Tag Archives: Carolina
The Carolina Panthers are a couple early-season plays away from being an obvious choice as one of the top few teams in the NFL.
In Week 1, DeAngelo Williams fumbled inside the 10-yard line in the final minutes with the Panthers trailing Seattle 12-7. Carolina never got the ball back. In Week 2, the Bills drove 80 yards for a last-second game-winning touchdown, after Panthers coach Ron Rivera decided to kick a field goal rather than go for it on fourth and 1 in the final two minutes.
A play here or there in the first two weeks, the Panthers might be 8-1 and an undisputed member of the Super Bowl contenders club. At 6-3? It seems a little tougher to gauge.
The Panthers are still chasing a very good Saints team in the NFC South, and they probably need to win the division to make a long playoff run. And they probably need to sweep New Orleans to win the division.
But there are reasons to believe. The Panthers defense is as good as any in football. Carolina held San Francisco to 45 second-half yards, and just 4 yards in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Cam Newton has greatness in him. And any team that can go into San Francisco and beat a hot 49ers team has to get a long look.
Besides, if Carolina isn’t on the list of teams that can win the Super Bowl, we’re dealing with a very, very short list of teams, as you’ll see. (I think No. 1 through 3 on this week’s rankings are obvious contenders, No. 4 through 8 are in the “under the right circumstances, absolutely” category, and No. 9 and 10 do just enough that you can’t cross them off. And that’s it. We’re not accepting any applications from No. 11 on down.)
Carolina deserves to be on any list of Super Bowl contenders for now, something even the most optimistic preseason prognosis of them couldn’t have envisioned. Now we’ll see if they can keep that status by beating New England next Monday.
Here are this week’s power rankings:
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-8, Last week: 32)
Well, they were out of this spot for about 32 hours or so.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-8, LW: 31)
No player, coach or anyone associated with a team wants the scarlet letter of 0-16 for the rest of their careers. Big difference between zero wins and one.
30. Minnesota Vikings (2-7, LW: 30)
It would be entertaining if Christian Ponder played just well enough the rest of the season to get the Vikings front office talking themselves into another season of him at quarterback.
29. Atlanta Falcons (2-7, LW: 27)
Last season, Atlanta beat Seattle in a playoff game. Sunday, they were outgained 490-226 by Seattle in a 33-10 home loss. Julio Jones’ injury doesn’t make that big of a difference.
28. Houston Texans (2-7, LW: 25)
Again, keep in mind that both their victories were semi-miraculous. There’s way too much talent there to be this bad.
27. New York Giants (3-6, LW: 29)
They could get to 6-6. Then after that they play at San Diego, vs. Seattle and at Detroit. Remember that when the “Giants are alive!” stories keep popping up.
26. Washington Redskins (3-6, LW: 23)
Any hopes of winning the putrid NFC East were realistically dashed last Thursday. When you can’t beat Minnesota, it’s over.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-6, LW: 26)
The Ben Roethlisberger trade rumors make no sense for anyone, really. Are the Steelers better off without him? And what team would benefit that much from sending valuable picks for a quarterback who will be 32 in March with a lot of miles on his body?
24. Oakland Raiders (3-6, LW: 24)
The Giants tried giving them a win, and they wouldn’t take it. They’ve now lost 12 straight games on the East Coast.
23. Buffalo Bills (3-7, LW: 20)
Thought they’d play better than that at Pittsburgh. The rest of the season has to be about good performances to lay a foundation for 2014 and beyond.
22. St. Louis Rams (4-6, LW: 28)
The next step is getting Tavon Austin the ball more. He had three offensive touches and two went for long scores. But we can’t expect them to figure out this “use Tavon Austin” thing all at once.
21. Tennessee Titans (4-5, LW: 17)
Went from being excited about this team’s second-half prospects to being totally out on the Titans in about three hours Sunday. What a horrible afternoon against Jacksonville.
20. Miami Dolphins (4-5, LW: 15)
With everything going on with this team, their 4-5 record seems more like 1-8. They’re very much in the AFC playoff race, but does it feel like that’s the case?
19. Baltimore Ravens (4-5, LW: 22)
Good win over the Bengals even though they made it harder than it needed to be. I don’t like them yet, but it’s not like the AFC’s playoff spots are locked up.
