David Amerson film review: Part I

Former NC State and newly minted Washington Redskin CB David Amerson is one of the most fun players to watch on tape from this draft class. He’s a terrifying playmaker and yet an absolute liability simultaneously. Here were Amerson’s career stats at NC State:

Amerson stats

Note the ridiculous 13 picks in 2011. That lead the country in 2011, by a lot:

Amerson Rambo

He also has great size, and outstanding measurables:

Amerson measurables

So how did such a compelling player slip all the way to the Redskins at 51? In a nutshell, he can’t tackle, he doesn’t want to tackle, and he gives up big plays galore when he gambles.

There is a site by the name of draftbreakdown.com. Bookmark it. They cut up literally hundreds and hundreds of videos of NFL prospects every year. Their Amerson library is deep, and I had a chance to review 7 of his games. And it was a joy. Amerson was one of the most fun players to watch, because he is so equally horrible and awesome. It was so much fun, in fact, that I’ll be doing a 3-part series on his game film.

The first two games we’ll do are Boston College and Maryland, both in 2012.

Boston College:

Notable moments:

  • (0:00) Bubble screen, blocked to the ground.
  • (1:05) Tries to jump route, but WR does a good job coming back to the ball, Amerson misses on the pick, WR gets 8 yards after the catch.
  • (2:15) Here’s the first in a series of Amerson standing and watching a ball carrier fight for extra yards while his teammates try to bring him down. This is far from the most egregious example of Amerson’s unwillingness to stick his nose into a pile. We’ll see a lot more of this.
  • (2:34) Here is a comeback route by BC WR on a noodle-armed throw. Amerson feasts on these. Here it’s just a PBU, but notice Amerson trying to high-point the ball and go for the pick.
  • (3:14) INT for TD, although nothing impressive here. Tipped pass lands in his arms and he’s gone. Still, I don’t want to completely dismiss it. Amerson always has his eyes on the ball. It’s what gets him in trouble, but it also allows him to capitalize on “gimme” plays like this.
  • (4:51) Run support is not David Amerson’s forte. He’s juked by a much less athletic RB, goes ankle diving, and whiffs.


Save for one outstanding play, Amerson had a brutal day:

Notable moments:

  • (0:12) Quick screen right at Amerson. Two NC State defenders should have the WR pinned in, but the inside defender (not Amerson) allows the WR to get around him and gives up a big gain. This one isn’t Amerson’s fault, but I’ll note it because Maryland clearly wanted to attack Amerson on quick hitters.
  • (0:41) Another quick screen right at Amerson. This time he makes a tackle. However, even when he makes the tackle on these quick hitters, WRs tend to spin and/or fall forward to get an extra 4 or 5 yards. So even when Amerson makes the play, it is typically a positive result for the offense.
  • (1:13) PI on Amerson. I don’t have a huge problem with this play. Amerson is attacking the football. He has as much right to the ball as the receiver, but this going to get called more often than not. The announcer on this play criticizes Amerson for not jamming the receiver, but does he know the play call?
  • (1:44) Awful. This is an 185 lb Freshman WR and Amerson is diving at his ankles. The WR easily walks out of the tackle and gets at least another 15 yards. Wrap up.
  • (2:53) Amerson has an opportunity to lay a big hit on a TE who is vulnerable. Amerson hits him, falls to the ground, and the TE rolls right off of him and would have kept going if the sideline wasn’t right there. Wrap up.
  • (3:07) Oof. 3rd and 2, what to do? Another quick screen right at Amerson. Another missed tackle when Amerson goes ankle diving. First down, and the WR gets an additional 20 yards.
  • (3:26) BIG PLAY: After a rough day, here’s what makes Amerson such a compelling player. He reads the in route by the receiver, then basically runs the route for the receiver, but better. He gets to the spot first, picks off the pass, and he’s gone. The TD is called back for a block in the back, but clearly, this is what the Redskins see in him – a playmaker who can change the game on one play.
  • (4:36) Infuriating. Amerson is a spectator as the running back spins off a few tackles by Amerson’s teammates for a first down. Go hit him.
  • (4:46) Ankle diving again on a RB on 3rd and 4. Missed tackle. First down.
  • (5:26) Again, almost no effort to stick his nose in the pile and stop a RB from getting a first down on 3rd and short, although at least on this play we get a half-hearted effort as the ball carrier is already going down.
  • (5:36) Missed tackle again. WR gets at least another 10 yards.

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  5. […] that talent. Jimmy Kempski of Blogging the Beast has a great breakdown of Amerson’s career in three short parts. If you look at the 2011 game tape, you’ll see a ballhawk who is physical, […]

  6. […] If you didn’t see Part I, go here first. […]

  7. DaCrock says:

    Great tape. Clearly, Amerson needs to be “coached up” in some areas, but the guy is without a doubt a playmaker, and that’s something you either have or you don’t. Also, I thought it was worth your pointing out that NC State had Amerson in off man coverage on virtually every play. The Skins defense plays off man, press, and multiple zone coverages–as do most NFL teams. Those multiple and disguised coverages give playmakers a chance to make more plays. If this guy is receptive to coaching, he has the chance to be dynamic. If he can only play off man coverage, he’ll be out of the league shortly. He may be a complete bust, or in time, he may be a bigger, better version of DHall or Asante Samuel. Look forward to seeing Amerson in Burgundy and Gold to find out. Keep the tapes coming. I love watching it all–the good, the bad and the ugly. Nice job.

