Posts Tagged ‘Draft Close-Up’

2014 NFL Draft Close-Up: Iowa Linebacker Christian Kirksey

Monday, May 5th, 2014

For four seasons, Iowa’s Christian Kirksey flew to the football. He did so, regardless of his size. He did so, regardless of where he aligned from. (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Over the last three months, NEPatriotsDraft.com has profiled college prospects that potentially fit the needs and seating of the New England Patriots in the 2014 NFL draft. In this 13th and final installment – the previous 12 profiles can be found here – we will take a closer look at the film behind Iowa outside linebacker Christian Kirksey.

No play has been too far away for Christian Kirksey.

It’s been that way since his days at Hazelwood East High School in St. Louis, Mo., where high-effort pursuit branded him a two-way player – a fullback and a linebacker – as well as a two-sport letterman.

But it was on the defensive side of the ball that the track athlete broke free. As a junior in the fall of 2008, Kirksey notched 89 tackles, three tackles for loss, a sack and an interception, as he helped the Spartans win a state championship in two sports. Along the way, he was named an all-conference honorable mention in football.

That carried over in the fall of 2009, even after Kirksey, a 6’2”, 198-pound senior outside linebacker, verbally committed to the University of Iowa. It carried over, even though the three-star recruit had more on his mind than the game. (more…)


2014 NFL Draft Close-Up: Penn State Defensive Tackle DaQuan Jones

Monday, April 21st, 2014

DaQuan Jones’ strength off the field has translated on it. And as May’s draft approaches, the Penn State defensive tackle is a likely day-two pick. (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

In the coming weeks leading up to the 2014 NFL draft, NEPatriotsDraft.com will continue to profile college prospects that potentially fit the needs and draft seating of the New England Patriots. In this 12th installment, we will take a closer look at the film behind Penn State defensive tackle DaQuan Jones.

DaQuan Jones has lived through far more than double teams in his 22 years.

As Anna Orso powerfully detailed in The Daily Collegian last October, he’s lived through an impoverished childhood, which left him eating few warm meals and sleeping on couches while his family moved from one apartment to another. He’s lived through his mother’s addiction and incarceration, which granted his father full custody of him and his brothers even when long days at work didn’t make it easy. He’s lived through struggles in school and pressures from peers, which reminded him of the darker avenues he could have taken.

Those battles could have derailed him. They could have defined him. But with strong pillars supporting him and his internal strength to succeed, those battles brought out the best in him.

That was seen through athletics at Johnson City High School in southern New York, where Jones was captain of the basketball team and also part of the track and field team.

Measuring in at 6’3” and 302 pounds, he found an outlet on the football field as well.

He left his mark, setting an example as a captain and a standout on both sides of the ball. And after a junior year consisting of 70 tackles, three sacks and four fumble recoveries, the Wildcat found himself ranked as the No. 5 overall defensive tackle by Scout.com. He found himself ranked the No. 2 offensive lineman in the nation by Rivals.com. He found himself a predominant four-star recruit.

Soon after, Jones found himself with the opportunity to go to college. His talent had drawn scholarship offers from Boston College and six other Division I programs by the summer of 2009.

Penn State was one of them. And while on a camp visit to State College that June, the soon-to-be high school senior committed. (more…)


2014 NFL Draft Close-Up: Oregon State Defensive End Scott Crichton

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Scott Crichton treats every snap the same. And the Oregon State defensive end is in line to be a top draft pick because of it. (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

In the coming weeks and months leading up to the 2014 NFL draft, NEPatriotsDraft.com will profile college prospects that potentially fit the needs and draft seating of the New England Patriots. In this 11th installment, we will take a closer look at the film behind Oregon State defensive end Scott Crichton.

Scott Crichton won’t win every battle at the line, but he approaches each one the same.

Full bore.

That mentality is what turned the Tacoma, Wash., native into a three-year letterman at Henry Foss High School, where he played defensive end, linebacker and tight end. It is what netted the then-6’3”, 225-pound Falcon 78 solo tackles, 10 pass breakups, four forced fumbles and an interception during his senior season. It is what named him Narrows League Defensive MVP, a 4A first-team All-State selection and Tacoma Weekly Player of the Year.

Even so, Crichton remained concealed in recruiting circles. Rivals.com ranked him 44th among defensive ends in the 2010 class; Scout.com ranked him 127th at the position; 247Sports.com ranked him 602nd overall.

The weak-side defender was a fringe three-star prospect, but he was also a player driven by effort. And as signing day drew near, that was a something the University of Oregon, the University of Washington and Washington State University all made note of.

Yet in the end, Crichton decided to trek 226 miles southward, enrolling at Oregon State University in the fall of 2010. (more…)


2014 NFL Draft Close-Up: Notre Dame Tight End Troy Niklas

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Troy Niklas wasn’t a full-time receiver in Notre Dame’s passing attack last fall, but he seldom left the field. (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

In the coming weeks and months leading up to the 2014 NFL draft, NEPatriotsDraft.com will profile college prospects that potentially fit the needs and draft seating of the New England Patriots. In this 10th installment, we will take a closer look at the film behind Notre Dame tight end Troy Niklas.

