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  • They're poised to break out on 'D'

    by Dan Pompei - SportingNews.com

    Our 2004 breakout defensive players (rookies were not considered):

    Defensive ends

    This should be the season Kalimba Edwards' preposterous athleticism begins to become evident. In his rookie season, the Lions didn't play him enough. As a second-year player, Edwards struggled with a groin injury. As a third-year player, he's out of excuses and ready to turn the corner in his career and in his pass rush.

    After putting on about 20 pounds of muscle since last season and not losing any quickness, second-year man Jerome McDougle could be ready to show the pass-rush ability that made him so effective at the University of Miami. McDougle should benefit from the Eagles' acquisition of Jevon Kearse, who will attract most of the double-team attention. Kearse's presence at left end means McDougle should be taking most of his snaps at right end, a new position for him. A rotation with N.D. Kalu and Derrick Burgess should help keep McDougle fresh.

    Defensive tackles

    Ryan Sims took a big step last season for the Chiefs, and he's capable of taking a jump this year. With increased dedication, Sims has improved his strength and is bench-pressing 465 pounds. His pass rush will be enhanced in new coordinator Gunther Cunningham's defense. "You can just see it in him," Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil says. "He's growing up a lot. I expect him to be a Pro Bowler one day."

    The goal in Long Island is for Dewayne Robertson to play 20 pounds lighter than he did as a rookie, and Robertson has been progressing nicely toward that goal. Robertson has too much ability to continue to be the nonfactor he was last season, and Jets coaches are convinced Robertson will make an impact this year.

    Outside linebackers

    With instincts, toughness, explosiveness, athleticism and ball skills, Lance Briggs should become an excellent linebacker in his second season with the Bears. Briggs will be helped by a new system and a switch to weakside linebacker after starting the last 13 games of last season on the strong side. It also doesn't hurt to be playing next to Brian Urlacher.

    Another second-year linebacker who could improve after an impressive rookie season is Pisa Tinoisamoa of the Rams. Tinoisamoa continues to improve his coverage skills and learn angles and drops, which is critical because he's a bit undersized. He displays great intensity, instincts and the ability to play three downs. Last year, Tinoisamoa started 14 games and played 87 percent of the snaps.

    Middle linebackers

    There are two good candidates at this position, and the strongest is Robert Thomas of the Rams. At times last season, Thomas was dominant after being switched to the middle from the outside, where he played as a rookie. But he struggled with injuries for much of the season and missed four games. Now he is comfortable at middle linebacker, the position he played at UCLA, and familiar with his assignments.

    The other middle linebacker who could come on is the Bengals' Nate Webster, who showed intensity, athleticism, toughness and explosiveness as a sub for the Bucs the past four years.

    Safeties

    John Lynch's replacement at strong safety in Tampa Bay is a lot like Lynch himself. Jermaine Phillips is tough, smart and dependable and has ball skills. What's more, the third-year player learned from Lynch as his understudy the past two seasons. Phillips has shown consistent improvement and is ready to become an above-average starter.

    In his first year as a starter, Michael Lewis was a solid strong safety for the Eagles. He has a chance to be outstanding this year. Because of a rash of injuries in the Eagles' secondary last year, the burden of making the coverage calls fell to Lewis. With free safety Brian Dawkins back, Lewis will be able to concentrate more on where he's supposed to be and less on where his teammates are supposed to line up. At 225 pounds, Lewis could be considered in the class of Roy Williams of the Cowboys -- if he takes the next step.

    Cornerbacks

    The Chargers' Quentin Jammer finally started playing like a high first-round pick late last year after more than a season and a half of inconsistent play. If Jammer can continue to be consistent with his techniques, he has the potential to be one of the league's best all-around corners. As he develops confidence, he'll show more of the aggressiveness that made him an outstanding college player.

    After arriving as a legitimate NFL corner last season, fourth-year man Andre Dyson of the Titans should take his game to the next level. Dyson proved himself against the opponents' best receivers during a four-game stretch when Samari Rolle was injured. Since then, he has added strength and showed greater understanding of his team's schemes and the techniques he is required to play. Dyson has plenty of motivation; this is the last year of his contract, and if he plays well, he will be a highly pursued free agent.

    Senior writer Dan Pompei covers the NFL for Sporting News. Email him at [email protected].

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  • RamWraith
    Overview from ESPN
    by RamWraith
    Monday, July 26, 2004


    Scouts, Inc.
    Chat with Scouts, Inc., at 2 p.m. EST today!
    Training camps start late this year, with the first rookies not due to report
    until July 27. But Insider will keep the NFL fires burning all month with
    complete training camp previews of each team. Scouts, Inc., has sized up every
    roster and checks in with position-by-position breakdowns.
    Quarterbacks
    In terms of overall talent of the unit, the Rams are clearly not as deep with
    Marc Bulger and newcomer Chris Chandler than they were with Bulger and Kurt
    Warner. However, with coach Mike Martz and the Rams' organization finally
    putting an end to its quarterback soap opera, the team as a whole is much better
    off.

