Demaryius thomas

Training Camp Preview: Broncos

Biggest Question Mark: Knowshon Moreno
No one is ready to call Moreno a bust, but he definitely struggled to adjust to life in the NFL last season. He didn’t have a single 100-yard game in 2009, despite receiving over 20 carries four times. Additionally, his production decreased dramatically as the season progressed. His ability to take the next step will be one of the keys to the Broncos season.

DENVER - JANUARY 03: Quarterback Kyle Orton #8 of the Denver Broncos looks on from the bench against the Kansas City Chiefs during NFL action at Invesco Field at Mile High on January 3, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. Orton threw three interceptions as the Chiefs defeated the Broncos 44-24. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Orton will be looking over his shoulder at Brady Quinn throughout camp

Position Battle to Watch: Quarterback
Kyle Orton is certainly the favorite heading into camp, but watch out for Brady Quinn. Even without Brandon Marshall, the Broncos still have far more playmakers than Quinn ever had at his disposal in Cleveland. He may not break camp as the starter, but Quinn will start some games for Denver at some point this season.

Impact Rookie: Demaryius Thomas
The Broncos will rely on Thomas to be their No. 1 receiver from day one. Eddie Royal will be able to deflect some of the attention away, but Thomas is the true go-to-guy. It will be interesting to see how he adjusts to a pro offense after spending the past two seasons in Paul Johnson’s triple option at Georgia Tech.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Broncos Comments Off

2010 Draft Grades: Broncos

Well, I can say this much about Josh McDaniels: he’s not afraid to take some risks.

And he didn’t waste any time shaking things up in this year’s draft. The selection of Demaryius Thomas is a questionable one, but it shouldn’t come as any surprise. While Dez Bryant was clearly the most talented receiver in this year’s draft, I don’t blame McDaniels for staying away. He just dumped one diva receiver and the last thing he wants is to replace him with another. Thomas doesn’t come with the same baggage, but he also won’t have as much of an immediate impact.

Receivers typically take two full seasons to develop before blossoming in their third year. However, it could take Thomas longer considering he played in an option offense in college. The number of routes he ran at Georgia Tech wasn’t anything compared to what he’ll be asked to do in Denver. Only time will tell how quickly he can pick up the new playbook and techniques at the NFL level.

If Thomas of Bryant wasn’t enough of a shocker, McDaniels trumped it by taking Tim Tebow over Jimmy Clausen. I, and plenty of others, have said it a thousand times this offseason: Tim Tebow does not have the talents of a 1st-round quarterback. If his name weren’t Tebow and he didn’t have a cult following no one would even consider him in the 1st round. He has so much to learn about the NFL game and simply doesn’t have the raw talent to make a smooth transition. Just look how long its taken Alex Smith to adjust to the NFL after playing in Urban Meyer’s offense. And Smith is significantly more talented than Tebow. This move will either make or break McDaniels’ career as a head coach in the NFL.

They also reached for Zane Beadles in the 2nd round. I like Beadles because he can play all five positions on the offensive line, but I’m not sure he’s capable of being a starter at any of them. He’ll likely wind up playing guard or right tackle in Denver.

J.D. Walton was a great 3rd-round pick. He’ll certainly be given the chance to win the starting job at center, and may even enter camp as the favorite.

I love the selection of Eric Decker. There’s no denying that Demaryius Thomas has more talent, but Decker is more NFL ready. He remind me of Anquan Boldin. He’s not the faster player on the field, but he runs crisp routes and has reliable hands. He’ll be a steal for the Broncos.

Perrish Cox was also a steal in the 5th round. They needed to add some depth to their secondary and were lucky that a player like Cox fell that far. He’ll be the 3rd or 4th option at cornerback as a rookie, but could work his way into a starting role down the road.

Eric Olsen was a confusing pick. They had already spent two early picks on players projected to be interior offensive linemen. Depth was an issue, but adding three new players is excessive. One of the three – likely Olsen – will struggle to break camp on the roster.

I like the selection of Syd’Quan Thompson in the 7th round. His stock fell when he ran slower than expected this offseason. He’s undersized and isn’t the fastest player on the field, but he plays physical for his size and should be able to contribute on special teams.

Jammie Kirlew will likely move to outside linebacker where he’ll struggle to make the roster. He has some upside, but the Broncos just have too many outside linebackers. He’ll have to make a strong impression in training camp to make the squad, much less earn any playing time.

No matter what happens to Tebow, this was poor draft for the Broncos. They hitched their wagon to a developmental quarterback prospect and did so with a 1st-round pick. No matter what happens, that’s a poor decision. He won’t make a significant impact in the NFL until, at the earliest, three years down the road. You simply can’t invest a 1st-round pick in that type of player. They landed a few other decent prospects, but simply took too many risks.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Broncos, Draft Grades - 2010 Comments Off

How does the Holmes trade shake up the draft?

With Santonio Holmes on his way out of Pittsburgh, suddenly the draft intentions of the Steelers and Jets are becoming a little more clear.

