Random notes from around the NFC East: On “unexpected Pro Bowlers,” and Niles Paul beating linebackers at Skins OTAs

– If you’re working on something around the house, or have time to kill on a commute to work, definitely worth checking out this podcast discussion between Doug Farrar and Greg Cosell, who review the NFC East’s draft picks.  Cosell needs to be on TV.  One of the few players he was a little iffy on was Jayron Hosley, the Giants’ 3rd round pick at CB out of V Tech.  I liked what I saw out of Hosley when I watched him at Giants OTAs, but Cosell noted that there was one play that he just couldn’t get out of his head, in which Chris Givens of Wake Forest blew right past him for an easy TD.  I hadn’t seen that play, but looked for it.  Cosell was right.  Hosley kind of reaches for his hammy a little as Givens pulls away, but this is really ugly (0:25 mark):

– Good job by Ben Standig of CSN Washington listing some Jimmy-style bullet points from Redskins camp.  The one that stood out to me was that Niles Paul was getting open as a TE:

I’m always fascinated when someone wants to make declarations about player X having a breakout practice, especially this early in the process when nobody is wearing pads. My goal is to never be that guy. With that said, one player who did turn some heads was Niles Paul after flashing his deep threat on multiple plays down field, including a scoring pass from Rex Grossman.  In the modern NFL, having tight ends that are built and run like wide receivers is becoming the norm so any indication that the second-year player can be that type of option is interesting. Seeing how he handles the blocking side of things when the pads do come out is another and arguably more important matter.

The Washington Examiner’s John Keim had similar notes Paul:

It’s tough to get a great read on players during workouts when no one’s in pads. But one of the things that is evident: Niles Paul’s speed at tight end is obvious. Yes, he’s working more than Chris Cooley at tight end (at least it appears that way), but keep in mind that they’re not going to have Cooley take all the reps he normally would as he continues recovering from his knee issue. And Paul has a lot to learn at tight end. Now is the time when you get the guy as many extra reps as possible. Shanahan is confident in Paul’s ability to block, but until we see him take on a defensive end we really won’t know how he’ll do. But let’s be honest: Can it be much worse than how Davis fares against them? Paul is ultra- competitive and that will help. However, I’ll wait to see him in a legitimate game at this position before declaring him the next Shannon Sharpe.

I agree with Ben and John that how Paul blocks will ultimately be more important than his ability to beat linebackers down the field with no pads on.  Every wide receiver in the league should be able to beat linebackers in passing camp.  But can he block a DE like Trent Cole in the run game?  Can he chip on DeMarcus Ware (and not just chip, but hit him hard enough to knock him off balance for a second), and then get out into a pattern?  Because that will decide whether opposing teams will respect him as a real TE and not simply go with a nickle look if he’s on the field with two other receivers.

– The Blue Screen’s Ebenezer Samuel got a nice little nugget out of Giants safety coach Dave Merritt on Kenny Phillips:

Witten told me when I went to the Pro Bowl two years ago when Antrel invited me, Witten said, when 21’s in the post, we don’t evern throw anything depp because we know he can go and get it. He said, ‘But if I see anybody else back there, (Tony) Romo knows, we’re going deep.

For my money, Phillips is the best safety in the division right now, and it’s not even close.

– The guys at Hogs Haven had a fun idea.  They’re all picking their “unexpected Pro Bowlers,” which they loosely defined as reserve players that are primed to have have a breakout year.  My boy UK was their latest writer to pick, and he took Jammal Brown (ew).  Technically, he was a starter but since he “should have been a reserve,” they allowed UK to pick him.  The other guys they chose were Graham Gano, Leonard Hankerson, Brandon Meriweather, and Brandon Banks.  To be clear, I don’t think any of the following guys are going to the Pro Bowl, but thinking about the rest of the teams in the NFC East, I’ll take a crack at each team:

  • Eagles: DT Fletcher Cox. The starters are likely to be Mike Patterson and Cullen Jenkins, but Cox will get his share of snaps, and if he can put up enough numbers at the glamour stat (sacks) and make a monster play or two, he could be right in the mix at DT.
  • Cowboys: RB Felix Jones. Can he stay healthy for an entire season? Can he regain the explosion he flashed his rookie season? Can he beat out DeMarco Murray for the role of the starting back? If the answer to all three of those questions is yes, he has as good a chance as any “reserve” in the NFCE.
  • Giants: WR Reuben Randle. Victor Cruz was last year’s “unexpected Pro Bowler,” so why not go right back to the same position with another talented player?
  • Redskins: Oof, I have no idea on this team. Hankerson makes some sense, but someone already took him, so that would be lame. I’ll go with Tim Hightower.  He’s a good receiver out of the backfield, and should provide a trustworthy outlet for his rookie QB.   He also has a nose for the end zone (10 TDs as a rookie).  Something bad would have to happen for Roy Helu for this to happen, but this is the best I can do with the guys that are already taken.

