Archive for the ‘The Tape Never Lies’ Category

kony ealy2

It’s dangerous scouting defensive linemen these days. Too many projects and projections. Can he learn how to use his hands, scouts ask? Is he a fit in a 1-gap 3-4 defense as an end or linebacker, scouts wonder? They’re asking every question in the book and getting few answers because at the end of the day, they just don’t know. Nobody really does. Nobody knows anything. Yet decisions have to be made.

One of those decisions will be on Kony Ealy’s position.

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Joel Bitonio2

On the dark green grass, he blended in with all the other offensive linemen wearing white uniforms. He stepped forward, locked his arms out and sat in his stance, creasing his knees before driving the defensive end out of the pitch play. It was simple, but he was still supposed to stand out from his teammates. He was the potential first-round pick, the team’s best linemen, the team’s left tackle.

For one play, Joel Bitonio didn’t look any different than the left guard by his right side.

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mack again2

Out of nowhere the pass-rusher threw a right jab like a boxer. One second he’s running downhill and the next … BAM! He pinned the offensive tackle on his heels, with the blocker stumbling into his own backfield, waiting for someone — anyone —to help. The pass-rusher went through the tackle and turned the corner, pressuring the quarterback out of the pocket and forcing an incompletion.

That’s the norm for the 6’3″, 251-pound Khalil Mack, who is a specimen from the University of Buffalo. His abdomen is littered with a six pack of abs. His muscles pop off his arms like landmark sites formed from natural disasters. And his legs are thick throughout.

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Barr2

From his 6’5″ frame hang nearly 34-inch long arms, creating a towering pass-rusher that has off-the-charts potential. When his size blends with his athleticism and explosiveness, he becomes a rare prospect that’s arguably the most impressive in this May’s draft.

But there needs to be more to a prospect than size and athleticism. Technique and tools are necessary, such as powerful hands and disciplined pad level. That’s where questions start to arise with UCLA’s Anthony Barr, who can be one of two different players on any given Saturday.

He can be dominating or dominated.

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blake bortles2

His passes fell incomplete. They beelined off his palm like a kamikaze pilot, flying across the green grass before sinking in it. They sailed through the bright stadium lights and into the dark sky before going over the receiver’s head. They blindly flew out of bounds and bounced hopelessly on the sideline.

But it didn’t matter, because UCF’s Blake Bortles had potential. The one word that all the personnel men love to use until they’ve fired for using it. Then they hate it, and they tell others not to do the same. Then they get another job in the league and use it again, betting on a potentially good player like Bortles.

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Greg Robinson2

Plump defenders are driven wayside like dummy sleds. They succumb, folding like lawn chairs, or even worse, drowning into the ground. By the whistle, they’re scrambling to regain their balance, hoping to avoid the embarrassment of a pancake. They know it’ll show up on the coach’s film the next morning. There’s no excuse for it — other than facing Greg Robinson.

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minter2

It was garbage time. The stadium was being cleared out by fans who had watched the Cardinals build a 13-point lead over the hometown Jaguars. A second past the two-minute warning was all that was left when inside linebacker Kevin Minter made his season debut 11 weeks into his rookie year.

He was on the point of the Jags’ Trips Bunch set, in a two-point stance with his knees bent, chest hanging over his toes and his arms dangling to his sides. Abruptly, the play began and he jammed the point-man and passed him off to the deep coverage, changing focus to the outside receiver running a supposed hitch route that was really serving as a rub. It was designed to get the flat receiver open, and he ran away from Minter and caught a quick pass from quarterback Chad Henne. Just like that, Minter’s first play was over.

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