Ryan McCrystal

NFL Playoff Predictions

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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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Stepfan Taylor scouting report

Stepfan Taylor RB Stanford #33
Ht: 5’11”
Wt: 215

Size/Athleticism: Prototypical build for a feature back. Has the size to run between the tackles and take a pounding, but also has the athleticism to make guys miss.

Vision: One of the weaker areas of his game. Tends to take the handoff and plow straight ahead, often missing holes that open just outside of his narrow field of vision. He has the athleticism to change direction quickly, but he turns himself into more a true north/south runner by failing to remain patient and keep his head up.

Power: Not big enough to run many people over or push the pile, but he’ll break some tackles if he’s not wrapped up. He does a nice job staying low and giving defenders a small target, giving him the leverage necessary to get the most power out of his size. Always willing to pick up the tough yardage and won’t shy away from contact.

Speed/Agility: Adequate straight-line speed. Once he hits the open field, he’s a threat to take it the distance. Has very quick feet which allows him to maneuver in tight spaces. Change-of-direction ability is above average, but he doesn’t show it off nearly enough. Shows impressive athleticism and balance which allows him to keep moving forward after a hit – picks up a lot of extra yards that other smaller or softer running backs won’t find.

Passing Game: Reliable receiver out of the backfield. Targeted at least two or three times per game in college. Excels in pass protection. Very much willing to take on bigger defensive ends and linebackers. Will be a rare rookie at the next level capable of being a true three-down back.

Intangibles: Grew into a leadership role as a three-year starter. Smart player who does all the little things on the field to help out the team.

Durability: Three-year starter who remained healthy throughout his career.

Comments: Taylor reminds me of a poor man’s Trent Richardson. He has the size and athleticism to play at the next level and he does a lot of little things well to get the most out of his ability. However, he’s still developing some of the finer techniques of being an elite running back. His most noticeable flaw is his lack of vision, which all of the elite running backs have at the next level. If Taylor can remain more patient and cut down on the number of times he simply puts his head down and runs straight ahead, he’ll develop into a solid starter in the NFL.

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

NFL Draft Stock Report: Risers and Falls

Manti Te’o – LB – Notre Dame
Te’o  has developed into a more well-rounded linebacker this season, as I outlined on Bleacher Report earlier this week. As the unquestioned leader of the Irish defense and a four-year starter, Te’o also has all the intangibles that teams look for in a potential 1st-round pick. Entering the season I thought he was a fringe 1st-rounder, but he’s solidified his place among the top 32 picks in my opinion.

Stepfan Taylor – RB – Stanford
Taylor has been a workhorse for the Cardinal this year and is well on his way a third consecutive 1,000-yard season. Taylor entered the year a mid-round prospect, but his performance against USC caught the attention of scouts and he may have chance to climb into the top 50. It helps that this is a weak class of running backs, with only one prospect who looks like a 1st-round lock (Marcus Lattimore).

Dri Archer – RB – Kent State
Archer is a junior and will likely return for his senior year, but he is definitely an under-the-radar name to know. He’s listed at 5,8″, 164 pounds but is as explosive as anyone in the college game. Through three games this season Archer is averaging 8.6 yards per carry, 9.9 yards per reception and 42.2 yards per kickoff return. He has the type of explosive speed that could land him a spot in the 3rd or 4th round if a team is looking to add a new dimension to their offense.

Montee Ball – RB – Wisconsin
Ball left the Badgers game this past weekend with a head injury, which may have been his second concussion since this summer. In addition to the injuries, Ball has not looked like the same running back without the help of Russell Wilson, Kevin Zeitler and Peter Konz. At this stage, Ball looks like a fringe day-two prospect, and could easily slip into the 4th round or later.

Logan Thomas – QB – Virginia Tech
I still believe Thomas has a chance to be the No. 1 pick in the draft based on his enormous potential, but it’s hard not to take notice of his struggles the past two weeks. In each of the Hokies past two games (vs Pittsburgh, Bowling Green) he’s completed less than 50 percent of his passes. Inconsistent play from his number-one receiver, Marcus Davis, definitely doesn’t help, but Thomas needs to step up his game down the stretch to remain in the mix to be the top selection in April.

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Evan Rodriguez excelling in fullback role with Bears

The Chicago Bears spent an early 4th-round pick on Temple’s Evan Rodriguez, a tight end who they intended to convert to fullback. It would have been an early selection for any fullback, but especially for one with limited experience at the position.

But so far it’s worked out brilliantly. Pro Football Focus, which grades players at each position, currently has Rodriguez as the highest-rated fullback through two games.

It’s probably unrealistic to expect Rodriguez to keep up that pace, but it’s definitely encouraging to see him excel in this role early in the season.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bears, Rookie Notes 2 Comments