Posts by Erik Oehler

Draft Profile: Jack Allen, MSU

Jack Allen

Wherever Jack Allen lines up, his impact is palpable.

Anchoring the line as center at Hinsdale Central High School, in west suburban Chicago and then at Michigan State, Allen sets a standard of excellence. When the National Football League draft takes place in Chicago, Il. [April 28-30], Allen will be watching at home with

Wherever Jack Allen lines up, his impact is palpable.

Anchoring the line as center at Hinsdale Central High School, in west suburban Chicago and then at Michigan State, Allen sets a standard of excellence. When the National Football League draft takes place in Chicago, Il. [April 28-30], Allen will be watching at home with his parents, John and Leslie, and two brothers, waiting to hear where he will be heading for his professional career.

Allen felt a comfort zone visiting the East Lansing, Mi. campus.

“I had three offers, Wisconsin, which wanted me to play nose tackle, Iowa and Michigan State,” he said. “The big selling point Michigan State made was how hard it would be, in practice and in the offseason.

Allen, Jack

Photo courtesy of Michigan State Athletic Communications

“The first thing [strength and conditioning] coach Ken Mannie said, ‘If you don’t like to work hard, this is not the place for you! That’s been true from day one; we take a lot of pride in our work ethic as a team.”

A four-year starter and two-time All-American, Allen’s weight was felt on the line and locker room. A state champion wrestler and three-time finalist, his mat skills translated quite well to the gridiron.

“Wrestling helped me more than anything else in my career; I’d never be in the position where I am now,” said Allen, whose dad, wrestled at Hinsdale Central and was a heavyweight at Purdue in the 1980s. Jack had his first match in second grade. Brothers Brian (2013) and Matt (2016) were also state champions. “The hand fighting, body position, leverage, mental toughness and hard work all apply to playing the line.”

A four-time All-Academic Big Ten selection, who graduated last December with a degree in business hospitality, Allen came in at 285, was up to 315, but is currently under 300. A top five center in all draft publications, who was interviewed by 27 teams, Allen projects as a third-fifth round selection.

“I feel quick at this weight,” he said. “I’ve studied a lot of film and I feel I know offensive schemes like the back of my hand. I’ve tried to excel in everything I do. It’s been a step by step process to get here. I have no idea who is interested in me, but I am anxious to get started.”

Allen’s adroit assets where appreciated by offensive line coach Mark Staten.

Jack Allen

Photo courtesy of Michigan State Athletic Communications

“Jack’s wrestling background definitely helps,” said Staten. “On the line, it’s an individual matchup. A wrestler’s mentality is, ‘I have to beat my guy.’ All the Allen brothers [Brian, who started last fall at left guard, Matt will be a freshman at MSU in the fall] carry that trait well. Leverage is a big part, he can feel which way guys are moving and use his leverage against them. I’ve seen Jack overpower a lot of guys who were bigger than him.

“Our whole line and team fed off Jack, he’s a tremendous leader and I know he’ll continue to be in the NFL. Jack has an incredible skill set. He’s capable of playing guard, he has terrific quickness and a great first step. He has a great desire to learn and sharp football mind. He’ll spend hours studying to figure out an opponent’s weakness. He’s got the mark of a champion.”

Staten wouldn’t be surprised if Allen was used as a goal line fullback.

“Jack is a great athlete,” he said. “Using him at fullback allowed us to give the defense different looks and gave us plenty of thump at the point of attack. He’s also able to catch if you want to throw it to him.”

Seth Schwartz is a freelance writer in Chicago. He can be reached atseth.schwartz@sbcglobal.net

Read More 598 Words

Rex, please don’t do this…

Rex Ryan

Hi, Rex. It's me, Erik. Great win Saturday!

I mean it, you guys looked great!

Yeah, I know! EJ looked good! I saw both of his touchdowns.

Yeah...that's kinda what I'm calling about. Listen, I know you're getting it from all sides right now. You've got guys in your ear, in the locker room, maybe even

Hi, Rex. It’s me, Erik. Great win Saturday!

