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Danno 01-02-2004 09:44 AM

Miami/FSU players in Orange bowl
 
After watching Miami-FSU last night it became quite clear to me that if we drafted DJ Williams, Vilma, Taylor, Boulware, or Wilfork they would immediately be the best player on our defense by game one, 2004. Man what awesome atheletes on display.
I don't know enough about each guy's strengths or weaknesses to give any sort of NFL scouting report, but good grief, those guys look like ferocious football players. Great game also, especially if you like "I'm gonna rip your fricking head off" smashmouth football.
If you could get one guy off of either team FSU/Miami, who would it be?

deadflatbird 01-02-2004 11:19 AM

Miami/FSU players in Orange bowl
 
I agree I have my eye on DJ WIlliams and think we need to move up and get him say like 10th or 12th pick, I don\'t think he will land at 18. We may end up getting DeAngello Hall CB though which will be good for up but to have a talent like Williams... whew...

saint5221 01-02-2004 01:00 PM

Miami/FSU players in Orange bowl
 
Most lists I have seen have Willams and Vilma as the top two LB\'s in the draft, I\'d love to see Vilma because of our need inside. Some have him as high as the 6th best player overall in the draft.

The evaluations below are from the sporting news

Player evaluation:
Jonathan Vilma

War Room analysis
Strengths: Instinctive, active and intelligent. Tough and plays bigger than measurables indicate. Has very good recognition skills. Sideline-to-sideline chase linebacker with excellent top-end speed. Plays even faster than 40 time indicates because of his instincts and initial quickness. Does a nice job of using his hands to get through traffic. Slips blocks and has excellent burst when closing in on the ball carrier. Has decent instincts as a blitzer and shows big-play potential as an occasional interior pass rusher. Has good speed, instincts and athleticism in coverage. Is a playmaker when the ball is in the air. Knocks down a lot of passes in coverage. Has fluid hips and very good range in zone.

Weaknesses: Undersized. Could have to move to the outside in the NFL. Does not have great lower-body strength. Struggles to take on blocks and to fill inside at times. Does not do a good enough job of disengaging once reached. Must do a better job of protecting his lower body. Solid tackler, but not very explosive.

Bottom line: Vilma was a backup to Dan Morgan as a true freshman in 2000 and had knee surgery in the spring of \'01, but he has been a full-time starter at middle linebacker the past three seasons and has led the team in tackles the past two. He reminds us of Ray Lewis when he was coming out of Miami; an undersized middle linebacker that may need to move to the weakside position but has the frame and size potential to add bulk and strength, which would allow him to stay in the middle.

Vilma is among the nation\'s most athletic and active linebackers. He has exceptional speed and plays even faster than his time indicates because he is so instinctive and has such an impressive second gear when closing in. Vilma has the athleticism to match up against most NFL running backs in coverage and also is fast and instinctive enough to become an effective blitzer. He must improve his strength and ability to disengage once reached in the running game, but he has gotten better this past season and does such a good job of slipping blocks that it is not a huge concern. Overall, Vilma is one of the top two linebacker prospects in this year\'s class and he should be drafted no later than the top 20 picks.


Player evaluation:
D.J. Williams

War Room analysis
Strengths: Has adequate size, and is a terrific athlete. Has above-average speed. Is instinctive, and shows excellent initial quickness. Has outstanding change-of-direction skills and fluid hip movements. Is a sideline-to-sideline playmaker against the run. Is at his best in the open field. Has terrific range, and takes good angles in pursuit. Is an explosive tackler with good pop at the point of attack. Is a playmaker as a blitzer. Forces a lot of fumbles. Has a nose for the ball, and always seems to be in on big plays. He has good upfield burst as a pass rusher, and has a lot of potential in that area. Also has great physical tools in coverage. Has the quickness, fluid hip movements and speed to cover most running backs and tight ends man-to-man. Has potential to be a great zone defender.

Weaknesses: Still is a bit raw. Plays a bit too tall at times, and must learn to better protect his body. Does not play with great leverage inside, and has trouble shedding blocks at times. Must use his hands better when sifting through traffic. Will over-pursue and get caught up in traffic. Must show better recognition skills and be more disciplined in zone coverage.

Bottom line: Williams started 11 games at fullback as a freshman before moving to weakside linebacker in \'01. He missed one game as a sophomore because of an ankle injury but did not miss a game as a junior or a senior. Williams will make an immediate impact in the NFL. He has good size and speed for a weakside linebacker and is an explosive athlete who continues to improve with experience at the position. He is not a complete player yet and still must improve his technique and route-recognition skills, but he is the best natural athlete at the linebacker position in this class. He should be a top-20 pick.




