April 13, 2011
With the 2010 NFL season in the books, the draft edging ever closer (and a lockout battle now headed to the courts) it's time to turn our eyes to the pre-draft evaluation process. We've already done scouting reports of the top 40 players on our board, and you can read all the details on the first Shutdown 40 here. For the second Shutdown 40, players 41-80, we have the advantage of combine performances and that much more evaluation material.
Over the next few weeks, we'll also be adding Pro Day data when relevant. But we're always going mostly on game tape; the proper evaluation formula seems to be about 80 percent tape, 20 percent Senior Bowl/combine/Pro Day. If you see what you expect in drills, you go back to the tape to confirm. If what you see in drills surprises you in a positive or negative sense, you go back to the tape to catch where the anomalies may be.
We continue the second Shutdown 40 with TCU offensive tackle Marcus Cannon. While quarterback Andy Dalton has received the lion's share of the credit for the Horned Frogs' offensive success, don't be surprised if Cannon gets drafted before his quarterback. It's not often that you see someone the approximate size of a mid-rise apartment building run a 5.22 40-yard dash at the combine, put up similar 10-yard splits to players 30-40 pounds lighter, and do the three-cone drill in under seven seconds. Based on his college tape, where might he fit best in the NFL?
Pros: Comes out of a two-point stance fairly quickly in TCU's spread offense and backpedals nimbly for a guy his size (6-foot-5, 358 pounds). Takes even speed rushers very well through this first half of the arc; about to the line of scrimmage. When blocking inline with a tight end sealing the edge, tends to demolish ends and smaller tackles, pushing them back and creating lanes consistently. Delivers an outstanding hand punch when blocking inside; he'll establish a wide base early in the play, keep his head on a swivel, and box out defenders who try to re-establish pressure after they've been pushed back.
Reads loops and stunts fairly well — he doesn't seem to get confused and take the wrong defender or angle when twists happen. Knows his assignment and stays in his gap and lane. Willing and somewhat able to get upfield and block at the second level, though he's obviously better when he's just piledriving guys off the line. Extremely impressive upper-body strength with the frame to handle his weight — he's not just a fat guy running around out there. Almost impossible to bull-rush — if he gets his weight set and his second foot down, it's all over unless you're going around him.
Cons: Cannon can slide off to one side to sustain leverage, but he's not a practiced pull and trap blocker; he tends to get by on size and foot quickness. Tends to lose blockers if he has to follow them all the way across the line. Ability to pass-block for extended plays was hindered to a point by TCU's three-step-drop-and-throw offense. Will lose speed rushers the further back in the pocket they go; Cannon isn't nimble enough to keep the arc going all the way back. Not great at bending wide outside if he has to — if he's kept at tackle in the NFL, his team will have to account for that with chipping backs and tight ends.
Conclusion: Cannon is one of the most interesting draft prospects I've watched in the last few years — you simply don't see a lot of players this big with this kind of functional agility and feel for what he's supposed to be doing. I like that he's nimble, but I like even more that he doesn't get displaced by double teams and counter moves. He doesn't have the speed on the edge to be an NFL left tackle, the DeMarcus Wares and Elvis Dumervils of the world would eat him alive. But he could be a great right tackle in the proper system, and I think he could be a truly exceptional guard if he can learn to pull and trap to a certain level. New Orleans' Carl Nicks(notes) had a similar size-agility-power skill set when he came out of Nebraska, and his NFL success is something that Cannon could (and should) aspire to.
NFL Comparison: Carl Nicks, New Orleans Saints
More Second Shutdown 40
#41 — Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia | #42 — Muhammad Wilkerson, DT/DE, Temple | #43 — Aaron Williams, DB, Texas | #44 — Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech | #45 — Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA | #46 — Martez Wilson, ILB, Illinois | #47 — D.J. Williams, TE, Arkansas | #48 -- Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina | #49 — Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy | #50 — Jabbal Sheard, DE, Pitt | #51 — Christian Ballard, DE, Iowa | #52 — Brooks Reed, DE/OLB, Arizona | #53 — Randall Cobb, WR, Kentucky | #54 -- Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada | #55 — Sam Acho, OLB/DE, Texas | #56 -- Andy Dalton, QB, TCU | #57 — Davon House, CB, New Mexico State | Jon Baldwin, WR, Pitt
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