2013 NFL Draft Game Notes: Pittsburgh vs. Buffalo

October 25th, 2012

Ray Graham

The Bulls of Buffalo had the one of the top passing defenses in the MAC coming into this matchup but had trouble stopping the quick-passes made by Pitt QB Tino Sunseri. Once again, Buffalo RB Branden Oliver was hurt and did not see any action.

Pittsburgh running back Ray Graham showed that he was a polished running back and that he could be a dominant back without being the fastest or the strongest. Pittsburgh Junior receiver also solidified his title as a reliable receiver in this matchup against the Bulls’ defense with 5 catches.

MDD Staff Scout: Alex Farnworth

Pittsburgh

#1 RB Ray Graham
-Explodes through the line, turns it up a gear once he sees the hole
-Very patient runner, waits for his blocks to develop
-Keeps his feet churning and stays balanced, doesn’t allow himself to get taken down by arm tackles
-Gets defensive tackles to miss with his signature hop-step
-A one-cut-and-go runner, didn’t waste time dancing around in the backfield
-Looks the ball into his hands on screen plays, then turns and runs up-field
-Tucks the ball high and tight, covers the nose of the football and uses two hands when running between the tackles, great security
-Makes defenders miss in the open field

Overview: Ray Graham is coming off a knee surgery (which ended his 2011 season), but he is still the most important part in the Pittsburgh offense. Graham displays NFL-type vision and patience when running the ball and he is very cautious about ball security when running; but that doesn’t slow him down. Graham has above average hands and great lower body strength to break through arm tackles.

#54 OG Chris Jacobson
-Fails to extend arms and generate the most amount of leverage
-Gets most of his strength from his legs, very strong base
-Always looking for someone to hit, fights through the whistle
-Relentless on the goal line, pushes defensive lineman back as if they were sleds in practice
-Does a good job of grabbing the opponent’s pads and turning them outside
-Repeatedly has success on his kick-out blocks on screen plays; pushes his defender all the way to the sideline

Overview: There are some great things to love about Chris Jacobson’s play: he is a mauler, moves the defense on inside runs and never takes a play off. On the other hand, there are some question marks to his game: injury prone and pass protection. Jacobson’s style is similar to Richie Incognito in the sense that he just bashes lineman on short yardage runs. Jacobson needs to learn how to get extension and clean up his footwork in order to hear his name called in April.

#15 WR Devin Street (JR)
-Very smooth when running his routes
-Displays great footwork on sideline throws, showcases the ability to get both feet down and maintain possession
-The first read on nearly every passing attempt
-Comes back to the quarterback and finds a way to get open when the play breaks down
-Elite speed when running deep routes, blows by the cornerbacks
-Makes every ball thrown his way a catchable pass

Overview:
Although he is only a Junior, Devin Street is a game-changer.  He is a fluid route runner, can create separation and makes the difficult catches look easy.  Street needs to add weight/muscle without losing his speed, this kid has no ceiling as of right now.


#18 FS Jared Holley
-Playing deep, playing a lot of zone
-Needs to show awareness and experience; tackles a receiver before he catches the ball, flagged for interference
-Recognizes the screens, fails to make a stop at the line of scrimmage, needs to work on form-tackling (gets caught lunging)
-Fails to read-and-react after the snap, plays lie every down is a passing play
-Most comfortable in man coverage, able to read the quarterback well

Overview: Jared Holley is essentially a center-fielder for Pittsburgh. He starts off every play with backpedaling and then tries to read the play. Holley had a rough game against the quick-pass offense of Buffalo because he wasn’t able to read-and-react quick enough to have an impact on the play. NFL scouts are going to look at this game closely and Holley will need to make up for bad tape with good NFL Combine results. Unfortunately, he lacks speed, something NFL teams value a lot.

#87 WR Mike Shanahan
-Lined up on the outside on one receiver sets
-Lined up as the inside receiver on bunch formations
-Used mostly for blocking, able to move cornerbacks in the run game with ease
-Utilized as a tight-end when in bunch formations; effectively chips the end and gets open in the flats
-Does a great job of avoiding contact on a seam-route, turns around and adjusts to the ball, catching it away from his body
-Uses his large frame and clean footwork to find openings over the middle of the field

Overview: Mike Shanahan is going to be a late-round pick and could very well move to the linebacker position. He has a huge frame and isn’t afraid to catch balls over the middle of the field. Shanahan rarely drops passes and is deceiving in his route running, which allows him to get open.

#12 QB Tino Sunseri
-Calm, cool and collected in his drop backs
-Throws his receivers open, knows the speed of his receivers
-Not afraid to waste a down, would rather throw it away than take the sack
-Plays with an internal clock, knows what route will be open against which defenses
-Tucks the ball and runs quite a bit, has good enough awareness to slide before getting hit
-Lacks torque and zip on the ball, but still manages to get it there
-A do-it-all quarterback
-Acts like a coach on the field, never lets the pressure get to him and puts his teammates in position to succeed

Overview:
Tino Sunseri isn’t going to be a franchise quarterback at the next level, he might not even be a starter, but he is going to be a guy that one team will want on his roster. Sunseri has dealt with adversity to say the least at Pitt, he has gone through 4 offensive coordinators during his 4 years as a Panther. Sunseri doesn’t have a rocket arm, or blazing speed or throw every pass with a tight spiral… but he does make all of the smart plays and makes everyone around him better.

Buffalo

#40 DE Steven Means
-Very active along the line, has active hands on every play
-Able to get by blockers in a variety of ways
-Very away of where the QB is and what he is doing (gets arms up to deflect passes)
-Uses the jab-step effectively, steps inside and then rushes outside, results in a sack
-Failed to make his presence known in the run game, can’t blow the offensive lineman back
-Extremely quick both horizontally and vertically
-Tends to drop his head when tackling,; needs to keep his head up and drive forward
-Isn’t asked to drop into coverage

Overview: Steven Means will need to produce more in order to get draft consideration. The only task that Means had in this matchup was to get to the quarterback and he only did the once. In the Buffalo defense, Means is a defensive end but in the NFL he will most likely be an outside rush-backer. He is incredibly quick and uses his hands nicely to get away from initial contact, but he needs to work on shedding blocks once he gets engaged in a block and he needs to improve his coverage skills.

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