Another New Contributor

Hello everyone.  My name is Trent Keatley and am looking forward to writing up on all the past Georgia Tech stars that are doing the Institute proud as professionals.  I’m a die-hard Tech fan so I am excited to get started.  Hopefully I will do some segments concerning rumors going on around campus dealing with the players on what to expect in the upcoming seasons for different sports.  Be on the lookout for some highlight videos and podcasts as well.  Please give me feedback and points of interests you’d like me to cover and I’ll be sure to get you the information you crave.  Go Jackets!

New Contributor

USA vs. Costa Rica

Hello all. My name is Bryan Sweat and the wonderful creators of georgiatechpros.com have graciously enlisted me to increase the coverage of the GT pros we all like to follow. To tell you a little bit about myself, I love soccer as well as all of the Atlanta sports teams. The picture above was taken at the recent “SnoClasico” World Cup qualifier between the USA and Costa Rica. If you guys want to see more coverage on any particular athletes or leagues, please let me know. Be sure to check back for future developments, possibly including a Hall of Fame and/or Archives section.

Omoregie Uzzi Scouting Report- Part 1

Now that we are through the two major parts of the pre-draft process(Combine and pro day), it is time to look at another Tech draft hopeful, Omoregie Uzzi. Uzzi was considered Georgia Tech’s best NFL prospect back in January, but his stock has slowly slipped after missing the combine due to injury. When scouts go back and look at his game tape, however, they will see an impressive prospect who is undervalued heading into the draft. This scouting report will be divided into two parts because the only game tape I could find is full games against Clemson, Florida State and Virginia Tech. It would be very difficult to complete one scouting report with 5-7 hours of youtube video, so the first part will be based off of the Clemson game. Below is the video I will reference throughout the scouting report and Uzzi is playing RG in the video.

Strengths

Uzzi is 6′ 3″ and weighs 300 pounds, which is ideal size for an NFL offensive guard. Along with his size, he shows the strength to physically dominate DL at the point of attack. At 1:16:07 in the video, Uzzi completely consumes the DL and uses his strength to push the defender back. Throughout the game he shows the strength necessary to compete as a rookie in the NFL. He has clearly spent time in the weight room and it shows on tape. What helps Uzzi along with his strength is his ability to bend his knees and get leverage on defenders. At 20:50 in the video, he shows he is able to maintain proper form throughout his block and gets good leverage to keep his ground. Throughout the game, I very rarely saw Uzzi give up ground and get pushed back by Clemson’s DTs. This is directly related to his ability to win the leverage battle in the trenches.

Another one of Uzzi’s strengths is his ability to hold his blocks and take defenders out of the play. At 50:51 and 1:02:30, he holds his block and drives the Clemson player back. The second time I just mentioned was an exceptional play by Uzzi as he completely removes the defender from the play, which is what scouts look for in OG prospects.

All of the above strengths show that Uzzi is a very capable run blocker, which would be expected coming out of a triple option system. What was more of a surprise when watching the game was how he projects as a pass blocker. At 22:20, Uzzi uses his footwork to stay in front of the DE and keeps him out of the pocket. Sine he is an excellent athlete, he is able to quickly slide and use his feet to keep his balance. Tech’s offensive mentality during this game was to utilize a lot of quick out passes though, which makes it hard to determine how he’ll hold up when he’s required to hold blocks for longer periods of time in pass protection. Right now I see his pass protection projecting favorably to the NFL, which will help him see more playing time early on.

bleacherreport.com

bleacherreport.com

Weaknesses

Let me first clarify, Uzzi had a very good game against Clemson. He was able to create holes and did a great job of keeping defenders away from the plays. Therefore, these weaknesses are more consistency issues than they are actual problems with his game. The first weakness I saw was at 33:20, when Uzzi gets caught off balance and is thrown to the side by the defender. Throughout much of the game, he was able to dominate the competition and showed good footwork, so I am chalking this up as a consistency problem. The next weakness I saw was at 52:45, where Uzzi completely whiffs on a cut block and the defender blows up the play. This happened multiple times throughout the game, so it is certainly something he needs to work on. When college teams play Georgia Tech though, they know they are going to get cut blocked throughout the game, so it is easier to avoid them when you’re expecting it. NFL teams don’t use the cut block as often, which means he should be more effective at it at the next level.

Another big question scouts will have regarding Uzzi’s game is his lack of film on pull blocks. Pull blocking is a very important part of an OG’s game and I don’t recall seeing Uzzi attempt one in the Clemson game. He certainly has the athletic ability and quickness to become successful at it, but it is still a mystery.

