At Footballguys.com, I kicked off my Gut Check column with what I’m calling the Insanity Series: Players that will drive you mad in 2012. You can find column at Footbalguys and I’ll also link to them on this page. The first two published pieces in the series are on Adrian Peterson and Brandon Lloyd.
I’ve studied close to 20 players in the past three weeks, most of them running backs and wide receivers. The safest NFL prospect I saw at the running back position thus far is Auburn’s Michael Dyer. I call him “safe,” because the size-speed-balance combo is all NFL-caliber. I have few doubts of his potential to develop into a productive contributor in an NFL offense as a ball carrier.
Pittsburgh’s Ray Graham is the most dynamic change of direction runner I’ve seen in a few years. If he can regain his burst and lateral explosiveness after suffering an ACL tear, he’s one of the most dangerous big-play weapons in space that I’ve seen at the position.
One of my favorite runners not typically labeled a marquee prospect is LSU back Spencer Ware. Michael Ford gets more love from those hipster draft analysts and fans that like to be trendy while trying to cloak that trendiness as discriminating. I haven’t seen enough of Ford to make a case for or against him. However, I have seen enough of Ware to believe he’s better than the slew of runners from that school in the past 5-6 years that have earned an opportunity to play in the NFL but couldn’t progress beyond the third or fourth spot on the depth chart. Ware is agile, sees the holes well, and breaks tackles.
The sleeper to watch this year is a back that I thought often out-performed Robert Turbin while backing up the Seahawk draft pick at Utah State – Kerwynn Williams. He’s not a powerful runner, but quickness, agility, and versatility make him a player I want to see in a starring role as a senior. He impressed me versus Auburn to begin the year and I liked his limited work throughout the 2011 season.
Louisiana Tech receivers Myles White and Quinton Patten have NFL athleticism. Both adjust well to the football and possess the speed to get deep. White is willing to battle a defender as a blocker in the run game, but has to learn to use his hands better. He delivers a punch, but the location of that punch isn’t accurate enough to maximize his efficiency. The former Michigan State receiver left Sparty after multiple incidents (minor possession of alcohol and public urination and involvement in an off-campus brawl that left an MSU hockey player with a head injury) and bounced to a JUCO and then LaTech. He’ll have to earn his stripes on special teams to earn a shot in the NFL. However, I like his basic skills. Patten has NFL starter athleticism. He has to learn to run a greater variety of routes with precision. If so, I like what he does in tight coverage and he has nice vision as a ball carrier.
If Skye Dawson of TCU can learn to catch the ball with his fingers rather than his palms, this 60-meter track champion can fly on the football field. I’m interested to see if he takes the next step in 2012.
Chris Harper of Kansas Sate has NFL size and good skill in traffic. I’m not sold that he’s a potential vertical threat, but he has the strength to make plays after contact in the open field. He intrigues me at this early stage of my 2013 evaluation process.
RSP Writers Project
Cian Fahey submitted his squad yesterday. I intend to have his roster posted no later than tomorrow morning. Stay tuned.
To access all the presented teams, the rules, and the spreadsheet to participate, here’s the RSP Writers Project Page.
Thanks to Michael Schottey for the inclusion on his list of people to follow on Twitter with under 10,000 followers. The Rookie Scouting Portfolio is still a secret weapon for many readers that want to be ahead of the curve with their knowledge of rookies at the offensive skill positions. The 2012 RSP is two resources in one: over 120 pages of rankings, analysis, and player comparisons and a compendium of nearly 900 pages of notes that show my play-by-play study of every player in the magazine analysis.
When you purchase the RSP, you also get access to the RSP Post-Draft Analysis, which provides rankings and analysis based on team fit and also includes a tiered cheat sheet for fantasy owners. The Post Draft Analysis is packed with more analysis and useful information than some publishers pre-draft rookie analysis. Best yet, 10 percent of every purchase is donated to Darkness to Light and organization specializing in training the community to recognize and combat sexual abuse.