Archive for August, 2013

The Best of the Best: Anthony Barr

We’re now eight days away from the beginning of the 2013 college football season, which means it’s time for part three of my Best of the Best series.  This 10 article series will take a  look at my top 10 draft eligible players in college football.  For my rankings, I factored my Draft stock for each player, as well as their impact in the college game.  While I fully expect all of these players to be top 15 draft selections next year, there could always be fluctuation with a premium placed on positions like Quarterback and Offensive Tackle.  With that said, it’s time to look at my number eight prospect, UCLA Linebacker Anthony Barr.

Image

Tale of the Tape

6’4″

248 lbs

Career Numbers (1 season on defense)

84 total tackles

21 tackles for a loss

13 sacks

5 passes deflected

4 forced fumbles

After beginning his Bruin career as an H-Back, Anthony Barr has found a home at Linebacker in UCLA’s 3-4 scheme.  Barr may be the most surprising name on my list being that he’s only been playing the position for 14 games, but when you watch him it’s easy to see why he’s here.  He’s an incredible athlete still learning how to play as a pass rusher, but there’s a lot to love about his game.  He’s quick and explosive, a violent tackler, and he has a good level of pursuit and lateral ability.  So first we’ll start with why he made my list.

Pass Rushing

  • One thing that stands out to me about Barr is how effective he is rushing the Quarterback, despite being very raw in terms of technique.  Barr doesn’t have a go to pass rushing move, and honestly his passing rushing moves as a whole leave a lot to be desired.  However he does flash ability with several moves, but more importantly he outworks and out hustles his blockers.  His sacks are effort sacks, where he’s just faster, stronger, and working harder than the man trying to stop him which I love.  Barr also flashes awareness to disrupt passes even when he can’t get to the QB, showing the ability to anticipate the throw and leap to knock it down.                                                     Image
  • On this play against USC, we’ll see Barr’s ability to get into the passing lane and disrupt the pass.                                                                   Image
  • Barr hesitates slightly at the line but it ends up helping him.  He’s able to run around blockers untouched due to the hesitation, and while it’s not him that gets to Quarterback Matt Barkley he’s the one that makes the play.  He knocks the ball down on 3rd and 10, and forces the Trojans to punt.              Image
  • On this play against Cal, we’ll see Barr at his absolute best in regards to rushing the passer.  He gets a good jump off the line, and when he engages the blocker he is able to keep his arm extended to keep the Tackle off his pads.  He also is able to keep an arm free to put himself in even better position for the play.   Image
  • A different angle of the play shows how Barr is able to keep the Offensive Tackle off his body.                                                              Image
  • Barr shows off some nimble feet to dance in the backfield, then punishes the Quarterback with a jarring hit.  He wraps up and drives through the QB with violent aggression, knocking the ball free in the process.             Image
  • This next play will show how effective Barr can be with pass rushing moves once he gets completely comfortable with the position.  Barr gets a great jump off the snap, firing down field, and towards the Tackle.                       Image
  • As Barr reaches the blocker he flashes a devastating spin move.  His spin is so quick, and so explosive, that the Tackle has no chance to get him blocked.   Image
  • Another look at the play shows how easily Barr gets around the blocker.Image
  • He shows inexperience in not being able to finish the play with a sack, but his move forces the Quarterback to step up field, where his teammates clean up for him.                                                                                         Image
  • One last thing that I want to highlight about Barr is how he routinely finds lanes to get through when he’s rushing.  He’s essentially a Running Back when he’s rushing the passer, finding areas of the line where he can cut and explode through to create havoc.                                                           Image
  • Barr begins heading down hill as the ball is snapped, but there isn’t really a gap for him to get through on the left side of the line.                Image
  • He quickly locates the lane in between the Guard and Right Tackle, and changes direction in his rush.                                                        Image
  • Barr quickly shoots through the gap, and he makes the read so quickly that the Running back isn’t able to pick him up.  Quarterback Matt Barkley is able to get rid of the ball before the sack occurs, but it’s still an impressive rush.

