Archive for February, 2013

Other than QB Johnny Manziel otherwise known as “Johnny Football” Texas a&M’s offense last season was all through WR Ryan Swope.  At 6’1” 206lbs he has a bigger build than other slot receivers like Wes WelkerBrandon Stokley, and other guys in the NFL Draft like Tavon Austin and DeAndre Hopkins. Swope is also a finalist to become the cover boy of the new and upcoming NCAA Football 14 quite an achievement for Manziel and Tannehill’s sidekick.

He made a name for himself in 2010 as a sophomore playing with QB Jerrod Johnson who was a senior captain that year; they also entered the season with high expectations with players like WR Jeff Fuller and LB Von Miller. Swope caught 72 passes for 825 yards and 4TD, not too significant in terms of touchdowns but very reliable in terms of his hands and routes.  He caught 55 of those 72 passes in the games they won. Not bad for a guy who as a freshman he was playing DB. You can say that the move to WR was a great career move.

As a junior with a new QB, in fact you may have heard of him, Ryan Tannehill who became the 8th overall pick of the Miami Dolphins. Swope quickly became the favorite wide receiver like how Andre Reed was for Jim Kelly. He finished the season with 89 catches for 1207 yards receiving and had 11TD. The improvement in his game showed on film/highlights and on the stat sheet. Another year, another QB, this past season he had little know Freshman (RS) QB Johnny Manziel. I saw the game vs. Florida and I noticed the double fake play action where they brought in the backfield. That’s similar to how Percy Harvin was used at Florida. Swope showed over the course of the season he could run block and very well. Overall he still had 72 catches 913 yards and 8TDs as a senior, not bad for a team that became a zone-read team.

His best games were against the Alabama teams (Alabama, Auburn). In A&M’s upset over the Crimson Tide he had a season high 11 catches 111 yards receiving and a TD. He was a matchup nightmare. After the upset there was a standing ovation for A&M by some Tide fans. That’s respect. As for Swope he was heavily targeted throughout. Against Auburn He scored 2TDs in 6 catches along with 140 yards. He showed in this game that he could be a threat all over the field not just in the slot. Granted Auburn struggled, 63 points for an offense in the SEC is quite impressive.

How do I characterize Ryan Swope? He is grit and balls and we all know what that can do, and in a league full of pre-Madonna guys like Randy Moss over the years, Swope could be a great contradiction of that. After all he runs a 4.34 40 yard dash, much better than anyone would’ve ever thought (all stereotypes aside).

Before the combine many would say 4th round pick AT BEST, but one of the few that think this guy is legit and the real deal. According to CBS Sports he’s at the 83rd pick of the Draft (mid 3rd round), to me he’s top 40 value. Swope has speed, acceleration, great hands, good routes, and most of all he can play on the outside as a z receiver, or as a slot.

Some comparisons include Jordan Shipley, Brandon Stokley and maybe Wes Welker not for me though. I see him as more of an Andre Reed type, where he’s not a big play guy but to compare him a HOF’er is a stretch but I will stand by that statement.

The best fits for him would be the Minnesota VikingsKansas City Chiefs, and Carolina Panthers.

Minnesota made the playoffs last season thanks to Adrian Peterson and that defensive line. But they need to have a playmaker to compliment Harvin and Rudolph, unless they trade Harvin, but that’s unlikely with GM Spielman denying it at the moment, with those three guys, we will see for sure if Christian Ponder is a true starting QB in this league.

Kansas City has Alex Smith now and are likely to draft LT Luke Joeckel #1 overall, as for the rest of the offense Jonathan Baldwin and Steve Breaston are not solid receivers (#2’s). If Dwayne Bowe comes back they may still draft a WR for the other side, Alex Smith may need the help.

Carolina has an offense that at times looks like clockwork, at other times it’s all about Cam Newton, they need a better receiver than Steve Smith to compliment Brandon LaFell, Smith has always been one-dimensional in my eyes but Swope can add another dimension to put Smith in the slot at his age.

Swope could be the steal of the WR class the same way I felt about Ryan Broyles and Randall Cobb the last two years, except no size issues or injury concerns. He is fighting a stereotype that is more used than any other in America. I know he’ll succeed and pull through.


