Ryan McCrystal

Evaluating Manti Te’o’s draft stock

Clearly there are a lot of questions that need to be answered, but I thought it would be worth breaking down where Manti Te’o currently stands in the NFL Draft process. Here are just a few quick thoughts on what he can expect to encounter and how this story may impact his draft stock.

  • For starters, I have to wonder if this influenced Te’o’s decision to skip the Senior Bowl. Since he came forward to Notre Dame about the fake girlfriend on December 26, it’s safe to assume he knew the media would eventually get their hands on it. It’s possible he didn’t want to expose himself to their questions so soon after the story broke.

    Difficult times lie ahead for Te'o.

  • Te’o won’t be able to avoid questions from NFL teams, however. The combine in late February is going to be a miserable experience for him. NFL teams grill players over the tiniest mistakes they have made – even players with little or no serious character concerns in their past. Many teams have a coach or someone working in the front office who is capable of playing the “bad cop” in these interviews and you can bet Te’o will get their best shot in Indy.
  • Even if teams chose to believe Te’o’s side of the story, he will still get grilled about having an online “girlfriend” whom he never met. That’s a difficult concept for most of us to grasp, and I’m sure there are more than a few old school NFL coaches who can’t even fathom the idea. They will want Te’o to explain every last detail about how it happened so that they can better understand him as a person. Teams routinely ask players about their relationships, so this won’t be an unusual line of questioning. But the answers Te’o gives will certainly be interesting.
  • I would not be surprised if some teams remove Te’o from their draft board if his responses to their questions aren’t satisfactory. Te’o’s released statement already doesn’t match up with things he has said in the past. If he fails to clear things up some teams may simply not trust him.
  • Te’o is not an elite prospect, which is why teams may hold this against him. Teams are always willing to be more forgiving of a player with elite physical skills, but Te’o is a fringe first-round prospect with questions about his weight and athleticism. When a player already has concerns, teams tend to look for any excuse to drop them further down the draft board.
  • Additionally, a major plus in Te’o’s scouting report was his intelligence and leadership. This story raises some concerns about the type of person he is – regardless of whether or not he was in on the hoax. NFL teams spend hours evaluating the personality of the players they are about to invest millions of dollars in on draft day. And teams have a profile of the type of person who typically succeeds at the next level. Having a year-long relationship with an online girlfriend who he had never met does not factor into that profile. Whether it’s fair or not, linebackers are supposed to be loud, confident, type-A personalities. Some teams will definitely look past this issue, but don’t underestimate the old-school mentality that still exists in many NFL locker rooms and front offices. There will be teams who are concerned with Te’o’s ability to fit in and be a leader.
Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2013 NFL Draft Leave a comment

Giovani Bernard Scouting Report

Giovani Bernard RB North Carolina #26
Ht: 5’10”
Wt: 205

Size/Athleticism: Not a big, physical back but well-built enough to hold up as a feature back at the next level. His athleticism and ability to make defenders miss is his best asset.

Vision: Great vision in the open field. He does a nice job taking angles to pick up maximum yardage when bouncing runs to the outside. Vision in the backfield appears to be limited by his average height. When holes don’t immediately open up he hesitates. Needs to be more decisive when the obvious hole isn’t there.

Power: Limited in terms of his ability to run between the tackles. Rarely lowers his shoulder to take on a defender and instead relies heavily on an occasionally-effective spin move. He’ll slip out of some tackles due to his quick feet but he doesn’t run over defenders and struggles to pick up the tough yards. He’s not the type of runner who can push the pile and should be complemented by a power running back.

Speed/Agility: Unquestionably his best asset. He possesses incredibly quick feet and has the ability to slide between holes in the line. He’s difficult to corral in the open field and can pick up chunks of yards once he’s able to work his way into some open space.

Passing Game: Frequently used as a receiver out of the backfield and demonstrates the ability to be a productive dual-threat running back. Lacks the size to be a dominant blocker, but gives a solid effort and is generally effective.

Intangibles: No off-field concerns of note. Worked hard to rehab from injuries. Limited information available on the extent of the injuries due to North Carolina’s policy on disclosing information about injuries and other off-field issues.

