Millissa Beaton
NFP Fresh Voices


The cat is out of the bag. I have revealed my rookie crush for new Chiefs DB, Steven Nelson. If you are not as familiar with him, he is a defensive back the Chiefs selected in the third round in this year’s NFL Draft. Steven played two years at The College of the Sequoias in Visalia, California to help better his studies before transferring to Oregon State. Sometimes, people think a junior college player may not be as accomplished; but that was not the case here. After completing his studies, Oklahoma and USC, amongst others, offered him scholarships. Nelson chose the Oregon State Beavers.

Nelson looks to add to the Chiefs secondary in 2015

I have not spoken to him; but when we drafted him, I wanted to learn all about him. Ever since I started my introduction to scouting class, I have added watching game film to my analysis, and when I put on the tape, I came away with the following: Nelson is a physical corner and will make anyone work for a catch. He high points the ball well when playing against much bigger opponents. For instance, he held former Arizona State WR Jaelen Strong without a touchdown catch. In 2013, out of 14 passes defended, six were interceptions. In 2014, he had two interceptions. Remember Chief fans, six interceptions during the 2014 season. Yes, we need guys with ball skills. In addition, he has good run coverage. He will wrap up and effectively tackle the ball carrier. He did not miss a tackle last year at Oregon State.

Nelson is quick, however; if Phillip Dorsett has him beat, he will not be able to catch him. He has good game speed though. He looks faster than a 4.4 40-yard dash on tape. I don’t know about you; but a good friend who is now a coach told me once, “Sometimes you may not be the fastest or most skilled, but if you are prepared to work, game on.” I’m not saying he is the next Deion Sanders, but I do see Steven has good, natural instincts. He will, no doubt, make some mistakes, but he was taken because he has great football character and good instincts. He wants to be a great football player. Adding him and Marcus Peters to a secondary with Phillip Gaines and Sean Smith can only help. He is wearing #20. Remember that, you will need it when you place your order for a Chiefs’ @Nelson_island jersey.

Want to let me know what you think? @sportswizard28

Millissa Beaton is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. Follow her on Twitter @SportsWizard28

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Ken Crippen and Matt Reaser
Football History


NAME: Dick Schafrath
POSITION: LT
TEAMS: 1959-71 Cleveland Browns
UNIFORM NUMBER: 80 (1959), 77 (1960-71)

Overall Analysis

STRENGTHS
• Excellent downfield blocker
• Very competitive

WEAKNESSES
• Can lose his balance on occasion
• Can get pushed back in pass protection
• Defenders could stand him up, getting him to lose leverage

BOTTOM LINE Schafrath’s game had some deficiencies. In pass protection, he could get pushed back, beaten on the edge and lose his balance. However, it did not often result in negative plays. Defenders could get pressure on the quarterback, but did not sack the quarterback. He was effective in getting downfield to block on sweeps and screens. Was weak with his cut blocks. Struggled to maintain balance in pass protection.

GRADING SPECIFIC FACTORS
OVERALL ATHLETICISM (QAB): 7.4
QUICKNESS: 7.5
AGILITY: 7.8
BALANCE: 7.0
STRENGTH AND EXPLOSION: 7.1
COMPETITIVENESS: 7.9
MENTAL ALERTNESS: 7.5
INSTINCTS: 7.5
RUN BLOCKING: 7.6
PASS BLOCKING: 7.2

OVERALL GRADE 7.5

NUMBER OF GAMES REVIEWED: 4

GAME: December 27, 1964 – Baltimore Colts: 7.8
BOTTOM LINE The film is of poor quality. This film is a highlight film. As a result, not all plays are shown. Schafrath played left tackle and faced right defensive end Ordell Braase (#81). He was very good in both run blocking and pass protection. At one point in the third quarter, Brasse got around Schafrath and caused a fumble in the backfield. It was not shown how Brasse got around Schafrath. He may have released Brasse in order to block downfield, as he had on a few other plays in the game. The film did not show Schafrath getting beat, but it did show him getting pushed around and pushed back. Schafrath was knocked off balance on occasion. Very competitive. Very good athleticism to get out in front of screens and sweeps.

