Twitter is a great place to get camp updates but they come so fast and furious, I thought I’d pick a few about rookies from various beat writers and provide my takes on these quick reports.
Packers WR Randall Cobb
Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press Gazette reports that Packers rookie receiver Randall Cobb put on a clinic Monday night, making grabs over the middle, in traffic, and flashing excellent burst and skill after the catch. According to Vandermause, Cobb is learning all of the wide receiver positions.
My Take: Cobb is one of my favorite players in this rookie class. He reminds me of Santonio Holmes because of his hands and skill after the catch, but most of all his ferociousness as a blocker and grit to make big plays that seem unlikely. James Jones and Jordy Nelson are good players, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Cobb assumes a spot on the outside once Donald Driver moves on.
Imagine the Packers in 11 personnel sets with Cobb in one slot and Jermichael Finley in the other. This is going to make the lives of opposing defensive coordinators miserable. Especially if Aaron Rodgers decides to motion Finley to the line as a blocker and then hand the ball to Cobb on an end around. Or, simply motion the receiver to flank the QB in the shotgun and hand it there.
The fact he’s learning all of the receiver positions just compounds the problem for opposing defenses. Lots of possibilities. Cobb might not win Offensive Rookie of the Year, because there are only so many footballs to go around in Wisconsin. However, he has a hell of a shot have even more of non-statistical impact just accounting for him on the field.
Saints WR Jarred Fayson
According to WWL-TV Sports Photographer Garland Gillen, former Illinois/Florida WR Jarred Fayson is making an excellent first impression in Saints camp.
My Take: Fayson has all the physical talent to become an NFL starter. I was impressed with his ability to catch the ball with his hands and make plays in traffic or after contact. Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem still have occasional issues making plays of this nature. Fayson is more natural at it and if he can tap the potential he flashed in the Big Ten and the SEC he earn a roster spot and eventually displace one of the current contributors in the New Orleans rotation.
Falcons WR Julio Jones
As a reporter at Falcons camp who was the most impressive player on the field and the answer was Julio Jones. According to NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, “He was more explosive off the ball than they thought. Daniel Cox of AtlantaFalcons.com gives a solid rundown of Jones’ first four days, including quotes from Roddy White and a recap of a 40-yard pass in coverage.
My Take: I’m still waiting to hear that Julio Jones is catching passes after contact in the middle of the field. When this happens consistently in the first quarter of an NFL preseason game, I’ll be a little more impressed. We all knew Jones has speed and after the catch skill and I have few doubts he’ll develop into a fine starter sooner than later. I’m just skeptical of Jones becoming a complete threat at the wide out spot this year. He’ll be as good as Michael Jenkins stat-wise and more promising as a big play threat, but I’m not expecting a 1000-yard rookie campaign.
Bengals WR A.J. Green
Based on what I’ve seen on Twitter, A.J. Green was not to be outdone by Jones. Josh Kirkendoll reports that Green “put on a show.” This included things that I have not heard about from Jones:
- Attacking the ball.
- Winning the football between multiple defenders.
- Dropping the ball in those near-great plays described therein.
My Take: Despite the drops in these double-coverage, deep-ball situations, the fact that Green is already challenging multiple defenders and nearly winning is highly encouraging. The Associated press actually provided this take:
Green, the team’s first-round draft pick, made a big impression during a practice in pads on Monday. He put a double move on Leon Hall during a drill and ran past the cornerback for a long catch. When rookie QB Andy Dalton underthrew a pass down the sideline, Green adjusted and went over safety Chris Crocker to pull it in. Reported by the Associated Press
My buddies at Footballdiehards.com had this take:
According to Bengals.com staffer Geoff Hobson, Green catches everything, no one’s covered him, and when he is, he jumps up and takes it away. The most telling comment of the day? Even though the Bengals had a pair of 10,000-yard receivers last year in Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens, Lewis offered, “He’s an upgrade … we’re improved athletically.”
Green might not have a quarterback the caliber of Matt Ryan but with the number of targets the rookie will see I’m not sure it will matter if all you’re seeking are quality stats.