18. Cleveland Browns (4-5, LW: 18)
They play at Cincinnati on Sunday. Win that, and Browns fans should legitimately get excited about their chances of winning the AFC North.
17. Green Bay Packers (5-4, LW: 10)
New Orleans, Denver, New England, Cincinnati, Carolina, Indianapolis … they all have looked at the Packers in the last week or so and thought, “We’re one hit away from that being us.”
16. Philadelphia Eagles (5-5, LW: 21)
I don’t think this is a roster with .500 talent. Chip Kelly must be doing something right.
15. Dallas Cowboys (5-5, LW: 13)
The 2012 Saints gave up the most yards in NFL history. They allowed 440.1 per game. The 2013 Cowboys are allowing 439.8 yards per game.
14. Arizona Cardinals (5-4, LW: 19)
I don’t really know how it happened, but they’re right in the mix. They’ve beaten the Lions and Panthers. I’m not sure I get it, but it’s real.
13. San Diego Chargers (4-5, LW: 14)
We can mark San Diego at Miami this week as an elimination game. The loser isn’t going to be playing in January.
12. New York Jets (5-4, LW: 16)
Look at the 4-5 teams in the AFC. Look at the teams below them. I don’t love the Jets but they’re the No. 6 seed now, and can anyone beat them?
11. Chicago Bears (5-4, LW: 12)
We’ll never know if they would have beat the Lions if Josh McCown was sent in earlier. But it’s something that’ll be really interesting to look back on after Week 17.
10. Detroit Lions (6-3, LW: 11)
They look better every week. But can’t you just see a really dumb roughing the passer penalty happening to them at exactly the wrong time in January?
9. Cincinnati Bengals (6-4, LW: 8)
Losing twice in overtime on the road isn’t all that bad, although they were lucky to even get to overtime against the Ravens. Feel free to panic if they lose to the Browns this week.
8. San Francisco 49ers (6-3, LW: 5)
Seems like a big drop for a one-point home loss, but No. 6 and 7 on the list already won at San Francisco this year.
7. Indianapolis Colts (6-3, LW: 1)
Inconsistent and impossible to get a read on. Good enough to beat the 49ers by 20 on the road and yet lose by 30 to the Rams at home. Figure that one out.
6. Carolina Panthers (6-3, LW: 9)
A really bad record in close games is due to some bad luck. See the Panthers recovering both of their fumbles in the final two minutes on Sunday. They finally caught a couple breaks.
5. New England Patriots (7-2, LW: 7)
Interesting to see if Tom Brady can keep it rolling this week against that fantastic Panthers defense. Finally, a great Monday night matchup.
4. Kansas City Chiefs (9-0, LW: 6)
Before you tweet and email, also holler at Las Vegas oddsmakers, who made the Broncos eight-point favorites this week. And remember their livelihood depends on that kind of thing.
3. New Orleans Saints (7-2, LW: 4)
At the Superdome, they’re No. 1 on the list. Anywhere else, not so much. That’s what makes the race for the No. 1 seed in the NFC so interesting.
2. Seattle Seahawks (9-1, LW: 3)
Whatever happened against St. Louis and Tampa Bay might have just been a weird fluke … and they won both games. They looked strong in the rout at Atlanta. Carry on.
1. Denver Broncos (8-1, LW: 2)
That was a complete game against a very good team at San Diego on Sunday. Peyton Manning’s health willing, they once again look like the AFC favorite, even if the offensive line makes you wonder.
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I think the overlooked element of the Carolina Panthers and their three-game winning streak is the defense, because everyone focuses on quarterback Cam Newton.
Carolina’s front seven is exceptional. And I think Sean McDermott, their defensive coordinator, has done a great job with his coverage concepts to camouflage some individual weaknesses in the secondary. We think of coverage as just the secondary, and it’s not just them. The coverage concepts include linebackers, and the Panthers have two excellent coverage linebackers.
The Panthers play nickel often, and I’d argue Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis are the fastest pair of nickel linebackers in the NFL. That’s a very overlooked element of defense if you’re going to play nickel instead of dime.
Carolina also has a terrific defensive line rotation with multidimensional and versatile players. Greg Hardy is a player who rarely gets talked about, but he plays defensive tackle and defensive end and is a really good player. They’ve gotten good snaps out of both rookies at defensive tackle, Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short, who is really talented physically but played too many snaps in college. He has played about 35 snaps a game this season and has been really effective.