GAME: October 8, 1966 – Pittsburgh Steelers: 7.3
BOTTOM LINE: This is a Game of the Week film. As a result, not all plays are shown. Schafrath played left tackle and faced right defensive end Ben McGee (#60). Schafrath struggled at times in pass protection. McGee was able to get good penetration into the offensive backfield, especially on a bull rush. In the second quarter, Schafrath blocked McGee low. McGee jumped over him and pressured quarterback Frank Ryan (#13). Later in the second quarter, Schafrath did an excellent job picking up a stunting linebacker Rod Breedlove (#63). Schafrath was knocked off balance on a few occasions. Very good run blocking downfield. Schafrath left the game in the fourth quarter, when the game was well in hand. He was replaced by John Brown (#70). Overall, Schafrath was beaten around the edge, pushed back, thrown around and missed some cut blocks. However, none of this led to negative plays.

GAME: October 30, 1966 – Atlanta Flacons: 7.8
BOTTOM LINE: This is a Game of the Week film. As a result, not all plays are shown. Schafrath played left tackle and faced right defensive end Sam Williams (#88). Excellent downfield blocking. In the second quarter, he made a very good block out in front of a sweep. Very good in pass protection. However, there were times when he stood too straight up and lost leverage against the defender. He was repeatedly pushed back into the pass pocket, as well as knocked off balance.

GAME: September 21, 1970 – New York Jets: 7.0
BOTTOM LINE: Schafrath played left tackle. Depending on the formation, he faced either right defensive end Verlon Biggs (#86) or right defensive tackle John Elliott (#80). Schafrath was very good in run blocking. However, he was a little slow when pulling to the opposite side of the field to block on the sweep. He struggled in pass protection. Lateral movement was not smooth and he was slow to get into his stance, which made him relatively easy to knock off balance. On several occasions, the defender was able to get by him to pressure quarterback Bill Nelsen. In the first quarter, he made a good cut block on a screen pass. However, in the same quarter, he was run over by Biggs. He was repeatedly beat on the edge. With all of these struggles in pass protection, he did not give up a sack.

HISTORIC REPORTS GRADING SCALE

Hall of Fame
9.0 – Rare
8.5 – Exceptional to Rare
8.0 – Exceptional

Hall of Very Good
7.5  – Very Good to Exceptional
7.0 – Very Good
6.5 – Good to Very Good

Other
6.0 – Good
5.5 – Above Average to Good
5.0 – Above Average
4.5 – Average to Above Average

Ken Crippen is the former executive director of the Professional Football Researchers Association. He has researched and written about pro football history for over two decades. He won the Pro Football Writers of America’s Dick Connor Writing Award for Feature Writing and was named the Ralph Hay Award winner by the Professional Football Researchers Association for lifetime achievement on pro football history.

Matt Reaser is a member of the Professional Football Researchers Association and serves on multiple PFRA committees. He has written articles on football history and recently contributed towards a book on the 1966 Packers. He has researched high school, college and professional football. He is a former high school quarterback.

Follow Ken on Twitter @KenCrippen

































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Matt Pearce
NFP Fresh Voices


The 10th edition of HBO’s Hard Knocks has been announced for the 2015 season and the cameras will be following the Houston Texans during training camp.

This is the first time that the Texans will appear on the television series. (Only Dallas and Cincinnati have appeared twice.)

While the series focuses on the team as a whole, every year there are certain storylines, players and coaches that play essential roles. Who could fill that role in 2015?

J.J. Watt

The most dominant player in football right now, Watt is likely one of the main reasons the Texans are on the show. Even if you aren’t a Houston fan, you have to appreciate what he is doing. His devotion to the game is well known and now everyone will get an inside look at how he prepares for the season. There is no doubt that Watt will be one of the stars of Hard Knocks this year.

Quarterback Competition: Brian Hoyer vs. Ryan Mallett

Despite an unsettled quarterback position, the Texans were able to finish the 2014 season with a 9-7 record, just missing the playoffs. This year, there will be another battle for the quarterback spot, this time between Hoyer and Mallett. Hoyer joins Houston from Cleveland, where he had the Browns playing relevant football again. Mallett re-signed with the Texans after starting two games last season before tearing a pectoral muscle, sidelining him for the season. Will the veteran Hoyer or the strong-armed Mallett line up under center for Houston next season?