Run Support

  • For such a raw player Barr makes a lot of plays in run support.  He pursues well, flashes sideline to sideline ability, and is a good tackler.  I’m also impressed with the ease at which he breaks blocks at time.  His hand technique needs a lot of refinement, but he’s able to disengage with incredible strength and determination in order to free himself to make plays.          Image
  • On this play in the Pac 12 Championship against Stanford, Barr shows the ability to pursue and close on a player, as well as finish the play with a drag down tackle.                                                                                        Image
  • Barr has been given a free release on his rush with the play designed away from him, but he uses great closing speed to get into the backfield and cause the Running Back to adjust his path.                                Image
  • The Running Back makes a move to evade Barr, however he’s not able to outrun him fully, and gets his hands on him in the backfield.                Image
  • Despite not having the back wrapped up, Barr is able to utilize great strength to drag him to the ground with the one arm he has on his jersey.     Image
  • Later in the game against Stanford Barr shows a very underrated skill in run support, the ability to seal the edge and force the Running Back back inside.    Image
  • Barr engages the Tackle, and does a good job keeping his arms extended so that the blocker can’t get into his pads and move him easily.  Notice the pulling Guard marked with the yellow square, he will come across the field and pick up the block on Barr so the Tackle can get down field to block.      Image
  • The Guard picks the block up, but now Barr as been able to line himself up with the Running Back, creating a situation where the RB will have to run through him to get to the edge.                                                     Image
  • Barr does a good job staying extended on this play, which gives him the ability to move laterally.  This forces the RB to move back to the inside of the field where his teammates are able to clean up the play.

Pursuit Ability

  • Whether it’s a Quarterback or a Running Back that he’s chasing Barr has great pursuit ability.  He’s shows good athleticism to actually get to the opposition, and has quick feet to avoid traffic.                                    Image
  • On this play we’ll look at Barr’s pursuit ability while rushing the QB.  Barr gets into the backfield relatively easily, however Barkley will be able to escape.   Image
  • Barkley is able to step up and evade Barr’s rush.  Barkley will show some decent athleticism of his own, as he escapes towards the edge of the field.  However Barr isn’t out of the play.                                                      Image
  • Barr is chipped by the Running Back, but he refuses to give up on the play.    Image
  • Barr pursues the QB throughout the play, and the result is Barkley being forced to throw the ball before he’s ready.  The down ends up being converted, but it’s no fault of Barr’s.

Intensity on the Field

  • This last one is pretty self-explanatory.  Anthony Barr is an extremely physical player who seems to love delivering violent, punishing hits to players.  While he may draw a foul every now and then, he plays with a bit of a mean streak (while not getting reckless) that I love.  Once his technique is more sound he may end up being somewhat of an enforcer on Defense in the same way a guy like James Harrison was for many years.

Needs Work

While every single player in my Best of the Best series has traits to their game that in my opinion make them stand out, they all have things they need to improve too.  So let’s look at a couple of areas where I would like to see Barr improve in 2013.

Diagnosing Plays Better

  • At times Barr actually does a very good job reading the play, adjusting, and flowing to the ball carrier.  However, his inexperience does cause him to have trouble diagnosing plays on a somewhat regular basis.  He especially needs to work on his understanding of the option, as he can be caught badly out of position when he faces it.                                                   Image
  • On this play we’ll see Stanford run a Read Option play, where the Quarterback will keep the ball.  Barr’s responsibility is to play the Quarterback and force him to hand the ball to the Running Back where he has teammates to crash down on him.                                                                                       Image
  • Barr is slow to diagnose the play as a Read, and over pursues.  This creates a lane for the QB.                                                     Image
  • Barr attempts to grab the Quarterback as he escapes, but he’s unable to.   Image
  • Barr does recover well, but it doesn’t change the fact that this is a first down run that could have been prevented with better awareness.                 Image
  • Just a few plays later they get him again with the exact same read.

Experience

  • This isn’t really an improvement, but one of his biggest flaws.  Because he’s only been playing defense for one season Barr doesn’t do a lot of “little things” you would like him to.  He doesn’t utilize proper leverage, his hand placement and technique is not where you would like it, and he has a delayed reaction to deception plays.  All of these things come with practice though, which he just hasn’t had enough.  As he continues to play and get repetitions throughout the regular season I would expect him to make strides in all of these areas.  Still, for now they are flaws in his game that he will need to make progress in to be drafted as high as he could be.

