Dexter McCluster

Training Camp Preview: Chiefs

Biggest Question Mark: Offensive Line
According to ProFootballFocus, Matt Cassel was “under pressure” just over one-third of the time he dropped back to pass (34.4 pct) in 2009. In those “under pressure” situations, he was sacked 42 times and completed just just 38.7 percent of his passes. If the Chiefs passing attack is going to improve this season, the offensive line must give Cassel more time in the pocket.

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 9:  Rookie third round draft choice Alex Magee #71 of the Kansas City Chiefs goes through a drill during a rookie minicamp at the Chiefs practice facility on May 9, 2009 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images)

Could Magee win a starting job over the Chiefs former top-10 picks?

Position Battle to Watch: Defensive End
Both Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson were huge disappointments in 2009 and both should be looking over their shoulders at Alex Magee. In a reserve role Magee outplayed both former 1st-round picks and could be fighting for a starting job this summer.

Impact Rookie: Dexter McCluster
Eric Berry is a future star, but he’ll struggle to make a significant impact until the Chiefs front seven improves. But on the offensive side of the ball, McCluster can have a game-changing impact all on his own. The Chiefs hope his explosiveness jump-starts their offense.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Chiefs 1 Comment

2010 Draft Grades: Chiefs

I was fairly surprised that Scott Pioli selected Eric Berry in the 1st round. He strongly believes that football games are won in the trenches and that safeties aren’t nearly as valuable as the big boys. Yet he went against his beliefs and took the guy many believed to be the best available player.

As much as I like Berry, I question his decision to pass on Russell Okung. The Chiefs defense is so bad right now, that I don’t see how Berry can make an immediate impact. Defensive backs are at the mercy of the pass rush. If you can’t pressure the quarterback, then the best defensive backs in the world will eventually get beat. An offensive tackle, however, can make an instant impact. Okung and Branden Albert would have been an excellent duo.

I really like Dexter McCluster, but it was a reach to take him 36th overall. He’s a nice complementary piece to have, but he’s too small to be a starter at either receiver or running back. The Chiefs have too many other holes to fill to be getting cute and taking players like McCluster in the early 2nd round.

I feel the same way about Javier Arenas. He can make an immediate impact on special teams, but I don’t view him as a starting cornerback. He’s too small and too slow. He’ll play immediately as a nickel cornerback, but he may be stuck at that position for his career.

Jon Asamoah was a great 3rd-round selection. He’ll likely play a backup role in 2010, but could eventually replace 33-year-old Brian Waters in the starting lineup.

I have mixed feeling about the selection of Tony Moeaki. He has the talent to be a future star, but he simply can’t stay healthy. He’s arguably the most injury-prone player in this year’s draft and there’s just no reason to believe he’ll have a long, healthy NFL career. If he does, he’ll be a steal, but a team like the Chiefs shouldn’t be taking risks like that in the 3rd round.

Even with a 5th-round pick I dislike the selection of Kendrick Lewis. There were other positions on the roster that needed depth more than safety (linebacker, receiver) and he may have even been a reach. He’ll have to fight to make the roster and won’t be more than a special teams contributor.

The finally added a linebacker with their last selection, Cameron Sheffield. Unfortunately, he’s a bit of a project and probably won’t make an immediate impact. They really could have used someone early in the draft to take some of the workload off the aging Mike Vrable.

Overall, I think the Chiefs simply took too many chances and didn’t do enough to fix a miserable defense. Eric Berry is one heck of a safety, but it was their run defense that was the real problem in 2009. With five picks in the top 100, the Chiefs had the opportunity to make a real splash this year. They took a number of players with upside, but just not enough guys who can help immediately. I don’t see how this draft helped them get any better in the immediate future.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Chiefs, Draft Grades - 2010 1 Comment

Losers from the Scouting Combine

2010 NFL Combine - Day Two

McCluster runs the 40-yard dash

Dexter McCluster – RB – Mississippi
Undersized running backs and receivers need to impress in the 40-yard dash to boost their draft stock and McCluster fell well below expectations. His 4.58 was roughly two tenths of a second slower than expected and certainly raises some concerns. A big part of his draft stock is his ability to contribute in the return game, which requires more straight-line speed than any other aspect of the game.

Dan LeFevour – QB – Central Michigan
LeFevour’s ego is no secret to those who have followed his college career, but it far exceeded expectations this weekend. Despite having a 2nd/3rd round grade at best, LeFevour opted not to throw in Indy, which angered more than a few scouts. It could be argued that he had the most to prove, as he would have been the most highly-touted prospect throwing at the combine. He blew an opportunity to move up the draft boards, and may have actually fallen down some boards without even picking up a football.

Dez Bryant – WR – Oklahoma State
Often times players hurt themselves more during the interview process at the combine than during the actual drills. Bryant would certainly fall into that category. He reportedly hasn’t impressed teams with his explanation for his suspension and has come across as very immature and not very intelligent. It doesn’t take a whole lot of brains to play wide receiver, so it shouldn’t end up impacting his stock drastically, but it could cause a couple teams to think twice.

Brandon Spikes – ILB – Florida
Spikes decided not to run in Indy, which didn’t come as a surprise considering he’s viewed as one of the slower linebackers in this year’s draft class. Even though it was expected, you hate to see a player back out for those reasons. It won’t kill his draft stock, but the decision certainly rubbed some teams the wrong way.