The Return of Jadeveon Clowney

The number one overall selection of the 2014 NFL Draft, Clowney was one of the best defensive prospects to enter in the NFL in recent years. However, his rookie year didn’t go as planned. He suffered a knee injury in week one and then returned to play in weeks eight, 11 and 12 before being shut down for the year. In early December, he underwent microfracture surgery on his right knee. Microfracture surgery is known not only for long rehab times, but a lot of players never return to the same level. How will Clowney recover from this surgery? Hard Knocks should give us an inside look.

Bill O’Brien

Head coaches play an essential role in Hard Knocks for obvious reasons. O’Brien is entering his second season as the head coach of the Texans. Despite very little contribution from his rookies and playing four quarterbacks, O’Brien reversed the Texans’ fortunes last season, turning them into a 9-7 squad, just a year removed from going 2-14. Coming from the Bill Belichick coaching tree, O’Brien probably isn’t thrilled to be featured on Hard Knocks. In spite of this, he is going to be a key person in the television series.

Arian Foster

Known as one of the best NFL players to follow on Twitter, Foster is not only the Texans’ star running back, but a character perfectly suited for the Hard Knocks environment. Houston will rely on the 28-year old running back for heavy offensive production again this season. In training camp, he is sure to provide a few memorable moments, just like he has done on Twitter.

Replacing a Legend

For just the second time in franchise history, the Houston Texans will take the field without wide receiver Andre Johnson. The only other time was the first season in franchise history, which was a year before the Texans drafted him. After 12 seasons in Houston, their legendary receiver is now playing with division rival Indianapolis. Replacing Johnson will mainly fall upon the shoulders of DeAndre Hopkins, who actually had more receiving yards and touchdowns than Johnson last season.

Breakout Star: Mike Vrabel

The former New England outside linebacker, best known for his exploits as a goal line tight end, is currently the linebackers coach for the Texans. A rising star in the coaching world, the 39-year old enters his second season with the Texans after three years as an assistant at Ohio State, his alma mater. Vrabel is already well known due to his playing career, but Hard Knocks has a chance to catapult his coaching career.

Matt Pearce is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp and is a journalism student at the University of Nebraska. Follow him on Twitter @Matt_Pearce13

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Austin Morris
NFP Fresh Voices


Coming out of THE Ohio State University is a QB whose name has been heard by many who follow the college football scene, Braxton Miller. Miller, a 6’2”, 215 pound, Redshirt Senior is coming off of a torn labrum he suffered prior to the start of last season. Miller has made a name for himself at OSU having quite a lot of production in his time at the school; here are his career stats so far:

  • 5,292 passing yards
  • 52 passing touchdowns and 17 interceptions
  • 3,054 rushing yards and 5.5 rushing average
  • 32 rushing touchdowns

Miller’s mechanics were absolutely hideous in 2011 and 2012, so he took the time prior to the 2013 season to focus on improving. The change was quite noticeable as his TD/INT ratio greatly dropped and he played more consistent football. There is no rock solid guarantee that Miller will be starting this season. Coach Urban Meyer has quite a decision to make on who he will start at the QB position. Will he start Cardale Jones, J.T. Barrett, or Miller? Any one of these guys could start and help OSU win another National Championship. Regardless of what the final depth chart will look like, here are some pre-season notes on Braxton Miller:

Strengths:

He throws a tight spiral, which is surprising considering he wears gloves on both hands during most games. The gloves are present usually during rain, snow, or colder weather. He does a good job of spreading the ball evenly to his receivers. On deeper throws, he does a nice job of stepping up in the pocket to avoid the edge rush. He does an adequate job of throwing against zone coverage. He seems to be aware of the down and distance set in front of him. He does a nice job reading the defensive end on read option plays. He usually tries to go through at least two reads before he scrambles. He is an extremely fast QB who can change directions on a dime. He has experience playing in unfavorable weather conditions. Throughout his college career, he has faced some of the best defenses in the nation.

Weaknesses:

Miller suffered a torn labrum prior to the 2014 season. He rarely throws the ball down the middle of the field and mostly throws to the right and the left sides. Miller struggles greatly when throwing against man coverage. His ball placement is absolutely atrocious; he does not allow his receivers to do much after the catch. He has a little bit of a windup on his throws that should be shortened some. He has spent most of his career in the Shotgun formation, with not much experience under center. Miller has some serious ball control issues (10 fumbles in 2013). He would rather run than throw the ball away. Miller rarely completes his deep throws.

