Ndamukong Suh

NFL Rookie Rankings – Through Week 6

OFFENSE
1.
Sam Bradford, Rams
Compared to other quarterbacks in the league Bradford’s numbers are mediocre at best. But for a rookie, he has more than lived up to expectations.

2. Aaron Hernandez, Patriots
Hernandez was expected to take on a more prominent role in the passing game due to the departure of Moss and he stepped with with six receptions against the Ravens.

3. Jahvid Best, Lions
Best falls down the board as he continues to remain unproductive running the ball. He’s still a weapon as a receiver, but he hasn’t looked like a complete player lately.

4. Mike Williams, Bucs
Williams has clearly stepped up as the Bucs top receiver. He’s been targeted 40 times by Josh Freeman, 16 more than other other wide receiver on the team.

5. Chris Ivory, Saints
He’s only started two games, but it’s impossible to ignore Ivory’s 158-yard breakout performances against the Bucs.

DEFENSE
1.Koa Misi, Dolphins
Misi regains the top spot after record a sack and two pressures for the second straight game. The Dolphins pass rush has noticeably improved since he joined the starting lineup in Week 3.

2. Nate Allen, Eagles
Allen losses his stop atop the rankings after a rough week against the Falcons in which he got burned for a touchdown.

3. Earl Thomas, Seahawks
Thomas played a key role in keeping the Bears passing attack in check. He isn’t as well rounded as Allen, but he’s is emerging as an elite safety in coverage.

4. Ndamukong Suh, Lions
Suh is a one-dimensional player at this point in his career, but he does that one thing very well. He’s arguably the most dominant pass-rushing interior lineman in the league, not just among rookies.

5. Lamarr Houston, Raiders
Houston doesn’t have the sack totals to get much attention, but he’s been quietly consistent and effective as a pass rusher all season.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Buccaneers, Dolphins, Eagles, Lions, Patriots, Raiders, Rams, Saints, Seahawks Comments Off

NFL Rookie Rankings – Through Week 5

OFFENSE
1.
Jahvid Best, Lions
Best remains the most effective player in the Lions offense. He’s averaging just 3.5 yards per rush, but is also averaging over 10 yards per reception.

2. Sam Bradford, Rams
Every rookie is bound to have a game like Bradford’s against the Lions at least once. It’s a minor setback, but he’ll learn from it.

3. Aaron Hernandez, Patriots
Hernandez ranks second to Best in receiving yards by rookies.

4. Mike Williams, Bucs
Williams has improved throughout the season and has his biggest game yet with seven catches for 99 yards against the Bengals.

5. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
Gronkowski has just six catches (two for touchdowns) but he has been as good as advertized in terms of being an elite blocking tight end.

DEFENSE
1. Nate Allen, Eagles
Allen isn’t just the best rookie safety, he looks like one of the best free safeties in football this season.

2. Koa Misi, Dolphins
Misi and Dolphins are coming off a bye week. He’s still tied for 2nd among rookies with two sacks.

3. Tyson Alualu, Jaguars
Alualu has been impressive both against the run and as a pass rusher. He has two sacks, two hits and seven QB pressures.

4. Earl Thomas, Seahawks
Thomas looks like an elite safety in coverage. Teams are avoiding throwing his direction, and he’s made them pay with three picks when they do.

5. Ndamukong Suh, Lions
Suh is a nightmare for interior offensive linemen to block in passing situations (leads rookies with three sacks) but he is still developing against the run. He’s been a liability at times when teams run directly at him.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Dolphins, Eagles, Jaguars, Lions, Patriots, Rams, Seahawks Comments Off

10 Biggest NFL Underachievers

10. Knowshon Moreno
Is it too early to call him a bust? In two games before getting hurt Moreno averaged just 2.8 yards per carry. His performance was so disappointing that the Broncos traded for Laurence Maroney (not too early to call him a bust). Moreno is expected to return to action this week.

9. DeAngelo Hall
According to Pro Football Focus, Hall has been targeted 24 times and has allowed 23 completions. Wow. Just by pure luck you’d think two or three of those passes would be dropped or slightly off target and fall incomplete. And he isn’t just being targeted on short easy routes – he’s allowed over 10 yards per completion.

8. Cadillac Williams
When are the Bucs finally going to give up on Williams? He’s averaging just 2.5 yards per attempt, easily the lowest among starting running backs. He’s been so bad that undrafted free agent LeGarrette Blount, who was cut by the Titans, is now splitting carries with Williams.

7. Ndamukong Suh
Suh was supposed to be an instant impact player. Many said he was one of the best defensive prospects to enter the draft in years. Sure, he’s been credited with three sacks, but is that really a good way to measure interior lineman? He has been exposed as a liability against the run and opponents are taking advantage of the hole he creates in the middle of their defensive line. The Lions are giving up 4.8 yards per attempt – 4th highest average in the league.

