Champ Bailey: Breaking Down Every 2013 Snap of the New New Orleans Saints Cornerback

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It’s been a very good offseason for the New Orleans Saints. Not only did they retain the rights to Jimmy Graham by placing him under the franchise tag, but they also signed star free safety Jairus Byrd from the Buffalo Bills in free agency. The Saints were expected to retain Graham, but it didn’t seem fiscally possible for them to bring in Byrd as well.

The Saints went on to make a handful of other moves, most notably the arrival of dynamic fullback Erik Lorig, the re-structuring of Pierre Thomas’ contract and the departures of receiver Lance Moore and receiving back Darren Sproles.

After the Byrd signing, it appeared that the Saints were done with big moves, but late in free agency there was a future hall-of-fame player available. Champ Bailey unexpectedly joined Byrd in the Saints’ secondary. Bailey is a future hall-of-fame player, but at this stage of his career he no longer plays like one.

Bailey will be 36 before the start of next season and he is mostly remembered in recent times for that infamous display against Torrey Smith of the Baltimore Ravens during the 2012 playoffs. He isn’t coming off a season where he rebounded from that display, instead he spent most of his time on the sidelines because of injury.

By the end of the 2013 season, Bailey was primarily playing in the slot and only returned to a bigger role because of an injury to then fellow Broncos cornerback Chris Harris.

The Saints aren’t paying Bailey to be a hall-of-fame cornerback. In fact, they’re not even paying him to be their number one cornerback. That role belongs to Keenan Lewis, another free agent signing but from 12 months previous. Instead the Saints are hoping Bailey can be a reliable starter who won’t need to move around the field or follow the opposition’s most dangerous player on a snap-by-snap basis. Continue reading

Patrick Peterson: The Numbers, The Tape, The Verdict 2014

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It’s easy to forget that Patrick Peterson is just 23 years of age. The Arizona Cardinals cornerback will already be entering his fourth season in the NFL next season, by which time he will have turned 24. Even at 24 years of age, Peterson is still a very young player and an exceptionally young veteran starter.

Few people still see Peterson on the same level as Richard Sherman or Darrelle Revis, but his physical talent will always make him a fascinating player to evaluate.

Like many cornerbacks that preceded him, Peterson is an exceptional kick returner. He has the straight-line speed and agility to make defenders miss in space and outrun others to the end zone. Those physical traits combined with his 6’1″, 219 pound frame makes him one of the most impressive athletes in the league.

Unfortunately for the Cardinals, athleticism isn’t everything… Continue reading

Pre Snap Reads Mock Draft Version Two

Sammy Watkins is set to be a highly sought after prospect.

Mock Draft Version One came before free agency and it can be found here.

This is a mock draft where I made the selections for the teams. However, I also tried to be realistic and not go solely off my own opinions on specific players. There are trades because it’s unrealistic to not have trades. Continue reading

Leon Hall: The Numbers, The Tape, The Verdict 2014

The face of the superstar cornerback you likely don’t know about. (Image courtesy of CBS)

Ever since he was drafted in 2007, Leon Hall has been one of the best players in the NFL who received the least amount of credit for his play. Hall and Jonathan Joseph were the Bengals’ two stars in the secondary for a very long time, but it was always Joseph who received more of the plaudits for his on-field play.

Joseph signed a big free agent contract to join the Houston Texans. That and his first season in Houston combined to bloat his reputation to even greater levels. While Joseph did deserve that credit because he has been an excellent player for the most part throughout his career also, Hall shouldn’t have flown under the radar.

Hall was the player the Bengals decided to invest in while knowing that they wouldn’t be able to retain both star cornerbacks. His versatility and durability were positives over Joseph, but his performance wasn’t lacking either.

The former Michigan prospect played just five games in 2013. He tore his Achilles tendon, something he had done in his other leg a few years back. It was a devastating blow for the Bengals, because it appears that Hall was enjoying another phenomenal season. Continue reading

NFL Draft Twitter List

Image courtesy of @SullyFootball

Following the NFL offseason can be tough. That is primarily for two reasons: 1. It’s drawn out for months. 2. Some of the specific details of different moves, contracts and tags can be tough to understand.

The high point of the offseason is undoubtedly the NFL draft. Soon we will have free agency when players move from team to team. That is an exciting time, but generally the best players don’t come available and those who are very talented are often overpaid.

In the draft, you get all the stars before they are stars. Everyone has to enter the league as a draft pick or an undrafted free agent so now is a great time to learn about prospects who will eventually evolve into stars.