Defensively, they’re very good. Then offensively, they have a lot of talent and many dimensions, which makes them tough to defend.
I think the issue with Newton has always been that he’s a little slow to process and isolate the necessary information. He has been a beat late with throws, he has had some issues with accuracy. I think over the last three or four games – and nobody can answer why, but it’s there on film – he is processing better, the ball is coming out of his hand a lot quicker to the right receiver at the right time and he has recognized coverages better.
Also, their run game is extremely versatile and difficult to defend because so much involves Newton. When your quarterback is part of your run game, you can do so much more in the backfield with formation, personnel and backfield actions. The defense has to account for the quarterback as part of the run game. And the Panthers do a lot of different things in the run game.
A third-quarter run against Tampa Bay showed the diversity of the Panthers running game. They ran a basic quarterback power with the right guard pulling left, but with a read option element added to it. That’s a cool play, and it’s hard to defend this stuff. Newton gained 19 yards on the play.
The Panthers have a lot on offense: a multidimensional quarterback, a diverse run game and weapons at all skill positions. Greg Olsen isn’t Jimmy Graham, but he’s a tight end that can line up everywhere and be effective. Steve Smith is still dangerous, Brandon LaFell is a better No. 2 receiver than most people think, and Ted Ginn is an interesting No. 3 receiver because he can run by your secondary.
The Panthers also have some flaws. Their offensive line is, at best, a little better than average. Their secondary can be exposed in certain games. If they lose a game because they gave up 400 yards passing, that wouldn’t be a big surprise.
This is a big game for them this week against Atlanta, because they’re at home and the Falcons are struggling. If they’re truly improving, they should win.
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NFL analyst and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell watches as much NFL game film as anyone. Throughout the season, Cosell will join Shutdown Corner to share his observations on the teams, schemes and personnel from around the league.
TAMPA, Fla. – The Carolina Panthers seemed finished after the first four games of this season.
Carolina was expected to compete for a playoff spot, but began the year 1-3. Panthers quarterback Cam Newtown threw six touchdowns and five interceptions during that time span. Carolina reportedly was laying the groundwork to replace coach Ron Rivera after the season.
Suddenly, something unexpected happened.
The Panthers began winning.
Carolina defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 31-13, at Raymond James Stadium on Thursday, but this victory was more significant than knocking off an NFC South rival.
The Panthers now have a 4-3 record, and it marks the first time this team has been above .500 since 2008.
“We got a winning record,” Rivera said. “It’s great for these guys. A lot of these guys haven’t had one … For these guys, it’s great. I’m excited for the players.”
Panthers receiver Steve Smith curtailed his excitement.
“It means we’re 4-3. It means we’re not 0-7 [like the Buccaneers],” Smith said. “It means a lot. I rather be where we are than where they are today.”
Tampa Bay has lost 12 of its past 13 games under coach Greg Schiano.
While Schiano’s job is in jeopardy, Rivera has a chance to solidify his position in Carolina. The Panthers won four consecutive games last season, and Rivera has the opportunity to tie that mark with another win next week.
“We hear the same stuff that you guys hear,” Panthers receiver Ted Ginn Jr. said. “The type of man that he is, and the type of coach that he is, you always want to give somebody a chance. You want to give him a chance, too. You want to go out and turn it around and make it better for him, too. That’s what it’s all about.”
Carolina’s resurgence has also been about Newton.
During Carolina’s win on Thursday, Newton completed 23-of-32 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns, plus he added 50 rushing yard and one touchdown. Newton has thrown six TDs and no interceptions during Carolina’s three-game win streak. He has also rushed for two scores.
Newton has never been about .500 since entering the league in 2011, but declined to take the credit for Carolina’s recent success.
“It’s a combination of a lot of things,” Newton said. “When you got an offensive line that is protecting the way they are protecting. You got a running back that’s running, you’ve got receivers that are making plays after the catch, it’s really not hard. It’s just up to me to make the right decision and get the ball into people’s hands that it needs to be.”
Newton even benefited from Ginn’s boxing out of cornerback Darrelle Revis on his 6-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
“I didn’t really have nowhere to go and I was kind of like in the middle of the play,” Ginn said. “I couldn’t really turn around and block him. I just tried to box him out and gave Cam the [nod], come on, man, and he went in for the score. It’s kind of crazy how it worked out, but it worked out.”
