MDD Staff Writer: Chad Pullen
When I first saw this game on the schedule I did not realize just how much NFL talent was on the Stanford roster. And while looking at Washington, I noticed they also have a lot of talent, although theirs is still a couple years away.
I narrowed it down to a couple players from each team that I wanted to evaluate and focused in on them. Here is how they performed.
Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
At first I thought about skipping him, he’s being watched every second of every day. Had he thrown for 500 yards and 5 TD’s, it wouldn’t have changed his draft position much and it really wouldn’t have been interesting. This game however, did give me a slight glimpse at something, game management.
- Luck has been compared to Peyton Manning many times, one of Peyton’s strengths is calling his own plays as well as audibles, Andrew did this as well. Surprisingly, he wouldn’t simply check into another throw for him, he went to his team’s strength and checked into running plays, playing the matchups. And it worked, VERY well.
- Throws that he did make in this game were precise. Accuracy off the charts.
- Throws on the run, dead rollouts he was able to put the ball exactly where he wanted, with touch, or with velocity.
- Placement, on the run or in the pocket, throws were put where he wanted them, perfect spots where it was either his man or nobody catching it
- Presence in the pocket, moves his feet well, doesn’t get happy feet, slides, and then escapes if he feels the need or sees the opening.
- I looked for flaws, I found none. He had maybe one pass that I thought might have been off a bit, even that probably had a purpose to it.
Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
- Quiet night for the Stanford passing game overall, however Fleener did have goal line TD grab that was exactly what you would want from the tight end position. He went up and snatched the ball with his hands. Those of you that have seen Brandon Marshall struggle to catch touchdowns near the end zone, part of his problem is he waits for the ball to hit his chest instead of reaching out and grabbing it. Fleener went out and grabbed it, almost to say “my ball” .
- His frame and the way he grabbed that ball, reminds me a lot of Jimmy Graham, currently of the New Orleans Saints.
- Fleener is pretty lean, looks like a really tall WR moreso than a TE, but he can gain weight/muscle if it’s required. However I think whoever selects him is going to see his benefit in the passing game, especially with today’s rules.
- Him running the seams at his height would give an inaccurate QB a good size window to get him the ball. With an accurate QB, Fleener could be an all pro TE immediately. Straight out of the Graham, Gronkowski, Hernandez mold.
Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
- A clone of Fleener. They could be brothers. Same 6-6 frame, 250 lbs, all the same attributes.
- Also grabs the ball out of the air with his hands, doesn’t wait for it to hit his pads, protects the ball that way meaning a defender would need to reach even further over his back, result will either be a catch or a flag on the defense
- Showed good agility, dodged a tackler on a quick turnaround and was headed upfield in a single step.
- Not shy of contact, took on tacklers while dishing out his own punishment.
Chris Polk, RB, Washington
- Of all the Washington players, this kid by far stood out the most. 2 very impressive long touchdown runs.
- Patient, set up his blocks, cut around those blocks, weaving in and out and then exploded to daylight.
- His next one was more of a one cut and go, shifted the ball to his inside arm and again exploded past the defense.
- Good size, 5-11 220, he runs hard, fights for every yard and doesn’t go down on first contact.
- Good use of the stiff arm as well, showed everything a running back needs.
- Also used in the passing game which is a must in the NFL.
- I don’t think he is an every down, franchise back, but I think he can be very useful in a 2 back system. Could climb the charts and reach the second round with good workouts after the season.
Alameda Ta’amu, DT, Washington
- This one was tough. Ta’amu has a chance to be a first round pick, if that is the case, he would be wise to burn all copies of this tape immediately. He was nowhere to be found. All night long he was pushed around and maneuvered where the Stanford O-line wanted him to go. I’m not sure he was in on a single tackle.
- The optimist could say that he was doubled all night and that in and of itself is a worthy trait for a defensive lineman to have, if that was the case, then Washington has no defensive players worthy of the draft for a couple years as they were ran all over by Stanford.
- Andrew Luck didn’t even need to wash his jersey after the game, and Ta’amu never came near him, zero pass rush in this game
- Several of Stanford’s runs were up the middle, so doubled or not, he didn’t take up enough space to stop any ground gaining.
- To me, he dropped down a few picks. He may improve and it could have just been a bad game, but Stanford’s O-line is the best he will face, and in the NFL he will face even tougher matchups, he must play up to the level expected and he did not on this night. Certainly still a talent but for now I move him into the second round. If he can produce well at the senior bowl, maybe he can slide back up into the first.
Stanford also has one other TE that could enter the draft, Levine Toilolo, an impressive 6-8 260lb specimen, however in this game he was not used hardly at all and therefore hard to get any true impressions of. Where ever Luck goes, that team would be wise to pursue one of these 3 TE’s to bring in with Luck.
Helps in the passing game, helps in the protection game, and would offer a familiar face for the new franchise QB, not to mention provide a terrific red zone target. The Stanford Cardinal will have several players in the 2012 draft that can make solid impacts. Nobody knows this more than Jim Harbaugh, I expect the 49ers to be active in looking at Stanford players to deepen their team