I mean it, you guys looked great!

Yeah, I know! EJ looked good! I saw both of his touchdowns.

Yeah…that’s kinda what I’m calling about. Listen, I know you’re getting it from all sides right now. You’ve got guys in your ear, in the locker room, maybe even in the front office, and they’re telling you things. Things that don’t sound so bad right now. Things that, after yesterday, you might be thinking about.

Well, things like the Earth is flat, dinosaurs didn’t exist, EJ is the guy…but yeah, mainly EJ is the guy.

No, I know. I know. I’m not saying he didn’t play really well Saturday. He did! Absolutely! But Rex, I’ve been here a while. I’ve watched a LOT of bad quarterbacks. And I’ve watched a lot of new coaches try to work with those bad quarterbacks. It’s not pretty, Rex. But, I’ve got good news for you. You don’t have to do that! You went out there. You got not one, but TWO solid guys in Matt Cassell and FROM VIRIGINIA TECH, WEARING NUMBER 5, YOUR STARTING QUARTERBACK OF THE FUTURE, TYROOOOOOOOOOOOOD TAYYYYYYYLOR-AYLOR-LOR!!!!!!

No, I don’t really have a favorite.

I mean, yeah, if you’re asking me, Tyrod played pretty well…Great, even! And then there’s Matt right behind him. And then EJ.

Yeah, so actually it’s just like Tyrod and then Matt…yeah.

So basically, Tyrod.

Tyrod.

Tyrod.

NOOOOOO! REX! No, Rex don’t do this! Don’t do this Rex. Rex, I want to tell you a story. A story about wasted years and lessons learned. It’s a story about a guy named “Dick”. Dick got a head coaching gig, right around here actually, and inherited the previous guy’s quarterback: a first round pick. We’ll call him “JP”. Dick liked what he saw of JP in camp and in the preseason, and couldn’t believe what they were hearing about him from the year before.

Oh, just things like, “He’s a bust”, and “We should draft another quarterback”, and “We benched him for Kelly Holcomb”.

Yeah, THAT Kelly Holcomb.

Well, if you really want to know, they were 7-9, Rex.

SEVEN and NINE. Oh, no, he wasn’t benched after that year. Oh no! You see, he had played JUST well enough to start again the NEXT year, even over the guy they drafted. He got injured shortly into the season, and they switched to another in a long line of sub-par QB’s…

But that’s nothing like this situation, no, not at all…except…

Well, except, you didn’t draft EJ, right?

Yeah, you didn’t draft him, and, oh wait, this is weird…but, he did get benched last year, pretty quickly for Kyle Orton, right? Kinda like JP did, right?

And they were both first round picks weren’t they?

At least their names aren’t similar or anything. JP. EJ. Losman. Manual. Man. J. J. Man.

Yeah, not similar at all…

Oh, Dick’s second year? 7-9.

Third was 7-9, too.

Fourth was 3-6 and they fired him.

Yeah, I’m not sure how he lasted that long either. But you know, new owners now. Team with playoff potential. Shorter leash, if you know what I mean.

What do you mean what do I mean? I just mean that maybe you should go with your gut back before this game. Let’s pretend this game didn’t happen. Wipe it out. I mean, it wasn’t exactly Revis and Cromartie out there. So, go back. And what was your gut saying?

Yeah? Mine too. Mine too, Rex.

Why should we forget how that felt just because we feel another way now? And why should we start JP, I MEAN EJ, when we’ve got someone you “hand-picked“, that you knew back when you were with the Jets was something special.

Do the right thing, Rex. We’re ready for something exciting in Buffalo. Someone who takes off forward when the pocket collapses, not someone who runs for their life. We want someone with a non-acronym first name, even if it makes people who don’t follow football think you’re talking about a car repair at first. We want someone with a visor, dammit.

That’s right Rex. It’s Tyrod time.