It is also crazy how this season is working out for the Panthers.
There was a time when this team finished. Now it appears the Panthers are just getting started.
“We just got to continue to keep meshing as a team, keep building, and keep getting momentum in these upcoming weeks because we’re about to hit the meat of our schedule,” Newton said. “We’re going to need every single ounce of energy that we have. We got Atlanta coming up. We will celebrate, feel good about this win for just about a day, mend, heal right, come back on Monday and get prepared for Atlanta.”
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The Carolina Panthers are 1-2, the same record as the Rob Chudzinski-coached Cleveland Browns. But the former team appears to be glad it rid itself of its former offensive coordinator.
Earlier this month, Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith said the 2012 Panthers got too cute offensively and that Chudzinski was calling plays with trying to land a head-coaching job on his mind.
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Now on Tuesday, Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams was the latest to join the Trash Chud Party. Williams took a shot at his former coach, saying that he failed to establish the run game enough when he was in Carolina — and apparently still does — after Williams has looked strong under new coordinator David Shula.
“I’m not going to start anything or push anything out there,” Williams told ESPN. “I can say this, though — a different offensive coordinator. I can definitely say that. The last offensive coordinator got rid of his starting running back.”
Uh, that would be Trent Richardson that Williams is referring to. The Browns dealt him to the Indianapolis Colts for a first-round pick in 2014.
But Williams, who is third in the NFL with 294 rushing yards through three games, apparently still harbors ill will towards Chudzinski for not being used properly last season amid everyone asking Williams what the difference this season has been. He hedged in his comments, however, saying that the criticism is more about what Chudzinski is doing in Cleveland.
“Did I take a shot? Or did I speak facts?” Williams said rhetorically. “A shot is just like it can be factual but it’s really not. That was all facts. I wasn’t taking a shot at him — he knows what he’s doing.”
Ok, then. There are facts, though, to back up Williams as far as how the Panthers’ offense has changed under Shula. They are throwing the ball less often (46 percent of the time versus 54 in 2012) and are employing more of a traditional run game, in lieu of the read-option series that Chudzinski favored.
“You tell me what the difference is in 2013 versus 2012,” Williams said.
We just did, DeAngelo. Now we’ll see if it pays off in more victories once Carolina returns from its Week 4 bye.
Luke Kuechly was considered a can’t-miss prospect at middle linebacker when he was picked ninth overall last year by the Carolina Panthers. And he had a 164-tackle rookie season, just to prove everyone right.
And at the start of his second season, Kuechly looks like he wants to take the crown as the best middle linebacker in football.
Kuechly wreaked havoc on the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night, and was the main reason the Panthers led 24-7 at halftime against the Super Bowl champs.
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Kuechly forced two turnovers in the second quarter, showing off his tremendous skill against the run and the pass.
His forced fumble on Bernard Pierce was a thing of beauty. He shot through the line and seemed to surprise Pierce at how quickly he closed on him. Pierce coughed up the ball when Kuechly hit him. Pierce did not fumble in 115 touches as a rookie last season. The Panthers recovered and returned the fumble for a touchdown. That score was all Kuechly.
Later in the second quarter, with the Ravens driving, Kuechly picked off Joe Flacco, the reigning Super Bowl MVP, and probably would have returned it for a touchdown had he not hesitated. He was all over the field.
Kuechly was a bigger scoring threat than the Panthers’ offense, which still hasn’t done much this preseason. Cam Newton has now been, at best, below average for three straight preseasons. The Panthers’ hope has to be that Newton avoids the slow start he had last season and has another good season, because the defense looks ready to perform at a playoff level.
Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei played his best game of the preseason, dominating the interior at times. Linebacker Jon Beason returned after missing the first two preseason games, which is a good sign for a front seven that has a lot of talent.
And if Kuechly’s play this preseason is a sign of what’s to come in the regular season (spoiler alert: it is), the Panthers should be pretty good, assuming Newton plays like he should.
Part of the reason people irrationally criticize Cam Newton has to go back to his time at Auburn.
People still haven’t forgotten that the current Carolina Panthers star was caught up in a pay-for-play controversy over his recruitment, something he never got suspended for. Every Alabama fan who finds this post will make a “SCam Newton” joke in the comments. Never gets old.