Final Thoughts

Barr is a supremely gifted athlete, who right now is in the progress of learning how to play a position.  He’s got great downhill quickness, and can flow sideline to sideline well.  His quick feet allow him to cut through traffic at a good rate, and his time as an Offensive player allows him to see rush lanes very quickly.  He also is good in pursuit, and is an effective pass rusher despite a lack of consistent pass rush moves.  Finally, Barr is a physical and violent football player, who can impose his will on players at times.

The biggest question with Barr is progression.  Does he continue to get better at the rapid rate he’s already improved, or does he hit his ceiling before most believe he will?  He has all the physical tools to be a dominant pass rusher in either a 3-4 or a 4-3 alignment.  His technique needs a lot of seasoning, and he may need to learn for a few years before he can perform at a high level in the NFL, however there’s no denying he’s one of the best pass rushers in college football, and one of my Best of the Best.

Thank you for reading, and be sure to check back tomorrow for the next player in my Best of the Best series.  Also, please feel free to send me any comments/critique to danguy013@gmail.com or feel free to comment/follow me on twitter @danny_g13

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The Best of the Best: Sammy Watkins

We’re now nine days away from the beginning of the 2013 college football season, which means it’s time for part two of my Best of the Best series.  This 10 article series will take a  look at my top 10 draft eligible players in college football.  For my rankings, I factored my Draft stock for each player, as well as their impact on the college gridiron.  While I fully expect all of these players to be top 15 draft selections next year, there could always be fluctuation with a premium placed on positions like Quarterback and Offensive Tackle.  With that said, it’s time to look at my number nine prospect, Clemson Wide Receiver Sammy Watkins.

Image

Tale of the Tape

  • 6’1″
  • 205 lbs

Career Numbers

  • 139 receptions
  • 3361 all-purpose yards
  • 17 touchdowns

In 2011 Sammy Watkins made his Freshman debut against Troy, and had a more than solid day hauling in seven passes for 81 yards and a touchdown.  The Florida athlete used that performance to springboard him into a stellar first season resulting in 82 catches, and all-purpose yardage in excess of 2,200 yards.  In 2012 Watkins battled injuries and a stellar year for former teammate and new Houston Texan DeAndre Hopkins, and his yardage took a big step back with only around 1,100 all-purpose yards.  Now as 2013 begins Watkins is healthy again and looks ready to prove why he’s one of the elite talents in college football.

First the good.

Explosive

  • Watkins is an extremely explosive athlete.  As a track star, Watkins shows the top end speed to run away from defenders, and has the shiftiness and quickness you love to see from players at the position.                    Image
  • This play is one of Watkins most explosive plays from his Freshman year.  It’s third down at the beginning of the third quarter against Auburn.  The Corner across from Watkins is lined up 10 yards off of Sammy to prevent the big play.  Image
  • Watkins runs a quick curl route right to the sticks and sits in the open area to pick up the easy first down.                                  Image
  • As he makes the catch, Watkins instantly looks to go North and South and pick up as many yards as possible.                                            Image
  • Watkins is able to use the extra gear he possesses to accelerate right past the diving tackler and now has become a thread to take a simple six yard route the distance.                                                                               Image
  • Still accelerating after the catch, Watkins runs by another diving Defensive Back.Image
  • Watkins uses his exceptional explosiveness after the catch to break to the edge.  At this point there’s no shot for the defense to make the play, Watkins walks into the end zone.                                                            Image
  • Here, Watkins will take the ball out of the backfield against Furman.   Image
  • Watkins teammates have done a good job providing him with a clean lane to run through by sealing their blocks against the lesser competition.  Image
  • In an instant Watkins has already accelerated through the hole and past any tackler that had a chance to bring him down before the play became a huge gain.  There’s one last attempt to push him out inside the five, but the result of the play is a TD.  Since pictures don’t do this play justice, here is the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6S_TlcXCLU .

