My weekend began at 10:00 am (PST) last Saturday with the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, and followed by the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins NFC playoff game at 1:00 pm. To finish my day of football I watched the Jacksonville Jaguars–Pittsburg Steelers AFC first rounder. The NFL playoffs continued Sunday with another 7 hour dose; which was followed on Monday by one of the worst National Championship games I’ve ever seen.
I spent yesterday trying to put together an article out of the notes I took of all the happenings from the 3-day weekend, but I couldn’t condense it without confusing the reader (including me). So after wasting the better part of yesterday, I’ve decided to just post my notes in the order I wrote them in.
The All-American Bowl showcases some of the best talent in high school that year. These kids don’t need to play in this game, but they risk injury for a week long mini-camp with ex-NFL and college players and coaches. They’re divided into two teams (East and West) by location of their home town, but both sides end up spending the better part of the week socializing or competing. With guys going to the same college on both the East and West sides, it’s easy to understand why the two teams got along so well. Here’s a list of players that I chose to assess.
- Andrew Luck – Stanford – A Pro-style quarterback that I think will flourish under Cardinal head coach Jim Harbaugh
- Dan Buckner – Texas – Great size and awareness, just not the most athletic kid. I think his work ethic (what I read about him) is too good for him not to be a success in Austin.
- Darrell Scott – Undecided – Not impressive considering he is rated by Rivals.com as the best running back in the country. I’m not sure what kind of competition he faced in high school, but this kid looks scrawny, and doesn’t seem to have that quick-twitch first-step that a great running back needs. All the other kids that came into this game with similar hype performed at a high level, but he looked like a lost kid at Target. Will someone call this kids mom.
- Dayne Crist – Notre Dame – Good deep ball, but his decision to go to a school that already took the #1 QB in the nation last year (Jimmy Clausen) tells me he doesn’t have the fire inside to lead. He said he was just happy to be a part of such a great tradition, and isn’t worried about the depth chart. I want a quarterback who’d do anything to be my starter, not a guy whose fine with what ever role he has.
- R.J. Washington – Oklahoma – A young Jason Taylor; in that his body and game mirror Taylor’s. But he needs to hit the weights harder so that he can be strong enough for D-1 football. Like Taylor, Washington will never have the weight to keep opposing blockers from pushing him around. But Taylor never lets a bigger opponent take advantage of his light weight (255lbs), and does so by making sure he’s faster, and or stronger than the man he faces. Taylor uses his great athleticism and speed (which is identical to Washington’s) to get by 350lbs offensive tackles (i.e. Tony Pashos, nearly 100lbs heavier than Taylor) who don’t have the speed to get their hands on him. And when Taylor faces a smaller more athletic OT (i.e. Matt Lepsis) he just over powers his opponent. Taylor is probably one of the strongest 255lbs men in the NFL, and is probably stronger than most 290lbs linemen in the league. So if R.J. Washington’s going to be great, he needs to get in the gym, and not try to gain weight, just gain strength.
Nigel Bradham – Florida State – Great potential. He was surprisingly impressive against the run, yet is known for his coverage skills. He seems to me to be the total-package at strong-side linebacker.
Mike Golic Jr. – Notre Dame – He’s never going to be as big as his father or uncles, but will become one hell of a zone-blocking center once he graduates. I just hope the Raiders can get by with Jeremy Newberry and Jake Grove until then.
Marcus Forston – Miami – Unstoppable force at defensive tackle, and is only going to get bigger (286lbs now, but will probably be 320lbs by the end of his junior year). He’ll fill a void that’s been open since Vince Wilfork left the U back in 2003.
Star Jackson – Alabama – Not impressive at all; and dude your name’s Star Jackson, you might want to change it.
MarQueis Gray – Minnesota – Very good duel threat QB; and a very smart kid to choose Minnesota. He’ll get a chance to be a star right away, because the teams in the Big 10 aren’t setup to defend the option offense. Look what Juice Williams and the University of Illinois was able to do in their conference. I see Gray making an immediate impact next year.
Terrelle Pryor – Undecided, but probably Michigan – He will make more of an impact than any other U.S Army All-American has ever made, including Adrian Peterson, Reggie Bush, and Chris Wells. Why; because he’s a quarterback. Pryor will destroy the college game and will look ready for the pros after his sophomore season. The kid has touch on his passes that I’ve never seem before. People want to compare Pryor to Vince Young but that is a slap in Pryor’s face. The #1 recruit in the nation has a beautiful quick, natural delivery that alone makes him a better QB than Vince (Young’s side-arm sling shot delivery). He reminds me more of a right-handed Steve Young. The quick reaction that the former 49er and Pryor have to sense when it’s time to run, and when it’s time to stay in the pocket and let the play develop is incredible. Vince Young doesn’t know when to stay or go, and quite often that’s why he fails. All year long Pryor showed the people who were looking a glimpse of what he’ll do in the pros, and after 2 years of watching grainy film of this kid on the internet, I finally got to see him in HD. Last Saturday everyone in this country got a chance to see what I’ve been watching, the next great player to marvel at. Oh yeah, he was also named MVP of the game.
Names to Remember; my guaranteed stars of the future.
Marcus Forston, Terrelle Pryor, D.J. Washington, Patrick Johnson, and Nigel Bradham
All week I’ve struggled to find a place to mention the few things that I found worth reporting on from last Monday, but have given up, and printed them as an update to this posting. Like the All-American Bowl, the NCAA Division-1 BCS National Championship game (wheew…I think I got it all) has recently been played around the same time as the NFL playoffs.
- 6:43 left in the 2nd quarter – Glenn Dorsey makes a good read on a half-back drive to Chris Wells, and tackles Wells behind the line of scrimmage. But what impressed me the most was the way Dorsey handled a trash talking teammate. Seconds after Dorsey’s tackle, one of his teammates started a verbal spat with one of the Ohio State O-lineman. Dorsey stopped mid-celebration after he noticing the scrap; he turned, grabbed his teammate by the neck, and shoved the player towards the Tigers huddle. As Dorsey walked back to the huddle he kept jawing at his teammate for behaving so unprofessional; nothing in that game impressed me more.
If Brian Miller from Phin Phanatic is correct, and the Miami Dolphins do select Chris Long, then I’m hoping Dorsey drops to the Raiders, because if there’s anything the Oakland Raiders have lacked the last 5 years it’s guys like Dorsey. Last great leaders on the Raiders: Steve Wisniewski, Lincoln Kennedy, Rich Gannon, Tim Brown, Greg Biekert, Eric Allen, Rod Woodson, and the bleeder Jon Ritchie. I’m not sure there is one current Raider (outside of Oakland native Kirk Morrison) that can remotely be compared to the men mentioned above.
My Top 5 teams for 2008:
- West Virginia