6. Brian Robiskie/Mohamed Massaquoi
Maybe Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson weren’t the problem in Cleveland last year. The Browns simply don’t have a receiver who can make a play. The two 2009 2nd-round picks have failed to show any improvements in their second season. According to Pro Football Focus they rank 97th and 96th in percent of targeted passes caught – out of 97 qualifying receivers.

5. Michael Crabtree
After a strong end to his rookie season, Crabtree was a major reason why the 49ers were picked by many to win the NFC West. Yes, Alex Smith hasn’t helped his cause but Crabtree hasn’t helped Smith’s either. He’s caught just 11 of 21 passes thrown his direction. A true No. 1 receiver makes plays even on poorly thrown balls.

4. Michael Turner
Here’s a scary thought: the Falcons are 3-1 with almost no help from Burner Turner. He’s averaging just 3.8 yards per attempt this year. His career low entering this season was 4.5. He just hasn’t looked like the big bruising back that terrorized the AFC South the past two seasons. But he’s 28 and has never shied away from contact, perhaps he’s simply nearing the end of the road.

3. Jared Allen
Where has the Vikings sack master been hiding this season? He has been credited with just one sack and has generally been a non-factor all season. His struggles have had a ripple effect throughout the Vikings defense. If he isn’t getting to the quarterback, the rest of the unit suffers.

NEW ORLEANS - SEPTEMBER 09: Quarterback Brett Favre  of the Minnesota Vikings grabs his torso as he lies on the turf after taking a hard hit from Roman Harper  of the New Orleans Saints at Louisiana Superdome on September 9, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

It's been an ugly start to the season for Favre and the Vikings

2. Chris Johnson
So much for all that talk about breaking Dickerson’s rushing record. Johnson is averaging just 3.8 yards per attempt this season – nearly two full yards less than last season. Maybe teams have figured out how to stop him. Or maybe he’s just worn out from his league-leading 358 carries last year.

1. Brett Favre
Maybe Favre should have hung up the cleats for good this time. He’s already thrown six interceptions, just one fewer than all of last season. He’s averaging just 6.2 yards per attempt, which would be a career low. And he’s completing just 61 percent of his passes – down seven percentage points from last season. Any way you slice it, Favre has been this year’s biggest underachiever.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 49ers, Broncos, Browns, Buccaneers, Falcons, Lions, Redskins, Titans, Vikings Comments Off

Training Camp Preview: Detroit Lions

Detroit Lions held their rookie orientation at the Allen Park practice facility Saturday, May 2, 2009 Deandre Levy calls out defenses during practice. KIRTHMON F. DOZIER/Detroit Free Press Photo via Newscom

Still a relative unknown, Levy will be one of the keys to the Lions defense

Biggest Question Mark: DeAndre Levy
The Lions entire offseason focused on upgrading the defensive line and they now have – at least on paper – one of the best in the game. But that will only go so far to improve their defense unless the linebackers step up as well. DeAndre Levy returns as the projected starter on the inside and will be under a lot of pressure to perform in his second year in the league. His growth will be key to the Lions defensive improvement in 210.

Position Battle to Watch: Running Back
There will be plenty of carries for both Kevin Smith and Jahvid Best, but who will see the bulk of the action? Smith has been a mediocre starter for two seasons and the rookie, Best, will be right on his heels trying to take away the starting role.

Impact Rookie: Ndamukong Suh
The No. 2 pick in the draft will be expected to transform the Lions defensive line from day one. Fortunately for Suh, he’ll have plenty of help. The acquisitions of Kyle Vanden Bosch and Corey Williams will deflect some of the attention off Suh, allowing him to have an instant impact.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Lions Comments Off

2010 Draft Grades: Lions

The Lions landed the best player in the draft and the player that best fits their needs in Ndamukong Suh. Together with Kyle Vanden Bosch and Corey Williams, Suh will help give the Lions an impressive, new revamped defensive line.

I like the Lions willingness to move up to get the guy they wanted, but I just don’t think Jahvid Best is worth a 1st-round pick. He’s a very nice weapon to have, but he isn’t a player to build around. The fact that Best is vastly undersized and is coming off a serious injury raises significant concerns about his ability to carry the load in the NFL. If he’s only a Darren Sproles-type change-of-pace back then he isn’t worth a 1st-round pick.

They reached for Amari Spievey but he’s a perfect fit for their defense. They needed depth at cornerback and Spievey will be able to help immediately.

I really like the selection of Jason Fox. He’ll be a backup at both tackle positions, and will be groomed to potentially take over a starting job in a few years.

Willie Young was a steal in the 7th round. However, he may struggle to make the roster in Detroit. Their defensive line is now one of the strong suits of the team and they’re very deep at defensive end.