    BulgerThis is finally Bulger's team, and often times that confidence of knowing
    that you don't have to look over your shoulder every time you make a mistake can
    be invaluable for a quarterback. Bulger has proved that he can be effective as a
    starter. He is still young and has the upside to develop into an even better
    player with more experience in the future.
    However, in order for Bulger to take his game to the next level he must cut down
    on his mistakes, force fewer passes if his primary target is not open, and
    become more consistent with his deep ball. For as many good things as he did in
    '03, throwing as many interceptions (22) as touchdowns is unacceptable. That
    type of carelessness with the football will prevent the Rams from making a
    serious run at another Super Bowl, which is why so much time and effort in the
    offseason and preseason is being spent on building Bulger's confidence and
    working with him to limit his mistakes.
    Chandler will be 38 years old in October and is nearing the end of his string
    quickly. He obviously has great starting experience and has proved in the last
    couple of seasons that he can step in for the short term and move an offense. He
    also is intelligent and has a history of picking things up quickly, so he should
    be ready to run the offense this season if needed.
    However, his skills are on a heavy decline and, as a result of his age and
    durability problems, he no longer can be trusted as a multiple game starter if
    necessitated by injury. Chandler was signed to be Bulger's backup in '04, but
    the Rams need to make sure they find a replacement for Chandler -- whether it's
    rookie Jeff Smoker or another veteran addition -- in '05, because Chandler is
    just a decent backup at this point and he's on a steep decline.
    Smoker, who slipped on draft day because of a substance-abuse problem in
    college, was a great find for coach Mike Martz that late in the draft. Smoker
    has dealt with his problems and showed a lot of courage by returning to his team
    ...
    -07-27-2004, 06:26 AM
  • Nick
    ESPN Scouts Inc: Rams Team Summary
    by Nick
    Training camps start late this year, with the first rookies not due to report until July 27. But Insider will keep the NFL fires burning all month with complete training camp previews of each team. Scouts, Inc., has sized up every roster and checks in with position-by-position breakdowns.



    Quarterbacks
    In terms of overall talent of the unit, the Rams are clearly not as deep with Marc Bulger and newcomer Chris Chandler than they were with Bulger and Kurt Warner. However, with coach Mike Martz and the Rams' organization finally putting an end to its quarterback soap opera, the team as a whole is much better off.

    This is finally Bulger's team, and often times that confidence of knowing that you don't have to look over your shoulder every time you make a mistake can be invaluable for a quarterback. Bulger has proved that he can be effective as a starter. He is still young and has the upside to develop into an even better player with more experience in the future. However, in order for Bulger to take his game to the next level he must cut down on his mistakes, force fewer passes if his primary target is not open, and become more consistent with his deep ball. For as many good things as he did in '03, throwing as many interceptions (22) as touchdowns is unacceptable. That type of carelessness with the football will prevent the Rams from making a serious run at another Super Bowl, which is why so much time and effort in the offseason and preseason is being spent on building Bulger's confidence and working with him to limit his mistakes.

    Chandler will be 38 years old in October and is nearing the end of his string quickly. He obviously has great starting experience and has proved in the last couple of seasons that he can step in for the short term and move an offense. He also is intelligent and has a history of picking things up quickly, so he should be ready to run the offense this season if needed.

    However, his skills are on a heavy decline and, as a result of his age and durability problems, he no longer can be trusted as a multiple game starter if necessitated by injury. Chandler was signed to be Bulger's backup in '04, but the Rams need to make sure they find a replacement for Chandler -- whether it's rookie Jeff Smoker or another veteran addition -- in '05, because Chandler is just a decent backup at this point and he's on a steep decline.

    Smoker, who slipped on draft day because of a substance-abuse problem in college, was a great find for coach Mike Martz that late in the draft. Smoker has dealt with his problems and showed a lot of courage by returning to his team and re-assuming the leadership role. He has the physical tools of a third-round quarterback and could wind up becoming Bulger's backup by '05.



    Running backs
    Marshall Faulk is still one of the elite weapons at the position when he is fully healthy,...
    -07-26-2004, 10:10 AM
  • viper
    Best Players Available Post Day 1
    by viper
    Here's the best of the rest. Who is on your wish list?

    NFL Free Agents 2017: Best Players Available at Every Position Post Day
    Brent Sobleski NFL AnalystMarch 9, 2017


    1 of 15


    Tom Dahlin/Getty Images
    Everyone take a deep breath and let the market reset after Thursday's deluge of free-agent signings.
    Breathe in.
    Breathe out.
    The initial wave of transactions seemed closer to the opening of the stock market than the NFL's new league year.
    Backup quarterback Mike Glennon agreed to a contract with the Chicago Bears for $14.5 million per season, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Cornerback A.J. Bouye struck gold when he decided to sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars for five years and $67.5 million, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. The Cleveland Browns made Kevin Zeitler the highest paid guard in NFL history, according to Schefter.
    After the initial sticker shock wears off, a realization occurs many quality free agents are still available with copious amounts of money to be spent throughout the league.
    With the first stage of free agency complete, the market starts to settle, while teams continue to search for quality additions at the right price.
    A team or teams "winning" free agency on the first day rarely results in a positive impact. Instead, it's those franchises willing to wait, find bargains and supplement their rosters that often successfully navigate the process.
    With the most-valuable targets off the board—financially, that is—Bleacher Report identified the top remaining unrestricted free agents at every position.





