Monday, 12 October 2009

Brief Thoughts on a Pair of Mountaineers

West Virginia RT Selvish Capers is NFL Draft Scout's #4 Senior Offensive Tackle. Unless NFLDS Senior Analyst Rob Rang is sorely mistaken (and I have the utmost respect for Rang), this draft class is going to be brutal for offensive tackles. Capers, a former Tight End, stands 6'5 298 but actually plays much bigger than his height: I saw more power from Capers in 2 games than I have from LSU LT Ciron Black in 4, and Black showed good strength. Capers has a very strong lower body (upper body needs work) and uses that leg strength to drive block pretty effectively.

Capers also possesses enough quickness to reach the second level in a timely fashion when run blocking. While he lacks the explosion of an elite tackle prospect, he is smooth and a natural runner. He has okay lateral movement skills and fairly long arms. The most impressive part of his game, however, is his leg strength. He has also worked in a zone scheme, so he would be somewhat familiar with what Seattle wants to do.

It should be noted that Capers played RT for left-handed QB Pat White, meaning that Capers protected the blind-side. It isn't a knock on his athleticism that he is playing right tackle, he's more athletic than the left tackle for WVU.

There are a few fatal flaws, however, that really hurt Caper's value. The biggest problem is that he seems to really struggle with the mental or motivational side of the game. So far, I suspect that it is an awareness issue, but I can't be sure about that. Capers constantly fails to pick up the blitz on numerous occasions, especially if the LB doesn't show blitz pre-snap - even Ciron Black did not shuttle so many defenders to his QB. He also leaves yards on the field in the running game by not playing through the whistle.

Those are bad enough but against Auburn, Capers really struggled to defend the corner against the speedy edge-rushers that Auburn are fond of. He isn't slow, but he would be eaten alive on the weakside and probably wouldn't be a great strongside tackle either, even if he learned blitz pickup basics. While I had high hopes for Capers, he did not impress me much at all.

While Capers disappointed, one player that impressed me was QB Jarrett Brown. Admittedly, I went into the first game (Colorado) with low expectations. And I'm not hyping Brown as a first round or even a first day pick, not yet at least. What Brown offers is a tantalizing combination of size (6'4 223lbs), speed, and arm strength. He has a real knack for eluding defenders and buying time in the pocket. He has a very high, fairly quick release and seems pretty accurate in general. He is very accurate on the move, and made one of the most impressive throws I've ever seen at any level when he threw a 60+ yard bomb on the run, against Auburn, that hit his receiver in the perfect place. It was a stunning play.

He spent 4 years behind Pat White, and plays like someone starting for the first time. He makes some really dumb passes, holds the ball too low when he scrambles (common among QBs), and sometimes tries to stretch plays when he should throw the ball away. He also really struggled against Colorado's blitzes in the 2nd half, but some of that was due to terrible blitz pickup.

That is probably enough to keep him out of 1st round consideration, but the combination of size, scrambler speed, quality arm strength (every NFL throw), halfway decent mechanics (keeps his weight back too much, but considering everyone else in this class it isn't terrible), and decent accuracy there are a lot of reasons to keep your eyes on Brown. When you look at him, you at least feel like you're watching a guy with the physical talent to make it in the NFL, if he can correct the mental errors.

As a funny note, Brown did some fashion modeling. Can you imagine the flak Seahawk fans would take weekly from opposing fans if our starting QB was a model?

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