Route Running

  • Another area where Watkins really shines is his route running.  He runs extremely quick and crisp routes, He is assertive in his foot technique, stabbing the ground and making angular direction changes rather than rounding off his routes.  Also, he shows the ability to run most routes in the route tree, and run them well.                                                                                            Image
  • On this play Watkins is able to beat his man easily with an effective stop and go route.  Watkins heads up field for about six to seven yards then puts the breaks on and fakes curling back to the Quarterback.            Image
  • The Defensive Back bites on the curl fake, slowing down in his back pedal and preparing to break on the curl.                                                Image
  • As Watkins cuts back to the outside of the field, the DB is left helpless and must now fight to recover.                                                         Image
  • Watkins now has a step on his man, and has the speed to pull away.  The QB was ultimately sacked on the play, but a half of a second more time in the pocket and this play would have resulted in a touchdown for Watkins and Clemson.                                                                          Image
  • Here we’ll see Watkins utilize a quick in route to beat the man coverage.  Watkins heads a few yards up field then abruptly stabs the ground, allowing him to make a sudden direction change.                                    Image
  • With the sharp stab, Watkins is able to make a 90 degree direction change in an instant, leaving the defender with a tough hip transition to recover.     Image
  • The quick cut creates the cushion Watkins needs to make the catch.      Image
  • Finally, we’ll look at a post route that was an easy touchdown for Watkins.  Watkins who is lined up off the line of scrimmage goes down field about 10 yards and again stabs the ground hard.                              Image
  • The stab allows Watkins to cut easily and cut towards the middle of the field, while still moving further down field at the same time.           Image
  • Watkins is able to get behind the safety, and to the spot that the Quarterback has thrown the ball.                                                       Image
  • The Safety is late to react, and Watkins is left all alone in the middle of the field.  The Quarterback and Watkins have good timing with one another and Watkins is able to make a nice leaping catch and walk into the end zone.

Yards After the Catch/Contact

  • One of the biggest things I look for when watching a Wide Receiver is what they can do after the catch/first contact, or their YAC ability.  Watkins combines quickness, explosiveness and elusiveness into a package that is a YAC lovers dream.  He immediately looks down field once securing the catch looking for cutback lanes, and the most likely path to pay dirt.  He shows the ability to shake tackles, and once he sees green he’s almost always gone.     Image
  • Here we see a great example of what Watkins is capable after the catch, or first contact.  On this play Watkins takes the hand off in the backfield, and will be contacted very early.                                                                          Image
  • Watkins is contacted almost immediately, and deep in the backfield.  However the elusive runner is able to shift through the tackle and keep moving.  Image
  • Again Watkins faces contact in the backfield and he is once again able to slip by.                                                                                                      Image
  • Becoming a trend on this play by now, Watkins slips yet another tackle attempt in the backfield.                                                                    Image
  • Watkins runs through one more tackle attempt then is finally brought down by the fifth man.  However the damage is done for Auburn.  A play that should have been stopped in the backfield for a significant loss on third down has now resulted in the chains moving due to Watkins individual effort.

Versatility

  • It’s truly a disservice to call Watkins just a Wide Receiver because he’s much more.  He’s a special athlete that can be a weapon in just about any offense.  His great top end speed, and quick lateral agility make him a threat to score every time he touches the ball.  He’s a player that you can get the ball in many ways.  Whether it be from one of the outside Receiver positions, in the slot, in the return game and even handing the ball off to him in the backfield.  If you can draw the play up you can probably include Watkins in it.

Needs Work

While every single player in my Best of the Best series has traits to their game that in my opinion make them stand out, they all have things they need to improve too.  So let’s look at a couple of areas where I would like to see Watkins improve in 2013.

Competing For 50-50 Balls

  • Watkins is an elite talent and wins a lot of match ups just because his physical skill set is that much better than his opponents.  When he is faced with a worthy match up though he sometimes has trouble competing for contested passes. Image
  • Early in the game against Auburn his Freshman year, Watkins is able to run by his defender and get a step on him.  This would be an easy touchdown, however the Quarterback doesn’t push the ball deep enough.  At this point Watkins is doing a great job tracking the ball through the air.                   Image
  • Watkins makes the adjustment to the under thrown pass, and at this point is still in good position to make the play over a Defensive Back who hasn’t located the football.                                                                        Image
  • Here’s where things go wrong.  Even with the defender on the inside, Watkins still has the upper hand because he has located the football in the air while the defender still hasn’t turned his head.  If Watkins gets vertical and attacks the football at its highest point, he will likely win the match up being able to secure the catch before the defender can make a play.  However, Watkins doesn’t get very vertical at all, and because of this puts himself at a disadvantage because now he has to catch the ball through the defender.               Image
  • Watkins makes the catch initially, but is not able to secure the ball like he would if he attacked the football in the air.            Image
  • Without being able to secure the catch in the air, the defender is able to rip the ball free as Watkins is going down to the turf.

