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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