Danno 01-02-2004 01:31 PM

Miami/FSU players in Orange bowl
 
Thanks 5221, whats your take on Dansby? He looked incredible against Wisconsin.

saint5221 01-02-2004 02:11 PM

Miami/FSU players in Orange bowl
 
Damn Danno you are a football machine, I watched a little Orange( Miami D was awesome they looked better than ours, yea it was a great game) and Rose bowls, and I\'ll catch plenty of todays line up as well as the Sugar but the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl was too much for me so I missed Dansby\'s performance. Did a look and found this on him though. Kiper has him at 13 on his big board and every linebacker rateing I\'ve seen has him in the top 5.




Player evaluation:
Karlos Dansby

War Room analysis
Strengths: Has terrific size and speed. Has long arms and huge hands. Is a fine athlete with fluid hip movements and explosive closing burst. Is versatile; has potential to play strongside or weakside in a 4-3 scheme or outside linebacker in a 3-4. Has long legs, but is a smooth athlete with terrific lateral movement skills. Has good range against the run. Takes solid angles to the ball, and is an explosive tackler. Has excellent upfield burst. Shows good initial quickness and closing speed as a pass rusher. Is terrific at sealing off the backside and chasing down plays from behind. Never stops hustling. Shows good range in zone coverage. Has the size and speed to cover most tight ends man-to-man.

Weaknesses: Still is a bit better athlete than a football player. Can be undisciplined and play out of control at times. Must work harder in the weight room. Must do a better job of playing with leverage at the point of attack. Has some trouble shedding blocks inside.

Bottom line: Dansby, a starter at strongside linebacker since \'01, has terrific size and speed. He is an every-down prospect who shows great range against the run, terrific ball skills in coverage and impressive speed as an outside pass rusher. Dansby must continue to improve his strength and discipline, and he must learn to play the run with better leverage, but his upside is outstanding. He could be drafted in the mid-to-late first round.

saint5221 01-03-2004 02:23 AM

Miami/FSU players in Orange bowl
 
Danno, happened across these two articles in ProFootball Weekly they are a pretty good look at The LB\'s you mentioned. The first is on Jonathan Vilma and D.J. Williams the second is on Karlos Dansby and Dontarrious Thomas.

http://www.profootballweekly.com/PFW...holm122003.htm

Double trouble

Miami linebackers are different kinds, but pros are excited about both

Pick your poison. Do you run inside and face a viper-like linebacker, capable of closing on you in a blink of the eye? Or do you try your luck outside against a cat-quick — no, a cougar-quick — assassin who at times is the most lethal player on a football team full of future pros.

If you are an NFL team, and you are lucky enough to pick between two future pros — current Miami (Fla.) LBs Jonathan Vilma and D.J. Williams — *you probably can’t go wrong, depending on what you need.

What is interesting about the pair is where they might line up in the NFL, and it could end up being the same position. Vilma, who plays inside for the Hurricanes and is relatively slight at 6-2 and 220, might be best-suited to play the weak-side spot next year. Williams, who has moonlighted as a fullback, is the more physical of the two and has the greater upside in the pros.

\"When you look at these guys on tape, you see a lot more of Vilma around the ball,\" an NFC scouting director told PFW. \"I think that Williams gets tied up a little more with blockers, but that comes with time. And when he gains more recognition skills, he will be a specimen. Some team will take him high — *probably higher than his value will be right away.\"

And that’s the caveat with these guys: Do you gamble on greatness (Williams)? Or do you go with the more sure thing (Vilma) who is projected to another position?

\"I don’t think you can go wrong,\" Miami (Fla.) LB coach Vernon Hargreaves said. \"(But) if you put those guys together, you’d have the perfect linebacker.\"

Or, as Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer put it: \"Whoo. I don’t know how you spell it, but whoo.\"

Vilma, a finance major with a 3.5 GPA, might be introspective, observers say, but not quiet like Williams. He’s the cool, calculated type And Vilma’s analytical mind and rare instincts make his mind as covetable as his physical skills.

But that’s not to say the undersized ‘backer has a problem laying the wood. Vilma is among college football’s best hitters, packing maximum punch into his smaller frame. When he hits you, you know it. Although he has few Ray Lewis-like highlight blasts, Vilma’s hits still hurt.

Ironically, though, it was a hit on Vilma that’s the play people might know him best from. Here’s a quick reminder for those who forgot: Last year, Miami was playing Pitt. Athletic Panthers QB Rod Rutherford — *an inch taller and a few biscuits heavier than Vilma — came running down the sideline, while Vilma lay in waiting, sensing the opportunity to drop the opponent’s QB. And then the amazing happened: Rutherford smacked Vilma so hard it knocked the linebacker five yards back, all for the ESPN cameras to take in. Kirk Herbstreit almost had a coronary. It was a shocking sight.