Follow me on Twitter @erikoehler

Read More 646 Words

Scouting Bootcamp in Chicago recap

This weekend, aspiring evaluators, coaches, writers, and General Managers from around the country attended our Scouting Bootcamp course in Chicago, with more joining via a live stream. The course spanned three days and covered, in depth, player evaluation at every position, and the life of a scout. Taught by former Bears' Director of Scouting, Greg

This weekend, aspiring evaluators, coaches, writers, and General Managers from around the country attended our Scouting Bootcamp course in Chicago, with more joining via a live stream. The course spanned three days and covered, in depth, player evaluation at every position, and the life of a scout. Taught by former Bears’ Director of Scouting, Greg Gabriel, and held at University Conference Center, the course was well received and enthusiastic students made it an outstanding experience. Our sincerest thanks to those who attended, and we hope to offer the course again soon. A recording of the entire weekend will be available for purchase soon as well.

Below are some photos from the event:
IMG_2269IMG_2273unnamed

Read More 52 Words

“Typical” Bills no more

Rex

I remember the Music City Miracle like it was yesterday. I was home on break from college and had to work. I was a pit man at a now defunct oil change shop in Cheektowaga (suburb of Buffalo). Y2K had come and gone without a hitch. And for some reason that stumps people in bars throughout

I remember the Music City Miracle like it was yesterday. I was home on break from college and had to work. I was a pit man at a now defunct oil change shop in Cheektowaga (suburb of Buffalo). Y2K had come and gone without a hitch. And for some reason that stumps people in bars throughout Buffalo every time that game comes up, Rob Johnson got the start over Doug Flutie. You know how it ends. We sat there, huddled around a TV the manager brought in as Kevin Dyson scored, and somebody said, “Next year I guess.” Of course! Next year. There was always next year. Almost every year of my adolescence involved Bills’ football in January. Had I foreseen the decade-and-a-half playoff drought that would follow, I could have saved myself a lot of disappointment and bitterness.

And those are all from the same game! I’m not proud of this. It has made me the worst kind of Bills’ fan. I’m the guy you hate to watch games with. As soon as I see EJ Fitzlospatricktonwards (pick any of them) go three-and-out, I’m the first one to throw in the towel. I’ve explained this in previous articles and an unhealthy amount of gameday tweets, but this off-season has changed me.

The 2015 Buffalo Bills are a different team. For 15 seasons, I’ve watched defensive stars, just entering their prime, walk away at the end of their contracts, yet I woke up this morning to find Jerry Hughes resigned. I’ve watched teams so devoid of offensive firepower that Stevie Johnson was the number one receiver for SEVERAL YEARS and a front office that limps into free agency like they are walking to their death. This year, they traded an unnecessary part for a star running back before it even started. I’ve watched coaches who are almost apologetic for being the Bills in their play-calling. Now we’ve got a coach who wants to bully the Patriots and made his truck into a tailgater’s dream. These are not the traits of the same team that lost 6-3 against Cleveland in 2009 or the team that couldn’t beat the Raiders with their season on the line in 2014.

It’s different. And it’s going to take a while for the Buffalo faithful to come around to accepting it and to avoid applying what have become cliches in #BillsMafia. “We just don’t spend the money.” “They just don’t seem to want it.” “Typical Bills.” Stop. I call upon you all to erase those from your memory, and give Rex Ryan, this defense of monsters, and the one-two punch of Sammy Watkins and LeSean McCoy your full and undivided attention for the next few years. I’m not sure if it will translate to 11-5 or 1-15, but I know for the first year in many, I’m not dreading the first Patriots’ game this season.

The city of Buffalo, the people within it, and everything about Sunday are so much better when they’re good. What I remember most about the aforementioned Music City Miracle game was that we didn’t see a single car come through our shop the entire day. Even if we did, I’m not sure our manager would have let us work on it. The playoffs are holidays in Buffalo. A holiday that has been indefinitely suspended for 15 years. Get your Zubaz ready, Buffalo. It’s time.

Follow @erikoehler on Twitter

Read More 582 Words

Wait, what?: McCoy/Alonso trade

Alonso and McCoy

Is there a more exciting offseason transaction than a star player for star player, straight-up trade with your team involved? When the words hit my screen, every word of the headline on ESPN raised my heart rate just a little bit.