Stedman Bailey the WR out of West Virginia is the definition of a big play WR; he played for Coach Dana Holgorsen and flourished under the Air-Raid attack similar to Houston and BYU in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Stedman Bailey is a redshirt-junior who was a four star prospect in the HS Class of 2009. He had offers Florida, Auburn, and Wisconsin but decided on West Virginia, along with his HS QB and teammate Geno Smith.

Bailey didn’t contribute heavily as a freshman in 2010 after being redshirted in 2009. But he did have 4TD on 24 catches and 317 yards receiving. Even then WVU fans had something to cheer about.

In 2011 as a sophomore he busted out onto the scene in West Virginia’s last year in the Big East. He caught 72 passes for 1279 yards and 12TD. Bailey had a nose for the end-zone; remember he was paired with WR Tavon Austin (later mentioned). They became the most productive duo in college football. His clutch moment (as mentioned with Geno Smith) for the 2011 season was the 4th down conversion vs. the University of South Florida.  The catch he made on December 1, 2011 was absolutely ridiculous; it set up a FG that sealed the deal on another Big East Title (share). That eventually lead to a demolishing of ACC Champion Clemson, he had 5 catches for 68 yards and a TD.

Heading into his junior year Stedman Bailey and the Mountaineers were facing new competition, The Big 12, now they play Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas State, and TCU. Certainly it was going to be better competition but Bailey only improved his production with 114 catches for 1622 yards with an astounding 25TD! Bailey was tearing them up. They were as team even ranked at #2 by mid-season before a slump that ended their hopes at BCS title. The 38-14 loss to Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl showed that the high-octane offense was not suitable for horrid weather conditions. Think about it though, Bailey scored the two TDs in the game for WVU. He had 8 catches for 121 yards along with the two TDs.

Now onto the draft, Stedman Bailey according to CBS Sports is a 3rd-4th round pick projection, and that puzzles me a little bit. At 5’10” 190lbs, I see an explosive wide receiver, he runs in the 4.5’s which is fast in my book. He scored touchdowns and he’s matched up against great corners and safeties, the likes of Morris Claiborne, S Kenny Vaccaro of Texas, and others in the Big East and the Big 12. West Virginia’s air raid is no different an offense to Green Bay, New Orleans, Denver, and New England which means he’s pro ready. He did after all finish with 41 receiving TD in his career, enough for the school record in that category.

His strengths in my eyes are diverse. The thing that jumps off at you is the chemistry he had with Geno Smith; the catch vs. USF shows that, Geno Smith knew Bailey was his Go-to-Guy. He gets yards after the catch, He can pull a Mike Wallace and hit you deep, he also caught those fade routes that corners in the modern time rules can’t cover. He can catch fade routes as well as shown by the photo above.

His weaknesses are not in terms of his skill, they lie within his physical attributes. He’s 5’10 190lbs; apparently everyone in the NFL wants a 6’4” wide receiver an equal to Randy Moss, Brandon Marshall, and Calvin Johnson. Sorry folks those guys are great but what are the odds? Bailey was also blanked out by double coverage but then if teams did that Tavon Austin torched them so I don’t think that’ll be an issue with time and coaching.

I compare him to Brandon Lloyd of the New England Patriots. I oppose the comparison of Steve Smith. He doesn’t even run routes he just runs deep, I find him very one dimensional. Lloyd excels in the intermediate passing game; he also has the ability to make circus grabs, and puts effort into catching every ball. Bailey has an advantage that Pats fans liked in Deion Branch and that’s toughness he will get into the end-zone and first down marker.

As for team fits I think a match would be the Houston Texans, Miami Dolphins, and the team Geno Smith’s drafted by.

The Houston Texans need a WR in the future, other than Lestar Jean and Devier Posey they nothing but even in those two, I just see those guys as projects and injury prone guys. Bailey would provide some explosion on the outside and be a #2 threat behind Andre Johnson who is 31 and needs to be kept in form until the postseason.

Head Coach Joe Philbin may go after WRs Greg Jennings and Mike Wallace, but in case they pull a Drew Brees and head elsewhere they’ll need someone there. Brian Hartline is a UFA, he’s not a #1 WR, but Bailey can provide explosion and sure hands that they haven’t gotten since the days of Mark Duper and Irving Fryar.

