Tag Archives: New Orleans Saints

2018 Quick Lane Bowl In-game report: Minnesota vs. Georgia Tech, 12-26-18

Two run heavy offenses squared off in Detroit in the Quick Lane Bowl.  However, Minnesota was able to make more plays in the passing game, en route to a 34-10 victory over Georgia Tech. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

62 Jared Weyler (6’4 300) Minnesota OC/OG- Senior

Weyler has missed time over his career in Minnesota with a torn tricep and a torn ACL but when he is on the field, he provides toughness and leads the heavy run Gophers offense.  The senior can play both guard and center. He is not the most athletic prospect and looks a little stiff when forced to block on screens.  Against Georgia Tech, he did show the ability to call out blocking formations and provide a clean lane for his runners.  Weyler, a captain for the Golden Gophers, projects best at the next level as a center. 

24 Mohamed Ibrahim (5’10 205) Minnesota RB-Freshman

Ibrahim is only a freshman but he impressed all season long with his ability to serve as a workhorse running back. Despite his 31 touches in the Quick Lane Bowl, Ibrahim never looked tired or worn down. He is also a willing blocker in passing formations.  For the season, Ibrahim finished with 1,160 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 202 carries. The running back from Olney, Maryland, didn’t get a chance to show his ability to catch very much this year (four receptions for 26 yards).  In a few years, look for Ibrahim's name to come up as a potential NFL prospect. 

6 Tyler Johnson (6’2 200) Minnesota WR-Junior

Johnson is the best receiving weapon for the Golden Gophers.  His explosiveness off the line of scrimmage is lethal.  He was able to sell a move to the inside in order to get a clean release on the outside for a touchdown in the first quarter.  Against Georgia Tech, Johnson hauled in two touchdowns on four receptions for 57 yards.  For the season, Johnson had 78 catches for 1,169 yards and 12 touchdowns. Johnson projects best as an X-receiver, who has the skills off the line to scare cornerbacks in man-to-man coverage.

Look here at how Johnson uses explosiveness in his routes, high- points the football and makes a play:

3 Tre Swilling (6’0 195) Georgia Tech CB-Freshman

The son of former Saints Pro Bowler Pat Swilling, the younger version stood out in the Quick Lane Bowl because of his clean hips and ability to mirror receivers.   Swilling didn’t see much action to his side against Minnesota and at times it looked as if the Golden Gophers offense was intentionally avoiding him.  For the season, Swilling had one forced fumble, an interception and six pass deflections.  Swilling has the skills and bloodlines to be a next level talent.  As the years go on, his progress will be worth monitoring. 

New Orleans Saints vs Minnesota Vikings, 10-28-18: In-game report

In a rematch of last year's NFC Divisional Playoff matchup, Minnesota and New Orleans put on a less entertaining showing on Sunday Night Football.  New Orleans took advantage of two costly Vikings turnovers to win 30-20.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in game report:

Saints Quarterbacks 

Saints backup quarterback Taysom Hill (pictured at BYU in 2016) has been a jack of all trades for the team.

Sean Payton is one of the most innovative play callers in the NFL and he lived up to the hype on Sunday night against the Vikings, who came into the game ranked No. 10 in  total defense. The former quarterback, turned head coach, used backup quarterback Taysom Hill in Wildcat formations and empty sets and even lined him up at wide receiver while Drew Brees was under center. Hill is 6’2, 220 pounds and can run in-between the tackles and throw the football. His ability forces opposing defenses to have to game plan for something else while still preparing for Brees, the NFL's all-time leader in passing yards.  On one possession in the red zone, Payton even put Hill in shotgun and lined quarterbacks Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Brees out wide.  Hill ran up the middle for no gain but it goes to show Payton isn’t afraid to experiment with some new alignments and he may have used the wacky formation to get something on film for a later use.  Hill finished with one completion for 44 yards and three rushing attempts for -2 yards.  The former BYU quarterback has run for 123 yards and one touchdown so far this season. 

