Posts Tagged ‘NFL’

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.

Normally people overlook the impact of what a good offensive line can have. I wasn’t alive for the era of “The Hogs” or to the Oakland Raiders with Gene UpshawJim Otto, and Art Shell but in recent years I have seen the impact of guys like Jonathan Ogden who is getting inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer after be selected 3rd overall by the newly relocated Baltimore Ravens (Formally the Cleveland Browns). Orlando Pace who was selected #1 in the 1997 NFL Draft by the St.Louis Rams really became the rock on the blind side that no one has ever seen, At Ohio State they even counted how many pancakes he would get in a game, that’s impact.

Luke Joekel, the best OLineman in the 2013 NFL Draft

The Offensive Lineman in this 2013 NFL Draft have taken the attention with great combine  numbers, and great film. We may have four OL going in the Top 10, the favorite to go #1 is  Texas A&M OT Luke Joekel.

Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher is the 2nd ranked T who could go between 4th-7th overall to this point. Alabama G Chance Warmack maybe a top 10 and not many guards do, remember Mike Iupati of the San Francisco 49ers was selected 17th in 2010 NFL Draft.

You got a high-riser in OT Lane Johnson from Oklahoma, a former JUCO transfer who turned some heads at the combine for his athleticism and quick feet. He has climbed into the Top 12 in the Draft according to some who saw him at the combine.

That’s just the start of the conversation for the OL Draft Class of 2013, there are some other tackles to like in this draft.

In the late 1st round area, your team could T/G DJ Fluker from Alabama who was apart of the BEST Offensive Line in the NCAA, he’s a bit on the bigger side but he can slide into guard, many don’t think he’s an ideal LT but can play the right side well.

Brennan Williams UNC from Easton, Massachusetts

North Carolina T Brennan Williams originally from Easton, MA, is a guy to keep an eye on as well, maybe another potential RT but remember UNC played a pro style and a spread style in the last three years, i see versatility. He blocked for RB Giovani Bernard so that’s a reflection on the whole O-Line not just him but I know Mass Athletes will be pulling for him to succeed on the NFL Level. His issue is staying healthy according to many scouts. I’d imagine the Patriots taking him to replace FA Sebastian Volmer.

The last tackle on my radar is Ohio State RT Reid Fragel, his strength is well his strength (no pun intended), his run-blocking is an area the former TE dominated at times after the move to RT. There will be more in the near future from me on Reid Fragel but the Detroit native is in a position where NFL teams love. The fact he converted from Tight End to Offensive Tackle and some compare him to Eric Winston from the Kansas City Chiefs.

Onto the Offensive Guards and Centers. I’ve already mentioned G Chance Warmack from Alabama so I’ll refrain, but the G/C class has some other big names.

G Larry Warford from the University of Kentucky

The biggest name is Warmack’s but  his Alabama teammate C Barrett Jones he’s a do-it-all Offensive Lineman, the most decorated lineman at Alabama since the Legendary John Hannah. “Roll Tide to that” would be a response you’ll often hear for sure. He won the Outland Trophy and the Rimington Trophy in his time at Alabama, that’s sheer domination.

Terron Armstead OT/G from Arkansas Pine-Bluff had an impressive 4.71 forty yard dash at the NFL Combine but his breakthrough was the East/West Shrine Game. He jumped from a 6th-7th round pick to a top 50 prospect, similar to Vlad Ducasse two yrs. ago from UMass but the difference between them is athleticism.

Larry Warford of Kentucky is a big boy at 6’3″ 333lbs but at the guard position he holds his ground. Kentucky maybe a bottom feeder in the SEC, but they weren’t a cakewalk. ANY DLine Men who squared off 1 on 1 against didn’t go by him, that’s impressive. Most likely he’ll go in the second round, but he could jump if teams don’t overdraft the un-deserving QBs.

Keep in mind when watching the Draft 2013 that you’re going to see a lot of “fat guys” so for those who like QB’s and skill players which I don’t, I’m a defensive fooball fan, then this isn’t going to be your favorite draft, but the comeback of blue-collar football maybe what is best for the NFL with the birth of the read-option in the NFL. There will be more info on the Draft just stay posted on Da Don’s Verdict.

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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.

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.  

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.

Lattimore (#21) looks to prove that he can live up to the hype

Lattimore (#21) looks to prove that he can live up to the hype that he had annoited to him after his freshman year at South Carolina

Marcus Lattimore was a HS star, with that being said every school in the country wanted to have him in their backfield. Can you blame them?

If you watch the HS film you will notice he’s playing against fellow draftee RB Giovanni Bernard. He was compared to Ronnie Brown out of HS so people had high hopes.

If you have watched The University of South Carolina football team play in the last three years you know that the offense went through Marcus Lattimore.

Keep in mind they had QB Stephen Garcia who was inconsistent and same could be said for QB Connor Shaw, and WR Alshon Jeffrey who at best was flashy but not a guy who could set the world on fire.

As a freshman in 2010 he took the world by storm, I mean not since Adrian Peterson in 2004 have I seen a freshman contend for a Heisman trophy until Johnny Manziel last season (keep in mind he was a freshman in ’10). He carried the ball 249 times for 1,197 yards for 17TD as a freshman in 2010. He also caught 29 passes for 412 yards and 2TDs. He won SEC Freshman of the Year.

When you watch his highlight reel you see the sheer strength as he gets yards after contact and can do it all, he is what I label as a workhorse back a guy who gets better in a game with more than 20 carries. Plus he can do anything a RB is needed for run, catch, block, and like Boobie Miles I`m sure he can pass.

As a sophomore in 2011 he started the season on Heisman Watch, Preseason All-SEC, and Preseason All American. He was my #1 RB in NCAAF heading into his sophomore season; they just landed #1 recruit JaDaveon Clowney and aimed for an SEC title and a National title.

He suffered an ACL tear while throwing a block against Mississippi State. He finished the season with 818 rushing yards on 163 carries and 10TD; he also had a receiving TD. Had he stayed healthy the whole season I believe he would’ve broken the 1,300 yard mark and over 15TD.

Before the start of his junior yr. in 2012, Marcus Lattimore looked to bounce back from injury and in 9½ games he had 662 rushing yards on 143 rushing attempts and added 11TD. He injured his ACL against Tennessee in the most brutal way possible. His first game back in 2012 vs. Vanderbilt he tallied 23 carries for 110 rushing yards and 2TDs in a 17-13 victory, he was the difference.

If there’s one running back in the NFL that I compare him to its Willis McGahee from the Denver

McGahee bounced back from an acl tear in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl to play a long and solid career.

McGahee bounced back from an acl tear in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl to play a long and solid career.

Broncos or Darren McFadden from Oakland. Before his ACL tear in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, McGahee was a freak of nature. McGahee came back to play 9 good years in the NFL, but look at Adrian Peterson last year. Like McFadden he shows explosion after contact.

I would take him in the 1st round, his work ethic is incredible, he has a great attitude, and most of all he was productive, no running back in this draft or next year’s draft has the talent he does. People worry about health but that’s the risk you take for a talent like this. It worked for the Bills in ’03 when they drafted McGahee. I think he’ll fall to the third although some say he may go undrafted.

The best team for him would be a situation where he can sit out half a season or a season to learn the system for a team that may need a running back down the road. I say a team like the New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals or better yet the Atlanta Falcons with Michael Turner near the end . But an interesting one would be the Denver Broncos giving that McGahee maybe done and Knowshon Moreno is plain soft.