 pick. With good size and solid technique so far, Sweeting can come in early and provide a spark as a nickel CB. Sweeting projects as a starting caliber CB when its all said and done

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Round 5: Brandon Williams NT Missouri Southern State

Reason: I was tipped off on Williams during the offseason but really didn’t pay much attention to it. As the season started the NT need began to show and I watched Williams finally. What I saw was a guy who hasn’t played against the best competition, but absolutely dominated who he played against. Possesses a strong anchor, and will surprise you with his pass rushing arsenal. A guy who has high character by all reports and can very well be a starting NT in the NFL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Round 5(From NE): Marquess Wilson WR Washington State

Reason: This is the typical risk pick that Mike makes in certain drafts. He did it in 2010 with Trent Williams, and did it in the past with guys like Maurice Clarett. Now they don’t always work out, but with a guy like Wilson who has beyond high upside, it would be tough to pass up on him with the potential to have a #1 WR. Wilson has suspect hands, but will always make the ridiculous catch. Character concerns with Wilson, but if he plays like he can, the Redskins will have a huge steal on their hands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Round 6: Ray Ray Armstrong SS Faulkner College

Reason: Again another risky pick, but one that if it pays off could provide huge dividends for the Washington D. Armstrong is a SS in the NFL and is extremely raw as a player, but if a coach can refine his technique and get him to play the game smart he could be a pro bowl caliber player. Without playing this year teams wont have any film on him this year and the risk is certainly high with Armstrong and his off the field issues, but I think in the 2013 draft we see Mike make more risky picks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Round 7: Chris Thompson: RB Florida State

Reason: Okay I’ll stop with the risky picks with this one, but Thompson when healthy would be the perfect dynamic RB to pair with Alfred Morris. If you all thought our O was potent now adding a guy like Thompson in the backfield with RG3 would make it that much more dangerous. Thompson has the speed to take it to the house every play, but has had injury concerns with the back injury last year and now the ACL injury this year. With a coach on the proverbial hot seat next year, Mike will look to add dynamic players on both the O and D and Thompson certainly provides that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final look at the draft:

The 2013 mock here provides a solid mix of playmakers on O and D to help rebuild the Washington Redskins into a playoff caliber team. If this draft were to happen and the picks for the most part work out, Mike Shanahan might have just rebuilt a team from a basement level team into one that can compete for the playoffs every year. While there certainly on risk picks and we can’t assume all will work out, a guy like Wilson at WR could be the best pick of every one of them. Vaccaro at FS would provide stability and leadership and a versatility any coach would love.

FILM SESSIONS: REX GROSSMAN’S HORRIBLE PRESEASON GAME WAS ACTUALLY PRETTY DECENT

I wish I knew why people hate Rex Grossman.

I mean, legitimately hate. Like, curse his very existence kind of hate. I get that people aren’t fans of his style of play or his turnover prone ways. And those are legitimate concerns. But the mere sight of Rex Grossman in a Redskins uniform engenders the kind of hatred usually reserved for people you know in real life. Rex has been here since 2010, and in 3 seasons he’s never said a bad word about the fans, the team, or the organization. The guys in the locker room love him, the coaches really like him (enough to the point where he’s a near lock to be a coach sometime when he wants to stop playing), and both Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins have expressed how helpful it was to have Grossman on the sideline in their rookie years.

And yet the mere sight of seeing Rex Grossman in uniform sends people into a frothing rage. I distinctly remember people complaining about Rex having to suit up when Robert sat out the Cleveland game; the contempt and annoyance over Rex just being active and in uniform drove people up a wall. The same happened when Rex was active versus Dallas and versus Seattle. Even when Rex has zero chance of playing, people would sooner smash their own skulls in than see #8 anywhere close to the field.

Andbutso, the big story of the preseason, in light of Pat White playing an average game of pitch and catch versus guys who will be working at Best Buy come September, became how bad Rex looked in comparison. How poor his mechanics were, how he could never handle the rush, how he was just plain the most awful quarterback who was ever awful at quarterbacking.

But how bad was he really?

Not as bad as you think. And I know full and well that I’m going to prove you wrong, and you’ll still hate Rex. But maybe a few of you will carefully reconsider thinking his preseason performance was leaps and bounds more terrible than Pat White’s.

The first, immediate take away from Rex’s first two drives in the game, was that both of them came with most of, if not all of, the Titas starting defense still on the field. Much of the huffing, puffing, eye-rolling and name calling about Rex’s abject horribleness is borne out of these two drives, in which the second string offensive line was (rightfully) bullied by the Titans starting defense. Rex basically had no time to set and throw on either of those drives, which makes people’s objections to them really heavy handed at best and completely ignorant of what actually happened in the game at worst.