Durability: Serious injury concerns due to multiple knee injuries. Missed entire 2010 season with knee injury. Missed two games in 2012 with another knee injury.

Comments: Bernard has the athleticism to be an effective running back at the next level, but he lacks the size to project as a true difference maker. My biggest concern with Bernard is the extent to which he avoids contact. While his ability to make guys miss will make him a valuable asset, he simply isn’t the complete package. He reminds me of Kendall Hunter or a poor man’s C.J. Spiller. Unless he bulks up and alters his running style, I have a difficult time picturing him as anything more than a complementary running back at the next level.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Scouting Reports - 2013 Leave a comment

Denard Robinson Scouting Report

Denard Robinson RB/WR Michigan #16
Ht: 5’11”
Wt: 197

Size/Athleticism: Slightly undersized for a feature back at the next level. Lacks the strong, compact build of a prototypical NFL running back. An elite athlete with the ability to make defenders miss in tight spaces and extremely difficult to corral in the open field. Although he lacks a true position, he is a playmaker the ball in his hands.

Vision: One of his best assets, but he’ll need to adjust to seeing the field from a new position at the next level. Does an excellent job reading the defense and finding space to run. He is also a very patient runner who is willing to wait for holes to develop before committing.

Power: Needs to refine his running style. Too often he’s out of control and off balance which leads to fumbles and big hits. He isn’t big enough to take a pounding, so he must learn to stay lower to the ground and lower his shoulder to avoid body shots. Unless he adds weight and improves significantly in his area he won’t be a feature back in the NFL.

Speed/Agility: Among the fastest players in the draft in terms of straight-line speed. Extremely quick feet and can make guys miss even in tight spaces. He simply has a knack for squeezing through holes due to the combination of his impressive vision and agility. His skills in this area could lead to him developing into a dangerous return specialist.

Passing Game: Very limited experience as a receiver. Occasionally used as a receiver out of the backfield late in his senior year, but not enough to demonstrate any meaningful skills in this area. Only three career receptions, all as a senior.

Intangibles: Despite being a three-year starter, never developed into much of a leader at Michigan. Consistently made poor decisions with the football while playing quarterback. Never showed significant improvement in any area of his game, which raises some concern about the speed at which he could learn a new position. Reportedly willing to embrace switch to running back or receiver in the NFL.

Durability: Consistently injured throughout his career. Reckless running style leads to big hits which have knocked him out of many games, even if for just a few plays. Missed two games with an elbow injury in 2012. The majority of his injuries were minor, but the sheer number of them raises enough concerns to raise a red flag about his durability.

Comments: Robinson’s athleticism makes him worthy of a mid-round pick and he should be able to find his way on to the field at the next level. But he should be viewed as a project and shouldn’t come off the board until the 4th round or later. His NFL future will depend entirely on his willingness to commit to learning a new position. Robinson’s lack of improvement at Michigan makes me wonder just how dedicated he was on the practice field. His elite athleticism allowed him to get by in college, but he’ll be just another guy in the NFL. Unless he fully commits to learning the nuances if his new position he will quickly go by the way of Pat White and other converted college quarterbacks who failed to embrace a new position in the NFL.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Scouting Reports - 2013 Leave a comment

NFL Playoff Predictions

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Uncategorized 1 Comment

RG3 is carrying the Redskins

Just one month into his NFL career Robert Griffin III is already carrying the Washington Redskins. Just how important is he to their success?

Given the uncertainty of his current health situation, most sportsbooks currently have the Vikings/Redskins game off the board, more Sportsbook reviews information available here.

It has become clear that Redskins go as Griffin goes, which means he needs to learn to protect himself. Griffin was knocked out of the game last week, and complained about the Rams taking cheap shots at him the week before. While injuries are sometimes out of your control, Griffin needs to learn that he can take himself out of dangerous situations.

If Griffin doesn’t learn to avoid hits, these injuries are going to continue to mount. His mobility is an asset, but he simply needs to learn to be smart about when to use it and when to play it safe.

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