Vikings Receivers 

The Minnesota Vikings have two number one receivers in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen.   Against New Orleans, Thielen caught seven passes for 103 yards and set the record for most consecutive 100-yard receiving games to start the season with his eighth straight.  He ranks first in the NFL in receiving yards and receptions. On the other side, Diggs caught 10 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown.  Most impressive is that the two combined for 17 receptions on 18 targets. Not only are Diggs and Thielen productive, but they make sure to catch anything and everything that comes their way. The Vikings made an effort to attack Saints cornerback P.J. Williams instead of testing Pro Bowler, Marshon Lattimore. Minnesota has two number one level receivers which allows them to pick on cornerbacks, who they deem more of a liability.  Both players made critical mistakes that resulted in big plays for the Saints defense.  With the Vikings up 13-10 and driving in for a score at the Saints' 18-yard line with 1:11 left in the second quarter, Thielen fumbled after a hit by linebacker Alex Anzalone.  The fumble was recovered by Lattimore and took potential points off the board.  Then, in the third quarter (5:58), Diggs failed to continue to run across the field on a crossing pattern while being covered by Saints cornerback P.J. Williams.  Williams ended up picking off the crossing pattern by Kirk Cousins and returned it for a 45-yard touchdown.  It put the Saints up by 14 and stymied the Vikings attempt to tie the game.  Despite the mishaps, the Vikings will continue to be a force in the passing game behind the production of Diggs and Thielen. 

Saints defense 

Davenport has four sacks for the Saints thus far in his rookie campaign.

Earlier in the week, New Orleans acquired Eli Apple from the Giants for a fourth round draft pick.  Apple led the team in tackles on Sunday night but a lot of those tackles came after he had given up catches.  Apple, who started the game, should form cohesion with the Saints secondary in time as he is accompanied by fellow former Ohio State Buckeyes Marshon Lattimore and Vonn Bell. With the emergence of defensive end Marcus Davenport (two sacks against Minnesota) alongside Pro Bowler Cam Jordan, New Orleans has the makings of a solid defense.  If defensive coordinator Dennis Allen, who served as the secondary coach during the Saints championship season, can get the secondary on the same page then New Orleans could match a strong offense with an equally strong defense. 

Update: Davenport was recently reported to have a toe injury that could keep him out for an extended period of time.

New Cleveland Browns placekicker Joseph looks to solve team’s woes

After a Sunday afternoon 21-18 defeat at the hands of the New Orleans Saints (1-1), the Cleveland Browns (0-1-1) released former seventh-round draft pick Zane Gonzalez.  Pittsburgh Steelers OLB T.J. Watt blocked a potential game-winning 43-yard field goal by Gonzalez in an overtime season-opening tie versus the Browns.  He then missed a go-ahead extra point and potential game-tying field goal in the fourth quarter of Sunday's three-point loss to the Saints.  Gonzalez missed two extra points and two field goals in the Superdome.

The kicker that the Browns signed to replace the NCAA's all-time leader in field goals didn't leave college with the same resume', but his work in college was still impressive.  Former FAU kicker Greg Joseph had a knack for forcing teams to drive the length of the field versus the Owls 34th-ranked scoring defense in 2017.   Here's a quick snapshot of Joseph, our sixth-ranked kicker in the 2018 NFL Draft class.

Greg Joseph PK 6’1 214

School: FAU

DraftNasty's 2018 Grade: 4.05 (7th Round)

What makes this player Nasty....(Strengths): He’s a two-by-three-yard kicker who aligns right outside of the LT (left tackle).  2 ¼-step placekicker with ample leg strength.  Kicked a 54-yard FG with at least six yards to spare vs. Navy in 2017 (3-step). Rarely punches at the ball. Keeps his shoulders parallel during his motion.  Kicked the ball well in windy conditions vs. Western Kentucky in 2017.  Hit two 40-yard field goals from both hash marks (2nd FG-RT hash, 48-yd FG inside left uprights; 3rd FG-left hash, 42-yd FG).  Posted a 76-percent touchback rate on KOs in 2017.  Capable of kicking balls in the 75-to-77-yard range with 4-second plus hang times (77 yards, 4.06, Tulsa ’15;  77 yards, 4.03, Tulsa ’15).  Posted five touchbacks vs. North Texas in 2017 and three in the 74-to-77-yard range.   He’s capable of kicking directionally to his right on kickoffs.

Weaknesses: Inconsistent in 2015. When he drags his first step (plant foot), he’ll push kicks to his right from the collegiate left hash (missed 40-yd FG, Tulsa ’15).  Some of his kickoffs were held up in the wind vs. Western Kentucky in 2017 (4th KO-directional right, 60 yards, 4.03 hang).  He also had his fifth kickoff get held up in the wind (vs. WKU ’17).