When the Titans starters leave, that’s when we see Rex start to have a little more time in the pocket. Pinned on their own goal line with 11:32 in the second quarter, Rex hits a nice pass off play action to Josh Morgan on the crossing route. On his next pass attempt, he delivers a perfect ball to Aldrick Robinson off play action, but Al flat drops it after it hits him in his chest. On his next drop back, Rex has zero time again as Tom Compton can’t handle the speed rush of linebacker Greg Jones. Rex thinks about throwing it to Hankerson but see a corner in the area, and then takes the sack.

On the next drive, Rex get a short completion off the bootleg to Hankerson. On his next drop back, Rex starts left, looking at the routes for Niles Paul and Logan Paulsen. He works back right and finds Hankerson, who was working out of the slot on the whip route. Rex fires the pass and it’s a first down. Rex gets another completion on 3rd and 5 on the slant to Josh Morgan. The next pass shows a little veteran savvy, even though it’s incomplete. Rex keeps his helmet completely straight, which holds the safety. He then comes back left looking for Robinson on the go route. There was a lot of contact; had Rex thrown a more catchable ball there may have been pass interference, as the DB was all over Aldrick. But Rex comes back to Aldrick on the next throw on the out route to get second and goal. The touchdown is a nice little wide receiver screen.

An efficient, if not overly flashy drive. Grossman goes 3-4 with a touchdown on the drive.

On the next drive, Rex is going to take a 5 step drop. Rex looks to be reading Logan Paulsen as he drops back, but Paulsen gets covered by the linebacker. Rex comes back right and throws it up in single coverage to Donte Stallworth, but it falls incomplete. On his next pass attempt, Rex gets pressured as he drops back and tries to fire a strike to Paulsen, but it falls incomplete.

The next drive, Grossman wants to hit Stallworth on the crosser, but he’s covered, and Rex sails it over his head. On the next play, Rex gets pressure right up the middle when Josh LeRibeius can’t handle the defensive tackle, and he ends up sailing the pass out of bounds. On 3rd and 10, Grossman completes to Stallworth on the short post route, then comes back to Stallworth on the slant on his next pass attempt. After a wide receiver screen to Nick Williams, on his next pass attempt, Rex again gets pressure on a corner blitz from rookie Blidi Wreh-Wilson. Rex throws the ball up off his back foot, and Lance Lewis goes up and catches it for the would be touchdown.

The most “Bad Rex”-ish pass of Rex’s playing time was another one caused by pressure. Rex throws the ball up in the direction of Nick Williams, and nearly gets it picked off.

So, how “terrible” was Rex’s first preseason outing? Well, not bad at all, really. He wasn’t flashy, but he did move the ball well when he was given time, and the degree of difficulty between him and White was distinctly noticeable. Rex showed he had a command of the Redskins offense beyond simple route combos that only required him to read on player over and over again.

Is Rex an ideal starter? No. But he’s not supposed to be. His job, in essence, is to be a mentor, and he’s a veteran who knows the offense and operate it at a level that is at least functional. (And no, the offense didn’t change when Robert Griffin III became quarterback, it’s the same offense it’s always been, Robert just runs a few more concepts).

Pat White’s okay game gave people who hate Rex ample ammo to try and push him out the door. The problem is 1.) Rex Grossman isn’t going anywhere, and 2.) Pat White would have a hard time pushing John effing Beck out the door. He’d have a hard time pushing Colt Brennan out the door.

And of course there are those who just don’t care and want Rex to be as good as gone as quickly as possible, because even if he never touches the field, he’s somehow going to give cooties to the two young kids. Or maybe you don’t even care about that and you just hate Rex Grossman.

Tough cookies. He’s staying. Have fun being miserable over him being on the roster. It’s not going to change.

FILM SESSIONS: PAT WHITE’S GOOD (BUT COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY OVERRATED) PRESEASON GAME

You know, when I posted this blog about Colt Brennan, I did it with the hope that people would take my joke and take preseason for what it is; an evaluation period, and a way for people to audition for other teams.

Even before the game, I had a feeling it was coming. I had the feeling Rex would be Rex (i.e streaky, inconsistent, frustrating and amazing all at once), and then Pat White would come in and most people’s common sense would go out the window.

Pat White is gonna come in, he’s going to have some pretty runs, and #Redskins fans will act stupid.

— Kenneth Clyburn (@kcclyburn) August 9, 2013

And then it happened. I don’t know if I’m shocked that people have done everything from suggesting that Pat White’s in a legit competition for the third job (he’s not), suggesting we could trade Cousins next year and Pat White would be the number 2 quarterback (never going to happen), and people on the radio suggesting that we should trade Robert Griffin III and keep Pat White. (Please mail in your fan card.)