Now that Johnny Manziel has gone from overexposed college student having fun to one embroiled in a controversy over whether he broke NCAA rules by allegedly selling his autograph, he can probably prepare for a NFL future that includes people finding ways to rip him when none exist, like blasting him for developing way too slow even if he has perhaps the best first two seasons of any quarterback in NFL history. That’s what has happened to Newton, after all.
They have a lot in common, so the Panthers quarterback has reached out to his brother in the Heisman Trophy fraternity to offer advice.
Newton told the Associated Press he has talked to Manziel a few times this offseason.
”When I was there at college so many people wanted from me and I wanted to give so much,” Newton said, according to the AP. ”Like I would sign this and give my time and this, this and that. And nobody was looking at it through my (eyes). If you say no to this particular person you are going to be a (jerk). You are going to be the person that people look at as, ‘What’s up? We came out here and supported you and cheered for you and you can’t sign an autograph?’ Never mind that you signed 300 other autographs before. But that’s the nature of the beast.”
Before Manziel came along, Newton was probably the most polarizing Heisman winner, among those still in school (we’ll leave O.J. out of the conversation that way). Newton was cleared by the NCAA and never missed any games, and perhaps the same will happen with Manziel. But the stigma will likely follow Manziel no matter what, like it has with Newton.
Newton told AP he hopes ”that everything works out in the best for him so he can get back to what he likes to do and that’s playing football.” Because probably better than anyone else in the world, he can relate to what Manziel is going through right now.
“For any college athlete you are vulnerable to so many things,” Newton told AP. ”You think everybody loves you for who you are.”
Celebrity chef Paula Deen has been under a lot of heat for using racial slurs, including Food Network’s decision to dump her. She does have an unlikely supporter in a former football star who once guest starred on her show.
Kris Jenkins, a former nose tackle who played 10 NFL seasons with Carolina and the New York Jets, was once on Deen’s show. In an interview with Metro New York, Jenkins said he was not going to pile on Deen as she deals with the controversy.
“She graced me with the opportunity to be on her show. While I was there, I had an amazing time, and [an] amazing experience. I saw something there that was a little different from what everyone knows of her,” Jenkins told Metro. “This isn’t taking away from the reality that the text messages occurred and things like that. When you lead with your heart, you tend to be able to see people and read theirs as well.”
Jenkins, who cooked some tailgate-themed food with Deen during his appearance on her show, didn’t see Deen as a bad person despite her offensive words that she has apologized for.
“The lady was a sweetheart to me; [her] making a mistake I’m not going to be the one to make a big deal of it,” Jenkins told Metro. “I got to see her heart and for me, I don’t look at the ‘N word’ as a bad word like that in this year — in 2013. The reason is because I think the ‘N word’ is more a test of my inner strength as to how strong am I to even be bothered by the word or not.”
With the 254th and final pick of the 2013 NFL draft, the Indianapolis Colts selected South Carolina tight end Justice Cunningham, this year’s Mr. Irrelevant. It’s the second straight year in which the Colts got the final pick of the draft — in 2012, they took Northern Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnish. Cunningham was a somewhat productive target in the last two seasons, finishing his four-year stint with 50 catches for 581 yards and a touchdown.
He majored in sport and entertainment management, and has three siblings: a brother named Power, and sisters named Promise and Sincere.
In 2012, Cunningham caught 23 of those passes for 324 yards. But he’s more of a blocker, and with Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen already in the game plan, one wonders where Cunningham might fit. Then again, new Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton ran a few three-TE sets at Stanford, so you never know.
For his role as Mr. Irrelevant, Cunningham will be the star of “Irrelevant Week XXXVIII,” which is a thing that actually happens. From the official event site:
Founded by Paul Salata in 1976, Irrelevant Week is a 38-year-old philanthropic tradition within the Newport Beach community that commemorates the final National Footbal League draft pick each season while simultaneously raising money for charitable organizations. During the summer following the draft, Mr. Irrelevant and his family are invited to participate in a host of events throughout Orange County.
This year, Irrelevant Week XXXVIII is proud to support Special Olympics Southern California.
So, it’s a fun event for a good cause. Fortunately, the players seem to have a sense of humor about it, and get into the feel of things. Harnish actually tweeted a succession welcome to the newest member of the club:
Proud to pass the Mr. Irrelevant torch over @justiceivall87 . Congrats and welcome to the Colts!
