Ravens 2016 Draft Class: CB Tavon Young

I’ve heard a lot of chatter about this year’s draft class from local Baltimore sports media since the draft concluded. Most of it has been negative.

Some have said the Ravens drafted scared, some said Ozzie lost his nerve and others said they didn’t select playmakers.

I couldn’t disagree more! I really like this class and want to do a few post highlighting just how good this class has the potential to be.

Let’s start with CB Tavon Young. People will question his size and durability, but I see a fast, physical, smart corner who could see a lot of snaps this year.

Most project Young as a slot corner. I think he’ll excel in the slot because of his change of direction (COD) skills. This play versus Will Fuller is a good example.

Tavon Young v Fuller double-move PBU

This is a double move and Young initially starts to drive towards the out cut by Fuller. But once Young recognizes the double move, he is able to flip his hips outside in essentially one step. He then sprints back, gets his eyes on Fuller, then tracks the ball and high points it for the pass break up (PBU).

Young displays several skills on this play that NFL corners must have. He’s beat initially but has the COD and speed to recover. He stays PATIENT and works to get back in position to make a play on the ball.

Time will tell how good Young will be but I caution anyone who pre-judges him based on his size alone.

 

2016 Draft Prospects – Noah Spence 5 of 5

This is the last post in my draft preview of edge rusher prospect Noah Spence. I wanted to show you a couple of clips of issues in Spence’s game that are concerning to me.

My first issue is with his functional strength or what I like to call play strength. There were a couple of plays against the run where Spence was driven back by tight ends.

This play is from a 2013 game versus Wisconsin. Spence was a freshman in this game so I took that into account.

Spence v WIS 2013_TE pancake

Spence initially gets his hands inside of the TE’s hands but on contact the TE stands him up, drives Spence back and ultimately into the ground. Again, he was a freshman in this game and has most likely gotten stronger since then.

These next 2 plays show the issue that concerns me the most about Spence. He shows a tendency to jog behind plays.

The first play is from the 2015 game versus N.C. State, but if you watch Spence’s games on DraftBreakdown you can see him jogging behind plays somewhat regularly.

Spence v NCST 2015_jogging 1

After the QB scrambles to his right, the other EKU defenders slowed him down enough for Spence to make a play from behind but he’s jogging behind the play.

This next play is from a 2015 game versus Kentucky.

Spence v KU 2015_no hustle

If you have any doubt about Spence’s (#9 rushing against LT # 74) lack of hustle on this play, watch the EKU defender who blitzes up the middle, falls down, gets back up and sprints to get back in the play.

Overall, I like Spence as a prospect. I think he displays the traits you want to see in an edge rusher. He has a good first step, is flexible enough to bend the edge, uses his hands pretty well and has an inside counter move.

I think he has a few technique issues that are correctable but I am concerned about his propensity not to hustle behind plays.

2016 Draft Prospects – Noah Spence 4 of 5

Where I’d like to see More

There are a few skills that I didn’t see Spence display consistently including: using his hands to disengage from blockers, transferring speed to power and keeping his pad level low.

Here are some examples where he did display these skills:

Spence v PSU 2013_speed 2 power
Speed to power
Spence v PSU 2013_hand usage
Uses hands to disengage
Spence v WIS 2013_good pad level
Good pad level to get under tackle

Once an NFL position coach is able to work with Spence on a daily basis I believe he’ll be able to develop these skills further and learn to use them more consistently.

Areas of Concern

In my next post, I’ll share some plays that show areas where I think Spence will need to improve. The games I watched raised some concerns including:

  • Spence’s play strength
  • His ability to diagnosis plays quickly
  • A tendency to raise his pad level on contact, and
  • A propensity to jog behind plays that go away from him.2016

2016 Draft Prospect – Noah Spence 3 of 5

Spence shows the ability to be a good run defender.

