Greg Gabriel
The Director's Report


By now, most of you have probably read at least 10 articles about the Tom Brady suspension being overturned by Federal Judge Richard Berman. I don’t want to bore you by rehashing what has already been written by countless writers all over the country. I will say that by just watching and reading on how Judge Berman has reacted to this case during hearings, the outcome is not surprising to me. I fully expected the suspension to be overturned. I also fully expected the NFL to appeal the decision, which they did late Thursday afternoon. Is it in the best interest of the League to appeal the ruling?

I get that the NFL almost has to appeal because, going forward, if they don’t, every time the Commissioner punishes a player, the result will end up in a federal court room. In the eyes on the NFLPA, the Commissioner has basically been stripped of his power. That power was given to him by terms of the current collective bargaining agreement.

With the NFL now losing five times in court recently when discipline has been handed out, it might be best for the league to hammer out a new agreement on player discipline with the players union.

Commissioner Rodger Goodell is in a no-win situation. He gets criticized for being too soft in the Ray Rice ruling and for being too hard in the Brady and Adrian Peterson rulings. The criticism has been so strong that many fans have a general perception that the league is being run very poorly.

While I believe that Mr. Goodell has done an outstanding job in leading the league to unprecedented growth, it is time for him to step aside in the area of player discipline. The main reason being that no matter how he rules, the NFLPA will take the outcome to court. No one needs that, not the NFL, not the NFLPA.

Years ago when I was a young scout, one of my mentors (George Young) and I were having a conversation about a situation at an All Star game. He said to me, “Greg, all I know is that when it’s fourth and long you punt….it’s time to punt.” That analogy could be used now. The way things have gone for the league in court lately, it is fairly obvious that it’s fourth and long and time for the Commissioner to punt. Put final say on player disciplinary matters in the hands of a non-partial, FAIR party.

The only way that both the Union and the NFL can reach an agreement is if this non-partial arbitrator is agreed upon by both parties, and he is given a set term in which to rule. When he makes a ruling, it is final and can no longer be appealed by either side.

The problem the league has now is that penalties have been too arbitrary. It seems as if each case draws a different punishment instead of being uniform in any way. That can no longer be the case. Penalties have to be spelled out in advance so that players know if they break a rule what the penalty for the crime will be. There is no problem with having discipline, as long as the discipline is fair and fits the crime. If that happens, we won’t be seeing the circus that has gone in the NFL the last few years. It’s time to play football not live in a court room!

Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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Austin Morris
NFP Fresh Voices


The number one guy catching passes for the Pittsburgh Panthers this fall is redshirt junior Tyler Boyd. Boyd stands at 6’2” and 200 lbs. This is Boyd’s third year starting for the Panthers, and he is considered to be one of the best receivers that could possibly declare for the 2016 NFL Draft. He will miss the first week of the regular season due to being suspended for a DUI in the offseason. Here are the 2014 season stats for Boyd:

  • 1,261 receiving yards off of 78 receptions
  • 16.2 yards per catch
  • 8 receiving touchdowns
  • 16 kick returns for 442 yards
  • 27.6 return average

Games scouted:

Georgia Tech (2014), Miami (2014), Duke (2014), UNC (2014), Virginia Tech (2014), vs Houston (2014)

Strengths:

Boyd is a four-star recruit out of Clairton High School in Clairton, Pennsylvania. He is the best receiver to play at Pitt since the days of Larry Fitzgerald. He has a nice build for an NFL receiver, is tall enough, but could add on some more weight. He is a very proficient route runner and was asked to run multiple types of routes at Pitt. He runs crisp, smooth routes and does not take any unnecessary steps. He can make very quick moves to leave a defender standing in one spot, while he runs uncovered down the field. Boyd plays very loose, and the receiver position seems natural. He is a very good pass catcher, and for the most part, he catches the ball with his hands; it usually depends on where the ball is thrown. He is a receiver who can go up for the 50/50 ball and come down with it. Multiple times saw him beat double coverage and win the battle. he does well against zone coverage and can easily find the holes so his QB can get the ball to him. He does equally well against man coverage and can beat anybody one-on-one. He has faced some press coverage and does not seem to have a problem separating from it. He has some experience as a punt/kick returner. He is a very patient return man and waits for his lane to develop before going full speed. He is a durable receiver, has taken a beating in many games, and has endured it.