    1. mjoedgaard says:

      Asante Samuel made a career of only playing off man

      1. DaCrock says:

        I think if you look at Samuel’s career tapes, you’ll see that he also played a LOT of zone coverage disguised as off man, which resulted in many of his INTs.

  8. NYG_Slater says:

    yup, a gambling CB who hates to tackle. Like every drafted player, he’ll get better/develop, or get shoo’ed out of the league. Good upside if he corrects his weaknesses, he’s got tremendous measurable’s–wow.

    Had a nice “lol” at all the ankle diving. If you could give a grade on ankle diving form, he gets an A+. Look at how long his arms are, and he does this exaggerated scissor/sweep arm thing, it lets him get his head down lower and sooner than practically any other ankle diver. He does not want contact.

    God help him against Big/physical WR’s….Based on the schedule, wow…… he’ll see: Megatron, Dez (2x), Brandon Marshall, Cordarralle Patterson (physical Rookie),Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, Julio Jones, Roddy White, Dwayne Bowe, and the Nicks/cruz duo (2x).

  9. Cowboy Luv says:

    Out w/ Asomugha In Amerson ,Dez & T. Will cant wait!

    1. A Fine Messi says:

      just like they couldn’t wait last year, right?

      1. JSteelze says:

        lol I bet they couldn’t wait to see us last thanksgiving.

  10. Bob Sandy says:

    The 185lb freshman WR for Maryland is Stefon Diggs, is considered one of the best receivers in his class and will be in the NFL after his junior season. He finished second to Duke Johnson in ACC freshman of the year voting.

    I completely agree Amerson can’t tackle for shit and doesn’t really want to tackle, but at least give him slack in this matchup. Stefon Diggs is a beast.

    1. mjoedgaard says:

      The guy is still 185. its not like he is the size of Johnson or Boldin

  11. JSteelze says:

    The kid is 20 years old. If being a poor open field tackler is his biggest problem, im ok with it. I’ll gladly take a shot on a playmaker with the 51st pick in the draft. It’s not like the Redskins took him in the top 10. Weren’t people killing Cromartie for being a poor tackler? Who wouldn’t want him on their team? I’m not saying Amerson will be as good as Cromartie, but let’s calm down on killing this kid

    1. mjoedgaard says:

      The Eagles sure as hell didnt want to have DRC on this team. We didnt even give him an offer before he hit FA

      1. CrackSammich says:

        Antonio Cromartie, Not Dominic Rodgers-Cromartie.

        1. JSteelze says:

          Yeah, I should of specified Antonio Cromartie.

  12. steveospeak says:

    Great breakdown Jimmy, unfortunately these are my issues with him as well. Not knocking him for the MD INT b/c he played it very well, but the MD quarterback should never have thrown that ball in to double coverage and off his back foot. I just worry we won’t see the same number of INT’s at the next level, b/c most quarterbacks don’t make those kinda mistakes that often.

    1. JSteelze says:

      I guess we should take away all ints on balls that QB’s shouldn’t have thrown. That never happens in the NFL, right?

      1. steveospeak says:

        not nearly as often as the NCAA. If you benefited 5-10 times in college from throws like that, what are we talking about 1-3 in the NFL.

    2. horatius says:

      Why? Tony Romo is still playing in this division.

  13. Skins Fan says:

    Tape and his overall college experience are about his potential and liabilities. Isn’t the future based on his attitude and self-awareness (clearly said at press conference he needed to focus on position fundamentals) PLUS what the Redskins think they can teach him? Curious whether others think his downside is irreversible or something that good focused coaching can negate.

    1. mjoedgaard says:

      Tackling takes effort he can still change but as Eagles fans know, it dam hard to change a CBs desire to tackle if he dont wants too.

      1. DHall was known as a poor tackler prior to his days under Haslett and Raheem Morris. I was one of his biggest haters for his seeming unwillingness to stick his nose in there. However, I also have to give credit where credit is due. DHall has completely done a 180 in the willingness to tackle department.

        Admittedly, he still has his bone headed plays where he gives a poor tackling effort (against Boldin last year and Gronk the year before). But he also makes a decent amount of one on one open field tackles, got a sack or two last year, and has been playing much, much more physically.

        If Haslett and Morris can teach DHall, Amerson has a chance too.

    2. steveospeak says:

      I think it is tough to say that all he needs is coaching. Plenty of players just need to be “coached up” and many of them fail. It’s not easy to do.

      1. horatius says:

        Hey, if DeAngelo Hall can become a top 10 corner in run support, anything is possible.

  14. mjoedgaard says:

    Asanta Samuel or DRC would be proud.

    Im just wondering how many yards Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Cruz, Hicks, Celek, Ertz, Casey etc. are going to get after the catch against that projected starting secondary (Rambo, Thomas and Amerson are all better than what the Skins already have).

    1. Most likely less than last year, which won’t be good news for each player’s respective teams.

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