In this football drought I thought I'd give a shot at analyzing a small piece of the conundrum that is Bill O'Brien. I'm sure you are all tired of hearing how excited the rookies are....that they are rookies, and how they are memorizing the playbook, the playbook, and also how they are memorizing the playbook. I thought it "might" give some analysis on our upcoming head coach to look at some of the top players drafted from the Nittany Lions.
It's been stated over and over how OB created a special bond with these players and convinced them to stay after the possibly biggest college scandal ever. I'm also fairly certain he was unable to keep all of the top talent Penn State had at the time and still succeeded, putting even more stress on the talent that chose to stay.
I'll only go over the 2014 draft picks since whatever analysis gleaned from this sample would be even more diluted by only having one year experience under O'Brien. Sources will be posted at the bottom because I am nowhere near qualified enough to analyze tape.
Strengths and weaknesses sourced from each player's NFL.com draft profile.
"Also played basketball as a Michigan prep. As a true freshman in 2011, saw very limited action in 11 games and caught three balls for 29 yards (9.7-yard average) and no touchdowns. Started all 12 games in 2012 and produced 77 catches for 1,013 yards (13.2) and 11 touchdowns. Was the Nittany Lions' leading receiver for the second straight year in 2013, when he started 11 of 12 games and totaled 97 catches for 1,432 yards (14.8) and six touchdowns. Non-start was season opener against Syracuse when PSU opened with three tight ends. First player since at least 1985 to lead the Big Ten in receptions and receiving yardage in consecutive seasons.
Excellent size. Good line release -- defeats press. Sinks his hips, breaks off sharply and creates separation. Works back to the ball. Climbs the ladder has elevation and body control to contort and make plays in the air. Turns short throws into chunk plays -- gets upfield quickly and shows shiftiness, vision and run strength. Executed a full route tree in a pro-style offense. Highly productive -- totaled 174-2,445-17 (14.0) in last two seasons. Will be a 21-year-old rookie. Recorded a 39-inch vertical jump.
Lacks elite top-end speed -- needs double moves to separate vertically and gets tracked down from behind. Occasionally tracking and leap timing are off. Is more confident in his hands outside the numbers or in the air than he is over the middle. Traps throws against his body and double-catches some. Tends to cradle throws or go down to the ground. Swings the ball loosely as a runner. Can improve physicality and sustain as a blocker.
The Big Ten's leading receiver the last two seasons, Robinson is a big, fluid, outside receiver with a nice combination of "above-the-rim" prowess and run-after-catch ability. Offers possession skills, playmaking ability and red-zone utility to develop into a solid No. 2 option."
Opinion: While not an elite physical specimen, it seems under O'Brien's tutelage, Robinson separated himself from the rest of the big 10 by skill and possibly play-calling. I can assume Robinson really benefited by running a full route tree which is, I believe, rare in a college WR. His weaknesses seem to be more physical and bad habits such as body catches, and loose ball handling. This makes me like his chances of making something of Posey and Martin, and hopefully crafting DeAndre into a star. Having the number 1 receiver in yards in the big ten in his only years in the division makes me hopeful. Sadly the kid is now the enemy, becoming a Jacksonville Jaguar, which possibly a calculated move by them to better understand O'Brien....or maybe I'm the only one weird enough to think that would work.
His first name is pronounced "DAY-qwan." Was a highly recruited offensive lineman as a New York prep. Also lettered in basketball and track. Enrolled at Penn State in 2010 and initially was going to redshirt as a freshman, as he was held out of the Nittany Lions' first four games. His play in practice got him on the field, though, and he saw action in the final nine games, recording six tackles, two tackles for loss and one sack. Was forced to play defensive end against Illinois when three ends were injured in the contest. Saw action in all 13 games as a backup defensive tackle in '11, registering 8-0-0. Moved into the starting lineup in '12 and had 22-2-.5 with one pass batted in 12 games (11 starts). Had a strong senior year in '13 after dropping 15 pounds in the offseason, starting 12 times and recording 56-11.5-3. Team captain.
Big body -- looks the part. Fires off the snap and engages quickly. Is difficult to displace and has a strong upper body. Able to control blocks and locate the ball. Plays with a load in his hands -- presses blockers, extends and discards. Generates a strong bull rush and collapses the pocket. Is athletic and redirects well for a big man. Flashes disruptive ability and dominates at times, creating production for teammates. Scheme versatile. Has upside.
Takes some plays off and occasionally loafs on plays away from him. Could stand to develop counters and pass-rush moves. Does not threaten the edges. Does not accelerate off blocks and closing burst is just average. Can do a better job protecting his legs. Weight and conditioning have fluctuated.
Big, strong-bodied interior force who shed weight and improved his stamina as a senior, displaying NFL-caliber physicality in the trenches. Has been inconsistent in the past, but if the light has come on, Jones' combination of size, power and movement enables him to play as a 4-3 one-technique or 3-4 five-technique."
Opinion- One of the more highly recruited prospects, a big athletic DT, who started both years O'Brien was there. Seems he was versatile, a word we've become familiar with, if only in theory. He seems to have good awareness and isn't fooled often, which could be a product of coaching. Really hard to glean anything out of this pick, and since O'Brien will be more involved in the offense, not as important. But oddly enough, was also drafted by one of our sworn enemies, if not the strongest, definitely the most reviled, the Tennessee Titans. Interesting.
Prepped in Buffalo, where he also competed in track and field. Redshirted in 2009 and saw limited action in three games in 2010. Did not start in 2011 but played 396 snaps in 13 games. Started all 24 games at right guard 2012-13. Team captain. Winner of the Campbell Trophy as the nation's premier college football scholar athlete ("Academic Heisman"). Earned a Master's degree in mathematics (4.0 GPA), taught undergraduates at PSU and was published in a scientific journal.
Highly intelligent -- will be successful with or without football. Engages quickly. Good leverage, balance and body control. Works his feet and hips to position and seal. Can pull and trap and work up to the second level very quickly. Protects with awareness. Shuffles, slides and mirrors. Three-year starter. Team captain. Sparkling intangibles. Well-versed in a pro-style offense having played for new Texans coach Bill O'Brien.
Lacks ideal size and plays short-armed. Functional strength is just adequate -- gets pushed back. Is not explosive or powerful. Lets defenders cross his face and struggles to reach. Athletic ability is average.
Underpowered, quick-footed, scrappy, zone blocker with the smarts, movement skill and competitive zeal to emerge as a very efficient pro. Displays the quickness highly desired at the pivot and might prove to be best at center."
Opinion- My favorite of the bunch, a just adequate athlete with size issues that excelled in O'Brien's leadership. An extremely intelligent leader, two qualities that O'Brien seems to really value. And versatile...that word again. Hopefully a good sign for our O-Line, an area that we desperately need reform but have some talent. Drafted by the Ravens, since they stole everything Kubiak already, including the man himself, it seems they have moved onto Bill O'Brien.
I apologize if my analyses were short and really just opinions, but I was hoping this started more of a dialogue so I can possibly learn from much more informed minds. Thank you for reading
Other Sources: http://www.bigblueview.com/2014/4/21/5629680/2014-nfl-draft-prospect-allen-robinson-wr-penn-state-scouting-report-new-york-giants