Eye Catching Tweets: NFL Preseason Week 1 (8/15)

49ers RB Kendall Hunter is demonstrating that he's a good fit with the team because he's decisive and explsoive. Photo by Wunderlich Photography.

Randall Cobb

@gbpressgazette #Packers rookie receiver Randall Cobb shows ability to do damage in slot position: gbpg.net/n4FREL

@MattBowen41 I am impressed with #Packers rookie WR Randall Cobb. Post up at NFP at 11 E

The gist of the situation: Cobb’s 60 yards on 3 catches – 2 of them third down conversions – has everyone excited about the possibility of Cobb becoming a regular season factor on offense as a rookie. Even Packers cornerback Charles Woodson is impressed with Cobb. Even Aaron Rodgers was quoted in the Press-Gazette as saying that he’s excited about Cobb and looks forward to getting reps with him.

My take: The receiver depth chart is a crowded place in Green Bay. Donald Driver might be 36 in football years (47 in media years), but he’s still capable of maintaining starter production. Jordy Nelson came to life in the playoffs, while James Jones showed more flashes in the regular season. Any three of these players are capable of winning the starting job on the outside. It might even be preferable for Green Bay to use Driver in the slot so Nelson and/or Jones can split time outside. Where that leaves Cobb’s role on offense is the question. I believe we’ll see Cobb earn more time as a slot receiver than the starting lineup might appear on paper. However his value this year will be on special teams, situational plays, and depth. Don’t be surprised if one of the veteran receivers misses a few weeks due to injury that Cobb plays well enough that the veteran doesn’t get his job back.

Cobb was my No.3 receiving prospect in this class in the 2011 Rookie Scouting Portfolio. Here’s an excerpt of that RSP report in the New York Times Fifth Down. I break down where his individual skills rank with every receiver I evaluated in this class in the RSP.

Denarius Moore

@ChrisWesseling: Daily Denarius Moore update: “Every day, Moore not only is the best wide receiver on the field, oftentimes he is the best player, period.”

The gist of the situation: This take is coming from Raiders coaching staff as well as beat reporters. Moore is tearing it up with his athleticism with the ball in the air and his skills after the catch.

My take: I had Moore ranked 24th among receivers in this rookie class. Seems like a pretty low rating for a receiver who is having such a great rookie camp. I won’t lie. It was. Too low. In fact, my grade on him may turn out to be too low as well. However, Moore is a great example of where scouting players is more than just about a ranking. Check out the discussions I’ve had with Chad Reuter and Matt Williamson and you’ll understand why evaluating a prospect for a team is different than evaluating a prospect without one. If I knew Moore would go to a team that used him purely for his vertical or after the catch skills, I’d have ranked him higher. However, I have to considering my ranking of players based on how complete they are and how well they can fit with any organization.

This is why backing up a ranking and a grade with observations is so important to a quality evaluation. Here was my take on Moore and you tell me if his positives don’t fit what the Raiders like to do with their passing game:

Moore is a game-breaking receiver with the ability to get vertical separation on defensive backs. he was second among receivers in college football with a 21.2 ypc average and he’s the only player in FBS with two, 200-yard games in 2010. Moore has acceleration, deep speed, and he can catch the ball after contact. he adjusts well to the football in the air and he demonstrates the ability to catch the ball with his hands away from his body. Moore does a good job breaking back to the football and he shows awareness of the sideline. He also uses his body to shield the ball from the defneder.

Once in the open field, he’s capable of making defenders miss by stringing moves together. All of these qualities make Moore a dangerous deep threat. Where Moore needs additional work is setting up his breaks and making sharper breaks to create separation against defenders. His speed forced a lot of college corners to give him cushion at the line of scrimmage. Moore will need to refine his skills against press coverage. Despite his vertical prowess he has some issues with dropping passes on routes with his back to the football. Moore reminds me of Bernard Berrian in this sense. The skill is there, but the consistency has to show up to transform Moore’s talent into production.

While it initially appears that I was probably too hard on Moore, I’ve had no problem drafting him late in my fantasy leagues for the very reason that what he’s doing in Oakland is what he did best at Tennessee. At least when you read the RSP, you can see that a low evaluation score doesn’t automatically mean the guy is written off. I just didn’t believe Moore would be this consistent and he’d have more work to do to maximize his talent. If he remains consistent, Moore could be a steal. I’ll be glad to say this was a miss if three years from now Moore continues to look like the best player on the field for the Raiders. He’s making a great first impression.

Dion Lewis

@NFLDraftUpdate #Eagles rookie RB Dion Lewis seemingly has a firm hold on the team’s #3 RB duties over coaching staff favorite Eldred Buckley.

@LesBowen: Lovely Vince Young deep throw and catch w/Harper vs. blitz. Little Dion Lewis stuck his head in for blitz pickup. Good stuff.

@caplannfl I know it was against back ups but I thought Dion Lewis looks real good, decent pass pro. Ronnie B looked slow and old. Thoughts?

The gist of the situation: Pitt rookie Dion Lewis is proving that he can do everything a team expects from a running back.

My Take: Although 5’6″, he’s a solid 193 lbs. and this makes him big enough to run inside, and deliver the goods in pass protection as long as he’s using sound technique. He’ll have moments in pass protection where he’ll be at a disadvantage due to his size, but he won’t be a complete liability either. Think Maurice Jones-Drew or Warrick Dunn in these respects (leaning more towards Jones-Drew). I’m a fan of Lewis’ decision-making and smarts as a runner. He was a deceptively good interior runner because of his patience, burst, and drive to finish runs. Former college and NFL head coach Dave Wannestedt knows a thing or two about running back and he’s a proponent of a power running game. The fact that he only saw minutes of tape of Lewis and told the Pitt recruiters to offer this prep school unknown a scholarship should tell you something. I believe the Eagles addition of Ronnie Brown was probably a case of the team liking enough of what they saw from Lewis to draft him, but without mini camp they didn’t know what they had. Therefore, adding Brown was a conservative move for this year. Don’t be surprised if Lewis opens some eyes next year as a situational player.

Kendall Hunter

@eyeofthegator: Kendall Hunter keeps moving forward after contact – picks up extra yards #49ers

@49ersbuzztap: Niner Nation >> Anthony Dixon Struggles, Kendall Hunter Is Decent Through One Preseason Game http://t.co/qQ05e8u

The gist of the situation: Hunter is demonstrating potential to back up Frank Gore and earn some situational time to boot.

My Take: If Hunter continues to produce, look for him to be the lead back in a committee with Anthony Dixon in support if Frank Gore gets hurt. He’s a sudden player with great change of direction who is decisive. The strength of his game wasn’t slower-developing run plays, but as long as he’s asked to use his speed and hit the hole quickly he can be a dangerous runner for San Francisco.

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