And how did Vilma react? He got up, dusted himself off and walked to the defensive huddle. A few plays later he made a key third-down stop.

\"If I would have tried to lay him out, I would have been called for a personal-foul penalty. I tried to let up and he kept going, so he got one good shot on me. What can I do?\"

It’s the kind of maturity and anti-star attitude that has teams looking at tape of him closely, wondering if he is too small to play inside, his natural position.

Williams, on the other hand, will get the close perusal from scouts who wonder: How high is his ceiling?

From the moment he set foot in Coral Gables, he was pegged a star. Coming out of De La Salle High School (Concord, Calif.) — which some call the premier program in the country, full of college-ready talent — Williams was the clear-cut No. 1 high school prospect in the country. His announcement that he was committing to the ’Canes was a national story, and John Madden actually said at the school’s banquet during Williams’ senior year that the star linebacker was the only player he saw who could ever go from high school directly to the pros.

Somewhere along the road to Canton, Williams’ career hit a small snag. First, there was the switch to fullback, which lasted a year. In that time, it was Vilma who was making an instant impact, backing All-American Dan Morgan in the middle and later stepping in when he was a sophomore. Williams — for the first time since he started playing football — was a good but not great player.

After settling back in at outside linebacker, Williams flashed his brilliant athletic prowess: the blazing closing speed, the raw strength and stamina. A man among boys. But the plays were intermittent. A great hit here, then nothing. A burst of speed to fill the gap, then little else. The inconsistencies in his play brought out the shier side of his personality.

\"D.J.’s very quiet, and sometimes (people take him for being) aloof,\" Miami head ocach Larry Coker said. \"But D.J. wants to accomplish things.\"

It caused Williams to shy away from the spotlight and shy away from doing interviews because he thought he hadn’t accomplished anything. Proving himself became his mission before his senior year. Shedding the \"could be\" tag was something he strove to do.

He has — *to an extent. His senior season has been a good one with more of that fantastic athleticism on display on a more regular basis. But scouts who project Williams to be a top-10 pick do so because of — *there’s that word again — *potential.

\"You will not see 60 minutes from him in any one game where he absolutely dominated,\" the scouting director said. \"But you see that he is still learning and progressing. You like to see that. I just wonder if he’ll ever be able to play up to his best all the time.\"

It’s almost guaranteed that some team, no lower than the top dozen, will be in awe of Williams’ physical skills and take him high in the draft. Some team might even be willing to trade up to get him. That’s how rare his ability is.

With Vilma, it’s a different case. Although he is the more accomplished football player who has dominated more on the college level, scouts are not as giddy over his potential — and the fact that he’s 220 has something to do with it. Most teams will consider him as an outside ‘backer, probably on the weak side, but 3-4 teams could view Vilma’s 4.5 speed as a boon on the inside. Assuming he does not weigh any lighter or his reported speed doesn’t fall short in Indianapolis, Vilma should be picked somewhere in the mid-to-late first round.

Here’s one thing scouts will keep in mind: Vilma weighs just about what Lewis did when he came out. And here’s another: They thought the same thing when LaVar Arrington came out. And he was picked No. 2 overall.

The names and games are different for Vilma and Williams, but the talent is there for both players. It just depends what you are looking for.



