Sunday Mailbag 11/13

Find out which rookie receiver reminds me of the late Chris Henry in this week's Mailbag. Photo by Donkerdink.

Fusue Vue via Twitter: Does Denarius Moore remind you of Brandon Lloyd?

MW: Fusue, I can see where Moore and Lloyd’s games have parallels. Both receivers do a tremendous job adjusting to the football. However, I think each player has some distinct differences.

I think Moore is a better player with the ball in his hands. He’s faster, a little more rugged, and he can also make defenders miss. The comparable player that immediately came to mind for me as a ball carrier as well as their physiques and skill at adjusting to the football was the late Chris Henry. (Video soundtrack NSFW)

Both Moore and Henry did a good job outrunning defenders vertically and using their height and gliding speed to make plays with their backs to the football. The difference is that Moore has the potential to fulfill the upside on a consistent basis that Chris Henry unfortunately could not. I would be surprised if we don’t hear Carson Palmer compare Moore to Henry at some point this year. Another difference between Moore and Henry is Moore’s skill over the middle. I think Moore is already beginning to flash skill at working between the hash marks in a way we didn’t see as frequently from the other two receivers.

Although Moore makes some terrific adjustments to the football, what we’ve see thus far is still not comparable to Lloyd in my opinion. It’s like comparing Demarco Murray with Jim Brown. Murray has been very good, but let’s not get carried away just yet.

Lloyd has made more sick catches in his career (watch only if you can’t get enough from the video below) than some of the greatest receivers in the game combined. If you haven’t seen the catch below then watch it and be amazed. If you don’t remember…nah, if you’re a football fan and saw this catch you’ll remember it long after you’ve forgotten your kids’ names.  Darryl Johnson was almost uttered speechless trying to describe it (That is…NONSENSE!):

And if you keep watching, you’ll see one where Lloyd arches his back to reach for the ball practically behind his head on a deep fade during his brief tenure with the Bears. Then at 1:40 in this video is possibly the sickest one-handed catch on a deep ball you’ll ever see. I’ve seen Randy Moss and Cris Carter make some grabs like this, but never this deep down field with coverage in the area.

Sorry Fusue, but I don’t think there is a more satisfying turn of events in the last decade for me as a football fan than to see Brandon Lloyd resurrect his career. He’s one of the best perimeter receivers in football and if I had to choose between Lloyd and Larry Fitzgerald when it comes relying on a receiver to come down with the ball, I’ll take Lloyd without a second thought.

Anthony Stout via Twitter: How does Ryan Broyles’ injury affect his draft status?

MW: As we’ve seen with Wes Welker’s 2010 return to football after a 10-month recovery from an ACL tear, we’re gradually seeing faster recoveries from an injury that had evolved from an automatic career-ender to a two-year recovery – one to get back on the field and another to looking remotely like the same player. I still think most ACL tears still take a couple of seasons for a player to really get back to where he was as an athlete.

Broyles’ role in Oklahoma’s offense last year reminded me a bit of DeSean Jackson when he was at Cal. However, Jackson is a more explosive player and I think Broyles has more potential to become a more well-rounded receiving option than the Eagles’ big-play threat. Broyles reminds me somewhat of Derrick Mason when the Michigan State alum began his career in Tennessee.

In order for a player like Broyles to exploit that Mason-like skill he has when healthy, he’ll need a quarterback that has confidence in him. This only comes from participating in enough practice sessions to earn that confidence from coaches, which means Broyles will have to be healthy and not experiencing consistent swelling of the knee that often comes when a player pushes hard to recover at a quick rate. The bigger question I have is if Broyles will get that short-area quickness back in 10-12 months, because this is the physical aspect of his game that makes him special.

As for draft status, I’m not a draft prognosticator. I just like to talk about talent. Guessing the draft is a a different animal from that. Some people simply like to combine the two.

Still, I would remind people that when Bengals receiver Brandon Tate and Hakeem Nicks were at North Carolina, it was Tate who was considered the better prospect by many analysts with prominent media exposure. Tate and Broyles are similar players in terms of their athleticism and skills after the catch. I think some teams might think of Tate when considering Broyles. Yet to be fair to Broyles, Tate had some red flags with drugs that had some folks shy away from him.

I don’t think Broyles was ever considered an elite receiver by NFL standards. I didn’t consider him one. He has the potential to become a very good starter, but I think he was more of a second-round type of player. With the injury I think it’s possible he falls to the third or fourth round. NFL teams expect first-round picks to have an impact in their first season. Broyles’ injury casts a significant question whether that’s possible and if he’ll ever be the same player. No knee injury and how a player responds to it is exactly alike.

It’s not solely about talent or potential with the round a player is selected, it’s also about safety and risk.

Any Cochrane via Twitter: Which NFL player surprised you the most with his NFL performance either good or bad?

MW: I’ll give you two. The most disappointing was Stanford quarterback Trent Edwards. I believe getting knocked around in Buffalo changed him as a player. At Stanford he was a smart, tough, athletic, and aggressive quarterback. In fact, he had one of the grittiest performances I had seen in years during a blowout to a USC defense loaded with NFL talent.

QB Trent Edwards' career went the path of David Carr's thanks to factors like the Bills like and hits like this one coming. Photo by John Templon.

When Edwards arrived in Buffalo he actually began his career with promise. However, the Bills line and lackluster receiving corps, which included the famous disappearing act that is Lee Evans, really did Edwards in. After a concussion sustained in his second year, Edwards wasn’t the same player. He became captain check down and at least to this point he hasn’t been able to regain that edge. It’s doubtful he ever will.

The player who exceeded my expectations was Chris Johnson. I saw Johnson at ECU and thought he had potential to develop into a player along the lines of Brian Westbrook – a strong receiver and great space player with underrated skills between the tackles if paired in the right kind of offense. I didn’t expect a runner with his balance after contact, his stamina, and aggressiveness between the tackles to attack down field that way he has – at least until this year.

Johnson was one of those players that I truly didn’t see coming. Good, yes. But 2000-yard good? No way.

[Author’s Note: Feature Photo of Denarius Moore at Tennessee is by Wade Rackley, who consistently supplies some of the best football photos I can get my hands on.]


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