The third possibility could be any team Geno Smith goes to, just remember Indy 2012; they drafted Andrew Luck and Coby Fleener both from Stanford. This could be the same thing, they went to HS together and college ball and they are lethal.

Bailey may soar into the 2nd round once scouts see him at his pro day in March. This guy will make an impact; it just remains to be seen.

Taken by James Santelli, Neon Tommy. September...

Taken by James Santelli, Neon Tommy. September 24, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

USC has been one of the most explosive offenses over the last three seasons, not a surprise when you have a QB as good as Matt Barkley and a WR as lethal and flashy as Robert Woods.

Many don’t have Robert Woods as the #1 WR, instead they have Keenan Allen of CAL or Coradelle Patterson of TENN, they will be mentioned in later posts, but neither can break man coverage like Woods. Of all the problems USC has had since the Pete Carroll era, you can’t blame the offense; you can blame Lane Kiffin for being outcoached against other coaches in the Pac-12 and in the bowl game at Georgia Tech.

At 6’1 190lbs, he’s a little light for the NFL, but I care very little about that. In today’s NFL all you need to do is get five yards and a defense can’t touch you. Woods is the all-time leader in receptions at USC with 252. Those big numbers came while playing with Marquise Lee and Damian Williams (2010) and remember that this the University of Southern California we’re talking about, Dwayne Jarrett, Keyshawn Johnson, Johnnie Morton, and Lynn Swann are notable alumni of USC.

As a freshman in 2010 he caught 65 passes for 792 yards with 6TDs, quite impressive, and also showing that the 2010 recruiting class was really deep with stars. He not only catches passes. He runs jet sweeps, reverses, and returns kicks. These are skills I think teams in the NFL can take advantage of. As a freshman he was catching the ball with corners, safeties and LBs draped on him. This guy is a red zone threat at 6’1” that is impressive enough let alone the athleticism he possesses.

Many big time freshmen suffer a sophomore slump but Woods did the polar opposite, not only did he solidify himself as a star at USC; he became one of the best WRs in all of NCAAF. He tallied 111 catches for 1292 yards and 15TDs, which was in 12 games. Remember they couldn’t play a bowl game due to NCAA sanctions from the Reggie Bush allegations.

As a junior in 2012 there were high expectations for him, the offense and team being ranked #1. They may have not have been worthy of the #1 ranking as a team but Woods did not disappoint he had 76 receptions for 896 yards and 11TDs. It’s a drop-off but considering QB Matt Barkley’s injury that prevented him from playing the final two and a half games (UCLA (Barr’s hit causing injury), UND, GT) that’s the difference of 1,000-1,100 from 700-900 yards for a season. Sharing the spotlight with Marquise Lee the star sophomore also contributed to that.

Overall his strengths are obvious as you look into the film is that he excels in man to man coverage, he’s always catching balls in stride, he will run in the 4.4’s so the speed is there, and also is said to have a great work ethic. But why is nobody grading this guy like they did for Justin Blackmon and Michael Crabtree, because of “injury concerns”. But the one strength I notice is that he actually blocks, what a shocker this opens up a market for him that many others wouldn’t even consider.

#2 Robert Woods making a cut in a game at USC

#2 Robert Woods making a cut in a game at USC

I put asterisks to the injury concerns because I don’t see the worries, he started all 37 games he was eligible to play in his college career, but among other weaknesses include bulk and at 190lbs I feel there is a point there, he will need to bulk up in order to be an outside guy that can beat press coverage. He also had “concussion symptoms” but I’m not as sure as to what I should feel about that. Also his attitude of the reason he left USC, apparently it was cause of his targets, but I don’t feel like it’s a reason to stay away because I think Lane Kiffin is the WORST coach of a Power 6 conference in NCAAF that is not negotiable on my round-table.

My best team fits are the New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills, St. Louis Rams, and Seattle Seahawks.

First with the New England Patriots, they have a lot of cap room now that Brady has extended for less money, they still have a decision to make whether to sign WR Wes Welker. If it were me whether they do or don’t, they should draft Robert Woods with the 29th overall pick. In recent years they’ve become soft, and now Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are their two best targets to me, that’s sad! Get Tom Brady a “REAL” WR to throw to, pair him with Lloyd or another draft pick (named later). Also giving Ryan Mallett or future quarterback a #1 target.