Prior to the trade most mock drafts had the Jets taking either Golden Tate or Demaryius Thomas. Both of those options now seem like longshots. With Jerricho Cotchery, Braylon Edwards and Holmes, the Jets have enough players fighting for the ball already.

With receiver off their list of needs, the Jets likely turn their attention to the defensive side of the ball. Given the depth of hybrid defensive end/linebackers in this year’s draft, its likely that someone falls to the the Jets. Jason Pierre-Paul, Brandon Graham, Sergio Kindle and Jerry Hughes could all be options.

Clemson v Georgia Tech

Could Thomas now be a target of the Steelers?

Its also possible that they’ll consider Terrence Cody. Both Kris Jenkins (30) and Sione Pouha (31) are getting up there in age, and the Jets may want to build for the future at nose tackle.

As for the Steelers, wide receiver now becomes an option in the 1st round. I previously had them selecting Dez Bryant in earlier versions of my mock draft, but stated that it was simply a luxury pick. Now, it would become more of a need-based selection. Three of the Steelers top four receivers – Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Antwaan Randle El and Arnez Battle are over 30. Three of them are also 6’0″ or shorter.

The need for a big receiver has never been greater, and Roethlisberger has been calling for one for years. Limas Sweed has failed to pan out, and it may be time for the Steelers to try again. Bryant and Demaryius Thomas are both options in the 1st round.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Jets, Steelers 1 Comment

Demaryius Thomas Will Miss Combine

Georgia Tech wide receiver Demaryius Thomas will miss the combine after suffering a broken foot while training on Wednesday. His agent, Todd France, told SI.com:

There are no longterm effects from the injury and Demaryius will be 100 percent by the time OTA’s begin. If surgery hastens the healing process, that is something we will consider.

Virginia Tech v Georgia TechIt could prove to be a devestating blow to Thomas’ draft stock. Having played in Paul Johnson’s triple-option the past two seasons, no one really knows how Thomas will fair in a pro-style offense. Getting a chance to step out onto the field and run routes in front of scouts could have eased much of the concern surrounding his ability to transition to the NFL.

Additionally, teams won’t have the ability to see Thomas run before the draft. As a big receiver (6’2″, 230 lbs) his 40-yard dash would have been one of the more anticipated events of the combine. Thomas likely would have run somewhere between 4.55 and 4.65, but on the off chance that he ran in the 4.4 range, his stock would have skyrocketed.

Its now tough to imagine Thomas coming off the board in the 1st round, as some expected he may. He could fall to the late 2nd round, at which point he could end up being one of the great steals of this year’s draft.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft Comments Off

Rams Should Target a WR in the 2nd Round

Between now and the NFL Draft, we will run a series of articles analyzing each team’s needs using stats provided by ProFootballFocus.com

ramsThe Rams obviously have more than a few needs to address this offseason. I’m sure I and everyone else covering the NFL Draft will spend more than enough time analyzing their decision with the No. 1 overall selection, so for this feature I’d like to focus on their need for a No. 1 receiver.

In 2007 the Rams inexplicably made Donnie Avery the first wide receiver chosen in that year’s draft. It was a decision that ranks among the more underrated draft blunders of all time. Since it happened in the early 2nd round the baffling decision didn’t get nearly the attention it deserved. It wasn’t the greatest draft for receivers, but wouldn’t DeSean Jackson look good in a Rams uniform right about now?

Two years later the Rams are left with a depleted receiving corps and nothing resembling a No. 1 receiver. For all intents and purposes Avery was their go-to-guy, but at 5’11″, 186 pounds he just isn’t cut out for the role.

Among receivers that were targeted as least 90 times this season, only the Lions’ Calvin Johnson and the Raiders’ Louis Murphy caught a fewer percentage of balls thrown their way.

lowestcatchpct

On the surface, the one thing that these three receivers have in common is poor quarterback play. Its fair to say that each of these players would have an increased catch percentage had they played in Indianapolis or New England. In Avery’s case, however, much of the blame has to fall on his shoulders.

Arizona Cardinals v St. Louis RamsIts tough to grade Avery in games quarterbacked by Kyle Boller or Keith Null, but Avery wasn’t any better with Marc Bulger throwing him the football. In games started by Bulger, Avery caught just 27 of 51 balls thrown his direction (52.9 pct).

To be fair, Avery should never have been put in this position. As I mentioned, this was a hole the Rams dug for themselves. Each of their top three receivers – Avery, Brandon Gibson and Danny Amendola – are 6’0″ or shorter. Rams quarterbacks need a big receiver that can go up and make plays. Smaller receivers rely on their speed and route running ability to get open and only the elite can be truly effective week-in and week-out with that skill set.

So how does this apply to the Rams draft?

In the second round there should be a number of receivers that would fit perfectly into the Rams offseason. In my current mock draft I have the Rams selecting Arrelious Benn. Benn is 6’2″ and has the speed to stretch the field. He was somewhat inconsistent at Illinois, but was often at the mercy of some truly terrible quarterback play by Juice Williams and others. Other options include Brandon LaFell, Demaryius Thomas and Damian Williams – all of whom are 6’1″ or taller and have the ability to make their presence felt immediately in St. Louis.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Rams 1 Comment