The following plays are examples of how he uses his quickness to beat blocks and plays with correct leverage:

Spence v PSU 2013_quickness vs run
Beats tackle’s block with quickness
Spence v Valp 2015_stack-n-shed
Stacks and sheds
Spence v MSU 2013_beats 2 blocks to tackle RB
Use outside leverage then attacks RB inside
Spence v PSU 2013_beats TE run block
Beats TE’s kick out block

In the next post, I’ll take about some areas of concern that I have about Spence’s game.

2016 Draft Prospects – Noah Spence 2 of 5

In the first post I shared some plays that show how explosive Spence is rushing off the edge.

Spence also uses a nice inside counter move to compliment his outside speed rush.

I would like to see Spence use his inside counter more because when he did use it, it was really effective. He threatens tackles outside with his speed rush so much that they tend to overset him and that leaves them vulnerable to a quick inside move.

In the next post, we’ll look at Spence as a run defender.

2016 Draft Prospects – Noah Spence 1 of 5

This is the first in what I’m hoping will be a series of posts on players I like in the upcoming draft. I’m not going to get into what round these players should be drafted in. I’m more interested in analyzing their skills and traits to see how they project to the NFL and more specifically the Baltimore Ravens.

To put it mildly, this has been a down year for the Ravens. They’ve been hit hard by injuries and have generally not played well. The Ravens are not in playoff contention and Coach Harbaugh has recently talked about the last three games of this season being the “jumping off” point for the 2016 season.

As we look towards the 2016 draft, the Ravens have a ton of needs. You can make a case for several position groups including: wide receiver, defensive back, and offensive line. But in my opinion, upgrading the pass rush should be the top off season priority.

One of the most intriguing pass rushers in this years draft is Noah Spence of Eastern Kentucky University (EKU). Spence was recently named an FCS All-America after a tremendous season in which he registered 22.5 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, and 63 tackles (31 solo). You can read more about his All-America selection and other season stats here: http://www.wkyt.com/sports/headlines/Noah-Spence-picks-up–362959131.html

Spence began his college football career at Ohio State but transferred to Eastern Kentucky after his sophomore season. If you haven’t read about his off-field issues, they’ve been well documented. This FoxSports.com report is a very revealing look into Spence’s off-field struggles: http://www.foxsports.com/college-football/story/ohio-state-buckeyes-noah-spence-dl-eastern-kentucky-colonels-ecstasy-addiction-comeback-102015

I can’t speak to his character, but I do believe in second chances. What I can speak to is his play on the field, so let’s dive into it. Thanks to the amazing work of the team at draftbreakdown.com, I was able to watch 7 of Spence’s games (4 from 2013 while he was at OSU and 3 from this year’s EKU team).

Where Spence wins

Spence (# 9 for EKU and # 8 for OSU) shows the ability to explode off the edge.

Here’s a still shot that shows just how low Spence can get when bending the corner around an offensive tackle.

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 1.25.01 PM

Notice how he’s almost on one knee and his shoulders are square to the QB? When Spence gets in this position, theres nothing the tackle can do.

In the next post, I’ll look at the insider counter move Spence uses as a compliment to his outside speed rush.

 

Lockett’s 1st TD

I know I haven’t written a post in a long time but what can I say, life stuff. Anyway, I want to try and get back in the groove, so let’s go.

I’m confused to what kind of coverage the Ravens are playing on Lockett’s first quarter 8 yard TD catch.

Lewis and Webb are the safeties and make it look like a 2 deep concept. Wright and Arrington are in the slot aligned over Baldwin and Lockett.

Wright passess Baldwin’s crossing route off to Webb, then I get confused. After passing Baldwin off, Wright drops in between Lewis and Webb. Is he playing some sort of zone robber concept? Arrington makes contact with Lockett initially, but then let’s him go when Lockett runs a crossing route behind the route Baldwin ran.

Arrington collides with Lewis, Lockett gets behind Wright and Webb is covering Baldwin. This leaves Lockett all alone in the end zone for an easy TD.

Can anyone out there help me understand what’s going on here?