Playing More Physical

  • If Sammy Watkins wants to reach his ceiling he will need to learn to be more physical as a Wide Receiver.  What I mean by this is he will need to work at fighting through the jam, and also learn how to use his frame to shield his defenders.  A receivers body can be a great tool for the player, being used to create separation, and keep defenders from being able to make a play on the ball.  To this point that’s not something I’ve seen used often by Watkins, and it would only make him even more of a threat if he developed this skill.

Final Thoughts

Watkins is an extremely gifted athlete playing Wide Receiver.  He has incredible explosiveness and quickness, with great top end speed.  He’s a shifty elusive player who is able to evade tacklers and pick up YAC in bunches.  He runs precision routes, and has a feel for where the first down sticks are on the field.  At times he shows great body control to make catches on the sideline, and is a very willing and underrated blocker.  He has good hands, but at times lets the ball get into his pads when you would like to see him rip it out of the air.

Watkins needs to work on attacking the 50-50 passes better, and also using his body more to win battles.  He dealt with injuries all last season, so he will need to show that he is injury free and can stay that way going forward.  He has minor character concerns that teams in the NFL will want to look into, but nothing that will impact his draft status or cause a team to remove him from their board in my opinion.  He lacks ideal size for an outside receiver, but with his other physical tools has the ability to be a very good number one Wide Receiver at the next level.

Thank you for reading, and be sure to check back tomorrow for the next player in my Best of the Best series.  Also, please feel free to send me any comments/critique to danguy013@gmail.com or feel free to to comment/follow me on twitter @danny_g13

The Best of the Best: Will Sutton

With it now only 10 days until the 2013 college football season begins, I’m happy to be debuting my “Best of the Best” series.  This 10 article series will take a  look at my top 10 draft eligible players in college football.  For my rankings, I factored my Draft stock for each player, as well as their impact on the college gridiron.  While I fully expect all of these players to be top 15 draft selections next year (if they all declare), there could always be fluctuation with a premium placed on positions like Quarterback and Offensive Tackle.  With that said, it’s time to look at my number 10 prospect, Arizona State Defensive Lineman Will Sutton.

Image

Tale of the Tape

  • 6’1″
  • 271 lbs

Career Numbers

  • 113 total tackles
  • 32 tackles for a loss
  • 16.5 sacks
  • 4 forced fumbles
  • 6 passes deflected

After a less than stellar start to his career Sutton finally burst onto the scene in 2012.  Sutton took his game to a new level, finishing second in the nation in tackles for a loss with 23.5, and third in the nation in the sack category with 13.5. He also posted exceptional tackling numbers, finishing 2012 with 62 total tackles.  So with the boom season is he just a one year wonder, or is there more to his game to maintain longevity in 2013 and beyond?

Anticipating the Snap

  • When watching Sutton, the first thing that immediately jumps out to me is how well he can adjust to the snap timing throughout a game. He’s not the most explosive player off the ball.  However once he reads the snap, he’s able to anticipate and jump it so well that he’s often quicker than the opposing Offensive Lineman blocking him.                                                               Image
  • In this first play, we will look at a simple rush, but because of Sutton’s timing, the blocker isn’t able to disrupt Sutton effectively off the snap.                  Image
  • Another look at this play shows us how quickly Sutton has fired off the snap.  If you look you can see that because of Sutton’s timing, there is a lane created between the Center and the Guard where they haven’t reacted quick enough.                                                                                                          Image
  • In this frame we can see Sutton’s explosive closing speed on display.  He easily shoots through the gap created, and at this point all the Center can do is try and disrupt him from his side, or grab his jersey and take the foul.                                                       Image
  • Sutton finishes the play by stripping the Quarterback as he gets into the backfield.  Cal recovers the ball, but it’s a sizable loss on third and long resulting in getting the ball back to his offense.                                                              Image
  • Here again we see Sutton with great timing of the snap.  Notice how the Center has hardly gotten out of his stance, while Sutton has already fired up and again has both hands ready to attack the blocker.                                       Image
  • Sutton’s timing allows him to contact the blocker before he’s ready to deal with him, because of this Sutton is able to use a quick rip to get to the side of the blocker and blow by him.                                                                      Image
  • At this point Sutton has left the Center looking foolish, but more importantly he’s got a free lane straight to Quarterback.                                             Image
  • Sutton shows great closing speed to get to the Quarterback before he can set and throw the ball.  This results in the QB having to make a hurried throw off his back foot which falls incomplete.