Weaknesses:

He will be suspended one game this season because of a DUI conviction. He is a very poor run blocker. On about 95% of run plays, the guy he was assigned to block ended up making the tackle. He doesn’t square up and block, instead almost lunging at the defender. He doesn’t put up a fight and is a pushover on run plays. It wouldn’t hurt for him to beef up a little bit more. He muffed two punts last season against UNC and Virginia Tech. He has some slight awareness issues, has had false start calls on him and holding calls in the blocking game.

The Bottom Line:

Boyd is one of the best receivers heading into next year’s draft. His route running, hands, and ability to go up and make a tough catch are excellent. However, his one off the field issue is a concern to me. If he can move past this, play good ball, and keep his nose clean, it won’t be as big of an issue on Draft day. Given the recent need for high quality receivers on NFL teams, Boyd is an easy first rounder. Granted, he may not have the explosiveness of Kevin White or the size of Breshad Perriman, but he is a consistent player who does not take plays off. I am extremely interested to see how he does this season against the very competitive ACC. This year, he will face off against some tough competition like Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and Notre Dame. With a new head coach, a more experienced QB, and some decent competition, I can see Boyd having another 1,000 yard season and about 10 receiving touchdowns. Pitt’s offense will likely continue to run the ball first and pass second, but I still see a great season for Boyd.

Austin Morris is the creator of The Scouting Lab. He is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached at amorris3585@scc.stanly.edu

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Greg Gabriel
The Director's Report


It seemed like it would never get here, but the 2015 college football season is finally here. While there are no marquee matchups tonight, there are a few interesting battles. The first is North Carolina at South Carolina. While neither team is expected to compete for their respective conference titles, both have some quality players who will be playing in the NFL in the near future.

On the North Carolina roster the leading senior prospects are offensive guard Landon Turner and wide receiver Quinshad Davis. On South Carolina the top seniors are safety Isaiah Johnson, offensive tackle Brandon Shell and running back Brandon Wilds.

While South Carolina always has been able to put points on the board their defense has not been able to stop anyone. That could change this year as highly respected Jon Hoke takes over as the Gamecocks defensive coordinator. Hoke has spent the last 13 years in the NFL and will run a very attacking style defense. It will be interesting to see what he throws at North Carolina tonight.

The other interesting matchup tonight will be Jim Harbaugh’s return to college football as the new Head Coach of Michigan. The former Wolverine quarterback has brought a lot of excitement to Ann Arbor. Michigan fans hope this game at Utah is the beginning of Michigan becoming a dominant Big Ten team again. Tonight’s game at Utah won’t be easy as the senior class at Utah has at least nine NFL prospects playing. The best are running back Devonte Booker and linebacker Jared Norris.

Friday Night

Opening weekend continues with eight D-I games. Again there are no top matchups but there are two interesting games. Washington Head Coach Chris Peterson returns to play against Boise State where he had eight very successful seasons as their Head Coach. Because it’s a homecoming-type game for Peterson, the game will have extra importance for him.

Washington’s top senior NFL prospect is offensive guard Dexter Charles while Boise State also has some good NFL prospects in offensive linemen Marcus Henry and Rees Odhiambo.

The other game with interest is Michigan State visiting Western Michigan. While this game should be easily won by the Spartans, Western Michigan Head Coach P.J. Fleck wants to show the country that he can get his MAC team ready for the big boys. There are some who feel that Fleck will be coaching at a Power-5 school in the near future.

The other interesting side item in this game is the senior debut of Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook. Going into the season, Cook is thought of as one of the best – if not the best –  senior NFL quarterback prospects in the country. Earlier this week it was revealed that Cook was not elected captain of the Michigan State team on a vote of his teammates. On the surface this may not seem like a big deal, but when you have a quarterback who is a three-year starter not elected captain, NFL scouts will surely look into why. By the nature of the position, the quarterback is supposed to be the team leader, so not getting the vote of his teammates will be looked at closely.