In the case of another AFC East team the Buffalo Bills, they have WR Stevie Johnson and RB CJ Spiller to look forward to. Now get another WR to pair with Johnson, and fix that wretched secondary and now you’re in business to compete with the new breed of the AFC Elite, Cincinnati, and Houston etc. Woods would be a definite plus and Head Coach Doug Marrone has seen him torch his team, I’d recommend pairing him with Nassib or Barkley (hint).

St. Louis is in a division that I feel is wide open, I’m not sold on SF and Seattle worries me with the lack of a great WR (later mentioned). Sam Bradford has talent, I feel there defense is good, they can attack those needs through free agency, but in that late 1st area they can use the Washington pick to take Woods, he’s perfect to pair with Brian Quick and UFA Danny Amendola. Now Bradford can maybe have a chance to excel like the Heisman winner in ’08 was always thought to do.

Seattle is the one can make them a true Super Bowl threat for years to come. They need to replace Sidney Rice, he’s soft. On another note Russell Wilson needs a true #1 WR. Robert Woods was recruited by Carroll and I know Pete Carroll of all people will take the chance to get a hard-working guy who will block for Marshawn Lynch down the field. Now Russell Wilson can form with him what Aaron Rodgers has in Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings, Tom Brady and Wes Welker, Eli Manning and Victor Cruz etc.

I believe him to be the #1 WR in this class, based on not only skill but potential. He’s not raw like Coradelle Patterson and has speed that Keenan Allen doesn’t appear to have. He did play with a great QB which is a benefit to me but some may find it as a disadvantage, after all how many USC WRs have produced in the NFL since Keyshawn Johnson… You get my point. But he’s different and I feel he has ability no one in this class and last years class don’t have.

My comparison for him is Anquan Boldin and Dez Bryant. He has the blocking and 1on1 skills those guys have, but my reason is because he’s not afraid to catch the ball anywhere on the field. I believe he will be a starting receiver for the team that drafts him at the start of the 2013 regular season, he’s that committed.  

#1 Joseph Randle had a career-high 199 yards rushing and 2TDs for the Cowboys in a 41-36 defeat to the Texas Longhorns

This running back from Wichita, Kansas is a great one on the campus of Oklahoma State University, but no matter how good he was he would never eclipse the 1988 season that Barry Sanders had for the Cowboys. It’s crazy 25 years after Sanders there’s Joseph Randle.

To some this may come as a shock but if you’ve seen him play in the BIG 12 you’d see what I see. He has quite a resume for a guy no one covering the draft (Kiper, Mayock, McShay) is talking about.

People talking about Bernard, Lattimore, and Lacy, rightfully so they’re great players but I learned the game of football as doing the little things better than your opponent.

He’s a 1st team All-Big 12 two years running (2011-2012), a Doak Walker semi-finalist in 2012, and had over 2,600 rushing yards over the past two seasons. Basically saying he replaced Kendall Hunter pretty well after he left the school for the 2011 Draft.

2011 was a great year for the Cowboys, Randle ran for over 1,200 yards and all while QB Brandon Weeden and WR Justin Blackmon were stealing the attention. He had 24 TDs as a sophomore in 208 carries rushing! Just to do the math he scored 33.3% of the time he ran the ball, but yet no one was talking about him.

His 2012 season as a junior was better even without the passing being the greatest in the Big 12 like the previous two seasons. He ran for 1,417 yards which was an improvement, but he only reached the end-zone 14 times, and to me that’s still counts that he’s an elite back in the collegiate level.

Listed at 6’1” 200lbs. he’s a bit of a tweener. He runs in the 4.5’s, he can block, he can catch, after all playing an air-raid style where throwing the ball is the focal point you need to be a complete back. With the NFL evolving to this horizontal passing game with bubble screens and read options, you want a back that has a versatile skill set.

Many including myself thinks he’s way too upright before contact. His pad level must improve in consistency but in essence that’s coachable and will be fixed. But this particular weakness has prevented previous running backs from making that next step look no further Lawrence Maroney,

A lot have him between the 3rd and 4th round but remember who else was drafted in that spot, think of DeMarco Murray, Jamal Charles, and Stevan Ridley all have had successful careers to this point being third rounders.