Pass Rush Moves

  • Snap timing may have been the first thing that jumped out when I watched Sutton last year, but his pass rushing technique wasn’t far behind.  Sutton has a full arsenal of pass rushing moves, utilizing not only quick and devastating swim moves, but powerful rips and bull rushes when anchored properly.    Image
  • On this play we will once again see great explosiveness off the snap from Sutton, but it’s his  phenomenal pass rush move that I want to point out.  As the ball is snapped, Sutton shows again that he can consistently fire off the snap and engage his blocker in a very short period of time.                                                                  Image
  • At this point Sutton has already won his battle against the Center by utilizing a explosive swim move to force the blocker out of his way.  Before Quarterback Matt Barkley has finished his drop back Sutton has already created a free lane to the QB.                                                                                            Image
  • Sutton is able to easily get his arm up and around the blocker, making it impossible for him to be impeded in his pass rush.  With the free lane, Sutton is able to continue his explosive pursuit and brings the Quarterback down, forcing a punt.                                                                                                 Image
  • Next we’ll take a look at Sutton’s power in his pass rush game, his Bull Rush.  From initial contact it is easy to see that Sutton is able to generate incredible strength and power to drive his blocker back to the Quarterback when utilizing proper leverage.                                                                   Image
  • The ball has just barely reached the Quarterback off the snap, and it’s already evident how much of a leverage advantage Sutton has on his blocker.  Notice how much further back the Right Guard blocking Sutton is, as opposed to the Left Guard.  Sutton is already at least a yard further up the field.    Image
  • Sutton uses good technique, keeping his arms extended so the blocker can’t get into his body.  This makes it even easier for Sutton to use his leverage advantage to force the blocker into the backfield.                                             Image
  • Sutton not content to just make the Quarterback uncomfortable, is able to disengage easily with the leverage advantage, and finish the play by getting a hit on the QB.                                                                              Image
  • Something that is rare to see in a Defensive Tackles game, is an exceptional speed rush.  But on this play against Missouri, the Arizona State standout displays an extremely effective one.                                                     Image
  • As the play begins, you can see Sutton utilizing good technique, dipping his shoulder inside to give him the angle and leverage necessary to dip around the blocker.                                                                                         Image
  • Due to technique and burst, Sutton is able to slide around the Right Guard and put himself in position to make the play on the Quarterback.    Image
  • Even with the Guard grabbing at Sutton’s jersey, he is able to explode around the blocker and to the Quarterback.  The QB has no choice but to tuck the ball and take a sack.

Athleticism

  • Sutton flashes great athleticism on the field.  He shows the ability to not only leap and knock down passes, but also make plays sideline to sideline.                  Image
  • Late in the game against Missouri Sutton flashes leaping ability, timing his leap well and extending fully to fill the Quarterback’s passing lane and force an incomplete pass.  Sutton shows good skill to knock down passes, with 6 pass deflections in his career.Image
  • More impressive about Sutton’s athleticism though, is his ability to make plays from sideline to sideline, and down the field in pursuit.  On this play I want to point out Sutton’s ability to read and react to the play going away from him, as well as his pursuit ability to get back to the play and help out on the tackle.  Notice Sutton is lined up on the far side of the field.       Image
  • Right from the snap, the play is designed to go away from Sutton’s side of the field as you can see from the Quarterback rolling to the near side of the field.   Image
  • As the ball is thrown Sutton is about 11 yards further down field, and roughly the distance between the hashes to the left of the play.  Note: The difference doesn’t look as significant in this image because I shrunk the dimensions to fit it into the article.  For a better representation of the distance please refer to this image. ( http://i909.photobucket.com/albums/ac300/theant1h3ro/suttonsidelinetosideline3big_zpsbe7d37c3.jpg )                                                          Image
  • As the receiver looks to turn up field, we can no longer see Sutton in the frame.  It certainly looks like he won’t be involved in the play.               Image
  • However just a moment later as the Tight End approaches the original Line of Scrimmage we see Sutton come back into the frame closing in on the ball carrier.                                                                                      Image
  • Sutton finishes this great pursuit play by joining in on the tackle.