Michigan State has another upper echelon prospect in defensive end Shilique Calhoun. Many thought Calhoun would come out last year but he did the right thing by staying in school and working on improving his game. He will be the better for it and could very well be a high first round pick.

Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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Danny Shimon
NFP Fresh Voices


With the recent news that the Washington Redskins named Kirk Cousins the starting quarterback for the 2015 season, the RGIII era in the nation’s capital may have finally been put to rest. Although head coach Jay Gruden refused to acknowledge it publicly, insisting that Griffin still had a future with the team, the writing has been on the wall for some time now. For Gruden to go back to Griffin now (assuming there are no injuries) could be viewed as a second-year coach yielding to the owners demands. This could lead players to question Gruden’s authority, and eventually cause him to lose the locker room.

The fall from grace for Griffin, who was the 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year, has been well documented. After a terrific rookie season, in which he helped lead the Redskins to a 9-7 record, the NFC East Division crown, and the playoffs; injuries and ineffective play have been a significant part of his downfall in Washington.

Instead of looking back, we want to look ahead as to what might become of Griffin’s career and where might he have a chance to revive it. There are a number of opinions out there about where Griffin needs to go and who might be able to reach him and bring out his best. Suggestions that he needs to be with a quarterback friendly coach like Andy Reid in Kansas City, Chip Kelly with the Eagles, or Bruce Arians and the Cardinals are some of the popular options. On the other hand, some are openly questioning whether or not Griffin can ever become the player many projected when he was drafted second overall in the 2012 NFL Draft.

My belief is that if placed on the right team RGIII can still have a productive career albeit maybe not an All-Pro one, but one where he can contribute to the success of a franchise. The situation in Washington has become too toxic for him to even attempt to rectify, instead Griffin and his representatives need to get him out of there as soon as possible. Griffin has done himself no favors by alienating many of his teammates in the locker room. It would appear Griffin will need to do some soul searching and determine what went wrong in Washington, and see how he can learn from the mistakes he made there. On the field, Griffin needs to go to a franchise where there is a dire need for a quarterback, one that already has someone who is the “face of the franchise”, and where he can blend in and not be the center of attention. My ideal situation for Griffin would be the Buffalo Bills.

The Bills have been trying to clean up their own mess at quarterback since Jim Kelly retired. The list of various quarterbacks who have taken snaps from center for the Bills includes the likes of Todd Collins, Alex Van Pelt, Doug Flutie, Rob Johnson, Drew Bledsoe, J.P. Losman, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Trent Edwards, Kyle Orton, and E.J. Manuel. On Monday head Coach Rex Ryan added another name to that prestigious list by naming Tyrod Taylor the starter for this season. The Bills may not be top of mind when it comes to possible future homes for Griffin, but in my opinion they might just be the perfect match.

In Head Coach Rex Ryan, RGIII would be playing for a defensive-minded coach for the first time in his career. What Ryan would lack in offensive prowess he more than makes up in charisma, personality, and charm. How this helps Griffin is that Ryan has already taken Buffalo by storm, and has essentially turned the Bills into “His” team. Griffin would not have to deal with the media glare and pressure of being the franchise savior, he would not have to be wary of saying something to the media that could be construed as being controversial or self-promoting. Instead Ryan’s presence and penchant to make bold and sometimes brash statements would help Griffin blend into the background and be – something he has never been before – just another player on the team.

In Buffalo Griffin would be surrounded with playmakers at the skill positons such as Sammy Watkins, Percy Harvin, Robert Woods, Charles Clay, and a strong running game led by LeSean McCoy. In Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman, Griffin would have a coach who is familiar with coordinating an offense structured around a mobile quarterback. Before joining Ryan in Buffalo, Roman helped develop Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco. With that past experience in mind, Roman might be best suited to help Griffin get back to the form he showed his rookie year. With designed rollouts, quick slip screens, and a return to some read option plays, Roman would help limit the need for him to make reads while sitting in the pocket. Some of Griffin’s struggles as a pro, have been reading coverages and decision making while in the pocket. After his injuries the brain trust in Washington wanted to turn him into more of a pocket passer and limit him from having to run out and take unnecessary hits. Instead this hampered him as they went away from Griffin’s strengths, ones he displayed while playing for Art Briles at Baylor, which were utilizing his athleticism and the ability to make plays with his feet. Griffin has a very strong arm and has shown ability to throw on the run and deep with accuracy. With the Bills, Roman would once again have RGIII go back to playing more to his strengths as opposed to his weaknesses.