Mr. Irrellevant, Tim Toone, will have to fight to make the roster at receiver. His best chance will be to stand out on special teams.

Overall, this was a solid but unspectacular draft for the Lions. I would have liked to see them land a weak-side linebacker to replace Ernie Sims. Someone like Darryl Washington would have been a perfect fit in the late 1st round instead of Jahvid Best. Ultimately I can’t criticize the draft too much though. They landed the best player in the entire draft class. The Lions are definitely headed in the right direction.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2010, Lions 2 Comments

A look at the Chiefs Draft Board

We’re all but certain as to how the first three picks will play out, and I’ve detailed my thoughts on the Redskins decision earlier today. So here’s my best guess at what the Chiefs draft board looks like. Since they’re picking 5th, I’ll only include five players.

1. Russell Okung, Oklahoma State
He’s the best tackle in the draft and he’ll fit perfectly in Kansas City, supplanting Branden Albert at left tackle.

2. Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska
The Chiefs don’t need a defensive lineman, but I also can’t see them passing up Suh if he were to fall and Okung were gone. He won’t fall though, so its a non-issue.

3. Bryan Bulaga, Iowa
Bulaga won’t be this high on every draft board, but he fits the profile of linemen Scott Pioli likes: physical, tough and smart. I can’t envision any scenario in which he isn’t still on the board at No. 5.

4. Trent Williams, Oklahoma
In the unlikely scenario in which Okung and Bulaga both went in the top five (to Detroit and Washington, I guess?) the Chiefs would likely settle for Williams. He isn’t exactly what they’re looking for, but they’re desperate to improve the protection for Matt Cassel.

5. Rolando McClain, Alabama
This is the longest shot of them all, but in the crazy scenario in which Okung, Suh, Bulaga and Williams went in the top four I believe the Chiefs would turn to McClain. He is a perfect fit for the 3-4 defense and fills an immediate need at inside linebacker.

No Eric Berry?
Yes, I left off Eric Berry. I realize that many mock drafts have the Chiefs taking Berry, however I don’t believe Scott Pioli has any interest in taking a safety in the top five. Pioli strongly believes that linemen and linebackers are the safest prospects and therefore should almost always be your selections in the top 10. A poor decision with the 5th pick in the draft can set a franchise back for years and Pioli isn’t interested in taking a gamble.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Chiefs Comments Off

Offseason moves shouldn’t change Lions draft plans

The Lions have been one of the more active teams so far this offseason, and are starting to look like they may be one of the most improved teams for 2010.

The signing of Kyle Vanden Bosch and the trade for Corey Williams have given their defensive line a significant upgrade already, and its called into question whether they will still target Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy with the 2nd pick.

Numerous mock drafts have started popping up with Russell Okung in the No. 2 slot, but I think its premature to assume that Jim Schwartz is content with his defensive line. Williams is certainly a quality starting defensive tackle. But is he really the type of player that makes you pass on the consensus top two available prospects in the draft?

Detroit Lions Minicamp

Hill stretches before a practice during his rookie year

Perhaps this is the better question, since Williams already has one starting spot locked up: is Sammie Lee Hill the type of player that makes you pass on the consensus top two available prospects in the draft?

Hill, a 2009 4th-round pick, started all but one game in which he played last season. He’s an intriguing player due to his massive size (6’4, 329) but he wasn’t exactly productive as rookie. ProFootballFocus rated him 83rd out of 87 qualifying defensive tackles in ’09. To be fair, he was a rookie from Stillman College trying to compete in the NFL, but the fact remains that he has a long way to go.

The other issue with them selecting Okung is the fact that there may not be room for him in the starting lineup from day one. Schwartz has been extremely supportive of Jeff Backus (perhaps too supportive) and even endorsed him as a Pro Bowl candidate in 2009. At right tackle, 2008 1st-round pick Gosder Cherilus is starting to look like a bust but it would be prudent to give him a third year in a starting role before throwing in the towel.

To accommodate Okung the Lions would need to move either Backus or Cherilus (more likely Cherilus) to guard. In theory it actually sounds like a smart move, but you have to factor in how much money would then be invested in a mediocre offensive line featuring three former 1st-round selections. A rebuilding team like the Lions would be wise not to invest too much money in any one unit.

While the Lions are sure to explore the option of selecting Okung, ultimately I can’t envision them passing on Suh or McCoy. Jim Schwartz had pledged to build a bigger, stronger, more physical defense in the Detroit – a complete 180 from the previous regime’s defensive philosophy – and a change like that doesn’t happen with just one or two moves. Plugging in a player like Suh or McCoy would instantly give the Lions a defensive front seven that could compete within the NFC North.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Free Agency, Lions 1 Comment

Should the Bucs trade up for Suh?