While one can’t discount that Pat White did have a solid outing, his impact and his potential has been overrated in the same sense that Colt Brennan’s was 5 years ago. Perhaps even more so, as in an abstract sense, Colt probably made more difficult throws and bigger plays than Pat White.

But let’s go through the plays one by one and see just how good Pat White was.

1st Play:) Easy pitch and catch rhythm throw. Logan Paulsen runs a short cross and sits down and gives Pat White his numbers. Nice, simple pay.

2nd Play:) Pat White gets bailed out by Logan. White throws this pass high and outside, with Paulsen running the same short crosser that he ran before.

3rd Play:) White puts the ball in the only place he can on this out route. The ball is high (even though it sort of has to be) and Nick Williams drops it.

So, first three passes, all sort stuff, nothing intermediate or into the second level. Also, White is not making or going through progressions. He has a pre-determined route he’s going to throw to no matter what, and he’s staring down those routes. Let’s continue.

4th Play:) White throws the ball behind Briscoe on the slant route. Another short route that White stares down.

5th Play:) White stares down Niles Paul on this little flat route. Another short, easy completion for Niles.

6th Play:) White stares down Nick Williams on the out route. No progressions, nothing deep or intermediate. Another short throw and an easy completion.

7th Play:) This is your bread and butter read-option play, only this time it’s versus future insurance salesman and mall kiosk workers. The linebacker and DE both crash. Paul blocks the LB which opens a huge lane for Pat White. A good gain and a decent run, but again; context is everything.

8th Play:) The Redskins run the naked boot out of the Pistol. But something about this play is different. On a typical bootleg, the players drag or cross the formation on the run. This play, however is a two receiver play. The tight end Niles Paul doesn’t even go out on a route; he blocks the linebacker instead. Dez Briscoe runs a deep route, which clears things out, giving White a clear running lane.

Without knowing the play, I can’t be sure, but it seems like this wasn’t so much a passing play as a designed quarterback keep run play.

9th Play:) White again stares down this slant route to Lance Lewis. Another short route with nothing deep or intermediate.

Now, why does it matter than Pat White is only throwing short? The simple answer is, these short, easy throws effectively had Pat White’s lack of arm strength. These are simple route combinations and simple concepts that can be run against any defense. And particularly against a vanilla defense in preseason, which is even more important when one considers someone for a back-up or third quarterback role.

10th Play:) This time, White’s staring down receivers nearly comes back to bite him. As soon as the ball is snapped, White has his eyes locked on Skye Dawson on the short curl route. The cornerback drives on the ball and nearly picks it off.

11th Play:) This is the only genuinely impressive play White makes, but it does show a little bit of what I’m talking about throwing into the second level. The ball is thrown beyond ten yards, on the run, but it’s got a little bit of a rainbow arc to it. It’s not a bad throw, but it’s about the extent of his arm is gonna go in the NFL.

12th Play:) Another zone read keeper. This time the LB recovers and Pat only gains a yard on the play.

13th Play:) This is one of the crazy things about White staring down receivers. The ball is snapped and White is staring to his left. The entire defense gets pulled to the right by White’s eyes, which opens up a huge void in the middle. White walks in standing up because he was so undisciplined with his eyes that an entire part of the defense thought they knew where he’d throw it.

14th Play:) Once again, White stares his potential receiver to the right. The defense doesn’t give him a lane, so he scrambles left. He throws this off the back foot, and here we get a real example of Pat White’s lack of arm strength; this ball dies about halfway in the air. How he hit #80, I’ll never know. But he did.

What Pat White did versus the Titans is certainly commendable, but it is not admirable, and it certainly not as impressive as people pretend it was. Much of the “love” for Pat White’s performance comes out of an un-ending, ever burning of Rex Grossman and everything he stands for, and misunderstanding whether or not it was White’s natural talent, or a offensive coordinator who had the world convinced John Beck could be a starter based on his preseason a couple years ago.

People want us to “develop” Pat White. The issue is, we still have two quarterbacks already in the oven. And while everyone has been extra focused on trying to trade Kirk Cousins, the truth is that, unless we get a godsend of an offer, Kirk is going to be the back-up quarterback here until at least the last year of his deal. And in that time, Rex may not be the third quarterback. But Pat White won’t be either.

White was bought in to simulate the read-option and be a camp arm. When the roster cuts come, even on the off chance Rex Grossman isn’t on the roster, chances are Pat White won’t be either. There is nothing to develop. Pat White is an undersized quarterback with a pop cap arm. The offensive coordinator made him look mildly efficient against a bunch of guys who, unfortunately, probably won’t have jobs three weeks from now.