In comparison, I see him as what Jahvid Best was at Cal and early on for Detroit before his numerous amounts of concussions slowed him enough to probably end his career. Another fair comparison for him would be Edgerrin James the former Colts/Cardinals running back was the jack of all trades at his position, and most of all he came into the league at 6’1 216lbs, speed may be James’ advantage on Randle but the little things is what equals out.

Detroit is a perfect fit for Randle and his complex skill set. Mikel Leshoure, who was drafted in the second round of the 2011 Draft can get the majority of carries, then Randle come play an Ahmad Bradshaw role, third down and two-minute offense with Stafford. This will give them a receiver out the backfield.

I also like Arizona with how they can mix him with Beanie Wells, and as a Ravens fan I know Bruce Arians loves having depth at RB. But for a QB who may not be a Manning, Brady, Brees, or Rodgers, you need a group of backs to keep the defense guessing.

His coach at Oklahoma State Mike Gundy was asked about a comparison in a question by the Tulsa World, he responded with Thurman Thomas, who played at Oklahoma State from 1984-87. He mention the blocking ability and compared how the two played, I feel that’s a stretch but very high praise.

Eddie Lacy completes his college career as a two-time defending national champion, now onto the NFL Level.

Next on my list at number four is the bruiser tailback from the two-time defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide. Yes I’m talking about Eddie Lacy.

Talk about a guy who could run you over, but he’s only 6’1″ 220lbs (I would argue he’s way more than that). But regardless he runs hard and like Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson and way back with Shaun Alexander before him he fits everything the Tide fans want. Like those three he doesn’t waste much time behind the line of scrimmage. He picks a hole and simply runs straight, after all Barrett Jones basically did all the work for him before the play, and AJ McCaron is flawless with the exchange.

In other words he’s definitely not a dangler. Although he did ran for 1,322 yards and 13TDs as a junior this past season, splitting time with freshman phenom TJ Yeldon. He’s not flashy, he’s not graceful, he’s vintage like John Riggins or Otis “OJ” Anderson in the days of roc’ em soc’em football.

He is better than fellow 2013 NFL Draft power back LaVeon Bell from Michigan State. It’s not because of the SEC factor cause most SEC backs struggle in the NFL (Moreno, Ingram, Hardesty etc.) there are exceptions and that is Arian Foster, and Lacy would benefit in a system like Houston with Kubiak a mastermind offensively and he could do what Doug Martin did this season. Bell on the other hand is a bit slow although he may be stronger.

Eddie Lacy dragging Ole Miss Rebel defenders along the field. Displaying brute strength and power at the running back position

He was in my eyes the offensive player of the game in the SEC Championship Game with his consistent carries eventually leading to 181 yds. on 20 carries with 2TD vs Georgia, and it continued in the National Title Game rout against Notre Dame.

We all know Alabama has three potential first round picks on their offensive line with C Barrett Jones, G Chance Warmack, and  T DJ Fluker.

But think of the SEC as a league where if you lose the battle at the line of scrimmage, you can’t win. This includes running the ball in which Lacy was a major red zone go to guy for them, he capped off those long drives with TDs.

To my belief, his stock is in the 2nd-3rd round range, but some have gone as far to say that teams believe he’ll wind up being the first running back taken in the 2013 NFL Draft. I certainly feel he’s somebody you can pair with somebody as opposed to making him a feature back, though I feel he will be effective. Not at a pro-bowl 1,500 yd level but maybe as a Green-Ellis type where he may not be the ideal choice but definitely more than manageable.

As far as perspective teams I’m leaning with the St.Louis Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Dallas Cowboys.

For the St. Louis Rams I know that Jeff Fisher would like to be able to trade Steven Jackson, the same way the Cincinnati Bengals were able to trade Corey Dillon in 2004. If so, Daryl Richardson a former 7th round pick would need some assistance, that could be Lacy, and we all know how much Fisher loved Eddie George when he coached the Tennessee Titans.