Following the top of the draft is generally easy. Naming five of the top prospects is something everyone reading this could probably do with ease. However, even dropping as far as the bottom of the first round can be tough. Continue reading

Breaking Down the Perfect Trade Scenario for the St. Louis Rams

Landing Greg Robinson would be huge for the Rams and Sam Bradford.

Here we go again.

Just like two years ago, the St. Louis Rams find themselves with the second overall pick in the NFL draft and no pressing desire to take a quarterback. Last time it was Robert Griffin III, this time it is likely to be Johnny Manziel or Teddy Bridgewater.

The Rams only have this opportunity to trade away the second overall pick again because of their last trade. The second overall pick in this year’s draft is the final of three first round picks they received in 2012 from Washington.

Largely because of Griffin’s torn ACL, Mike Shanahan’s franchise finished with the second worst record in the NFL last season. Shanahan was subsequently fired, while Jeff Fisher, Les Snead and Sam Bradford remain in St. Louis. Continue reading

Pre Snap Reads Mock Draft Version One

Johnny Manziel is expecting to be the first quarterback taken. (Image courtesy of Sports Illustrated)

This is a mock draft where I made the selections for the teams. However, I also tried to be realistic and not go solely off my own opinions on specific players. There are trades because it’s unrealistic to not have trades.

Continue reading

The Houston Texans and Teddy Bridgewater: A Perfect Marriage That May Not Happen

Teddy Bridgewater isn’t the consensus top pick in the NFL draft. (Image courtesy of CBSSports)

After a horrific 2013 season, the Houston Texans have a new head coach and a new outlook moving into the 2014 season.

The Texans entered last season with Super Bowl thoughts. The additions of Ed Reed, DeAndre Hopkins and D.J. Swearinger in particular were supposed to push the roster over their playoff hump and lead them to New Jersey in February.

Unfortunately for Gary Kubiak’s side, Reed was released during the season after failing to make an impact on the field or even stay healthy. Swearinger was very inconsistent and didn’t play with any kind of poise. Hopkins was very impressive, but underused as the Texans’ passing attack collapsed at the source with quarterback Matt Schaub.

Because of their failings last season, the Texans are forced to enter this year with different thoughts. Despite the reputable players who are still under contract, the Texans must first think about how they can revitalise the roster before they can even consider another trip to the Super Bowl.

The first step in doing that will be free agency, but the biggest step will come in the draft. Continue reading

Darrelle Revis: The Numbers, The Tape, The Verdict 2014

What did Darrelle Revis’ return to the NFL bring? (Image courtesy of TampaBay.com)

Prelude: The staple of Pre Snap Reads is back. Just like PSR did last year, this year’s cornerback series kicked off with an in-depth look at Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks.

For a long time, Darrelle Revis of the New York Jets was the unquestioned best cornerback in the NFL. Over the last three years, the emergence of Richard Sherman has given Revis a worthy rival for his crown. Up until the 2013 season, we didn’t have a year when there was an even playing field to compare the two.

In 2011, Sherman was a rookie who impressed but still needed to develop to be on Revis’ level. In 2012, Revis tore his ACL early on in the year, so the sample size was too small. For the first time ever, both players were fully developed and fully healthy for a full season in 2013.

Revis was no longer a vital piece of Rex Ryan’s defense in New York. He had been traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the offseason for a first round draft pick.

Although he was healthy and ready to start for Week 1 of the 2013 season, Revis was eased back from his rehabilitation for the first week of the regular season schedule. Although recovering from ACL surgery is becoming a less severe process with every season, it’s still a major injury that can impact a player long after he returns to full health.

While Sherman was establishing himself as a dominant cornerback, Revis’ question marks would hang over his head for a while. Not only did he have to prove that there were no lingering effects from his injury, he also needed to prove that he could fit into a new scheme with a new team. Continue reading

NFL Draft: Thoughts on Virginia Tech Cornerback Kyle Fuller

Kyle Fuller is hoping to be a first round pick in the NFL Draft.

The success of the Seattle Seahawks is supposed to usher in a new era where teams focus on finding taller, rangier cornerbacks who can run. Obviously everyone wants to replicate what Richard Sherman can do, but of course Sherman’s height isn’t really what makes him a special player.

Even though taller cornerbacks will be given more credence and consideration during the draft process, there is still a place for the ‘shorter‘ cornerback in today’s NFL.

One of the shorter cornerbacks in this year’s draft class is Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller. Fuller is a 22-year-old senior who is listed at 6’0″ and 194 pounds before the combine. Fuller had two interceptions and 10 pass deflections in the first seven games of his senior season before surgery for a core muscle injury sidelined him.

Fuller isn’t a transcendent talent, but he does appear to be a player who could flourish in the right situation. Continue reading