In an era where we celebrate low integrity and personal responsibility with our celebrities and sports figures, I'd like to name a few young draft prospects that every team should want (...except Dallas...they should keep going after criminals and delinquents).
Rare physical gifts like a 4.30 40, 40" vertical, and repping 225 pounds 40 times are impressive. They give a player an advantage in every situation on the field. But that's why they play the game.
That's why were going to discuss some players who rely not only on strength and speed, but intangibles that will make their teams, teammates, organizations, and communities better.
Yep...those numbers are right. He's big, he ran a 4.50 40, and he repped 225 23 times.
In perspective, that's more than Aaron Maybin, Brandon Pettigrew, Michael Oher, and equals Eugene Monroe and Rey Maualuga. He's a WR, in case you guys were wondering.
His 37" vertical is jaw-dropping, but isn't impressive.
When sitting in front of the camera he said very simply: "I'm very grateful to be here" and "just trying to do everything possible to prepare for the pros." Since deciding to come out early, he has spent his free time training with former Broncos standout Rod Smith.
Not a bad mentor...
He can be summed up in a single stat: Allowed just one quarterback sack and four pressures on his last 798 pass plays…
While not the most agile interior lineman in the draft, Shipley compensates for a lack of athletic agility and overall power with his keen field awareness. He works well in the scheme and won't miss his block.
He knows how to sinks his pads and get under defenders. He adjusts quickly on the field and has a good understanding for calling out blocking assignments. He leads his offensive line both on and off the field calling all the plays...to include what to have for dinner.
Shipley is quick with his wit and becomes the de facto team spokesman. Respected by players and coaches alike, he is a pillar in the community with no off-field issues or injuries to speak of.
If players were graded on toughness alone, he'd be an All Pro. He aggressively attacks his target, even when he knows he is outmatched. Plays with intensity and aggression until the whistle blows and looks to eliminate his man.
He works hard in the weight room and playing field and attacks defenders like a bulldog. He is a team-first player, team leader, and makes everyone around him better.
James Laurinaitis is not a game-changing MLB, he's simply the safest defensive player you could draft this year. He never misses a game, and never misses a tackle.
This prototypical middle linebacker, and pro-wrestling progeny (his Dad was "The Animal" of the Road Warriors...uh...awesome) will always be the most fired up and controlled player on the field.
Most comparable to London Fletcher of the Washington Redskins, he draws significant comparison to Brian Urlacher of the Chicago Bears...probably because he's white.
"Lionitus" will be a 120 tackle machine for years and hopefully, for his sake, ends up in a large market so as to not get lost come Pro-Bowl time. His mantle is too crowded to list, we'll just call him Mr. Football.
He's a tremendous open-field tackler who closes on the ball...because he always knows where it is. A double-digit tackler every game, he racked up 18 in the BCS Championship game in 2007 against LSU. I don't think he shrinks in the big games...do you?
The kind of guy you want:
While a young man with one kidney and a heart of gold might not sound much like a prospective defensive end, he's a perfect fit for any organization. A high school quarterback, and giant physical specimen, he has all the tools necessary to make an instant and long-lasting impact on a football team and community.
Having lost his kidney in a childhood car accident, and suffering a stab-wound after showing up to a club to aid a friend, Paul Kruger has emerged as a remarkably unheralded DE/OLB NFL prospect. A devout Mormon missionary returned to football to record 61 tackles, 16.5 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks and seven pass breakups and was named All-Mountain West in 2008.
This 23-year old "charlie-hustle" fits the "tweener" role on shear size:speed ratio. Tall and rangy, his motor never stops when he's on the field and his 6'4" frame could add size without losing speed.
An Adelius Thomas style player, he could excel with a strong interior LB corp or interior DL. Paul is a tremendous second round steal for any team willing to see his tremendous upside and consider character and heart paramount.
Call him Mr. Smith, sir!
Jason Smith is an intelligent, hard-working student of the game. Quick to absorb the entire playbook and not merely his job on the field.
He's been called a model program player and a vocal leader in the locker room. He is a "yes sir, no sir" type who coaches call a good mentor for younger players. He's a classic warrior on the field with a tremendous work ethic.
A converted tight end, he worked hard in the weight room to add size and strength to player tackle...and he still has room to grow. Plays with spirit and enthusiasm and exploded off the snap with a hard drive and aggression. Plays under control with a flash of nastiness.
Smith is a team leader who loves football. A constant on the field, he's a sponge who will respond to patient coaching. Willing to put in work, his rapid progress after moving to tackle show he's willing to put in the film work.
Jason should be a Top 3 pick who could warrant movement up in the draft to grab him. Will be a perinneal team leader and "All-Pro".
My #1 defensive lineman...but what do I know:
While Brian Orakpo (DE), Everette Brown(DE), and B.J. Raji (DT) are getting all the attention, Tyson Jackson simply makes his team better. This bull-rushing, run stuffing, passing lane-clogging DE doesn't simply have intangibles...he is intangible.
According to Dictionary.com, intangible means: existing only in connection with something else, as the goodwill of a business.
While his natural abilities and numbers make it inexplicable why he has been absolutely integral to the Bayou Bengals success, the "goodwill" of the LSU Tigers defense makes it incontrovertible. Put this guy on a solid defensive line with a DT that takes up space, he will put an OT into the pocket quick. Jackson is versitile enough to play up and down the line in a 4-3, or DE in a 3-4. Strong, fast-enough, and always at the right place at the right time, he's exactly the kind of FOOTBALL player any quality organization should want.
Tyson hopes to be a teacher, loves Rocky movies, and always knows his job on the field...ALWAYS. He understands his containment responsibilities, flashes the ability to shed blocks and make the play, has good initial quickness off the snap and has a good repertoire of pass rush moves.
While he lacks great downfield speed and burst of prototypical pass rushers, he has good lateral quickness and hand technique to disengage from blocks and make the play in the backfield or downfield.
Eric Wood is strong in a strong class of interior linemen that will populate round two of this year's draft. As the unquestioned leader of the Cardinals, he started 49 consecutive games for Louisville which is the 2nd longest streak in school history.
Versatile enough to play anywhere on the offensive line, he is the Peyton Manning of the center position. No one studies harder according to coaches and players, he knows everyone's job, and doesn't mind letting teammates know they didn't do theirs. He is considered a quiet leader whose "no-nonsense" approach to the game commands respect...EF Hutton style. He keeps the huddle and pass protection organized and is extremely vocal on the field to maintain discipline.
Not the norm for 2nd round guys, Wood is ready to come in on day one and play center in the NFL. The NFL-style offense used in Louisville, and beginning as a sophomore, has been relied upon to make all the line calls.
His foot never off the gas, his motor is constant. Strong hands and tremendous lateral movement will translate into success for any running game. This guy yearns for leadership responsibility and holds himself personally accountable for the teams success.
I would like to...update...my past Redskin OL picks...this guy would go before Unger and maybe before Mack.
If you've read my articles before, you know how I bleed. So the above picture isn't a surprise.
And, if you read this article, you know which player in the photo I am intending to highlight. Any team would love to build a team around the most talented, physically gifted player available.
And while some of the players I listed are uniquely gifted physically, the attributes targeted are those players like London Fletcher rely upon. Leadership, intelligence, passion, heart trump numbers any day. And these guys have it.