Scouting Report: Ameer Abdullah, RB Nebraska

October 9th, 2014

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Everything is right in the world again. The Patriots played well….like the Patriots. Hopefully that will continue throughout the season and draftniks will be trying to figure out who the Patriots will be interested in at pick #32. Depending on how the Patriots handle the contracts of Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen, one possibility will be drafting a running back, so this week I decided to give Ameer Abdullah a closer look.

Positives:

Abdullah is listed at 5’9″ and 190 pounds, but he looks and plays much bigger on film. He is a decisive runner and shows no hesitation in the backfield.  He has good vision, trusts what he sees, and explodes through the hole. Abdullah does not lose momentum when cutting. He has a compact frame, a nice combination of balance and power, and stays low. He is quicker than fast,does not try to bounce everything outside, and likes to run between the tackles.  He also hits defenders rather than being hit. His low center of gravity makes it difficult for defenders to wrap him up and get big hits on him. Even when there is not a lot of running room, Abdullah falls forward to maximize his yardage. Very rarely does he down on first contact or by a single tackler. He was not used a ton in the passing game of the games I watched, but he did look comfortable catching the ball and his stats in prior years indicate that he can be an effective pass catching option.  In the play I highlighted below, you can see several of Abdullah’s positive traits, including vision, decisiveness, balance, low center of gravity, and his ability to gain yards after first contact.

Negatives:
Abdullah has had a lot of carries in his career at Nebraska, which is always a little worrisome for running backs. He does not possess elite speed for the position and will never be a home-run threat in the NFL. Abdullah has also been fortunate to run through some very large holes, which have helped him rack up impressive numbers. Another aspect of his game that he must work on if he wants to be considered an every-down back in the NFL is his pass protection. Hopefully with coaching and a willingness to learn, he can improve this aspect of his game. In the play below you can see that his technique and effort are not great, which forced his QB to rush the throw.

Summary:

There is a lot to like about Ameer Abdullah so his game should translate well to the NFL. While he may lack elite size and speed, his other traits for the position are top notch. He plays much bigger than his size and has never had any major injuries.  Abdullah plays with a mean streak, always looking to run through defenders and fight for extra yards.  You rarely see him get tackled for a loss. He must work on his pass protection if he wants to be an every down back in the NFL. Because Abdullah lacks that home run threat potential that players like Guryley and Gordon have, I would not give him a first-round grade but he could be a nice addition to the Patriots beyond that.


Seven Targets: Revisiting Patriots Cornerback Darrelle Revis vs. Bengals Wideout A.J. Green

October 9th, 2014
Darrelle Revis and A.J. Green battled over the course of 51 snaps on Sunday night. Seven throws were the byproduct. (NFL Game Rewind)

Darrelle Revis and A.J. Green battled over the course of 51 snaps on Sunday night. And along the way, seven passes were thrown into their vicinity. (NFL Game Rewind)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

On the surface, Darrelle Revis did not stand apart against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday night. But when the five-time Pro Bowler left the New England Patriots’ secondary with four minutes left in the third, it only took one play for A.J. Green to illustrate his absence.

A crisp corner route by the 6’4”, 207-pound wideout netted a 17-yard touchdown as Revis headed to the locker room. Quarterback Andy Dalton delivered a well-placed ball, and there was little second-year cornerback Logan Ryan could do to prevent it from whistling over his shoulders.

There was little the Patriots could to prevent the difference, either.

But Revis did return to the field. He finished having played 51 defensive snaps. And he finished having played to his man-to-man strengths, holding Green to three receptions for 64 yards on seven penalty-including targets.

Here is a closer look at each one. Read the rest of this entry »


Players with Patriots Ties Continuing Football Journey in FXFL

October 8th, 2014
A former Florida Gator and Patriot, guard Jon Halapio will continue his football journey in the FXFL. (Kim Klement - USA Today Sports)

A former Florida Gator and New England Patriot, guard Jon Halapio will continue his football journey in the FXFL. (Kim Klement – USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

The Fall Experimental Football League is slated to begin its inaugural season on Wednesday, with the aim of serving as a developmental platform for the National Football League.