Rumors are swirling that the Rams and Bucs have discussed a trade that would involve a swap of their 1st-round picks, potentially with Josh Johnson heading to St. Louis.

For what its worth, the Rams have denied the rumors.

From the Rams standpoint, this would be a brilliant trade. The top two players on most draft boards are Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy, but the Rams don’t really need a defensive tackle. 2007 1st and 5th round picks Adam Carriker and Clifton Ryan have been a nice duo at tackle over the past few years. They aren’t Pro Bowlers, but its arguably the strongest position on the Rams defense.

Trading down would allow them to stockpile picks (which they desperately need) and potentially land their quarterback of the future, be it Johnson, Sam Bradford or Jimmy Clausen. Should they pass on a quarterback with the 3rd pick, Eric Berry would be an excellent addition to their secondary. Even Derrick Morgan would potentially make sense as a replacement for Leonard Little who is likely to sign elsewhere.

Big 12 Championship - Nebraska v TexasBut does it make sense for the Bucs?

Its true, they need a defensive tackle. However, there is a decent chance that either McCoy or Suh will fall to them anyway. The Rams are likely to  consider selecting a quarterback 1st overall, meaning one of the top two tackles could be on the board at No. 3.

Considering the overwhelming lack of talent on the Bucs roster, its hard to understand why they would part with extra picks just to land Suh. The Bucs would likely have to part with their 2nd-round pick as well, if not more, to move up. For a team starving for talent, a draft that potentially brings in Eric Berry and Brandon LaFell would seem to be a much faster route to turning things around than only landing Suh.

The added bonus for passing on this trade would be the potential to trade down on draft day. If the Rams pass on Bradford and Clausen, the Bucs will be on the clock at No. 3 one slot ahead of Washington, who is likely to select a quarterback. If a team like the Bills or Seahawks have their heart set on one of the top two quarterbacks, the 3rd pick will be the ideal slot to trade into. This would allow the Bucs to land a player such as Joe Haden and acquire additional picks.

No matter what angle I look at this trade it seems like a losing situation for the Bucs. Suh is an elite talent, but a defensive tackle doesn’t turn around a franchise on his own. The Bucs have too many holes to fill to risk their entire draft on one player.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Buccaneers, Rams Comments Off

Who’s No. 1?

Now that the draft order is set, we can begin to narrow down the candidates to go No. 1 overall. The one obvious candidate is Ndamukong Suh. He is the top rated player on my draft board and many others.

There’s no denying that Suh is an elite talent. Personally, I think he may be the top defensive prospect in 15+ years, perhaps since Dan Wilkinson was the No. 1 overall pick in 1994. But is Suh really a good fit in St. Louis?
Adam Carriker and Clifton Ryan were their starting defensive tackles this season and the Rams have been pleased with both. Ryan is a restricted free agent, so it is possible that an opening could be created if he signs elsewhere. However, if Suh were not an option, it is likely the Rams would make every effort to re-sign Ryan.

The question Rams have to ask themselves is: is Suh such an elite prospect that he is worth selecting despite the fact that his position one of the few strong areas of their roster?

Another option would be move Carriker, Ryan or Suh to defensive end. Leonard Little is an unrestricted free agent and appears unlikely to return, creating a hole on the defensive line. Carriker would be the best option to move outside, since he played defensive end for the majority of his career at Nebraska. However, he’s bulked up to make the transition to defensive tackle and may no longer be capable of providing the pass rush that the Rams need on the outside.

The Rams recorded just 25 sacks this past season and desperately need someone capable of getting to the quarterback. As good as Chris Long is, he will never be a consistent 10+ sack guy. He is a run stopper, not a sack artist. Putting Carriker, Ryan or Suh opposite Long at defensive end would only further limit the Rams ability to pressure the quarterback.

What the Rams really need is a franchise quarterback. Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen are both options but few, if any, teams will have them higher than Suh on their draft board. Are the Rams willing to pass over higher rated players to reach for a position of need? General Manager Billy Devaney is only in his second year on the job so its too early to know how he’s likely to handle this situation.

The best case scenario for the Rams is to entice a team to trade up for Suh. The Bucs would appear to be the most likely candidate to make that move. If the Rams pass on Suh, the Lions will take him without even thinking twice, meaning the Bucs have zero chance of landing Suh in their current position. The Bucs would have to package this year’s 1st and 2nd-round picks at a minimum to move up two spots, but its possible that they will covet Suh enough to make that move.

Ultimately its too early to tell who the Rams will select, but it would be difficult to imagine a scenario where the to pick is someone other than Suh, Bradford or Clausen. Its likely that this is a rare year where we really don’t know who will go No. 1 until the day of the draft. The Rams should keep their phone lines open until the time on the clock runs out

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Rams Comments Off