Continued after the jump…

– I didn’t put this in my Eagles’ OTA notes yesterday because he didn’t do anything to stand out yesterday, but watching Brandon Boykin in the half dozen or so practices I’ve attended, I have no clue how he lasted to the end of the 4th round.   And not just the 4th round… the end of the 4th round, at 123rd overall.  He could be an absolute steal.

– Paul Schwartz of the New York Post reported that Martellus Bennett weighs 291 pounds:

TE coach Mike Pope says Martellus Bennett has a hamstring injury that is keeping him off the field and that the former Cowboys tight end weighed in last week at 291 pounds. “I think that is probably a little too big for his legs to carry,” Pope said. “We run a lot more than he might have been accustomed to. Plus we are in the middle of a weight program and the combination of those two things has caused him, especially, to have some problems with his hamstrings.”

I did a film review of Bennett a week ago.  The guy seems to be wasting his talent.

– The New York media is seemingly asking all of Osi Umenyiora’s teammates whether Osi deserves a new contract or not, and then reporting their answers, which appear to all support their teammate.  I know it’s May and all, but it seems like a lot of calories burned for not much of a point.


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  5. […] Random notes from around the NFC East: On “unexpected Pro Bowlers,” and Niles Paul beati…  Related PostsFlashback Friday : Ken Houston (Jun 1, 2012) […]

  6. Tech Fan says:

    Hosley got hurt on that play, and I believe he missed the rest of that game, and was limited for the next few as well. That’s not poor play on his part.

    1. He kinda reaches for his hammy, as noted in the writeup, but not until Givens is way past him and cruising in for the score. It doesn’t look like he’s running with pain until he gets to about the 20.

  7. BBI says:

    Hosley’s had his bad moments and good moments. He had that play, which sorta sucked. Then on another play in another game, he baited Andrew Luck perfectly and picked him off. Giants know they got a risk with him, cause he’s a gambler, so we’ll see. Hopefully he can sit behind Terrell Thomas and learn the slot corner position this year.

    Also, I watched a bunch of Nebraska games in 2010. Paul is fast. Nice acceleration. I don’t remember what he timed at the combine, but he’s a speedster with some nice size, so its no surprise. Like that quote said, it remains to be seen if he can block, and also if he can stay on his route when a linebacker or safety “redirects” him.

  8. Gary says:

    The link to that podcast doesn’t work (at least on my computer). Here’s another link: http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nfl-shutdown-corner/shutdown-corner-podcast-greg-cosell-nfc-east-draft-134922676.html

    You can click on the podcast right below the first paragraph of the article.

    1. Thanks. Apologies.

      1. Gary says:

        All good!

  9. Tracer Bullet says:

    Jones has had what, three chances to be the starter? He’s never been able to hold onto the job. At what point are we going to say he’s nothing more than a backup?

  10. WeGotLinemen says:

    Martellus Bennett has got so much physical talent that he was always the Cowboys player that I feared would turn into a game changer.

    He could have been an absolute monster but he just doesn’t seem that interested in playing.

  11. WeGotLinemen says:

    I think Brandon Meriweather might end up surprising people and going to the Pro Bowl. He’s been there twice before and was an interception threat for the Patriots. Those sort of flashy plays get noticed, so even if does continue to freelance he could still get a Pro Bowl spot if he picks off a lot of passes (much as Hall did a few years ago).

    As for genuine reserves making an impact; Niles Paul and Royster would be my favourites. Paul got quite a lot playing time last year because he could block well. He’s got attitude and as Keim noted was a more effective open field blocker as a rookie than Fred Davis is as our presumptive starter.

    Royster lacks open field speed but just has a knack for finding and following his blockers.

    Jarvis Jenkins should also make an impact, but as a 3-4 DE I doubt he will attract much attention from anyone but ‘Skins fans.

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