Overall

Omoregie Uzzi is an extremely athletic OG who has three years of excellent production in the ACC. He is an experienced player that shows the skills required to translate his game to the NFL. Prior to the combine, he was considered a third or fourth round prospect. After missing the combine due to an injury however, he now projects to go in the 5th or 6th round. I believe he will wind up going somewhere in the 4th round because he has the talent level that teams won’t want to pass up on. If he goes to a strong running team, he should see some playing time as a rookie in a bench role. He has proven, with three years of All-ACC performances, that he can dominate some of the best players in the country and should be a very solid player in the NFL.

For Part 2, I am either going to use the Virginia Tech game or the FSU game in the ACC Championship. Do you guys have a preference? If so, let me know in the comments and I’ll try to use whichever one is favored. Thanks!

Andrew Gardner Resigns With Houston

phins-spotlight.com

phins-spotlight.com

According to the Houston Texans’ twitter feed, Andrew Gardner has resigned with the team. Here’s a rundown of the signing, which is purely a depth move. If you don’t feel like reading the link, it basically says Gardner is currently the primary back-up at OT for the Texans and most likely signed for a one year minimum contract. He was a non tendered RFA, so the Texans weren’t necessarily in love with keeping him, but he is solid depth for them. Hopefully he can put together a nice season and get a multiyear deal next offseason.  I have not heard of any signings for other Tech players, but Dawan Landry and Daryl Smith might be coming soon!

NBA Nightly Update 3/15/13

Chris Bosh- Bosh helped lead the Heat to their 21st straight win, making it the third longest streak in NBA history. He shot 12-16 and scored 28 points, which was tied for the team lead with Lebron. He also contributed 7 rebounds and 2 blocks to his hot shooting night. If he starts to heat up, the Heat may not lose again for a long time.

Jarrett Jack- The Warriors were blown out at home tonight against the Bulls, but Jack shot much better. He was 7-15 from the field with 20 points and 4 rebounds, so this was a step in the right direction for him. He hasn’t been efficient coming off the bench lately and he needs to try to string together a couple good games.

Top Ten Tech NFL Players- #3 Michael Johnson

Now that we are deep into the NFL offseason, let’s go back and take a look at the Tech players who performed the best on the field last season. I believe the most informative and exciting way to do this is to make a Top 10 list, counting down from 10 to 1. I’ll post one player a day for the next ten weekdays, so make sure to keep up and share your opinions by commenting below. The next player we are going to talk about and the number three player on this list is Michael Johnson, a DE for the Bengals.

thepenaltyflagblog.com

thepenaltyflagblog.com

Michael Johnson was drafted in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Bengals. He has played all 4 years of his career with Cincy, developing into a very good DE. In his first two seasons, he had 3 sacks and 2.5 sacks respectively. Then like most young DEs in the league, he started to show signs of promise. In his third season, he had 6 sacks and 42 tackles. This was a nice improvement from his 2010 season, and really excited the Bengals fan base. Last year, Johnson really performed well, starting in all 16 games and tallying 52 tackles and 11.5 sacks (one behind the team lead). His impressive performance in 2012 forced the Bengals to franchise tag him, since they did not want to lose a potential game-changing DE.

Some might worry that Johnson had a big year in the final year of his contract, but I don’t see this as an issue. He has shown gradual improvement over the last two years that lead me to believe his game is a product of excellent coaching. He has also benefitted from playing next to Geno Atkins, who has turned into arguably the best 4-3 DT in the NFL. Playing next to another great player helps alleviate blocks and lets him focus on rushing the passer.

Johnson will be on a one year contract going into next year since he was franchised, and I expect him to have another excellent year. The Bengals need him to have another double digit sack year to make sure they can keep up with the Ravens in their division. I don’t see him changing in the rankings next year however, unless he can post at least 15 sacks on the season and get his team deep into the playoffs. The two players that are currently ahead of him are in their prime and are playing at All-Pro levels, so he has his work cut out for him. With that said, Johnson has turned into one of the best young 4-3 DEs in the league and is in an excellent position to improve on last season’s impressive numbers. Below are the rankings so far.

#10 Vance Walker- Atlanta Falcons

#9 Jonathan Dwyer- Pittsburgh Steelers

#8 Dawan Landry- Jacksonville Jaguars

#7 Derrick Morgan- Tennessee Titans

#6 Daryl Smith- Jacksonville Jaguars

#5 Philip Wheeler- Oakland Raiders

#4 Morgan Burnett- Green Bay Packers

Stats from ESPN.com.

Top 10 Tech NFL Players- #6 Daryl Smith

Now that we are deep into the NFL offseason, let’s go back and take a look at the Tech players who performed the best on the field last season. I believe the most informative and exciting way to do this is to make a Top 10 list, counting down from 10 to 1. I’ll post one player a day for the next ten weekdays, so make sure to keep up and share your opinions by commenting below. The next player we are going to talk about and the number six player on this list is Daryl Smith, an OLB for the Jaguars.