    Quarterback

    2 of 15


    Tony Avelar/Associated Press
    1. Colin Kaepernick: Politics aside, Kaepernick played relatively well last season. During a six-game stretch in October and November, the quarterback completed 55.3 percent of his passes for 1,440 yards and 10 touchdowns.
    2. Ryan Fitzpatrick: The Harvard product lost the Fitz-magic. It's gone. But he can still serve as an experienced backup option.
    3. Mark Sanchez: It has been seven years since the Sanchise ledthe New York Jets to back-to-back AFC Championship Games. He's only 30 years old and may get another chance at a new destination.
    4. Geno Smith: Some team will take a flyer on this 26-year-old former second-round pick.
    5. Case Keenum: Last season proved to be a disaster. Keenum finished 22nd overall in completion percentage and 23rd in yards per attempt. He also threw more interceptions (11) than touchdowns (nine).
    6. Josh McCown: The veteran signal-caller is a consummate professional and an ideal backup.
    7. Shaun Hill: The 37-year-old quarterback dates back to NFL Europe, but he can still start in a pinch.
    8. Matt McGloin: McGloin doesn't have the physical tools to succeed as a starting quarterback, yet his...
    -03-10-2017, 10:25 AM
  • Richbert88
    Can Alson be a starter someday?
    by Richbert88
    Why not? He no doubt has the athletic ability. He played the position in college. Is it his size? Perhaps his speed?

    Maybe he's not the biggest, but similar players have been successfull in the nfl. Chris Draft for instance is touted as versatile, capable of playing all positions at LBer and had a tremendous year last season in Carolina. Not bad for an undrafted player in his 8th season. He's 5-11 232#s. Alson is what, 6-0 220#s.

    Alson can build a little more bulk. He's fast enough now that carrying a few more pounds shouldn't slow him down much at all. And now he is working out well and eating right.

    He has the potential to be the Rams breakout player, this year, maybe next. I'm hoping all the Ram players stay healthy, but if an OLBer goes down, I'd like to see Alston play.
    -06-17-2007, 09:36 AM
  • MauiRam
    Atogwe ranked 12th by TSN ... Should he be ranked higher?
    by MauiRam
    Safety rankings: Reed, Polamalu are pure playmakers

    Posted: May 27, 2009
    The salty veterans still lead this group, but there are some promising young players on the rise. Several have made the list while several others just missed. With the next generation emerging, this list could look a lot different a year from now. RealScouts, Sporting News' team of former NFL scouts, rank their top 20 safeties for '09:

    1. Ed Reed, Ravens. Reed was the only unanimous selection for the 2008 All-Pro team and rightly so. He led the NFL with nine interceptions and returned two for touchdowns, and he tacked on another TD in the playoffs. The system won't change in Baltimore this year, and Reed is on his way to a Hall of Fame career if he can stay healthy.


    2. Troy Polamalu, Steelers. Polamalu was healthy for all 16 games and the postseason for the first time since 2005 and turned in a career-high seven interceptions in 2008. He's a high-energy player who can do it all, from blitzing to tackling to playing in coverage. He can attack from anywhere on the field.

    3. Adrian Wilson, Cardinals. Wilson is not quite as dominant as he was earlier in his career, but he can still excel in most aspects of the game. Wilson is at his best playing close to the line, but he also makes plays on the ball in coverage. He has great size and can deliver big hits with the best of them.

    4. Bob Sanders, Colts. Sanders played in just six games in 2008, and there is a chance he might not be healthy for the start of 2009. He is a game-changing player who has great range and is a punishing tackler, but he has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career.

    5. Chris Hope, Titans. Returning from a spinal injury in 2007, Hope earned Pro Bowl honors last season. He's not a flashy player, but he is extremely productive and consistently plays at a high level. He's willing in run support and shows good range and route recognition in coverage. He has missed just five games over the past six seasons.

    6. Nick Collins, Packers. Collins is a four-year starter who burst onto the scene in 2008 with seven interceptions, including three returned for scores. He has excellent range as a center field-type safety and has the speed to cover a lot of ground and make plays with the ball in his hands. A Pro Bowler last season, he should excel in Green Bay's new zone schemes.

    7. Brian Dawkins, Broncos. Though he still can play at a high level, Dawkins, 35, is closer to the end of his career than he would like to admit. He's a strong tackler who is excellent near the line. But blitzing and coverage aren't his strengths, and we're curious to see how he does in a non-Jim Johnson system.

    8. Michael Griffin, Titans. His seven interceptions were tied for second in the NFL last season, and he earned a Pro Bowl spot as Ed Reed's replacement. He's emerging as one of...
    -05-28-2009, 09:54 AM
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