— Chandler Harnish (@C_Harnish) April 27, 2013
Believe it or not, some of these Misters Irrelevant have made tracks in the NFL. Kansas City Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop, selected with the final pick in the 2009 NFL draft, enjoyed career highs in field goals attempted (34) and made (28) in 2012. That’s what happens when your offense doesn’t score a lot of touchdowns. Succop signed a $ 14 million contract extension in 2012, so you can make fun of him as he drives past you in his Escalade.
Fullback Jim Finn, taken with the final pick of the 1999 draft, was released by the Chicago Bears, the team that took him, but later played seven total seasons for the Indianapolis Colts and New York Giants. 2008 “winner” David Vobora started some games at linebacker for the St. Louis Rams.
Now, Cunningham isn’t quite the “loser” you might think — he did receive an invitation to the scouting combine, and he did pretty well — ran a 4.90 40-yard dash at 6-foot-3 and 258 pounds, recorded a 31 1/2-inch vertical leap, and managed some pretty decent times in the agility drills. You can see some of his game tape here.
So, welcome to the NFL, Justice Cunningham. You may have come in through the back door, but that doesn’t mean you can’t succeed!
More NFL draft coverage on Yahoo! Sports:
• Complete 2013 NFL draft breakdown
• Winners, losers from 2013 NFL draft
• New Cardinals DB Tyrann Mathieu continues to raise red flags
• Eagles nab Matt Barkley early on Day 3
Shutdown Corner – NFL – Yahoo! Sports
With the 2012 NFL season in the books, and the scouting combine in the rear-view, it’s time to take a closer look at the 50 players we think will be the biggest difference-makers at the next level from this draft class. To that end, we’re happy to continue this year’s Shutdown 50 scouting reports (Hint: There may actually be more than 50). You can read last year’s group here. The final 50 players were chosen and ranked based on game tape, combine and Pro Day results, overall positional value, and attributes and liabilities on and off the field.
#7: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
We continue this year’s series with North Carolina offensive guard Jonathan Cooper, who has been battling Alabama’s Chance Warmack for the title of best interior lineman in this draft class. After redshirting in 2008, Cooper was named to the Sporting News All-ACC Freshman team in 2009 after he started 10 games at left guard, earned a 73 pecent grade from his coaches, and led the team with 40 knockdown blocks. Though his grades would rise throughout his collegiate career (83 to 86 to 93 percent over the next three seasons), one thing stayed the same — Cooper always led his line in knockdowns, which outlines the most underrated aspect of his play.
Cooper is a very physical blocker, and the only reason that fact gets second billing is because he’s so very athletic. At 6-foot-2 and playing anywhere from 290 to 310 pounds, Cooper comes into the NFL as athletically gifted as any guard currently playing in the pros. It’s why he’s gaining momentum among the analysts are studying him, and it’s also why some seem to believe that he might be able to switch to center at the next level.
“I’d say I’m a combination of power and athleticism,” he said at the scouting combine. “I can, especially with the addition of weight, I can run power. You can look at it from my first three years of film where we’re a pro-style offense where power was our staple play. And then this year it really showed my athletic ability, getting out in space. We ran a bunch of screens and a lot of things where I was on the second and third level getting on linebackers and defensive backs and such.”
The tape proves every one of Cooper’s points — whoever selects him in the upcoming draft could very well have themselves a franchise anchor from Day 1.
Pros: Amazingly quick, agile athlete for his size. Sets up in his pass pro like a tackle — comes up from excellent leverage, establishes a side base, gets a good kick-step going, and stones defenders with an outstanding hand-strike. Pulls with impressive speed and agility from left guard all the way around to seal the right edge, and has the ability to read, stop, and block along the way. Also pulls with great speed and agility from left guard outside left tackle and into space upfield. Tremendous lateral agility and power allows him to excel in slide and zone slide protection. Gets upfield to linebacker depth in a hurry, but with leverage and power, to beat defenders downfield.
As a pure gap blocker, works into a low, wide base with great leverage and a very nasty attitude. Keeps his hands moving and forces defenders to re-set and re-direct over and over. Has the upper-body strength to push linemen back and out to the side from two-point and three-point stance. Latches on inside his defender’s pads and wrestles with strength, persistence, and passion. Able to deliver knockdown blocks consistently and really seems to enjoy physical dominance — has the right kind of aggressive attitude and almost plays like a defensive tackle at times when firing out on the run. Strong enough to open gaps in red zone situations. Has the awareness to hold one defender at bay while controlling another a gap away, and hands off from one to another — could be completely dominant in a zone scheme. Durable player who gives his all, play after play, in a high-volume, no-huddle offense.
