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An honest no bullsh!t assessment on the Florida players taken

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by KontradictioN, Apr 26, 2010.

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  1. KontradictioN

    KontradictioN Do you even lift? PatsFans.com Supporter

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    As some of you probably know, I root for the Gators as my college team. Though I don't follow them as avidly as the Pats (I don't post on any Gators forums), I do find a way to watch all of their games. Out of the three that the Pats took this past weekend, I've watched Spikes and Hernandez the most but have watched enough of Cunningham to feel that I can also give an honest assessment on him as well.

    1. Jermaine Cunningham, OLB:
    At 6'3", 266, Cunningham certainly has the size and athleticism to play OLB for the Patriots. As a Gator, Cunningham saw mostly one on one competition against an opposing offensive lineman but was capable of shedding blocks either using his initial quickness or by using a variety of techniques to get into the offensive backfield. He also has a high motor from what I can tell. Even when the Gators were being tested in 2009, Cunningham always appeared to give 100% on every play. As a run stopper, Cunningham was more than adequate at setting the edge on wide runs, which is good news for us no matter who he happens to line up behind (Warren or the slew of bodies we have at RDE). The concerns I have about Cunningham are his instincts. I've seen times when he's appeared to completely blow a coverage leaving a man right behind him (usually a RB) wide open for big games. On top of that, I've seen plenty of instances where Cunningham has completely overpursued, allowing the opposing runner to break off big gains. Under the right coaching (which he should find here), Cunningham can hone in these instincts and should hopefully become a good OLB for us. I have to add a disclaimer in here though that I did originally want Dunlap. I thought he would be the better pick-up for us but his and Cunningham's stats are virtually identical.

    2. Brandon Spikes, ILB:
    Spikes is somebody who gives me concerns in which apparently none of my fellow Gators or Pats fans share. First, though, let me get to what I believe are his strengths. Spikes could be the thumper that I and others have been waiting for in this defense since the departure of Ted Johnson. I've seen him compared to Brian Cox and, based on his time at Florida, I'd say those comparisons are apt. He's a big, violent LB who excels at getting off blocks from men twice his size and disrupting this in both the passing game and the running game. He's a solid tackler who plays with a violent nature that enabled him to become the leader of the Florida defense (which ranked near the top of the SEC in two of the three years that he was a featured part in that system). A lot people criticized him for the "eye gouging" incident, but I say that I loved that. That incident pretty much perfectly describes the mean streak that Spikes has toward the opposition, which is something this team sorely needed at the position next to Jerod Mayo. I've also seen Spikes called the dirtiest player in college football, which I can also say is apt. If he sticks in the system, Spikes will be Rodney Harrison at LB. In the locker room, Spikes seems to be a natural leader and is extremely vocal. He should embrace the Patriot Way right off the bat. His speed, which has also been criticized, should not be an issue in this defense if his instincts stay intact and he can rely on his technique. Speaking of insticts, Spikes' are off the charts. Spikes was actually a type of ballhawk at the MLB position at Florida and regularly read the quarterback to pick the ball off (he's taken a few back for touchdowns). His instincts were also obvious in the running game as he knew and obeyed his gap assignments.

    The one concern that I have for Spikes is his motor. And yes, I know that you've probably never heard that mentioned about him before. However, there are a couple of instances in which one can question it. In 2007, when the defense was suffering, Meyer had to regularly get on Spikes and attempt to light a fire under his ass to get him to be a more vocal and passionate leader in the defense and it took a year for Spikes to respond. In his junior year, Spikes did become a leader on and off the field and it was obvious in the defense. His revenge hit on Moreno for the Georgia celebration the year before stands out. 2008 was by far his best year. However, in 2009 Spikes seemed to regress. As the offense struggled it looked to me like Spikes had lost interest in a couple of games that season. He wasn't the force he was in 2008 and was often the last guy in on a tackle. There were a couple of games in which he played like the junior year Brandon Spikes (rivalry games) but, for the most part, he wasn't as dominant as he was the year before. As a Gator fan, that concerned me about him. As a Pats fan, I'm willing to be more optimistic and grant him that, in 2007, he was still very young and maybe was not ready to become the leader of the defense. As for 2009, I'm not sure what to make of it. He may have had a nagging injury that bothered him for all we know. However, I love most of the things that he can do for us and look forward to seeing him on the field in years to come.

    3. Aaron Hernandez, TE
    The Hernandez pick is my favorite of all of them and I consider him an absolute steal. As a player, Hernandez will fill two spots for us: TE and WR. He should play the H-Back role in our offense either lining up on the LOS or in the slot. Hernandez should give opposing defenses headaches by the math-up problems he'll give them. He can threaten the seam, the long passing game, and he's also more than willing to go over the middle of the field. His size is not ideal for run blocking, but it will give opposing DB's fits. In the passing game, he's powerful and more than capable of getting off a jam. He's quick enough to gain seperation from linebackers and he's athletic and powerful enough to gain seperation from corners and safeties. I've never heard of him being a natural leader in the locker room, but he's clean off the field and doesn't seem to have any character issues. Along with Gronk, he should immediately help in the red zone offense and should be able to help divert some of the attention from Moss early in the season. Whoever said his route running needed work should probably watch tape of him again. His route running is as crisp as any of our offensive draft picks and he seems to be bright enough to pick up the offense. The downside to Hernandez is that he isn't a consistent blocker and has trouble with a bullrush. However, considering the moves we made this offseason (Crumpler who is one of the better blocking TE's in the NFL right now, and Gronk who is said to be a willing and able blocker), Hernandez should see himself primarily running routes. And that's a good thing.