MCCOY! TO BILLS! IN BLOCKBUSTER!?!?!?

How? Who? What? Is

Is there a more exciting offseason transaction than a star player for star player, straight-up trade with your team involved? When the words hit my screen, every word of the headline on ESPN raised my heart rate just a little bit.

MCCOY! TO BILLS! IN BLOCKBUSTER!?!?!?

How? Who? What? Is this real life?

This is a paradox. Not because it doesn’t make sense for either team. It’s actually perfect for both of them. It’s the kind of trade you’d talk through with football cards when you were 10, but rarely see executed. When was the last time you saw all three of the following in one NFL trade?:

-Good player-for-good player on opposite sides of the ball
-No draft picks involved
-Both teams improve as a result

It doesn’t happen. Ever. The stars so rarely align with situations equal enough to get a deal like this done without additional compensation, even if it’s an extra 7th thrown in.

WHY BUFFALO WINS:

Rex Ryan wants to run the ball. A lot. C.J. Spiller never developed into the 20 carry back that merits a first round pick. Fred Jackson is in perennial, “He’s probably got another year in him” mode. Kiko Alonso had a sensational rookie year, but Buffalo didn’t exactly miss him in 2014 when he missed the entire season with a torn ACL. It was the most ferocious defense in years. And it may get even better under Ryan.

WHY PHILLY WINS:

McCoy just wasn’t working in Philly. Part of it might have been Chip Kelly wanting to spread it around conflicting with McCoy’s preseason quest for 2000 yards. Part of it might have been the beleaguered line throughout 2014. Who knows. And the Eagles’ defense, which saw great improvement in 2014, can take a step towards the elite with the addition of Alonso, whose versatile skillset shores up a suspect linebacking corps. Not to mention the cap implication for the Eagles, now on the hook for $1 million with Kiko as opposed to $11.95 million for McCoy.

Now if we can only talk them into a Foles for EJ Manuel trade…

Follow @erikoehler on Twitter

Read More 289 Words

WATCH: Full Jarryd Hayne Press Conference

Rugby League star Jarryd Hayne joined the San Francisco 49ers Monday night, making the announcement on Australian TV. Watch the press conference below.

We also have an extended look at Hayne's pro day which was held for NFL Scouts.

Follow @erikoehler on Twitter

Rugby League star Jarryd Hayne joined the San Francisco 49ers Monday night, making the announcement on Australian TV. Watch the press conference below.

We also have an extended look at Hayne’s pro day which was held for NFL Scouts.

Follow @erikoehler on Twitter

Read More -17 Words

Extended look: Jarryd Hayne’s Pro Day video

Monday evening, Rugby League star Jarryd Hayne announced he would be joining the San Francisco 49ers.

Here is an extended look at Hayne's Pro Day, during which he ran drills and was measured for NFL scouts.

Follow @erikoehler on Twitter

Monday evening, Rugby League star Jarryd Hayne announced he would be joining the San Francisco 49ers.

Here is an extended look at Hayne’s Pro Day, during which he ran drills and was measured for NFL scouts.

Follow @erikoehler on Twitter

Read More -20 Words

5 college reunions that could happen in the NFL Draft

bortles

1) Chip Kelly and Marcus Mariota

I imagine the Roseman/Kelly saga involved a conversation like this:

Roseman: Chip, where are the results?

Kelly: I just need the right guys! I told you, I need Oregon guys in the draft, and what do you give me?

Roseman: I did! I drafted Josh Huff and Taylor

1) Chip Kelly and Marcus Mariota

I imagine the Roseman/Kelly saga involved a conversation like this:

Roseman: Chip, where are the results?

Kelly: I just need the right guys! I told you, I need Oregon guys in the draft, and what do you give me?

Roseman: I did! I drafted Josh Huff and Taylor Hart!

Kelly: Yeah, no. I meant ALL Oregon guys. Give them all to me. They’re the only ones who truly understand me. Just let me do it next year.

