Prospect Battle: Spain vs. Kouandjio

November 13th, 2014

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Paulo Figari, DLD Scout

Two of the more intriguing guard prospects in the nation faced off earlier this season. Quinton Spain of West Virginia and Arie Kouandjio both have definite NFL abilities but questions as well. Here’s how they compare to one another. Read the rest of this entry »


Week 11 Scouting Notes

November 10th, 2014

Darren Page breaks down some of the top talents from an exciting weekend of college football Read the rest of this entry »


Alabama vs. LSU Scouting Notes

November 9th, 2014

Paulo Figari

Alabama eked out a close win under the lights in Baton Rogue to keep its national title hopes alive. There were many future NFL players on the field. The spotlight here is on a few of those talents. Read the rest of this entry »


Six Hidden Match Ups between the Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins

November 9th, 2014

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By Kent Lee Platte

With Calvin Johnson sidelined, few had high hopes for the Detroit Lions, who had long suffered whenever their best players were ff the field. To the surprise of everyone, most notably the Saints and Falcons, the Lions lumbered on to a 3-0 record without the future hall of famer.  The #1 defense and free agent addition Golden Tate at wide receiver carried the team to a 6-2 record at the midpoint of the season. Time enough for a Bye to regain health and rest. They won’t have an easy day for their first game back, as they go up against a hot Miami Dolphins team coming off a blowout victory against the Chargers. This was an exciting game to plan for, as there are so many strong match ups on both sides of the ball. Even so there are plenty of hidden stories to look forward to in this key game.

Tahir Whitehead vs. Ryan Tannehill

In the past few seasons,  the Lions had little to fear from scrambling quarterbacks due to the presence of an athletic, smart middle linebacker in Stephen Tulloch. Tulloch left the season early, however, with a torn ACL, leaving those duties to a far more athletic but far rawer Tahir Whitehead. He has been sharing duties with Josh Bynes, but I find it hard to think the team will match up Bynes, who has strong instincts but poor speed, against Tannehill. Instead, it’s likely Whitehead who will draw this tough assignment, which will stretch his development to the limits. Can Whitehead show he’s developed to more than just a fill in role and really own that middle linebacker spot?

Golden Tate vs. Cortland Finnegan

A starting wide receiver, especially one presently rated in the top five, is rarely considered a hidden match up. In Tate’s case, he’s back to playing second fiddle to Calvin Johnson in the elite receivers return to the field. With as much as Tate has shown, it’s interesting to me to see him back in the number two role. It’s even more interesting to see him matched up with a player like Finmegan, who is known for his on field antics. Tate is a fiery competitor, and despite being one of the worst cornerbacks in football as a Ram, Finnegan has only been mediocre instead of terrible as a Dolphin.  It won’t be long before this one gets chippy.

Kyle Van Noy vs. The Road Back

I have written before about how the Detroit Lions are asking a LOT out of their rookie linebacker. He has been injured, so we haven’t been able to see if he has grown at all, but I doubt the team suddenly expects less of him. Van Noy was doing it all in camp, dropping into coverage, rushing from the edge, cutting gaps, just everything.  He showed how difficult the transition was with his preseason struggles, but we’ll finally get to see some regular season action. Van Noy has modeled his play (and his beard) after DeAndre Levy, who continues to play at an all pro level.  Will the rookie shine early, or will the struggle continue?

The Quarterbacks vs. The Schemes

It should come as a surprise to no one that Matthew Stafford has struggled against good pass defenses. Ryan Tannehill is in the same boat, as he found far less success against weaker defenses than he did against strong ones. It seems pretty intuitive that it would be an issue, but I’m not talking about a small dropoff for either signal caller.  This will be, for both players, their toughest match up of the season. The only top tier pass defenses the two have faced are the Bills and the Packers. Both lost against the Bills, while Stafford was able to notch a win against the rival Packers. It’s a tough match up on both sides.

Joe Lombardi vs. Louis Delmas

It’s still strange to see Delmas in a different uniform. The former Western Michigan Bronco had spent his entire pro career with the Lions before moving to the Dolphins in free agency this past offseason. Delmas has been a solid acquisition for the Dolphins, but some of his old tendencies are still present.  Joe Lombardi has not lived up to his namesake,  but I still hold out hope he can exploit a match up so obvious that even casual fans can see it. I would love to see some more creative routes on the inside of the field, drawing the safeties in so when the receiver changes direction we can see a safety slip sliding the wrong way. Delmas has been better coached in Miami than he ever was in Detroit, but he still makes some of those mistakes.  It’d be good for karma, anyway, it owes us some.