http://www.profootballweekly.com/PFW...ning121803.htm

Karlos Dansby

Joe Whitt has worked with Auburn\'s linebackers for the past 23 seasons, so he knows a talented \'backer when sees one. Whitt helped make Aundray Bruce into the No. 1 overall pick in 1988. Takeo Spikes, now a star with the Bills, also became a first-rounder on his watch.
ÂÂÂ*
Whitt is sending two more prized pupils into the professional ranks — seniors Karlos Dansby and Dontarrious Thomas. This is new for Whitt, who says he has never had two linebackers this good playing for him at the same time.
ÂÂÂ*
\"I\'ve coached a guy here and there — basically every year I\'ve coached somebody that had great ability — but never had two guys with that kind of ability,\" Whitt said.
ÂÂÂ*
Both Thomas and Dansby are surefire first-day picks. The 6-foot-3 1/8, 231-pound Dansby is likely to go in the first round, according to PFW draft expert Nolan Nawrocki. Playing on the strong side, the 22-year-old Dansby registered a team-high 74 tackles in 2003.
ÂÂÂ*
Thomas, 23, who moved from the weak side to the middle this season, ranks second on the team with 71 tackles. The 6-2¼, 232-pound Thomas is unlikely to be drafted as high as Dansby, but his athleticism and intelligence are assets.ÂÂÂ*
ÂÂÂ*
Panthers director of college scouting Tony Softli says Thomas and Dansby \"complement each other well,\" and Thomas agrees, saying each player raises the other\'s level of play.
ÂÂÂ*
\"I think we feed off each other\'s energy,\" Thomas said. \"I see him make him a good play, that\'s motivation for meÂÂÂ*to go play that hard, because I know he\'s the type of guy that I know is going to give 100 percent. Anytime you play with somebody that plays with that much effort and intensity, you want to give that same effort and intensity back to them.\"
ÂÂÂ*
Dansby and Thomas have given the Tigers impact play after impact play from the beginning of their careers.
ÂÂÂ*
Thomas was the first to arrive at Auburn in 1999, though his athletic reputation was as much built on his basketball prowess at Perry (Ga.) High School as anything he did on the gridiron. But after a redshirt season, Thomas started to build a reputation as a swift, sideline-to-sideline \'backer who was just crushing vs. the run.
ÂÂÂ*
Thomas\' most productive season was in 2001, when, as a redshirt sophomore, he registered a team-high 122 tackles playing on the weak side, including nine for loss. He followed that up by notching 92 tackles and 11 tackles for loss in 2002.
ÂÂÂ*
The Tigers moved him to the middle prior to this season to replace Mark Brown, who is currently on the Jets\' practice squad. The transition was not a smooth one for Thomas, who was comfortable playing outside. In the most recent issue of Pro Football Weekly, Nawrocki said Thomas \"has struggled digesting plays, thinks too much and is slow reacting. Blockers have gotten on him too fast, and he has struggled getting off blocks.\"
ÂÂÂ*
\"It was a little rocky, I would have to say, at the beginning,\" Thomas said. \"It was a different feel for me. I wasn\'t able to do most things, like just run around. I really had to be fundamentally sound and read my keys real well.\"
ÂÂÂ*
In the move to the middle, Thomas leaned on Spikes for advice.
ÂÂÂ*
\"And he told me just go out there and play ball,\" Thomas said. \"No matter what, a linebacker is a linebacker. Don\'t worry about it. Being frustrated at the beginning of the season, he said, \'Don\'t worry about it. Let everything come to you. The most important thing is not get frustrated, and that\'s when things start to crumble.\' \"
ÂÂÂ*
He didn\'t. But if Thomas ever felt he couldn\'t keep it together, he could take solace knowing Dansby was playing right alongside of him.
ÂÂÂ*
Dansby, a second-team Associated Press All-American, has drawn comparisons to Redskins RB LaVar Arrington — another big linebacker with rare quickness. As Vanderbilt offensive coordinatorÂÂÂ*Ted CainÂÂÂ*said of Dansby, “[It] was so hard to portray his speed and reaction as you get ready to play.\"
ÂÂÂ*
Here\'s how quick Dansby is: At Woodlawn High School in Birmingham, Ala., Dansby played wide receiver, and was so good SuperPrep magazine named him one of the nation\'s 30 best high-school wideouts.
ÂÂÂ*
Perhaps his experience at wideout explains why he has thrived in coverage. Dansby stared eight games at \"whip\" in 2001, intercepting five passes. He intercepted another three passes in 2002 after moving from safety to strong-side linebacker.
ÂÂÂ*
\"He\'s a great cover linebacker, so I\'m constantly asking him questions on how to read certain plays,\" said Thomas, whose coverage skills aren’t as strong as Dansby’s.
ÂÂÂ*
While scouts love Dansby’s talent, they would like to see it not just in flashes, according to Nawrocki. He could also stand to add bulk to his frame.
ÂÂÂ*
The major question for Thomas is whether he can play as instinctually as he did in his sophomore and junior seasons. Nawrocki believes he would be most successful back at outside linebacker.ÂÂÂ*
ÂÂÂ*
Though the move inside was a hard one, Thomas believes he’s better for the experience.
ÂÂÂ*
“As the season moved on, I was able to get comfortable,� he said. \"My confidence level picked up, and I think it worked out best for me. It gave me a chance to show my versatile skills, being an outside and inside ‘backer, and hopefully that can help me out on the next level.
ÂÂÂ*
“It was just an opportunity for me to improve myself and make me be a better linebacker all-around.â€?ÂÂÂ*
ÂÂÂ*
Thomas and Dansby play their last collegiate game Dec. 31. in the Music City Bowl. NFL scouts will be watching. They also will get a look at sophomore LB Travis Williams, whom Whitt says has caught the eye of scouts that have come to Auburn. So worry not for Whitt — his terrific LB tandem leaves, but there is talent waiting in the wings for him to work with. There always is.

Danno 01-04-2004 08:10 AM

Miami/FSU players in Orange bowl
 
Wow, all these guys sound great.
Any chance we can get two of these 4?

Maybe a stud early and if Thomas slips snatch him late? :D


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