Daryl Smith

Daryl Smith was a second round pick by the Jaguars in the 2004 draft and has played in Jacksonville for his entire career. He has been a force since entering the league, becoming one of the best 4-3 OLBs in the NFL. He had a stellar 2011 season, but was injured for much of the 2012 season. After missing the first 14 games of the season with a groin injury, he was activated off of IR and played for the Jags. He did not play up to his usual standards, but he was effective while on the field.

I debated where to put Smith on this list, since he didn’t play much last season. Ultimately I decided his overall talent was enough to keep him in the middle of the list behind the players who really had breakout seasons. Smith is an UFA this offseason and he should receive a lot of attention. He is one of the best LBs on the market(along with Philip Wheeler) and should get a pretty nice multiyear contract. I don’t think he will be back in Jacksonville unless he comes at a very reasonable price for them since they are in rebuilding mode. With that most likely out of the picture, he should try and sign with a playoff team since he has been on some bad teams throughout his years in the league. It will be interesting to see where he lands, but either way he will be higher up on this list next year if he can stay healthy. Below are the rankings so far.

#10 Vance Walker- Atlanta Falcons

#9 Jonathan Dwyer- Pittsburgh Steelers

#8 Dawan Landry- Jacksonville Jaguars

#7 Derrick Morgan- Tennessee Titans

#6 Daryl Smith- Jacksonville Jaguars

NFL Free Agency: Philip Wheeler

Leading up to the beginning of the NFL Free Agency period I will be going through some of the former Georgia Tech players who will be looking for new teams and big contracts. There are some notable players on the list of FAs this year and quite a few should get multiple year deals. Let’s take a look at one of Tech’s best linebackers in the NFL, Philip Wheeler.

Philip Wheeler was drafted in the third round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. He played for four seasons in Indianapolis until he signed a one year deal with Oakland last offseason. His tackle numbers have increased each year as he has gotten more playing time. His one year deal with the Raiders will end up paying off, however, as he had a very strong year for them. For the 2012 season, Wheeler had 109 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 FFs, and 6 pass deflections. Those numbers put him towards the top of the 2013 Free Agent class and he will be looking for a big pay day.

Wheeler is still relatively young(only 28) so I expect him to sign a three or four year deal with a team. I also don’t see him worrying about the team’s past performance, meaning he will go to the highest bidder. It will be interesting to see who will get a better contract between him and Daryl Smith, since both are top tier linebackers in this year’s FA group. Free Agency starts tomorrow at 4 P.M., so news on his status may come quick. Teams have been allowed to talk to players’ agents, which means he should already have visits line up. If he gets an offer he likes, he may be signed by a team within the next few days. Hopefully he can find the best deal for himself and I’ll let you know where that is when it happens.

Stats from ESPN.com.

NBA Nightly Update 3/7/13

Iman Shumpert- Tonight the Knicks lost by one at home to the Thunder. In 27 minutes Shumpert went 1/7, scoring 2 points and grabbing one rebound. E had a rough night and he wasn’t able to add on to last night’s solid performance. No matter how you look at it, he didn’t contribute tonight and really underperformed against top competition.

Top 10 Tech NFL Players- #9 Jonathan Dwyer

Now that we are deep into the NFL offseason, let’s go back and take a look at the Tech players who performed the best on the field last season. I believe the most informative and exciting way to do this is to make a Top 10 list, counting down from 10 to 1. I’ll post one player a day for the next ten weekdays, so make sure to keep up and share your opinions by commenting below. The next player we are going to talk about and the number nine player on this list is Jonathan Dwyer, a RB for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

bleacherreport.com

bleacherreport.com

Last season was Jonathan Dwyer’s third year in the league after being drafted by the Steelers in 2010. In his first two seasons he was a back-up and received little playing time. Luckily for Dwyer, Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman constantly dealt with injuries in the 2012 season and he was finally given a chance to play. In 2012, Dwyer ran for 623 yards and 2 TDs on 156 carries for an average of 4 YPC. Those are very good numbers for his first year getting real playing time.

Dwyer got the nod over Vance Walker because he was able to start for the Steelers in multiple games and became a playmaker for them. He set himself up nicely going into FA and now the Steelers will have to pay him a little bit more to keep him. All four of the Steelers’ running backs are free agents, so it would be smart on their part to keep Dwyer and find a complimentary back for him. His physical running style goes well with Pittsburgh’s young and improving offensive line, which should help him put up good numbers again if he stays. He has a good chance to move up on this list if he is able to secure a starting spot over the offseason and beat out Redman. Otherwise he may drop if players like Vance Walker and Stephen Hill can put it all together next season. Below are the rankings so far.

#10 Vance Walker- Atlanta Falcons

#9 Jonathan Dwyer- Pittsburgh Steelers

 

Stats from ESPN.com.