Rex may have indeed looked terrible (which he didn’t really, but that’s for another post), but at least he was going up against starters (the Titans kept their starting defense on the field deep into the second quarter) or guys who more or less have roster spots. White not so much.

Let’s have some perspective, not be so reactionary, be happy Pat White played well enough to get the win, but not well enough to think he can be more than what he has been in the NFL.

FILM SESSIONS: HITTING THE QUARTERBACK IS A STUPID WAY TO STOP THE READ-OPTION

I shouldn’t have clicked it. I knew what I was getting into when I clicked on it. But curiousity killed the cat. And so I read Andy Benoit’s column on Robert Griffin III, and of course, came away annoyed and frustrated, because it is yet another article that seems to not understand how and why the Redskins offense works.

I’m loathed to actually link back to that article, but for the purposes of debunking this, I’m going to have to.

We may see less of these called in the coming season, especially since defensive coordinators spent the offseason devising ways to snuff out the scheme. Their rather simple solution will be to hit the quarterback whether he keeps the ball or not, which is legal because he is essentially a running back taking a direct snap. The hits just have to be delivered within the natural timing of a handoff, which won’t be a problem since unblocked edge defenders have an unimpeded path to the mesh point. (Think of hockey defenders playing the man instead of the puck.)We already saw the Ravens start delivering zone-read hits like this with Terrell Suggs in the second half of Super Bowl XLVII.

Benoit is not the first columnist to assert that more defensive coordinators are simply going to instruct their OLBs or DEs to hit the quarterback whether or not the ball is handed off, and Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said as much when asked about the read-option. The thought process appears to be that, by plastering the quarterback whether he has the ball or not, offensive coordinators will be scared into not calling the play as much, less they want to see their quarterback peeling themselves off the ground on every play.

It seems like the definition of “success” in stop the read-option begins and ends with stopping the quarterback. That’s what we’re really talking about here; stopping Robert Griffin III from running. Andy Benoit goes as far as to assert that if RGIII doesn’t transform into a traditional pocket passer and “be can’t master downfield reads from the pocket, he’ll never be more than a likable version of Michael Vick.”

(Side note; Woe be the the next black quarterback who comes into the NFL with braids coming out the back of his helmet, for he will always be compared to Michael Vick.)

While there about a dozen things Andy Benoit gets wrong in his article (including Brian Orakpo’s season ending triceps injury, which would be a shock to anyone who thought he injured his pectoral muscle, but that would’ve taken 5 extra seconds on Google to figure out, and screw that noise), the notion that hitting the quarterback “stops” the read-option is what we’ll focus on. Namely, because hitting the quarterback doesn’t stop the read-option; it, at best, stops the quarterback from running.

This where there the disconnect seems to start; analyst and defensive coordinators alike treating the read option like a designed quarterback draw, rather than paying attention to the “option” part of it. Wherein the quarterback has the option of either keeping the ball for himself, or handing the ball off to the running back.

It’s interesting Benoit brings up the way the Ravens played the 49ers in the Super Bowl, because in the Ravens’ Week 14 match-up versus the Redskins, they employed the same “hit the quarterback” strategy that is supposed to be all the rage.

And Alfred Morris destroyed them on the ground.

The following are all from the Redskins first drive versus the Ravens, using their “hit the quarterback no matter what” tactic.

The Redskins line up in their pistol set with 21 personel (2 WRS, 1 TE, 1FB, 1RB) grouping. Paul Kruger is line up at the right DE/OLB spot, and he’s going to gun straight for Robert Griffin III at the snap.

Right away, you see Kruger has no intention of going after the ball carrier. His job on this play is to squash RG3.

But, that’s where the whole “read” part of the zone-read or read-option comes in. Griffin reads Paul Kruger crashing down towards him and hands the ball of. Alfred finds a huge cutback lane and cuts this up field for a gain of 29 yards.

Next, we see the Ravens are goin to send a blitz off the left side of this formation with Courtney Upshaw and Benard Pollard. Again, they’re job is to completely ignore the read and hit the quarterback.

This time, the Redskins run the outside zone play to the opposite side. This ends up only being a gain of three, but a runner with a little more burst than Evan Royster would’ve had a huge lane to the opposite side. Upshaw and Pollard are left looking dumb as they are completely taken out of the play.

Commiting two of your best defenders to stopping one guy, only to leave them completely out of the play doesn’t seem like a great strategy. But I guess I’m not an NFL defensive coordinator.