With the defensive unit the Bills are expected to have, the pressure for him to carry the load would no longer be there. Coupled with the strong running game the Bills should have, it would be asking RGIII to do less with more.

A divorce in Washington between Griffin and the Redskins is a necessity, no longer can the team and the player coexist. A glaring need at the quarterback position for a franchise looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 1999 might just be the way to make everyone happy.

Although not the sexy or obvious choice, the Buffalo Bills might be THE best choice for Robert Griffin III to help resuscitate a once promising career.

Danny Shimon is a graduate of Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. 

Follow Danny on Twitter @dshimon56

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Greg Gabriel
The Director's Report


In the spring of 2012, there were some media analysts and even some NFL personnel who were predicting that RGIII was a better prospect than Andrew Luck. The fact is RGIII was never a better prospect than Luck. Andrew Luck is a once-in-every-10-year type quarterback, in other words a generational player. Since he has come into the NFL he has proven that over and over.

Robert Griffin III, on the other hand, was an extremely gifted athlete who was still trying to learn how to play quarterback. Part of the problem was that the system he played in college was not conducive to developing NFL quarterbacks.

Art Briles is a great college coach, but his offensive system that was used when RGIII was at Baylor was based on speed an athleticism. The strategy was to spread the field out and let the best athlete on the field make plays. The scheme was actually fairly simple, it allowed Baylor to recruit top athletes and let them use their athleticism to outplay their opponents.

Because of the athleticism that Griffin III and the other skill position players had, they were able to put a lot of points on the board and basically just outscore their opponent each week. RGIII had little knowledge of reading defenses and playing within the confines of a structured and complex NFL offense.

RGIII had the basic skill set to become a very good NFL quarterback, but he needed time to develop. As a rookie, the Washington coaching staff kept things simple for Griffin and let him play within himself. The result was a rookie year that was sensational. He completed better than 65% of his throws for over 3,200 yards and 20 touchdowns. He looked like he would have a great future, but that hasn’t happened. He has regressed every year since. It is entirely possible that in the near future Griffin III may be a former Washington Redskin.

How can this happen? How can a player with that much talent not continue to improve and grow? Some may say it’s coaching, but that isn’t the answer. The answer is simple: RGIII lacks any kind of football character.

For most to succeed in the NFL they must have excellent football character. Don’t be confused, football character is not personal character, they really don’t have much to do with each other.

Football character is about the desire each player has to become great. It includes his work ethic, leadership, passion for the game and ability to be coached. Most players fail or bust because they lack a degree of football character. RGIII has great talent, but he lacks football character.

Going back to a comparison with Andrew Luck, Luck has superb football character. He loves the game and does everything he can to become the best player he can be. He has endeared himself to his teammates and is a strong leader. He is well liked and respected by both his teammates and coaches. That isn’t the case with RGIII. He is not the most liked person in the locker room and by all accounts he has very questionable work habits. He can’t improve if he doesn’t work at it.

When RGIII was growing up and in college everything came easy to him.  He was a very smart kid and the best athlete on campus.  When a player gets to the NFL, every player on every team is a great athlete, the best of the best. If a player wants to improve he has to work at it. Once RGIII got to the NFL he had never been in that kind of environment before. Things no longer came easy. He had to work and he didn’t know how.

Quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady didn’t become as good as they are because they lacked worked ethic. They are who they are because they put countless time and energy into becoming great. That is something RGIII doesn’t know how to do.

Can a change of scenery help Griffin III to develop? Maybe, but in reality the only person who can help Robert Griffin III become the player he has the talent to be is himself. He has to change his whole attitude about the game. That can be/is very difficult to do. I don’t know of many players who have been able to do that.

Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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