Posts Tagged ‘New England Patriots’

BY:BRYAN “DA DON” LUIS

CONTRIBUTION OF CONNOR FLASKA

I won’t be the only one to say that the 2012 Ohio State Buckeyes Football Team had a magical season. After all they went 12-0, won a regular season Big Ten title and reminded people that despite being restricted from a bowl game because of the NCAA violations against them. It was almost a spitting image of 2002 for most in Columbus. Urban Meyer got the fans to believe, showing the same enthusiasm that they have for their Buckeyes.

Coach Urban Meyer’s motto “It takes a little something special to be a great player.” His RT Reid Fragel is that kind of player. The senior put his heart and soul into Buckeye Nation whether it was on 1st and 10 at the 20 in the first quarter or 4th and 1 on 39 with the game on the line. If you watch the Buckeyes like I do (religiously), you’ll notice that. Another thing you’ll notice is how they run the ball almost always to the right side.

Fragel converted from TE to RT before his senior yr. for the better of the team

Fragel was a 4 star recruit as a TE out of Gross Point South, Michigan in the 2009 recruiting class that includes Jordan Hall, John Simon, Corey Brown, Carlos Hyde, CJ Barnett, and Zach Boren. He made a few plays as a TE, a pass reception on a TE Screen in the 2011 Sugar Bowl was his longest gain. He scored a TD against Iowa in 2010.

Everytime I talk Ohio St. Football with my friend from Gross Pointe, Michigan, Connor Flaska, Fragel’s name and progress gets brought up every time. Before last year I knew of Fragel for his play in the Sugar Bowl and as a valuable TE who was great in the redzone. But ever since then I focused on his performance and noticed his athleticism throughout his career.

His football career took a different path before his senior season. Under new coach Urban Meyer, Fragel made the move to offensive line and quickly embraced the role.  “I feel like our team needs some help at tackle,” said Fragel in an interview with Ozone.net. Not only did he embrace the role he flourished, he was selected as Honorable Mention for the All-Big Ten team, in his first year playing the position.

To his favor his Dad played football at Michigan St. and Northern Michigan, and his grandfather was a great basketball coach in Ohio. So to say being an athlete was in his blood is what I would say. But his sheer size is an advantage for him; he stands at 6’7” and around 300 lbs.

Before the NFL Combine in late February not many teams had him on their boards, but he impressed teams at the Combine. His Combine numbers were as follows: Broad Jump 113, vertical jump 30, 40 is 5.14, 33 reps on 225, 7.62 cone drill, and 4.68 20 yard shuffle. His combine results were solid numbers considering many had Fragel mocked in the 5th round. I think lineman in the Big Ten have had great success in the NFL more than other conferences for years (Reiff, Thomas, Olivea, Pace, Mangold, Wisinewski, Backus, Long, Diehl, Pashos, Hardwick, Light, Steinbach, Hutchinson etc.) It’s quite a pedigree to be involved with.

His strengths as a player are more so in his raw ability than technique. He is super-strong; he benched 33 reps (225lbs), one of the strongest among tackles in the combine. His other strength would be his attitude, if you heard his interviews and read his quotes, you would want him to be on your team, eventually be a pro-bowler, he also played in a system with Urban Meyer that has the O-Line perform cross blocks and pulls due to the spread option and all the counters and play action off of that. He has the athleticism and the power to play in ANY system. The versatility he had in playing TE for three years should serve him well.

His weaknesses would start with his lack of experience at OL. Some of the guys in this draft like Luke Joekel, Brennan Williams, Eric Fisher, and DJ Fluker among others who may go higher than Fragel have started at Tackle for three years and have more film on them. I also feel teams will make the excuse that he isn’t a great pass blocker. As I see in the games against Wisconsin and Michigan, I don’t see where he struggles. Maybe teams don’t feel he can be on an island but that’ll come with experience and hard work.

Overall I mock him as mid-3rd round grade but in a deep O-Line class I feel he could be the steal, if his negative is EXPIERIENCE, then I’m sure he’ll learn well with NFL coaching and commitment.

My best team fits for Reid Fragel would be the Detroit Lions, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, and Washington Redskins.

I start with the Detroit Lions because it’s so obvious that they need to protect QB Matthew Stafford, he’s injury prone to say the least. I feel they’ll go CB in the first round if Philadelphia passes on Dee Milliner of Alabama this means that they’ll have to select a OL (particularly T) since Gosder Cherilus wasn’t the kind of OL talent that Boston College usually produces, and with lifer T Jeff Backus nearing retirement they need a guy opposite of second year LT Riley Reiff (Iowa). Now they have a young nucleus on the line and if Backus plays another year then Fragel could fill in for spot duty in the worst case scenario.

I compare Fragel to Nate Solder (above)

The New England Patriots may not have a 4th, 5th or 6th round pick but remember I have him as a 3rd round grade, so at the end of the end round he’ll be a great selection. The Pats O-Line Coach is Dante Scarnecchia in the eyes of many people around the NFL; he’s the best O-Line coach in pro football that alone is a fit. Remember Sebastian Volmer and Nate Solder they were drafted as raw run blockers and they both became quite good pass blockers. Now Fragel may be asked to fill the spot that Volmer will leave if Marcus Cannon isn’t already the solution. But Cannon may play guard if they need Dan Connolly at the C spot. Then Fragel falls right inton place at RT.

The Philadelphia Eagles are in a situation where anybody they add along the Offensive or Defensive Line isn’t a bad thing, lucky for them those are the strengths of this draft, If Luke Joekel falls to #4 in a freak circumstance then there is a 100% chance they take him at #4, but they need both tackles. Jason Peters and Demetress Bell were failures, they had to release Bell a month ago, and Peters may never be the same. Now it’s for Chip Kelly to build an athletic line, both Joekel and Fragel played for scrambling QB’s great fit. Now watch Michael Vick actually be able to rollout in the pocket either direction.

The Washington Redskins have drafted well in the Shanahan Era, they got RGIII at #2 last yr. and he was a freak of nature, RB Alfred Morris in the 5th round only proved Shanahan can find RBs (let it be known already), and another Pro-Bowl talent he doesn’t get credit for is T Trent Williams on the left side (although he had an issue lately). The reason for drafting Maurice Hurt a 7th round pick in 2011 may not be a long term solution as of now, but Shanahan likes depth on the O-Line or they move Hurt to G since he is 6’3” 330lbs. This would give Fragel the RT spot, the Redskins haven’t had a consistent starter at RT since Jon Jansen, in the Joe Gibbs Era (second gen).

I hope Fragel can continue to show all football fans what Buckeye Nation is about as a fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes. As an objective football fan I hope for him that the Combine was a momentum boost. Many compare him to Eric Winston of the Kansas City Chiefs; I compare him to Nate Solder in a sense that he is as raw as Solder was when he left Colorado.

Come draft time I feel he and his family will enjoy every moment and for all those at Grosse Pointe, Michigan to salute the hometown kid. If he ends up in Detroit, I hope Jeff Backus can be a mentor for him; the Big Ten has got to stick together when everyone is all head over heels for the SEC talent in last couple of drafts. But no matter where I’m sure they’ll back him I know I’ll be watching out for him.

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.