Rolando McClain – ILB – Alabama
McClain also elected not to work out in Indy, but his late scratch came as a surprise. His agent announced that McClain has been nursing a hamstring injury since the national championship game. The only problem with that excuse is that its the first time he’s mentioned it to anyone. Just recently he had stated that he was training in Florida, but made no mention of any injury. Whenever players make a last-minute decision to skip the combine it raises some concerns about their competitiveness. Sometimes its more the agent’s fault than the player’s, but the true competitors will get onto the field no matter what. Like Spikes, this won’t destroy his stock but it could certainly cause a few teams to knock him down a few spots on their draft board.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft Comments Off

Dexter McCluster disappoints in the 40

Diminutive Ole Miss running back/receiver Dexter McCluster ran an extremely disappointing 4.58 forty-yard dash today. According to Daniel Jeremiah of the MoveTheSticks.com no one had him clocked at faster than a 4.57.

40 times rarely hurt a player significantly, but for a guy who measured in a 5’9″, 172 pounds, this is a huge blow to his stock.

2010 NFL Combine - Day TwoSome skeptics argue that the 40-yard dash is irrelevant because football players rarely run 40 yards in a straight line. But if there’s one position where it definitely does matter its return specialists. Part of the intrigue to McCluster is his potential as a kick/punt returner, potentially in the mold of a Darren Sproles. But few, if any, elite return specialists were timed below 4.5 in the 40-yard dash at the combine.

To be fair, there’s no question that McCluster plays faster than his timed speed. His 40 time was comparable to Toby Gerhart, but no one would argue that Gerhart has the same game-speed as McCluster.

It will be interesting to see how McCluster rebounds at his pro day on March 23. A sub-4.5 time would certainly ease the concerns about his speed, but its difficult to imagine a drastic improvement. Even if he does show a improve, he’ll then have to answer question about why he wasn’t prepared for the combine.

Following his impressive performance in the Cotton Bowl, I had been saying that McCluster deserved to be a 2nd round pick. He was rated at No. 60 on our pre-combine big board.

Its safe to say we’ll be dropping him to a 3rd round grade after his performance at the combine.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft 2 Comments

10 Players Who Should Put on a Show at the Combine

10. Taylor Mays S USCCFB: Notre Dame vs USC NOV 29 Mays will put on a show, we know that for certain, but will anyone care? We know he’s fast. We know he’s strong. We know he can jump out of the gym. Expectations for Mays’ performance are so high that will be almost impossible to live up to the hype. Even if he does, there are enough skeptics out there that it may not help his stock. Unless Al Davis grabs him in the top 10 that is…

9. Jared Odrick DT Penn State For an interior lineman, Odrick is a chiseled athlete. Unlike most tackles, Odrick isn’t carrying around too much excess weight; he’s 300 pounds of muscle. He should be one of the faster interior linemen in Indy and should also show off some impressive strength. His blend of strength and athleticism make him a perfect fit at defensive end in a 3-4 scheme.

8. Everson Griffen DE USC Griffen is overshadowed by the elite athletes at the defensive end position (Pierre-Paul, Dunlap, Morgan, etc) but he’s no stiff. At 6’3″ and roughly 280 pounds, Griffen could open some eyes if he runs in the 4.6 range in the 40. It’s tough to call anyone from USC “underrated” but Griffen may be just that. He’s more athletic that he gets credit for, and should prove that at the combine.

7. Mike Iupati OG Idaho Iupati may not be the most athletic player in Indy, but his brute strength is sure to catch the eye of scouts. He’s already solidified his place in the 1st round, but his performance on the bench press may further improve his stock. Teams that are looking for a power run blocker will keep a close eye on him all week.

Ole Misss Dexter McCluster in the AT&T Cotton Bowl6. Dexter McCluster RB/WR Mississippi
All eyes will be on McCluster when he lines up for the 40-yard dash. He’s expected to run in the 4.3 range, and it could crack the 4.2 barrier. He’ll likely do some drills as a receiver and a running back, giving him ample opportunities to impress teams with his versatility.

5. Aaron Hernandez TE Florida
Hernandez doesn’t have the height of an elite tight end (he’s only 6’2″) but he may be the most athletic player at the position to enter the draft since Vernon Davis. He has the skills of an over-sized receiver and should be one of the standouts at Indy – especially if Jermaine Gresham and Rob Gronkowski are unable to work out.

4. Austen Lane DE Murray State
A little-known defensive end from Murray State could be the star of the combine. At 6’6″, 267 pounds he clearly has the size to take his game to the next level. What scouts want to see, however, is how he stacks up athletically with the premiere prospects. With an impressive performance, he could skyrocket up the draft boards.

3. Chad Jones S LSU
In any other year we’d be talking about Jones as the premiere athlete at the safety position. He’s overshadowed by Taylor Mays, but don’t sleep on Jones. He is every bit as physically gifted as Mays and many believe he may be a better all-round football player. If he matches Mays’ workout numbers, Jones could make a run at being the second safety off the board.

2. Jared Veldheer OT Hillsdale
Teams are always looking for a sleeper to step up and show he has the athleticism to play left tackle in the pros. This year Jared Veldheer could be the beneficiary of the NFL’s obsession with left tackles. Much like Sebastian Vollmer climbed from unknown to 2nd-round pick in 2009, Veldheer could do the same with an impressive workout this week.

1. Jason Pierre-Paul DE South Florida
Last year at this time Pierre-Paul hadn’t even set foot on a D-I football field. Now he’s a potential top-10 pick. He’s as raw as the come, but has the pure athleticism to make scouts drool. He should easily rank among the top defensive linemen in every drill at the combine.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft 4 Comments