Other Notes:

  • Born in Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Attended American Heritage-Delray HS (Fla.) and was a standout soccer and football star
  • Earned All-State honors as a senior
  • 2014: 14-of-20 FGs (Long-43), 5-of-7 (30-39 yards), 4-of-7 (40-49 yards), 34-of-35 XPs; 60 KOs, 23 TBs, 1 onside
  • 2015: 18-of-27 FGs (Long-48), 2-of-4 (30-39 yds),  5-of-10 (40-49 yds), 0-of-1 (50-99 yds); 28-of-28 XPs; 62 KOs, 33 TBs, OOB (out of bounds)
  • 2016 (Honorable mention All-C-USA): 10-of-14 FGs, 3-of-5 (30-39 yds), 3-of-3 (40-49 yds), 1-of-2 (50-99 yds); 39-of-39 XPs; 54 KOs, 41 TBs
  • 2017 (Honorable mention All-C-USA): 15-of-21 FGs (Long-54), 3-of-4 (30-39 yds), 4-of-7 (40-49 yds), 1-of-3 (50-99 yds), 64-of-68 XPs; 101 KOs, 77 TBs, OOB, 2 onside kicks
  • Career Stats: 57-of-82 FGs (Long-54), 165-of-170 XPs

Time to get Nasty...(Our Summary): Joseph’s ability to drive kickoffs through the end zone could help him vie for a roster spot alone.  He has been better in each of the last two seasons with accuracy but there are a number of pressure performances missing on his resume’.   A four-year starter with upside, the Johannesburg native will need to monitor the location of his plant foot moving forward.

DraftNasty's projection:  If there's a significant concern for the Browns, it is that Joseph -who hit on all three of his field goals for the Miami Dolphins in the 2018 preseason- simply didn't have an extreme amount of pressure-packed field goals at any time during his collegiate career.  In addition, he missed seven kicks in the all-important 30-to-39-yard range during his time in school.  This has relevance due to the NFL's 33-yard extra point attempts.  After playing in the relatively weather-friendly environments of Boca Raton, Florida in college and then Miami, Florida this preseason, will he adapt to the ever-changing conditions off the lake in Cleveland, Ohio?  This was somewhat of a concern for Gonzalez up until he handled it admirably as a rookie in 2017.  We were able to see Joseph kick twice in person during his time in school and he impressed on both occasions.  He handled a torrential downpour seamlessly versus Marshall in 2017 and even kicked a 31-yard field goal after three consecutive timeouts by Thundering Herd head coach Doc Holliday right before the end of the first half.  Joseph posted six touchbacks on 14 kickoffs in the preseason and matched his collegiate career-long with a 54-yard field goal versus the Carolina Panthers in Week 2. 

 

 

Related Images:

2018 NFL Draft Recap, pick-by-pick: NFC South

NFC South

Carolina Panthers
Former Maryland WR D.J. Moore caught 80 passes for the Terrapins in 2017 and was named the Big Ten's Receiver of the Year.

Notable picks: The addition of Thomas adds versatility to the middle of the field when the Panthers use multiple tight ends. In addition, Moore’s arrival means that the team actually has another big play option to mix with last year’s second-round pick Curtis Samuel. Jackson brings speed to what was a slow secondary a year ago. This draft seemed to be about adding speed to the roster.

Round,

Selection,

 

Player School DN Big Board

Rank/

Grade

‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (24) DJ

Moore

6’0 210

Maryland 38 (2nd Round) Moore has the task of providing new OC Norv Turner with a legitimate deep threat. Turner has coached elite route runners in his past (Henry Ellard, Los Angeles Rams, 1985-1990).
2 (55) Donte

Jackson

5’10 178

LSU 93 (3rd Round) Despite a lean build, Jackson will tackle. His confidence in his 4.32 speed benefited him in school, but he won’t be able to sit on as many routes at the next level.
3 (85) Rashaan

Gaulden

S-6’1 197

Tennessee 199 (4th Round) Gaulden didn’t make a lot of plays on the ball, but the energetic former Vol can contribute in a number of ways.   Needs to get stronger.
4 (101) Ian

Thomas

6’4 259

Indiana 143 (3rd Round) Thomas’ breakout performance against Ohio State in the 2017 season opener was perhaps a harbinger of things to come. His run after the catch skill will complement Greg Olsen.
5 (161) Jermaine

Carter

LB-6’1 243

Maryland 327 (5th Round) He had over 100 tackles in back-to-back years and was a sack artist as well (9.5 career sacks). Carter forced eight fumbles in school.
7 (234) Andre Smith LB-6’0 237 North Carolina 237 (4th Round) Smith’s ability to close distances from the inside-out covers up some slight stiffness. If not for injury in 2017, he would have gone much higher in the draft.
7 (242) Kendrick

Norton

DT-6’3 314

Miami (Fla.) Norton is an athletic one-technique DT who can stand to use his 10 ¾-inch hands with more force down-to-down. At 314 pounds, he’s slippery and has a five-yard burst to close air.