Lacy would benefit in a  system like Pittsburgh greatly, they appreciate the style in which he plays. They miss Jerome Bettis, and for the older fans Franco Harris. But my main reason is Rashad Mendenhall. He may not be able to carry the load as heavy as they once thought when they drafted him back in 2008 with all the injuries and fumbles .

Last but not least the Cowboys, and what a blunder this turns out to be. They have a glamour boy in Felix Jones, who can’t stay healthy for more than 8 games a year and they have DeMarco Murray who simply can’t stay healthy cause of his awful pad level. Lacy becomes the power back they’re desperate for and in time this is a wise investment for the salary cap ridden Dallas Cowboys.

My NFL player comparison for Eddie Lacy would be a mix of three guys Jamal Lewis, Peyton Hillis, and former Kansas City Chief Larry Johnson. Now hear me out on this all three of those backs won’t certainly blow you away, but they all get the tough yards, battle on those short-yardage plays and they also finish on the goal line particularly around the five-yard line which I bet some teams wish they had at their disposal heading into every single game.

Kenjon Barner #24 with the Stiff-Arm of an Oregon State Beaver in the Civil War.

Of all the points that have been scored by the Oregon Ducks in the Chip Kelly era with Dennis Dixon and Jonathan Stewart to Jeremiah Masoli and LaMichael James, to reach levels this past season that no one has seen since Tom Osborne’s Nebraska teams in the mid 1990’s with Lawrence Phillips, Ahman Green, and Tommie Frazier. What can I say Chip Kelly knows offense and Kenjon Barner was another star of his Richard Simmons type super-speed workout plan.

Barner had some people around the nation forget that they had lost LaMichael James in the draft in 2012. Also remember he shared a backfield with DeAnthony Thomas, who is also a productive back in that offense.

But even with that it was fair to say Barner was the focal point of an offense that could score almost at will. Barner ran for 1,767 yards and 21TDs rushing last season en route to an invitation for the Heisman trophy in which he finished third, 1st team All-American and another Oregon appearance to a BCS bowl game. Remember the USC game he had with 321 yards and 5TDs now that is putting a team on his back.

Kenjon Barner (24) and LaMichael James, runnin...

Kenjon Barner (24) and LaMichael James, running backs for the Oregon Ducks. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Overall he had a great season, now on to the draft talk. Scouts see him in the same light as James from a year ago in the 2nd-3rd round range. After all he’s lightning fast (4.30-4.40 40 yd. dash) but only seems like he’s being held back he’s a so-called “system back.”

I see him as a Reggie Bush/LeSean McCoy type; he can score anytime he touches the ball. One of his knocks or weaknesses would be his small stature of 5’9” 188lbs it was for many others before him so keep that in mind. Also the perception of the Oregon offense, it’s not like LaMichael James and Jonathan Stewart are blowing people’s socks off these days. One factor is the business itself. With the fact that there are a lot of good backs in the league so the demand isn’t there like it was in the McFadden/Peterson/Bush years in the mid 2000’s.

Could we also see this guy in a Kevin Faulk/Chester Taylor type role? I would answer yes. He’s a guy where 10-15 touches can get you 140yds+ in his good games. My comparison would be Reggie Bush but more of a Darren Sproles but we all know what Sproles is capable of in his time with the San Diego Chargers and New Orleans Saints.

Great fits for Barner include the New York (Jets), Green Bay Packers or San Diego Chargers.

For San Diego it would only be possible because Ryan Mathews hasn’t shown he can stay healthy or maintain a good level of production, if anything he’s been a fantasy bust plus they miss Darren Sproles ALOT, his ability in the screen game and also with draws.

In the Jets case it be like I mentioned about Giovani Bernard. Barner could pair with Shonn Greene to carry that team cause Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow are both just on another level of terrible.

For Green Bay I don’t feel Dwayne Harris and Alex Green are even capable backs in the league. In that offense I feel Barner would shine. They have yet to “replace” Ryan Grant which has cost them in the past two years.

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Bernard led the way for UNC the past two seasons now he aims to be a first round pick

Bernard led the way for UNC the past two seasons now he aims to be a first round pick

Giovani Bernard played at St Thomas Aquinas under legendary HS coach George Smith who probably has over 350 wins by now. With that being said he was a four star recruit (Rivals) in the class of 2010 behind the likes of Marcus Lattimore, Silas Redd, and Michael Dyer. He wasn’t even in the Rivals Top 100.