Cons: Inaccurate with cut blocks, especially in space — tends to lunge instead of targeting and will whiff as a result. Played at under 300 pounds at times and may struggle to maintain weight if he’s in a high-volume offense similar to the one he was in before. Gets rocked back at times if he comes off the snap too high, but adjusts and re-sets on the fly. Underwent shoulder surgery before the 2012 season to relieve chronic inflammation.
Conclusion: Cooper could do a lot of things in the NFL, but I hope he isn’t asked to put on too much weight to run power all the time, and I think he’d be wasted to a degree by moving to center — his combination of athleticism and pure power is rare and makes him a very interesting player from a schematic sense. When the New Orleans Saints selected Jahri Evans in the fourth round out of Bloomsburg, they wound up with the most agile and effective downfield guard in the game, as well as a man who simply likes to dominate the linemen he faces. Evans has been a deserving Pro Bowler each of the last four years, and Cooper seems ready, willing, and able to have a similar impact. This is a player with a rare and highly valuable skill set, and I wouldn’t be surprised if, when all is said and done, Cooper isn’t the jewel of the 2013 NFL draft.
NFL Comparison: Jahri Evans, New Orleans Saints
More Shutdown 50:
#50: Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State | #49: John Jenkins, DL, Georgia | #48: Cornellius “Tank” Carradine, DE, Florida State | #47: Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State | #46: Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse | #45: E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State | #44: Margus Hunt, DE, SMU | #43: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson | #42: Kyle Long, OL, Oregon | #41: Mike Glennon, QB, North Carolina State | #40: Jonathan Cyprien, SS, Florida International | #39: Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame | #38: Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU | #37: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama | #36: Johnthan Banks, DB, Mississippi State | #35: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama | #34: Matt Barkley, QB, USC | #33: Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas | #32: Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford | #31: Matt Elam, SS, Florida | #30: Alex Okafor, DE, Texas | #29: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M | #28: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State | #27: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia | #26: Robert Woods, WR, USC | #25: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU | #24: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama | #23: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington | #22: Keenan Allen, WR, Cal | #21: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame | #20: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas | #19: Sheldon Richardson, CB, Florida State | #18: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State | #17: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU | #16: Datone Jones, DL, UCLA | #15: D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston | #14: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee | #13: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU | #12: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia | #11: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia | #10: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia | #9: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama | #8: Dion Jordan, OLB/DE, Oregon
With the 2012 NFL season in the books, and the scouting combine in the rear-view, it’s time to take a closer look at the 50 players we think will be the biggest difference-makers at the next level from this draft class. To that end, we’re happy to continue this year’s Shutdown 50 scouting reports (Hint: There may actually be more than 50). You can read last year’s group here. The final 50 players were chosen and ranked based on game tape, combine and pro day results, overall positional value, and attributes and liabilities on and off the field.
41. Mike Glennon, QB, North Carolina State
We continue this year’s series with North Carolina State’s Mike Glennon, one member of a quarterback class that has been perhaps unfairly maligned, standing in the shadows of a 2012 class that gave us Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson. At least the 6-foot-7 Glennon is used to standing in the 5-foot-11 shadow of Wilson; he had to wait until Wilson transferred from N.C. State to Wisconsin in 2011 before he could be a starter in college. Glennon showed flashes of the ability that made him one of the most prized high school recruits in the country in 2007.
In his first year as a starter, Glennon completed 283 passes in 453 attempts for 3,054 yards, 31 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. However, the burden of production shifted far more to Glennon’s shoulders in 2012, and that wasn’t always a good thing. He led the ACC in interceptions with 17, while attempting over 100 more passes and throwing for over 1,000 more yards. Estimable production and frustrating mistakes? That was the snapshot view of Glennon’s time in Raleigh.