This is the obvious one getting all the press, but Kelly’s love for Mariota (and many of his former players at Oregon) is well documented. With the 20th pick, it’s definitely a long-shot, but if Kelly isn’t sold on his current personnel, some of those pieces would be very attractive to some of the Top 5 teams. I’m looking at you Jags (McCoy?) and Titans (Foles?). Throw in a 3rd or a 4th, and it’s a deal. I don’t even like the Eagles, but it would be awesome to see Kelly’s offense take even 80% of the form it had in Oregon.

2) Teddy Bridgewater and DeVante Parker

If you put 2013 Bridgewater with 2014 Parker (who put up comparable numbers to his 2013 stats in half the games), I think Louisville has a better run than they did. Still, they were impressive together. Vikings’ GM Rick Spielman has already talked with Parker, and despite saying Bridgewater has nothing to do with it, it has to be tempting.

Look at these highlights. They’re like one singular mind, always knowing exactly where to place and find the ball.

3) Blake Bortles and Breshad Perriman

This would be a tough one to pull off. It would be insane to take him with the third pick with the other needs in Jacksonville (RB, OT, CB, etc..) and he might not last until the second round, but Perriman was Bortles favorite deep ball target at UCF. A trade down, or a trade back into the mid-to-late first might be worth it.

4) Teddy Bridgewater and Amari Cooper

This reunion is less talked about that Parker/Bridgewater, but the one that makes more sense for the Vikings. They played together at Miami Northwestern. Cooper is almost “uncoverable” in medium routes, an area where the Vikings were lacking in 2014. Parker is more of a deep threat. It comes down to whether Minnesota is convinced that Jarius Wright and/or Charles Johnson can become the primary long-ball target.

5) Jeremy Hill and Connor Neighbors

This is my sleeper pick. Hill had an impressive rookie year in Cincinnati averaging 5.1 yards per carry behind a sub-par line. The fullback is a dying breed in the NFL, and one I’d love to see resurrected. Watch this (at :46) or any number of Hill’s LSU highlights, and you’ll see Neighbors frequently paving the way. He’ll be available in the 6th or 7th round, so what have you got to lose?

Follow me on Twitter @erikoehler

Read More 427 Words

Josh McCown is a busy man

Earlier today, ESPN.com's Vaughn McClure posted:

Just a few days earlier, he was spotted at a Sabres' game (because when you want to impress, take your potential quarterback to watch your record-settingly

Earlier today, ESPN.com’s Vaughn McClure posted:

Just a few days earlier, he was spotted at a Sabres’ game (because when you want to impress, take your potential quarterback to watch your record-settingly bad, kind of intentionally tanking hockey team) with Greg Roman.

If you see McCown in an Applebee’s or an indoor soccer game in your city, don’t get too excited. You’re not the first.

Joking aside, McCown is very fortunate to be in the right place at the right time. With at least 10 teams having question marks at the quarterback position, a sub-par free agent pool, and no can’t-miss draft prospects, McCown, only two seasons removed from his best football can probably land himself a 2-3 year deal comparable to what Kyle Orton managed in Buffalo. (a little more if it is with the intention of making him the starter)

Follow me on Twitter @erikoehler

Read More 129 Words

Redskins: “Gruden anticipates RGIII being the starter going into the 2015 season.”

In an odd move, the Washington Redskins' Twitter account posted this:

What's odd about that? When was the last time you heard anyone name a starter

In an odd move, the Washington Redskins’ Twitter account posted this:

What’s odd about that? When was the last time you heard anyone name a starter in as shaky a QB situation as there seems to be in Washington before Free Agency even starts?

Whenever things like this “leak”, I’m always left questioning the motivation. In this case, this is either the start of what Greg Gabriel calls, “The Lying Season”, or they are really over assuring us. My bet is on the former, as there would be no reason why you would officially marry yourself to a starter with all the possibilities ahead of you. They are setting the market, trying to prop RGIII up as unattainable, and hoping to get a nice price for him.

Follow me on Twitter @erikoehler

Read More 89 Words

End of content

No more pages to load