    Gator Mike, if you're out there buddy and manage to read this, I'd love for you to weigh in as well. Same goes to any Gator fans or people who avidly watched the Gators last season. :cool:
     
  2. robertweathers

    robertweathers Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    I'm giddy with these two call-outs. IMO much needed for this defense.

    Great post, Kontra. Good summary for those of us who have not watched Gators football closely.
     
  3. KontradictioN

    KontradictioN Do you even lift? PatsFans.com Supporter

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    No problem. I'm always up for disagreement or criticism. I know Gator Mike and others will probably bring something to the table on either or all of these players that I did not.
     
  4. Fencer

    Fencer Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    Great, informative post. Thanks!
     
  5. PATRIOTSFANINPA

    PATRIOTSFANINPA Pro Bowl Player

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    #12 Jersey

    Of all the Gators drafted, I would bet that Cunningham is the LEAST effective.
     
  6. KontradictioN

    KontradictioN Do you even lift? PatsFans.com Supporter

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    He certainly has the highest potential to bust, but the potential is also here for Cunningham to be a raging success, both against the pass and against the run.
     
  7. livinginthe past

    livinginthe past Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

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    #12 Jersey

    Great stuff , man.

    Its great top have the perspective of someone who has actually spent quality eyeball time on these guys.

    Seems like a balanced report, generally positive which i'd expect from picks in the first 4 rounds.

    Thanks :)
     
  8. robertweathers

    robertweathers Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    In the few games I did watch Flawda, Spikes did seem to be very active around the ball. Didn't pick up on "the second guy in" observations. Just seemed to be around the ball a ton.

    I think Cunningham will be good for 6-8 sacks next year in 3rd down and nickel/dime defenses. Full-time OLB will take time..
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2010
  9. Patspsycho

    Patspsycho Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    Great write-up K. Hernandez is one of my two binkies. I think he will be the monkey wrench that messes defenses. He will give any LB a hard time in coverage and overpower DB's. I know the Jets will not game plan for him, and opponents will not respect him the first game around.
     
  10. Palm Beach Pats Fan

    Palm Beach Pats Fan In the Starting Line-Up

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    #12 Jersey

    Watched every Gator game and concur with most points on Hernandez and I am very positive on Spikes and guardedly optimistic on Cunningham.

    With regards to the Spikes eye-gouging, which was uncalled for, I have heard the real story on this:

    The Georgia player had spit on Spikes a play or two before. Spikes tackled him, and his very words were "here's your spit back, a-hole" after scooping up the loogie the other guy had left on his uniform, and then smearing it on his forehead above the eyes.

    That is why the Georgia player had no comment afterwards. If he had complained, it would have come out what he did.

    It doesn't justify what Brandon did, but it makes it a whole lot more understandable. Meyer told him to take his punishment and not to mention the spitting, since attention would just escalate onto some rough play happening on both sides of the ball by both teams.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2010
  11. KontradictioN

    KontradictioN Do you even lift? PatsFans.com Supporter

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    First time I've heard that. Having now heard that, I just want to say...

    :rocker: THAT... IS... AWESOME.
     
  12. Box_O_Rocks

    Box_O_Rocks PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Bullsh!t!!! :p

    (Or maybe not, always hard to tell with you, ;) but thanks for sharing your thoughts.)
     
  13. fgssand

    fgssand PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #17 Jersey

    Great post Kontra....really appreciate the info from your perspective.

    It is exactly this kind of post that keeps me coming back to this great board.
     
  14. KontradictioN

    KontradictioN Do you even lift? PatsFans.com Supporter

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    My condolences on the loss of your dear binky Mardy Gilyard. I thought these might be in order. :D

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  15. Box_O_Rocks

    Box_O_Rocks PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    You'd best save them for your Dunlap hangover. :snob:
     
  16. KontradictioN

    KontradictioN Do you even lift? PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Apparently I've been told that those bullets would only be traveling through dead air. :eek: Now the JB is something that I could save, albeit for a short amount of time.
     
  17. RayClay

    RayClay Pro Bowl Player

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    Good stuff, Kontra. Thanks!
     
  18. eagle eye

    eagle eye In the Starting Line-Up

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    Great post Kontra.

    I've watched a lot of Gator's games and I always thought Spikes was impressive but he did not seem the same guy last season as you say and while I haven't a clue why I would assume like you that it had to have been that he was playing hurt.

    Jermaine Cunningham is the one that I really like, while Spikes and Dunlap were taking most of the plaudits, Cunningham was the most productive player of the Gators' front seven. I think he is the guy that will grow into his position and get better and better over the first couple of years.

    Hernandez was really impressive in college but I just don't know about him. Linebackers are quicker, stronger, faster in the NFL. A lot of the stuff that he could do in college just might not work in the NFL. I wonder could we see him used solely as a wideout. He 40 time was in the 4.5s at his pro-day but with his size and strength he could be really successful as a WR.
     
  19. Trocadile

    Trocadile On the Roster

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    Hernandez was definitely my favorite pick, and could potentially have the greatest immediate impact, IF they commit to using an H-back. As we saw with David Thomas, they don't necessarily do a good job of utilizing that skill set. I'm hoping that Hernandez' superior versatility as a receiver (compared to Thomas) and the absence of Welker will encourage them to get creative with all he can do.
     
  20. KontradictioN

    KontradictioN Do you even lift? PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Aaron Hernandez's skill set is pretty different than Thomas'. I don't think those comparisons are very good, myself.
     
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