The Lions Defense vs. A Whole Lot of History

The Lions defense is presently ranked first in both yards per game and points per game. It’s the first time the team has ever had this distinction since becoming the Detroit Lions, with its last mention being the 1931 Portsmouth Spartans. Traditionally, the team has had their collapses and it has always started on the defensive side of the ball. The time is now for the team to give tradition the middle finger and really ram home how dominant they can be. Despite the sore loss of Nick Fairley, this is too good of an opportunity for a statement to be made. Not even necessarily a win,  though that would obviously be best. National outlets are already trying to find other defenses they think are the best, because it just can’t be the Lions, can it? This team needs to put their defense firmly on the map and mop the floor with Tannehill and co.


Prospect Battle: Duke Johnson vs Ameer Abdullah

November 7th, 2014
Duke Johnson, photo courtesy Palm Beach Post

Duke Johnson, photo courtesy Palm Beach Post

Paulo Figari, DLD Scout

Duke Johnson

Strengths- Miami’s Duke Johnson is an incredibly athletic and dynamic athlete, especially in the open field. His receiving ability allows flexibility for the offense and his ability to make players miss in the open field makes him a dangerous weapon. He is very decisive in and out of his cuts and shows to have functional open field vision. His lateral quickness and ability to change direction also make him tough to bring down in tight quarters. He runs with adequate balance and does a nice job staying patient behind the line of scrimmage in waiting for running lanes to open up. He is a natural pass catcher and is very quick to turn up field once he has the ball. He has a serviceable stiff arm once he reaches the perimeter and uses his long strides to break away from defenders. His balance of speed and size make him a nightmare in the open field.

Weaknesses- He is a very talented and polished running back and receiver, however he needs work on his pass blocking. He often resorts to dive blocking and will telegraph this technique to allow defenders to change direction and get around him. At times he tends to catch the ball with his body, which may lead to drops at the next level. His patience often times turns into uncertainty and will get too east-west. His broad shoulders make it difficult for him to glide through smaller running lanes and will often bump into his own lineman. Despite a high-functioning running motor, he does often go down easily upon initial contact and struggles maximizing his gains.

Outlook: His speed and cut ability make him a force to be reckon with however he is still unpolished in some areas.  As an athlete and a weapon he should definitely be a coveted weapon for essentially any offense in the NFL.

 

Ameer Abdullah

Strengths- Ameer Abdullah of Nebraska is as explosive as they get; his cuts are very sudden and his speed in the open field is truly rare.  He is quick to go upfield and showcases superb athleticism and speed. Has serviceable hands as a pass catcher which allows flexibility for the offense. He is very tough and durable and does a phenomenal job trying to maximize his gains whether it’s by driving his legs or falling forward. He is a relentless competitor and is much stronger than his size would indicate. He rarely misses cut back lanes with his vision and awareness and has sharp enough cuts to hit them cleanly. He has been highly productive throughout his entire career and has yet to suffer a significant injury despite his hard running style.

Weaknesses- His running and receiving skills are very solid and dynamic however his pass blocking and patience need work. As a pass blocker he either dive blocks and misses or he over commits and gives up an obvious lane to the QB. He is more of a playmaker than a chain mover and struggles moving the pile forward. He doesn’t run with the best balance as a downhill runner and will often fall due to his abnormally low center of gravity. He lacks a true second gear or a hesitation move to keep defenders off balance, he runs on one speed only. He isn’t the most patient runner and rarely waits for running lanes to open up.

Outlook: His speed, athleticism, and cut ability are very special but he is incredibly unreliable as a pass blocker. He is a first and second down back but unless he’s receiving he will find it hard getting on the field in 3rd and long situations or in goal line situations. His talent is great but has plenty of things to improve on for the next level.

 

Verdict: As a whole Duke Johnson is a little bit more well-rounded, even though he’s not that great of a pass blocker he is a little more functional than Abdullah. Abdullah might be a bit faster and sharper with his cuts but Johnson’s size make him a more intriguing option as a feature back.

 

Editor’s note–this is Paulo’s first article for us and we are happy to have him onboard. Here’s a little about out newest set of eyes…

My name is Paulo Figari and I am an 18 year old aspiring NFL scout and I am from Cape Coral, Florida. I have been evaluating prospects since the 2014 draft and have been interested in the Draft since I was 8. I have bought close to a 50 draft or college football related magazines and have loved the sport since I was born. Unfortunately I was never able to play due to my incredibly small frame however I have participated in high school soccer, tennis, as well as competed in mixed martial arts. You can follow on Twitter @PauloFigari2

 


Danzel McDaniel Profile/Interview

November 4th, 2014
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Photo USA Today Sports

Jeff Risdon, DLD Editor

It’s always fun when a player comes from out of relative nowhere to command attention as a talent and prospect. Such is the case with Kansas State cornerback Danzel McDaniel. Read the rest of this entry »






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