Scheme Versatility

  • Sutton displays a good amount of versatility in terms of where you can play him.  While he finds most of his success lining up in between the Guard and Tackle (3 technique), he also flashes ability to make plays lined up across from the Center (0 technique), and further outside at End in a 5 technique position of a 3-4 alignment.

Needs Work

While every single player in my Best of the Best series has traits to their game that in my opinion make them stand out, they all have things they need to improve too.  So let’s look at a couple of areas where I would like to see Sutton improve in 2013.

Finishing Tackles in Space

  • Like most players his size, Sutton can have trouble making the play in open space.  While he excels at beating blockers and getting to the Quarterback, smaller and shiftier Backs and Receivers can give him fits at times.     Image
  • On this play we will see Sutton make the appropriate read, getting to Marqise Lee in the backfield on the reverse.  However, when confronted with the tackle in space opportunity Sutton isn’t able to finish the play.      Image
  • Sutton reads the play perfectly, pursuing the Quarterback back to the pitch point, and then instantly taking his pursuit from the QB to Wide Receiver Marqise Lee.  At this point Sutton is in excellent position to make a critical stop in the game.                                                                                Image
  • Sutton now dives for Lee, extending his arm to make a desperation tackle attempt.                                                                                                Image
  • Lee is easily able to run through the tackle attempt to extend the play.     Image
  • Sutton however doesn’t give up on the play, and will get a chance at redemption as Lee cuts the play back.                                                    Image
  • Sutton’s quick recovery forces Lee to make another cut back towards the rest of the Arizona Sate defense.                                             Image
  • Sutton is once again presented with the opportunity to tackle Lee for a loss, but like the rest of the Arizona State defense, he fails to do so.  In fairness to Sutton, there is a blocker getting a shot on him, and Lee is one of the most elusive players in college football.  Lee is able to turn this busted play into a Houdini act for a 20+ yard gain.

Form Tackling

  • While Sutton is a very physical player, at time his tackling technique leads something to be desired.                                                        Image
  • Sutton makes the correct read and is in position to stop the Quarterback on the keep, however instead of wrapping up and dragging him down he goes with a weak arm tackle.                                                                  Image
  • As a result, the Quarterback is able to run through the attempt, and the result of the play is a touchdown.  In an Arizona State loss that was decided by four points this is a critical mistake.

Leverage Consistency

The other area of his game I would like to see Sutton focus on this year is being more consistent in regards to leverage.  When he gets off the snap and gains good leverage he’s virtually impossible to block.  However when he struggles to gain leverage at the point of attack due to poor technique, his pad level being too high or a lack of burst off the snap he can be moved around easily.  Sutton did add 30 pounds of weight during the off season, so this should help with his ability to anchor and create leverage, however it is an area he will need to improve to reach his potential.

Final Thoughts

Sutton is a phenomenal Defensive Tackle, who shows a balanced ability in both the passing game, and in run support.  He has a very strong set of pass rush moves that he combines with great snap timing and a good degree of power to win match ups on a regular basis.  He usually utilizes good technique, and shows good ability to read and react to plays in the backfield.  He has a nose for the ball, pursuing well sideline to sideline and making hustle plays throughout games.  He also utilizes quick feet to cut through narrow lanes, to make plays.

Like most Defensive Tackles, he struggles at times to make plays in space, and can have lapses in technique and pad level that create leverage issues.  He also doesn’t always have good tackling technique resulting in missed opportunities.  Scheme versatility makes him an intriguing prospect as a 3-4 Defensive End, or pass rushing Under Tackle in a 4-3 alignment.  He missed the entire 2010 season with Academic problems, and at 6’1 will more than likely have doubts due to his size.

Thank you for reading, and be sure to check back tomorrow for the next player in my Best of the Best series.  Also, please feel free to send me any comments/critique to danguy013@gmail.com or feel free to to comment/follow me on twitter @danny_g13

The Time Is Finally Here…

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Starting tomorrow I will be unveiling my “Best of the Best” series of my top ten Draft eligible players in college football.  These pieces will take an in-depth look at each player, and break down what makes them stand out as college footballs elite.  I look forward to sharing these pieces with all my readers, and hope that you will not only enjoy them but also provide any feedback or thoughts as well.  As always, thank you to anyone who takes the time to read my work.

Thanks,

Danny

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