 

Atlanta

Falcons

Ridley will have the opportunity to win a number of one-on-one match-ups in the Falcons diverse receiving corps.

Notable picks: Oliver has the length to make up for the release of Jalen Collins from a season ago. Ridley’s speed will win a number of one-on-one matchups in the slot or on the outside. It eases the departure of Taylor Gabriel. Four wide receiver sets could include he and fourth-year man Justin Hardy in the slots. If Ridley and Julio Jones are outside, then Mohamed Sanu and Hardy can man the slot positions.

Round,

Selection,

 

Player School DN Big Board

Rank/

Grade

‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (26) Calvin

Ridley

6’1 188

Alabama 47 (2nd Round) Ridley is more than capable of winning one-on-one matchups.   Don’t be surprised if he is used in the slot in three wide receiver sets.
2 (58) Isaiah

Oliver

6’0 201

Colorado 20 (2nd Round) Oliver’s length mirrors former Falcons’ cornerback Jalen Collins. He will intensify the team’s nickel packages.
3 (90) Deadrin

Senat

DT-6’0 314

USF 100 (3rd Round) Squats nearly 700 pounds. Barreling block destructor. He dominated his final career game (2017 Birmingham Bowl) and then it carried over to a dominant week of work during 2018 East-West Shrine practices.
4 (126) Ito

Smith

RB-5’9 200

Southern Miss 218 (4th Round) Smith’s production in school should not be underestimated. Aside from posting back-to-back 1,400-yard rushing seasons, he also caught 83 passes the last two seasons.
6 (194) Russell

Gage

WR-6’0 182

LSU 522 (6th Round) Gage’s versatility extends beyond the passing game. He ran for over 230 yards for the Tigers in 2017 and contributed 11 tackles on special teams.
6 (200) Foye

Oluokun

LB-6’0 215

Yale N/A Oluokun overcame a 2015 injury to earn 2nd Team All-Ivy League honors in 2017. He finished his career with an eye-opening 18 pass break-ups and three blocked kicks.

 

 

Tampa

Bay

Buccaneers

Vea (No. 50 pictured) may very well require two blockers and open up the pass rush lanes for newly acquired Jason Pierre-Paul and Pro Bowl DT Gerald McCoy.

Notable pick: Vea adds substance to a defensive interior that allowed nearly 118 yards per game on the ground in 2017. The team also put an emphasis on getting more physical in the secondary with the additions of Davis and Stewart.

Round,

Selection,

 

Player School DN Big Board

Rank/

Grade

‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (12) Vita Vea

DT-6’4 347

Washington 17 (2nd Round) Vea’s presence in the middle of the defense should create more one-on-one matchups for Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy.
2 (38) Ronald

Jones II

6’0 205

USC 88 (3rd Round) The departure of Doug Martin opens up the possibility that Jones II could get major touches in Year 1.
2 (53) M.J.

Stewart

AP-5’11 200

UNC 57 (2nd Round) Stewart’s positional flexibility extended itself to special teams during his senior campaign (11 yds/PR). He will be a candidate for sub-package duty immediately.
2 (63) Carlton

Davis

CB-6’1 206

Auburn 32 (2nd Round) Davis’ length adds a measure of size to the cornerback spot that was lacking when the team had to defend the Michael Thomas and Julio Jones-types in the division.
3 (94) Alex

Cappa

OL-6’6 305

Humboldt State 224 (4th Round) Cappa is yet another pick who can play multiple spots on game day. The college left tackle’s roughhouse approach may give him a chance to earn repetitions as a guard spot in the NFL.
4 (117) Jordan

Whitehead

S-5’10 195

Pittsburgh 149 (3rd Round) Whitehead plays with the passion necessary to earn playing time on special teams. He was always one of the Panthers top tacklers and he plays extremely fast.
5 (144) Justin

Watson

WR-6’2 215

Penn 319 (5th Round) The Ivy League’s all-time leading receiver was used on the outside, in the slot and even in the backfield during school.
6 (202) Jack

Cichy

LB-6’1 230

Wisconsin Cichy looked like an early round pick when healthy in school. He is a downhill player with a measure of explosiveness as a tackler.

 

 

New

Orleans

Saints

Davenport's positional flexibility (pictured during 2018 Senior Bowl) could very well operate in a number of positions in DC Dennis Allen's schemes.

Notable Pick: No pick will be more scrutinized than Davenport. But should it be? The team finished 27th in the NFL in sacks in 2017 (30).