Founded by sports lawyer Brian Woods in May of 2014, the FXFL’s four-team circuit will provide a venue for former college prospects and recent NFL players to work back into the league of 32. And when the league kicks off its month-long schedule, at least eight players with ties to the New England Patriots will play a part in it. Read the rest of this entry »


Bryan Stork Held His Ground vs. Bengals, Patriots Followed Suit

October 7th, 2014
Using a difference combination along the offensive line on Sunday night, the Patriots unlocked the Bengals defensive front. (NFL Game Rewind)

Using a different combination along the offensive line on Sunday night, the Patriots found a way to unlock the Bengals defensive front. (NFL Game Rewind)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

It has been trial and error for the New England Patriots. But there were very few errors involved when the Patriots deployed a different combination on the interior offensive line against the then-undefeated Cincinnati Bengals Sunday night.

With two-year starting center Ryan Wendell over at right guard, Dan Connolly opposite him at left guard, and rookie Bryan Stork in the middle, the pieces fit into place. And those pieces changed the complexion of New England’s offense on the way to unlocking Cincinnati’s defense.

It it began with aggressiveness at the line of scrimmage. Stork, a fourth-round pick in May, was an integral part of it. The Week 5 game marked only the second start of his season and NFL career, but aside from false start and holding penalties in the third quarter, the game proved to not be too fast for him.

Sometimes, he was too fast for it. Read the rest of this entry »


Stock Report: Patriots vs. Bengals Edition

October 6th, 2014
NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at New England Patriots

Patriots’ running back Stevan Ridley had a strong outing versus the Bengals, toting the rock 27 times for 113 yards and 1 touchdown.. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

NEPD Staff Writer: Ken Vetrano

The New England Patriots played with emotion and a sense of urgency Sunday night as they beat the Cincinnati Bengals 43-17. Players stepped up and rallied around quarterback Tom Brady. There were a number of areas I could have chose to highlight from this victory. Kyle Arrington for instance played aggressively – making plays on defense and returning a fumble for a touchdown on special teams. Stephen Gostkowski continued to be one the most steadfast kickers in the league, and Darrelle Revis virtually shut down AJ Green for an entire half.

Below are just a few of the bright spots I chose to examine from last night, as well as some areas where New England needs to pick up the slack if they hope to contend later this fall when their schedule beefs up.

Read the rest of this entry »


Patriots Offensive Woes: Blaming Brady Easy Excuse

October 5th, 2014

NEPD Staff Writer: Jason Cappell

 

The numbers don’t lie. Tom Brady hasn’t been impressive at all this season. In fact 2014 is no doubt the worst season of his NFL career. But to put the blame on Tom Brady’s shoulders is a grave mistake. The diminishing talent around him has failed Brady, and it’s Bill Belichick the GM and not the coach who is responsible.

It’s been well documented that the best way to get Tom Brady off his game is by knocking him off his feet. The New York Giants exposed this flaw on two separate instances in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI. Give Tom Brady time in the pocket and he’ll pick you apart all day long, but when you find ways to put him under duress, his skill set is diminished.

Read the rest of this entry »


2014 NFL Trade Deadline: Are the Patriots looking for a dance partner?

October 4th, 2014
NFL: Oakland Raiders at New England Patriots

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick may be looking to the trade deadline for reinforcements (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

NEPD Staff Writer: Ken Vetrano

Twenty-four more days are available for NFL teams to trade players. The Patriots’ front office has around $14M available in cap space, and as of Monday night New England fans have about zero patience available for this team.

Frustration, disbelief and confusion are the best ways to describe what fans are feeling right now. There are so many places to point the finger, but placing blame won’t solve this organization’s issues any faster. What this team needs is a shake up, and Monday night’s debacle in Kansas City was just that.

Now it’s up to the Patriots to pick themselves up, get back on the horse, and circle the wagons. They have enough talent, at least on the defensive side of the ball, to clinch their division. But talent alone doesn’t always translate to wins, it also takes effort and patience. Two things players and coaches have lacked through four games.

In order to right the ship a lot of internal transformation has to take place in that locker room. However, infusing a new element onto a roster can sometimes provide the necessary spark desired to pivot a franchise 180°. Deals at the trade deadline don’t happen often in professional football, and they’re usually never significant moves when they do.

Bill Belichick trading for Aqib Talib a couple years ago is the exception to that rule. Talib gave a lack luster Patriots’ defense the jolt needed to spur a turn around that season. Question is – is there another player available this year who could do the same?

The desert and Motor City may offer solutions…

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