At the Senior Bowl, Glennon looked great in practices, when he didn’t have pass rushers bearing down on him, and he could show off his amazing throwing arm. But in the game itself, that old bugaboo of his — severe inconsistency under pressure — reared its ugly head. Glennon completed eight of 16 passes in the game for 82 yards, no touchdowns and a pick. Teams in love with pure physical attributes will surely value Glennon highly, but when you watch the game tape, there’s a lot to worry about. The version of Mike Glennon we see in the NFL will depend a great deal on coaching, scheme and personnel.
Pros: Glennon displays a smooth and consistent dropback form on long passes that require five-and seven-stop drops. His footwork isn’t choppy, and he times the rock from his back foot to the throw on his plant foot well. More mobile than he looks; will bail out of pressure, especially to his right, and make throws (though accuracy is something we’ll talk about later). When moving in and around the pocket, tends to reset pretty quickly and keeps his eyes downfield. Can roll right off of boot action and make tough throws downfield. Has an easy, quick, relatively compact delivery (a little hitch when he’s bringing the ball back to the side of his head), and the ball just zings off his hand.
Can make deep and stick throws with relatively little effort. Good touch on those deeper throws — he doesn’t hang everything on a rope, and he has a decent (if spotty) sense of timing up his receivers on vertical routes. When he’s in a rhythm, can make every throw on the route tree. Experience in a West Coast-style offense; will be more comfortable with NFL verbiage and concepts than some other quarterbacks in this draft class.
Cons: While Glennon has good overall technique on longer throws, his ability to read more advanced coverages — blitzes, corners jumping routes, and things like that — remains very much a work in progress. Will throw into multiple coverages with obviously converging defensive backs, and you have to wonder what the heck he’s thinking at times. Tends to plant an idea in his head of where a receiver should be, and throws there whether said receiver has been disrupted from his assigned route or not.
More a “see it and throw it” player than the kind of quarterback who will re-cock and adjust on the fly. That works pretty well for quarterbacks in offenses with a lot of shorter timing throws (Brandon Weeden was a prime example at Oklahoma State), but I think it explains a lot of Glennon’s really questionable throws in NC State’s deeper passing offense. Tends to be wildly inaccurate when throwing under pressure — that’s a debit which shows up on tape and also was very obvious during Senior Bowl week.
Doesn’t throw his receivers open — there’s not a lot of tape in which he’s throwing with anticipation on or before a breaking route. Has a tendency to step back in the pocket on pressure throws, which throws off his footwork and leads to still more inaccuracy.
Conclusion: I started my study of Glennon with the tape of his 2012 game against Florida State because he had to deal with Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine as pass rushers. I had serious questions about Glennon’s ability to deal with pressure. Safe to say, my concerns were not minimized as that was by far the worst game I watched in which he was the primary subject. Against teams exhibiting less pressure on a snap-to-snap basis, however, Glennon is a very good ball distributor, capable of carrying and extending drives in an offense that places serious volume demands on the passer. Glennon attempted more than 40 passes in 10 of his 13 games in 2012, and more than 50 in four of those.
The Wolfpack were 18th in passing yards and 111th in rushing yards last season, which gives you a good example of their priorities. That didn’t serve Glennon very well. When you have a tall, gangly quarterback who is a completely different player under pressure, you want to establish a running game to switch the focus and allow him to use play action. That’s what the Baltimore Ravens did with Joe Flacco, the man to whom Glennon is most often compared. I don’t yet see that level of proficiency, but had Flacco gone to a team with a less-interesting running game, he might look a lot more like Mike Glennon. I like Glennon’s arm, delivery, relative mobility and toughness. But the stuff that happens when the ball leaves his hand — well, that gives me pause.
I believe that in time and in the right system, Glennon could be a franchise-level NFL quarterback, but that characterization requires a lot of projection at this point. He is far from the scheme-transcendent quarterbacks we saw in last year’s draft. Like every other signal-caller in his class, Mike Glennon needs a little more help around him to make it all go. For now, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he reminds me of a very average NFL quarterback in his best season. We’ll see if Glennon grows as a player, and whether there will be more in line to help him succeed. Put him in a three-digit vertical system with extra blockers, and you might have something.
NFL Comparison: Derek Anderson, 2007 Cleveland Browns
More Shutdown 50:
#50: Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State | #49: John Jenkins, DL, Georgia | #48: Cornellius “Tank” Carradine, DE, Florida State | #47: Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State | #46: Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse | #45: E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State | #44: Margus Hunt, DE, SMU | #43: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson | #42: Kyle Long, OL, Oregon