Rookie watch

Last year; around the same time; all nine players from the ’09 draft class was still on active roster. 4 of them (Monroe; Britton; Knighton; Cox) were already starters; others (Mike Thomas; Jennings; Dillard) contributed. Many of them played well and/or beyond the expectations; except maybe Eugene Monroe; who struggled a bit in the first games (although he made Mario Williams a non factor on Week 4). In 2010 things  are changed. The Jaguars drafted 6 players this year; 2 of them (D’ Anthony Smith; Scotty McGee) are on IR already without playing a single snap. 2 of them (Deji Karim, Austen Lane) barely started to play for the team; although I think soon we can grade Deji Karim’s performance; he sees a lot of action since he is active. And 2 of them played in every game so far. And so far; 1 of them is playing pretty well; the other is… well so far underachieving in my opinion.

 Tyson Alualu: 

This year is total opposite to what we saw in ’09. The first round pick is contributing and playing pretty well. He saw action in 332 snaps in 6 games! That is 55; 2 snaps/ game!  His statistics so far: 17 tackles; 14 of them solo; (2 TFLs)  1,5 sacks; and 5 QB hits- in that category he is 2nd  in the team (by the way; Aaron Kampman leads that category with a stunning 13 QB hits) !   He started with really solid performances; had a sack in his 1st game; He made the tackle in Tim Tebow’s 1st ever play in the NFL. And he did it without to much help of Terrance Knighton in the first 2 games! When ‘Pot Roast’ came to life against the Eagles; he and Tyson played only well against the Eagles on week 3 massacre. He was excellent; especially against the run.  Alualu has recorded another half sack and 3 QB hits! Versus Indianapolis he played okay; nothing special then. But in that game stopping the run not the Jaguars’ main focus…Against the Bills he was among the better players against the run; although he failed to create any pressure to the QB. Against the Titans he injured; but later returned to the game. He was maybe the least effective in that game. He is listed “probable” against the Chiefs and we will see how much he improved against the best running team of the NFL.

 Now here is the good part. According to Jeff Lageman; he is already learner how to “hold his position” in the NFL (= he is pretty good against run). In that area; he is maybe ahead of Marcus Stroud; when he was a rookie back then in 2001. That’s a pretty big accomplishment in my opinion. If he learns how to “chase the ball” (put pressure on the QB/ball carrier) he can really worth that Top 10 pick. Reading sites who analyzing his performances; none of them saying he was a reach. He is consistently ranked in the Top 10 at Pro Football Focus’s (currently he is 4th; but he was 1st 3 week ago) rookie of the year list (ahead of Suh and McCoy); and he made the Scout Inc list this week; entering at Nr. 9. (“He is very impressive in both phases of the defensive tackle position and should be a fixture and building block for this defense for years to come.”) In this list he is once again ahead of Gerald McCoy; this year’s 3rd overall pick. I said it when the season started; but repeat myself again; if Alualu will playing better overall then McCoy; he was NOT a reach at the 10th spot. McCoy was a Top 3 pick for sure. If Tyson outplays him; then Gene Smith was right to selecting him the place he did last April!

Larry Hart:

Now let’s visit the flipside: Larry Hart. He was “hyped” to us; as the Gene’s version of ‘Robert Mathis’ – an undersized but effective pass rusher. Although it’s maybe too early to tell;  sadly so far he is looking very similar to Jorge Cordova & Quentin Groves… In other words: a failed experiment. He played all 6 games; yet he didn’t record a tackle. (Compared to that, Austen Lane who played only 2 games has already got a tackle….)  The only statistics you can find is a defended pass. Larry yet having a QB hit…I know getting playtime behind “Mr. Never stopping motor” Aaron Kampman is not easy. But Hart see the field around 10 snaps pro game. Although Pro Football Focus says; when he plays; he creates some pressure; but so far we saw very little effect of that.

That’s why I decided to call out the rookie from Central Arkansas! I want to see something from Larry; so I decided to challenge him: if he is really a sack specialist; then record one already! In the next 2 games; he will see 2 opposite LTs which are not exactly considered premium players at their position: Brandon “Eugene Monroe kept him at guard in Virginia” Albert; and Doug Free.   If he’ll get “The man”; then I will consider these 6 games as humble beginnings. But if not; then (unless he can’t convince me from the opposite) I consider his selection as a waste of a pick…

 Zoltan Paksa

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  • Pete

    I understand your growing concerns with Hart but 10 snaps a game is not really enough to judge a player in my opinion so i would hold off judgement for now.

    • zoltanfrombudapest

      I agree; but he didn’t put anything in the stat sheet (except a defended pass) which bothers me. He played in more then 60 snaps. You can do something in 60 snaps ifyou are good.

  • Luke

    I disagree on assessing Larry Hart this early, or even assessing this draft this early. Last year we had a phenomenal draft, this year was a very good draft, and we should expect more like this year. How many players make an impact in their first year for the Colts, Steelers, Saints, etc.. like one, maybe two or three at the most. It is a rarity to be blessed with such a great class as we had last year.

    Robert Mathis is unique, I don’t care how much a player is compared to him, nobody built like him is anywhere near his level. He played in all 16 games his first year after being drafted in the 5th round and recorded 20 tackles and 3.5 sacks. If ANY rookie in the 5th round can even come close to those numbers, I will be impressed. Give Hart a few years to develop, remember that he is not at the top of the depth chart (playing time really really helps to play up to speed), and give him a little leniency. We’ve still got a solid draft class and he can be influential in a later time. Maybe after we get rid of our dead weight (Harvey) on the other side….

    • zoltanfrombudapest

      I diagree about this being a very good draft for the Jags.. Tyson Alualu performing well; and Deji Karim is starting to be an impact. And after that; there is -so far- nothing. That is an average draft result at best so far.

      A good draft is what the Titans have. A great draft is what KC (and yes Gene in ’09) made.

      And why I comparedhart to Mathis? Because the Jaguars wanted tpo copy Mathis’s success; yet so far the result aremisses then hits. Why Gene went after a 3rd undersized DE; if the pervious 2 attempt was a failure? I still don’t get that. Trying to be too smart sometimes backfires…
      (I’m not negative here; only I ask an observation).

  • thehof

    What I’m about to say has no specific aim, just some food for thought. Whenever rookies talk about the difference between the pro level and their college days, what do you hear about? The speed of the game. You think that adjustment takes place overnight? You think a guy that could use his speed and pure athleticism to beat any offensive tackle he faced in college doesn’t have to build his strength and his repertoire of pass-rush moves? You think a guy like Reggie Nelson, who had all the athletic gifts in the world, playing “centerfield” in college and “just makin’ plays, coach” can pull that off in the NFL? There are uniquely gifted players out there that shine right away, but many many more become great once they have spent several years dedicated to becoming a professional in a professional atmosphere. Doctors don’t come right out of med school and perform triple bypasses. Lawyers don’t come right out of law school and defend the largest corporations in their biggest cases. There’s a learning curve for football as well. Let’s respect the fact that Gene Smith has an approach that intrinsically gives him a better chance of building a successful team that any other the approach the Jaguars organization has used in the past. Excellence does not come overnight and the best strategies do not make themselves immediately apparent.

    • zoltanfrombudapest

      Interestic thought Andrew; and good observation;I agree.

      By the way: Reggie is a special case. He was so good in Year 1 he made the all rookie team. Then he slowly disapeared….