It looks like they need to try again. The Ravens come out in a 2-4-5 nickel allignment versus the Redskins 11 personel. (3 WRs, 1 TE, 1 RB).

Upshaw isn’t concerned with the run or with Pierre Garçon’s motion in the back field. He just wants to zero in and hit the quarterback.

But this defense is screwed just by design. Logan Paulsen comes up threw the hole to block #51, and Tyler Polumbus got to the second level to block #53.

If Alfred Morris had cut to his right off Logan’s block, this could’ve been an even better gain than just 5 yards.

Upshaw gets his feet screwed into the ground nowhere near RG3.

Second verse, same as the first. Upshaw ignores the run and the back field motion…

Upshaw actually does get a shove on RG3 this time by shoving him. But you can already see Logan Paulsen coming through the hole and getting to the second level to take on Ed Reed.

Great job hitting the quarterback long after he’s gotten rid of the ball. Bad job of actually stopping the Redskins opening drive. At this point, Kyle Shanahan knows the Ravens are going to be hitting Robert Griffin III on the read-option plays. But the Redskins are gaining substantial yardage on every play. So why on Earth would he stop calling it?

This time it’s big Haloti Ngata that guns for RG3 of the zone-read play fake…

Ngata does put Griffin on his butt, but now before Pierre Garçon catches a screen pass that goes for 23 yards, setting the Redskins up for the first touchdown.

Griffin attempted only 1 pass before Pierre Garçon set the Redskins up in the red zone, and they moved the ball 80 yards using the read-option. Furthermore, on their following drive, the success of the read-option and running the ball was so great that it opened up the play action pass game to set up two straight scoring drives.

“But that was the Ravens without Terrell Suggs!” I can already here someone say. Well then, let’s go look at how hitting Colin Kaepernick worked in the Super Bowl.

Huh. Well it certainly didn’t work here on this 7 yard gain from Frank Gore…

Or this 9 yard gain from LaMichael James…


Suggs guns it towards Kaepernick…

And it’s a huge 21 yard game that helped the 49ers keep the momentum.


Suggs crashes on the quarterback again…


And he gets blocked by LaMichael James while Kaepernick goes for 3 yards that set up a 7 yard touchdown scramble.

Oooh, looks like Suggs is really going to put a lick on Kap this time…

And he does…but not before Gore gains 8 yards.

Suggs has all eyes on Kaep…

Goes right for the quarterback…

And gets to watch Frank Gore rip off a 33 yard run.

If there’s a lesson to be learned from the 49ers Super Bowl loss, it’s that they should’ve stuck with the read-option. Despite giving some read-option looks, in the first half, most hand offs to Frank Gore were “conventional” runs. In the 4th quarter alone, the 49ers gained 67 of their 187 rushing yards for the whole game utilizing the read-option, including both of Frank Gore’s game changing runs, which accounted for 54 of his 110 rushing yards on the game.

And once the 49ers realized it was working, they did not stop running it, despite being down when conventional wisdom says you have to throw the ball late to get back in the lead, despite the fact that the Ravens were sending Terrell Suggs to hit Kap every time he handed it off. Instead, they kept running it. Like any good offensive coordinator would do.

If these two games aren’t a big enough showcase of why hitting and focusing on the quarterback doesn’t work, Kevin Grant broke down the 49ers vs. Falcons NFC Championship game where, yet again, hitting the quarterback and focusing primarily on him didn’t work. If you want even more proof, go and look at the Falcons vs. Redskins game, where Alfred Morris ran for 115 yards on 18 carries.

Perhaps defensive coaches are thinking they’ll gladly give up the chunk yardage on the ground as long as the quarterback doesn’t run. That seems to be the goal; to stop the quarterback from running and only stop the quarterback. It’s a flawed premise that is not based in any sort of factual or realistic analysis of film. Further more, the things you can do off the read-option play fake in the passing game further complicates matters for defenses.

(Of course, if you’re Robert Griffin III, play action is supposed to be a bad thing, because of, ya know…REASONS, I guess.)

Andy Benoit is just parroting the same ol’ stuff that people keep saying about the read-option, and pushing the same sort of lies about the offense, and defensive coordinators seem hell bent on trying the same thing over and over and over again hoping this time it’ll work.

It won’t.

As I’ve asserted before, the best way to defend (not stop, but defend) the read option is to get ack to basics, play with discpline, and make good solid tackles. As has become increasingly clear in the NFL, defenses have relied more and more on being aggressive and laying big hits than discipline.

The read-option will leave on, and it’ll continue to be successful. It remains to be seen if defensive coaches and columnist like Benoit will be willing to admit their mistakes.

(My bet is on “nope”.)