Info from charted games (2013 vs Iowa, Michigan State, Penn State, and Illinois)

Realistic Completion Percentage

  • Behind Line of Scrimmage to Line of Scrimmage-82% completion rate on 31 attempts
  • Line of Scrimmage to 10 yds-62% completion rate on 32 attempts
  • 11 yards to 25 yards-53% completion rate on 20 attempts
  • 25 yards or greater-24% completion rate on 18 attempts

Completion Percentage on Man and Zone coverages

  • 48% Completion Percentage vs. 38 Man Defense Plays
  • 68% Completion Percentage vs. 62 Zone Defense Plays

Preseason Prediction:

Overall, I feel Braxton Miller has a chance at having a Heisman like season and could possibly have one of National Championship caliber. Even with a great year, I don’t see Miller becoming a successful pro QB due to his poor ball placement and inability to throw successfully beyond the Line of Scrimmage. Also, I feel his type of play will not translate to the NFL. Prior QBs before him at Ohio State are perfect examples. Troy Smith and Terelle Pryor both were excellent quarterbacks for the Buckeyes, but their athletic talent only got them so far. NFL history also dictates that unless they are put in the right offense, run n’ gun QBs do not do well. I currently believe Miller will be drafted in the 5th Round, and it will take a great deal of improvement in the 2015 season to change my mind.

Austin is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. Reach him by e-mail at amorris3585@scc.stanly.edu

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Greg Gabriel
The Director's Report


 The other day, while driving in my car, I was listening to the radio, and the talk was about the Tennessee Titans. The two hosts were discussing who would be the starting quarterback in Tennessee this season, second year player Zach Mettenberger or rookie Marcus Mariota. In my opinion, there is no debate. It’s Mariota, hands down. Mettenberger shouldn’t even be in the discussion.

Why do I say that? Simply put, Mettenberger is no better than an average backup in the NFL.He has no “special” to him. Mariota, on the other hand, coming from the offense he came from at Oregon, needs some development; but he is loaded with “special”.

Mettenberger was a sixth round draft choice for a reason.He wasn’t considered a premium round prospect. The two things he had going for him were his height and his strong arm. It ends there. Mettenberger, who has had two ACL injuries, is a very average athlete. Before the second injury during his final season at LSU, he had virtually no mobility. Playing behind a very good LSU offensive line, he still took a number of sacks and hits. He never had a good feel for pass rushers and didn’t have the quick feet and lateral agility to avoid them when he saw them coming.

While he has a very strong arm and spins the ball well, his accuracy and ball placement were average, especially on longer throws. This was with two of the best receivers in college football in 2013, Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., and playing in an NFL-style offense.

His overall football character was worrisome as well. He was not known as a top worker, and there were many who questioned if his passion for the game was what it should be. Does he really want to be a great player and do all it takes to become one? Leadership skills were also a question mark.

As a rookie in 2014, Mettenberger got to play in seven games. There are some who raved about his play. I wasn’t one of them. His numbers were not that impressive. He completed 107 of 179 passes for 1412 yards and eight touchdowns. He also threw seven interceptions and fumbled four times. As a runner, he got all of four yards on five carries. Put it all together, and you have what amounts to an average NFL backup who may be able to win a couple of games if he has to play. He is by no means a starting-caliber player that a team can win with in the NFL. Do you really think that Tennessee would have taken Mariota if they thought Mettenberger could win in the league?

Granted, Mariota is a work I progress, he played in a quick paced zone read option offense. He seldom played from under center, and a majority of his throws were quick read throws to his first or second option. He seldom had to read the whole field and has accuracy problems on downfield throws.

Mariota has an abundance of athleticism and football character. His athleticism and speed are rare for an NFL quarterback. He can extend and make plays with his feet, and because of that, it will make him a better passer as defenses have to prepare for his movement skills. As for character and football character, he is second to none. He will do whatever it takes to become a top player.

I am hoping that Tennessee does with Mariota what Minnesota did with Teddy Bridgewater. Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner kept the game simple for Bridgewater. He didn’t put too much on his plate. He let Bridgewater do what he did best and didn’t try to make him do things he wasn’t ready for. This led to Bridgewater having a very good rookie season.

Tennessee has to do the same thing. Don’t overload him, and let him do what he does well. If they do that, he will play with confidence, and his development will be quicker. I have no doubt that by year three, Marcus Mariota will be one of the better quarterbacks in the league.

Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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