When I started really getting into college evaluation for the NFL draft about eight or nine years ago, one of the things I had trouble with was projecting bigger receivers in the NFL.
Size receivers rarely look fast on film when they run. I was wrong on some guys because I would note that they weren’t fast. They’d do well in the pros and I’d wonder what I was missing. Then I started to look at the big guys differently. Their stride length is so long, that makes their speed. It seems like they eat up 15 yards in three steps.
Alshon Jeffery, a second-round pick by the Bears in 2012, has some of those traits. He’s not as purely explosive as a guy like Randy Moss was, for example, but he eats up ground so fast.
There was a play against Minnesota that really stands out to me. It was a 19-yard catch and it shows Jeffery's explosion.
The Vikings double teamed Brandon Marshall, and Vikings rookie cornerback Xavier Rhodes took Jeffery. Off the snap, Jeffery swatted Rhodes away like he was flicking a fly off of him. And Rhodes is 6-1, 210 pounds, he's not a 5-10, 185-pound type of cornerback. And Jeffery swatted him away like he's not there. Then he gets separation and gets the first down.
To me that play is far more representative of what he can do than a deep throw. Everyone knew you could throw it deep to this guy, but people didn’t know he could make this type of play.
He has size, strength, long strides and great hands. Because of that stride length he’s a deep threat, and because of his size and hands he can make contested catches. He's pretty impressive, and should be a good receiver for the Bears for years to come.
Colts struggles start up front
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is struggling. He is missing some throws, that’s not arguable, but at this point Indianapolis can't execute a passing game with this offensive line and its inability to protect. They might have the worst pass protection offensive line in the NFL. Individually, their linemen really struggle. Against Tennessee, Luck was sacked four times in a nine-play stretch in the second quarter. Also, the wide receivers can't beat man coverage. The pass offense almost can’t function at times; you see that watching film.
So on the rare occasion Luck does get time to throw, if he misses it it's magnified.
People are starting to debate Luck vs. Seattle's Russell Wilson. I'd still take Luck. I love Wilson, but Luck is extremely talented. The problem is, the Colts almost can't run a pass offense right now.
For the most part the problem comes from the interior three linemen. The Bengals do a lot of good things in their pressure concepts. It will be tough for the Colts to protect Luck on Sunday.
Manti Te'o progress
I think at this point in San Diego linebacker Manti Te'o's career he needs a lot of technique and fundamental work. He’s a high energy and high motor player – that's using all the clichés, but it’s true. He needs work on footwork and taking on blocks. That’s not a knock on Te'o, because he's a rookie and a lot of rookies fit that description.
I think he’ll end up being a base defensive linebacker. I don’t think he’ll play in your sub packages. Even though he has some instincts for pass defenses, I don’t think he's an elite athlete and doesn't have the movement to be your only linebacker on the field in a dime defense. Maybe that’ll change over time.
Te'o can be a solid pro. He needs to learn how to become a NFL linebacker. This is the normal learning curve out of a rookie.
Foles big plays under center
Most of Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles' snaps come out of the shotgun. When he has lined up under center, in almost every case it has been a deep throw. And most of the time it has been very effective.
Foles is 9-of-12 for 209 yards and four touchdowns when he lines up under center this season. So it's a shot play alert for the defense when Foles is under center.
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NFL analyst and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell watches as much NFL game film as anyone. Throughout the season, Cosell will join Shutdown Corner to share his observations on the teams, schemes and personnel from around the league.