Immediate Impact: Five College Players Who Are Going To Shake Up the NFL
This story should be titled "Five college players who are going to shake up the NFL - if there is a season".
There has been a lot of discussion about how well Cam Newton is seeing the receivers, how smart Greg McElroy is, and how many times an Oregon State player can bench 245 pounds. All worthy discussions.
However, none of these players are going to make an immediate impact on next season.
Here is a list of five players who have the potential to be team changers next season, regardless of where they are drafted.
Nicky Fairley: The Man in the Middle
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The latest comments from the NFL combine are that Alabama's Marcell Dareus may be the top interior defensive lineman in the draft.
The latest comments are wrong.
The comments are based on the time of the 40 yard dash and the vertical jump. Those tests are stupid for a defensive lineman.
What the NFL doesn't have a test for is heart, because if they did, Fairley would be drafted number one overall. He plays to the whistle, and he played every play like it was his last. I didn't see a defensive player with bigger heart this year.
I think Fairley is going to be the most significant player in this draft next season. He's not going to get a ton of sacks, but he's going to force coaches to double team him and open up the defense to blitz, run block and generally cause mayhem.
I predict Fairley will start 14 games, have 80 tackles and three sacks. Those aren't staggering numbers, but I don't think the stats are going to reflect the way opposing coaches are going to have to block him and the way he is going to make his teammates better.
Patrick Peterson: Classic Cover Corner
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Patrick Peterson is often compared to Charles Woodson. And he should be. Like Charles Woodson, he plays defense and returns kicks. Like Woodson, he forces offense coordinators to surrender half the field.
There are a lot of awards and statistics around Patrick Peterson. I would ignore all of them except for one.
Last year, Patrick Peterson ranked fourth in the SEC for all purpose yardage (116.9 yards per game). He did not play a single down on offense.
Read the previous two sentences again.
Patrick Peterson could be the rookie of the year next season.
I predict he will start all 16 games, have 40 solo tackles and eight picks. I don't believe he will get a pick in the second half of the season, because by then, coordinators will have figured out they shouldn't throw to his side of the field.
I'm crossing my fingers and hoping he goes to the Bears.
Cameron Jordan: This Golden Bear Is Golden
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Cameron Jordan had 62 tackles last year for a California Bears team that went 5-7 and finished 3-6 in the Pac-10. The only team they beat with a winning record was UC Davis.
So why would Jordan be considered an immediate impact player?
He has the size, speed and experience to start immediately on a 3-4 defense. He played a 3-4 at Cal and understands the gaps. He's explosive off the ball. He has great balance and can go sideline to sideline.
Even with all of Cal's struggles, his consistent performance stood out.
Look for the same performance in the pros. I predict he'll start 14 games and will end the season with 60 tackles and four sacks. He will be a finalist for Rookie of the Year.
Gabe Carimi: It's Hard To Move a Badger Once He Digs in
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Gabe Carimi believes he should be the first offensive tackle selected in this year's draft.
There aren't good statistics to analyze offensive lineman. If they do their job right, they're never noticed. They only get attention when something goes wrong. So my analysis of Carimi is watching what he's done this year in games.
Offensive lineman need to do two things: Pass block and run block.
Pass blocking: Carimi has quick lateral movement and solid footwork. He has a good first step and is hard to get around.
Run blocking: Carimi gets low and can consistently push ends out of running lanes. He has fast hands and can move into a trap block scheme easily.
Carimi has the intangibles as well. He was Academic All-Big Ten and made 49 career starts in four years.
Look for Carimi to have an immediate impact.
Von Miller: The Joker
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Von Miller is a defensive end/linebacker. Texas A&M coaches refer to that position at the "Joker".
Miller had 10.5 sacks in 13 games this year and was a consensus All American in spite of a sprained right ankle, which limited him early in the season.
He ran a 4.53 in the 40, slightly behind the fastest linebacker time of 4.49. For a guy who is 6'4", 240 pounds, he moves like a cornerback, not a linebacker.
His stock is rising through the combine, as it should be. Look for this guy to start immediately. I predict he'll have 45 tackes, 10 sacks and 15 tackles for loss.
He has a chance to become the new prototype of a linebacker against a four wide receiver offense.