Troy Niklas has football bloodlines. He has experience playing all over the field. And he also has the size, strength and athleticism to never leave the field.

But as a tight end who carries traits that cannot be taught, his development will hinge on what can be.

After all, as the nephew of Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews, the cousin of current NFL linebackers Clay and Casey Matthews, and the brother of former Air Force linebacker Austin Niklas, the 6’6”, 270-pound Niklas has done more than catch passes since his days at Servite High School. (more…)


2014 NFL Draft Close-Up: Florida Defensive Lineman Dominique Easley

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Ligament tears in both knees have derailed him, but Florida’s Dominique Easley continues to battle back. (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

In the coming weeks and months leading up to the 2014 NFL draft, NEPatriotsDraft.com will profile college prospects that potentially fit the needs and draft seating of the New England Patriots. In this ninth installment, we will take a closer look at the film behind Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley.

Coming out of Curtis High School in Staten Island, N.Y., Dominique Easley was a five-star recruit. He was the second-ranked defensive tackle in the 2010 class by Rivals.com and Scout.com. He was invited to the Under Armour All-America Game that January. And by that February, the 6’2”, 255-pound Warrior was committed to the Florida Gators.

Five months later, Easley was enrolled down in Gainesville. He flashed enough promise that summer to avoid redshirt that fall, ultimately playing in six games and recording four tackles as a true freshman. Although in 2011, the preseason All-SEC third-teamer did more than flash; he started all 12 regular-season contests to register 37 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and a blocked punt.

He wouldn’t make a 13th start as a sophomore, though. A second-quarter play versus Florida State took that from him.

Easley planted his left leg in the Ben Griffin Hill Stadium grass and went down without contact. And after limping to the sideline under the assistance of Florida’s medical staff, the flourishing 288-pounder had to be carted off.

It was a torn ACL. But it wasn’t the last of him.

(more…)


2014 NFL Draft Close-Up: Northern Illinois Safety Jimmie Ward

Monday, March 24th, 2014

Jimmie Ward made his presence felt all over the Northern Illinois secondary. And upon reflection, the recognition he’s earned leading up to May’s draft has been well-deserved. (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

In the coming weeks and months leading up to the 2014 NFL draft, NEPatriotsDraft.com will profile college prospects that potentially fit the needs and draft seating of the New England Patriots. In this eighth installment, we will take a closer look at the film behind Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward.

Instinctual and determined.

Over the last four years, that was Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward in a nutshell.

Whether he was lined up as a special-teamer, a cornerback, a nickelback or a safety for the Huskies, Ward took the same approach to each play: make it count. The Mobile, Ala., native was able to do so dating back to his freshman season in 2010, when he participated all 14 games to block a school-record three punts, return one for a touchdown and record 21 tackles, a forced fumble and a pass deflection as a reserve safety.

Ward was named Northern Illinois’ Special Teams Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year. And that momentum carried over on defense in 2011, as the sophomore logged work in all 14 games once again, starting 12 as a defensive back. He went on to tally 100 total tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, a sack, an interception, four pass deflections, a forced fumble as well as another blocked kick, garnering second-team All Mid-American Conference acknowledgement in the process.

In 2012, Ward took another step forward, receiving first-team All Mid-American Conference honors in result. Despite missing one contest due to injury, the junior led the Northern Illinois defense with 104 tackles, one tackle for loss, three interceptions, 11 pass deflections and a forced fumble over 13 starts at safety. His best, however, was yet to come.

This past fall, the senior started all 14 games to register 95 tackles, 2.5 for loss, a sack, seven interceptions, 10 pass deflections, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery on his way to becoming a first-team All-MAC selection, a third-team All-American and a Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist.

Ward’s collegiate career ended with a 21-14 loss to Utah State in the Poinsettia Bowl. But an unceremonious finish could not derail the perception on the former Alabama 6A All-State honorable mention. He outdid expectations. And leading up to May’s NFL draft, expectations are that he’ll be a first- or second-round draft choice. (more…)


2014 NFL Draft Close-Up: Florida State Defensive Tackle Timmy Jernigan

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Florida State’s Timmy Jernigan proved to be an inside presence worth accounting for as a junior in 2013. The defensive tackle is viewed as a likely first-round draft pick this May because of it. (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

In the coming weeks and months leading up to the 2014 NFL draft, NEPatriotsDraft.com will profile college prospects that potentially fit the needs and draft seating of the New England Patriots. In this seventh installment, we will take a closer look at the film behind Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan.

Timmy Jernigan is hard to miss – not only for his 6’1”, 299-pound frame and tight-fitting untucked jersey, but for his disruptive nature at the defensive tackle position.

It’s been evident dating back to his days at Columbia High School in Lake City, Fla., where a large No. 8 amassed 77 tackles, 32 tackles for loss, 14 sacks and one interception as a senior in 2010, also adding four touchdowns on offense.

Jernigan found himself recognized as a five-star recruit. He was ranked the fourth-best defensive tackle in the nation by Scout.com. He was ranked the second-best defensive tackle in the nation by Rivals.com. He was ranked 17th overall on the ESPNU 150. He was named All-USA first-team defense by USA Today. He was a 2011 U.S. Army All-American.

And not long after, he was a Florida State Seminole. (more…)







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