Round,

Selection,

 

Player School DN Big Board

Rank/

Grade

‘Nasty’ Take:
1 (14) Trade from Green Bay Marcus

Davenport

DE-6’6 258

UTSA 25 (2nd Round) Davenport has all of the tools to excel in the team’s creative schemes. With Cameron Jordan on the field, he will help to create havoc off the edge with Alex Okafor.
3 (91) Tre’Quan

Smith

WR-6’2 202

UCF 44 (2nd Round) 34 ½-inch arms with an ability to snap out of his hips at the break points. He will be a back-shoulder option to complement Thomas.
4 (127) Rick

Leonard

OL-6’5 307

Florida State 487 (6th Round) Leonard is a good enough run blocker that he may get looks at an interior line position.
5 (164) Natrell

Jamerson

S-5’10 200

Wisconsin 146 (3rd Round) Jamerson continued his upward trek through the postseason with a fine week of work during 2018 East-West Shrine practices.   The former WR has positive ball skills and was one of the better gunners (punt team) in the draft.
6 (189) Kamrin

Moore

CB-5’10 203

Boston College 272 (4th Round) Moore’s versatility (corner or nickel) was a big reason the Eagles finished in the Top 35 in passing defense in each of the last two seasons (2016-17). He is a physical player who likes to challenge opponents.
6 (201) Boston

Scott

RB-5’6 203 (E)

Louisiana Tech N/A Scott supplanted 2016 1,000-yard rusher Jarred Craft from the lineup and paved his own path to getting drafted. He may be short, but he is by no means an easy tackle at 203 pounds.
7 (245) Will

Clapp

OC-6'4 311

LSU 321 (5th Round) Clapp is assignment-sound with positive size.   He frequently won with positioning and guile as a blocker at LSU. Shoulder issues may have caused a slide in the draft.

Bryant’s Beehive: 3-for-3 into NFL Week 17

Is Dez Bryant worthy of carry the title of X-Factor? Is Drew Brees still the best QB in the NFC South? What challenges does Kansas City Chiefs rookie QB Patrick Mahomes face in his first career start? Read more to find out these answers and more in Bryant’s 3-for-3.

Dez Bryant: X-Factor or Not

There’s no question from a physical standpoint Dez Bryant is one of those Terrell Owens specimen-type athletes. However, Bryant’s mediocre productivity this season has only been a reflection of his previous two seasons in Dallas. The Cowboys need more from their big money receiver. Before the double coverage murmurs begin, teams have had to respect the veteran presence of Jason Witten, the consistency of Cole Beasley, and the speed of Terrance Williams. Even when comparing him with Hall of Fame WR Michael Irvin in his eighth-year in the NFL, Irvin had 111 catches for over 1,600 yards (1995). Despite a decline in his numbers and less games played the following season, Irvin went on to have back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons (1997-98). At this point, the projection of Bryant reaching his 2012-14 status is not looking so bright. In 2017, Bryant failed to have a 100-yard receiving game and according to Pro Football Focus, he ranks second in the NFL with nine drops. The bottom line is Bryant is underperforming his contract, as well as his lead position for the Cowboys organization. With the future at quarterback and running back, is it time for the Cowboys to seek a No. 1 WR in the 2018 NFL Draft?

'Brees’-ing Through

New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees continues to find the Fountain of Youth. Over the last few seasons, the NFC South has been graced with the athleticism of Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton, Atlanta Falcons 2016 MVP QB Matt Ryan, and the emerging Tampa Bay Buccaneers star Jameis Winston. However, the 38-year old veteran has led his team to its first winning record and playoff berth in four seasons. Perhaps these accomplishments are more fulfilling at this stage in his career than passing for 5,000 yards in a season (something he has accomplished four times). With one more game remaining on schedule, Brees has completed a career-high 71.9% of his passes and has managed to stay in the single digit column in interceptions (8). It has been eight years since Drew Brees has hoisted the Lombardi Trophy.  Does the ageless wonder have what it takes to bring another championship back to New Orleans?

Mahomes Debut

After locking up the AFC West for the second season in a row and clinching a spot in the playoffs, head coach Andy Reid is turning the keys over to rookie QB Patrick Mahomes for Sunday’s contest against the Denver Broncos. While this game may serve as a meaningless game for some, Mahomes will still be tested by a Broncos defense that ranks second in the league in total defense and fourth in the league against the pass.  Mahomes, the 10th overall pick in the 2017 draft, displayed great arm strength, strong hips through his release, and mobility coming out of Texas Tech. With a notable seasoned veteran and the potential contract discussions of Alex Smith at the end of the season, could we be getting a glimpse of the Chiefs new QB next season?