When I see highlights of Bernard there are three things that come into my mind almost simultaneously. First off he’s got a gear that I have only seen in guys like CJ Spiller, LaMichael James, and Reggie Bush. Second is his toughness and aggressive style to get yards after contact, for his size (5’10” 205lbs) he’s a bad man. Lastly he has such great hands it’s almost like he’s a WR out of the backfield say like Kevin Faulk was for the New England Patriots in the 2000’s, and how Ray Rice is for the Baltimore Ravens in their Super Bowl run.

He was redshirted as a freshman in 2010 after an ACL tear on the third day of fall practice. Either way he wouldn’t have played that much considering UNC had RB Johnny White who was a senior. But I feel that it was a benefit for Bernard to learn the offense and get stronger. White was a good back for North Carolina, he did get drafted so it worked out well both ways of the spectrum.

As a redshirt freshman Giovani Bernard took the ACC by storm. He ran for 1,253 yards on 239 carries and added 15TD. Bernard stayed consistent all season with over 10 carries in each and also averaged over 6yds a carry.

He had a few huge games in the 2011 season for UNC; I’ll point out two games. First against Georgia Tech in Atlanta where had 17 carries 152 yards with 2TDs, he also added on 5 receptions for 47 yards, the one play I notice is 3rd down and 15 conversion with a check-down that he caught and he converted it, kept them in the game in which they were defeated 35-28.

Another big performance that year and his most complete performance was the Wake Forest game. In that game he was more of a workhorse with 27 carries 154 yards 2TD, and 3 rec. for 21 yds. TD. He was a presence in the 1st half scoring a receiving TD for seven yards, and he scored on a four yard run in the 2nd quarter. In the 2nd half he scored his 2nd rushing TD from 4 yds. early in the 4th. Overall, he proved he could handle a heavy workload that day as he was a huge part of their game-plan. He also showed versatility which is a trait scouts drool over.

Bernard earned All-ACC honors for his great season. The only other Tar Heel RB to do that as a freshman was Amos Lawrence in 1977. He set freshman records for the school in rushing yards and TDs.

In 2012, as a sophomore it was a bit different with Butch Davis’s firing. With that came Larry

His GW return vs. NC State was just showing the world his inner Desean Jackson

His GW return vs. NC State was just showing the world his inner Desean Jackson

Fedora who brought in an up-tempo style. Bernard said no to Notre Dame, Florida, and Florida State because he felt more comfortable in a pro-style offense. But all Bernard did was replicate his yards total with less carries, he finished 2012 with 184 carries 1,228 rushing yards 12TD, and he caught 47 passes for 490 yds. and 5TD.  He also returned punts in 2012 and trust me he does more than his fair share in that department, in 16 returned punts he had 2TD including a GW 73 yd. return vs. in-state rival NC State. It was awful contain by the Wolfpack but Bernard still had to out run them.

I’d label him as a One Cut RB, a guy who may not possess all the psychical means but is a guy who will hit the hole with aggression and agility. He also could be a Receiving type RB because of his ability in the passing game. He’s a mixed breed of those two pedigrees. But other than the ACL tear in 2010, he’s only missed two games in two years and parts of other games. I don’t think he’ll be a Ki-Jana Carter or a Fred Taylor with injuries but I do think there is some concern there.

I didn’t notice any big weaknesses other than his 5’10” 205 lb. frame and some problems which may bother some teams, he may not have elite speed but that also to me is not a concern. His game is 3-Dimensional so I feel that he’ll find a way to contribute one way or another.

With that being said I compare him to both Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens and Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks. Ray Rice isn’t  the biggest guy but he does it all, and Marshawn Lynch is the most explosive back in the league after contact in my opinion.

Giovani Bernard is mocked to be an early 2nd round pick up to this weekend’s combine but I also feel like Lattimore that he is a 1st round talent, and like the Barkley/Smith battle I feel my #2 will be picked ahead of my #1. Bernard would be a great piece for Cincinnati with BenJarvus Green-Ellis and an even better option in Indianapolis where I feel he can be the #1 guy from day one and grow with Coby Fleener and Andrew Luck as they build a legit Super Bowl contender there.