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DATMAN 09-07-2003 10:36 PM

Is it just me or does Sullivan look rather mediocre? I know he's a rookie, and perhaps was a little behind due to the hold out, but he's looking nothing like an impact player. Just watching Marcus Trufant (sp?) makes me wonder if we got the wrong guy.

I see no explosion or athleticism from Sullivan. Hopefully, he'll begin to blossom and we'll see a change in the middle of the defense. :casstet: :casstet: :casstet:

saint5221 09-07-2003 11:13 PM

Watching Trufant and our secondary made me think how much better he was than any in black and gold. Yea Sullivan did\'nt do much but it takes awhile for tackles to get it together,maybe he will be something but to count on him now is rough.

DATMAN 09-08-2003 07:06 PM

Understood 5221,

The more I\'ve circulated the Sullivan issue, the more I\'m hearing that rookie DL take awhile to start producing. Maybe I haven\'t been that observant, but it seemd to me that Sapp, Maryland, et al had more of any impact in their 1st year. Regardless, oh Johnny is going to have to pick it up if we have any hope of a winning season.

[Edited on 9/9/2003 by DATMAN]

nocloning 09-08-2003 07:59 PM

Sapp wasn\'t even a full-time starter in his rookie year according to an article Billy posted. Apparently I remembered that wrong(ly?), \'cause I would have sworn that his transition from college star to NFL star was pretty smooth. Anyway, I hated him even when he still was in college so at least that hasn\'t changed. ;)
The class of 2003 is struggling whereever they are. Warren, Robertson, Joseph, Suggs, Kennedy - they are all not doing too well. Their coaches expressed dissatisfaction with their learning curve in camp and in the first came none of the rookies produced with the exception of Kevin Williams who had a pretty good game and had impressed in camp as well.
Compared to the other first-round defensive line rookies Sullivan actually looks quite okay, but against offensive line veterans with years of experience - you saw it yourself.
Let\'s wait and see if the draft 2003 goes down as the \"defensive line draft\" or rather the \"defensive line hype draft\".

BillyCarpenter1 09-08-2003 08:14 PM


Don\'t expect too much from rookie DLs

By Pat Kirwan
Special to

(Aug. 28, 2003) -- One of my main objectives this summer on my training-camp and preseason-game tour around the NFL was to get a good feel for all the defensive linemen who were taken in the first two rounds of the 2003 NFL Draft.

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If you recall, 11 defensive linemen went in the first round, and four more went in the second round. The 2003 draft always will be remembered as the \"defensive line draft.\"

My travels gave me the opportunity to watch 11 of the top 15 defensive linemen practice or play, and I studied the other four on preseason game tapes. The good news is they all can play in the NFL, the bad news is the fan and media expectations for most of these young players far outreaches what these rookies can do, or should be able to do, at this point in their careers.

Before I get into my view of the rookie defensive linemen, a little history lesson is in order: Here are the rookie statistics for many of today\'s most recognized NFL defensive linemen.

Rookie production
Player, team, rookie season Starts Tackles Sacks
Defensive tackles
** Warren Sapp (TB, \'95) 8 17 3
Keith Hamilton (NYG, \'92) 0 15 3½
Anthony McFarland (TB, \'99) 0 9 1
** Gary Walker (HOU, \'95) 9 22 2½
** Kris Jenkins (CAR, \'01) 11 27 2
** Richard Seymour (NE, \'01) 10 25 3
Defensive ends
** Michael Strahan (NYG, \'93) 0 1 1
** Trevor Pryce (DEN, \'97) 3 16 2
** Jason Taylor (MIA, \'97) 11 30 5
** -- Means they were picked for the Pro Bowl this past season. Not bad for a group of guys with not-so-startling rookie production.

I think most would agree these are not the greatest of numbers. I would like you to look closely at Jenkins (Carolina) and Seymour (New England). Both of these young players made the Pro Bowl in their second season this past winter. In talking with Bill Belichick about Seymour and 2003 first-round pick DT Ty Warren, he pointed out how hard it is to evaluate how good a young defensive lineman can be coming out of college, especially after seeing what Seymour has done in such a short time.
I agree. Seymour is a special player, but 25 tackles and three sacks as a rookie present the reality of what first-year production might be -- even for those who turn out to be great.

Dewayne Robertson will have to overcome some obstacles before he can become an impact player.

Sapp is considered the best inside player in the game and the Jets\' first-round pick, Dewayne Robertson, has been compared favorably to him. I\'m willing to bet if Robertson has the same kind of season Sapp did as a rookie, the media and fans will consider it a failure.

Many insiders consider Strahan to be the best defensive end in football, but if Chicago\'s Michael Haynes or Philadelphia\'s Jerome McDougle close out 2003 with Strahan\'s rookie numbers, lots of people will condemn the pick. It\'s hard enough to meet expectations as a first- or second-round pick. All I\'m saying is -- know what the expectations should be before you evaluate the young players.

Here\'s a quick peek at the 15 young linemen in the order they were drafted as they enter the final week of preseason. Defensive linemen can be sorted into four categories -- 1) starter; 2) in a rotation; 3) backup; 4) situational player. Some overlap into more than one area but I will place them where I think they are at this point.

1. Dewayne Robertson, New York Jets -- Starter. His stats are low after four preseason games, and members of the media are talking about him as a questionable pick. I\'ve watched him practice and play -- he\'ll be just fine. His motor never stops, he should have better rookie production than most of the above and he needs to turn a deaf ear to things said about him.

2. Johnathan Sullivan, New Orleans -- Starter. Another guy with low numbers but very active on the field. He has a tremendous club move and will cause problems inside for most offensive lines.

DATMAN 09-08-2003 10:26 PM

This has truly been enlightening. Kudos to NC and Billy. Tho I\'m SMARTER about the DL \"learning curve\", I\'m even more scared about the middle of the D.

Living in Houston, I just hope we take care of business this week, or I\'m not going to be able to make it through work. :(

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