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What We've Learned: LB Jermaine Cunningham

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  1. PatsFans.com Article

    PatsFans.com Article Rookie

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    Ian's Daily Blog - Here is a compilation of news reports on New England Patriots rookie Linebacker Jermaine Cunningham in today's edition of "What We've Learned".

  2. Sicilian

    Sicilian Rookie

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    I don't think the Burgess re-signing means they're not pleased with Cunningham's progress. I think that's more the reality of having a rookie DE to OLB conversion project. You're not going to depend on that rookie to get significant reps in their rookie season in all situations. Burgess gives them another vet option in case the kid needs a little more time to season.

    I like that the kid seems to have a motor though. We've been lacking energy from the outside in recent years. If he can find a niche on 3rd downs, it would be more than enough for me to be happy this season.
  3. ctpatsfan77

    ctpatsfan77 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Personally, I think it's more an issue of Burgess' developing comfort with the system near the end of the season, and trying to have a mix of vets and young players (especially important when you add as many young players as the Pats have the last two seasons).
  4. PatsFaninME

    PatsFaninME Rookie

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    Burgess signing has nothing to do with Cunningham's progress. Just insurance and another veteran in camp to show the young guys what's expected. I'm not even 100% convinced that Burgess makes final roster.
  5. NEGoldenAge

    NEGoldenAge Banned

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    I don't think the Pats pay do too much attention to rookie evaluation at the OTAs. Although I am certain that they do try to determine some sort of baseline to measure progres, I think the major focus is on helping players (especially the new ones) prepare for training camp. The evaluations that happen during, and at the end of training camp are the important ones.
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2010
  6. patfanken

    patfanken Rookie

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    The only way I can see Cunningham making an immediate impact THIS year is on STs, and as a situational pass rusher. The DE to OLB conversion is NOT a one or even two year process. We won't see the true value of Cunningham until well into his 3rd year. It is what it is. The best we can hope for THIS season is to see the "flashes".
  7. italia44

    italia44 Rookie

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    You certainly covered all your bases with this post,pfk.......however,I'll gently chastise you,by referring to what Peter O'Toole said to Omar Sharif in the beginning of "Lawrence of Arabia"...
    "NOTHING ,is written"

    ......just ask Julian Edelman:rocker:
  8. IllegalContact

    IllegalContact Rookie

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    having cunningham develop quickly and be productive in 2010 would make a HUGE HUGE HUGE! impact for the pats defense. right now, the pass rush from the OLB position stands to be next to non-existent

    as for burgess, cheap signing for someone who started playing better late......he can help in case of injury or simply general depth
  9. VJCPatriot

    VJCPatriot Rookie

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    I wouldn't read too much into the burgess signing either. I think the Pats just felt he came on more during the end of the season and gives them some nice veteran depth.

    As for cunningham the news is exciting and I hope he can contribute some this year and shows that he deserves a roster spot going forward. Not everyone can impress right off the bat like Vollmer or Edelman, but there's certainly some hope here for this year's rookie class.
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2010
  10. woolster22

    woolster22 Rookie

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    It would be nice to see him make an impact this year but I'm not getting my hopes up. now Spikes/McKenzie on the other hand...I think we will see good things from these two, whether it be in a combination of the two making smaller impacts or one of them having a year similar to Mayo's rookie showing.
  11. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    There have been many college DE/pro 34 OLBs who have contributed a lot as rookies.
    Its not like he will need to learn an entirely new skillset.
    His job, or the job of whoever is the primary OLB is to play the run and rush the passer, about an equal amount of times.
    The pass rush skills are not different than what he has done his entire football life, however, he will now be facing tougher competition. Many rookies adapt to that, many dont.
    As far as run defense there certainly is change from what he is used to in college, but it isn't rocket science.
    I know that the common reposnse will be that he has never covered. OK All of our OLBs COMBINED last season were in coverage 343 times. That amount to about 10 times a game a full time OLB. I don't suppose that a rookie DE-OLB comversion will be as comfortable as a vet, but we are talking about 10 plays a game of covering the flat.
    I know it is widely believed that BBs system is so complex that rookies can't be expected to play in it. Here we have abandoned year 2 as well.
    I think that most of the reason for this is because BB has done a good job over the years acquiring veterans and keeping them around, especially at the LB position. So there are few early round picks at LB over the BB years, and the ones that were picked were behind great players.

    I could be wrong but who are the examples of the guys who sat for 1-2 years playing sts then figured out the system? To me it seems if you are good (Mayo for ex) you get on the field. If you get an opportunity due to lack of players at the position you get on the field (Guyton) if you can't really play (Woods, Alexander) you sit, not because you need years to learn.
  12. BionicPatriot

    BionicPatriot Rookie

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    It's beyond being huge. They need him to contribute or they wont do a damn thing this year. I see one guy who is a proven pretty good pass rusher on our roster and that's TBC. Wether it's fair to expect huge things from a rookie or not isn't the point. The point is BB pretty much has sealed the deal on the OLB position this season. For this season, all his chips rely on the development of young prospects/new rookies.

    We absolutely NEED cunningham to contribute, forget about it being merely a "nice addition" This isn't 2004, our defense is average, nothing great. They can use all the help they can get
  13. IcyPatriot

    IcyPatriot ---- JAG ----- PatsFans.com Supporter

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    What my paisan said ................... :yeahthat:
  14. Ian

    Ian Administrator Staff Member

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    I'm waiting for Kontradiction to weigh in - he watched him at Florida and am guessing he can provide some more insight :cool:
  15. 5 Rings for Brady!!

    5 Rings for Brady!! Rookie

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    I think Cunningham has every chance in the world to exceed expectations because almost universally this pick has been panned to some degree. The expectation currently is that he won't help the team for 2 years... :D

    The guy is a beast. He is like a 15 lb. bigger version of Roosevelt Colvin (pre-injury), with the ability to continue to gain weight if needed.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2010
  16. Synovia

    Synovia Rookie

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    Are you making the assumption that NE, Dallas, SD, etc play the same defense? Because they don't. They ask completely different things out of their linebackers. SD's OLBs almost never drop into coverage. New England's do quite a bit.
  17. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Where did I say they have to play exactly the same defense?
    And according to profootballfocus participation stats, the Chargers OLBs dropped into coverage 314 times vs 343 for the Pats, so with 2 OLBs and a 16 game season you are talking about less than 1 more time a game that an OLB drops into coverage in the Pat system than the Charger system.
  18. stinkypete

    stinkypete Rookie

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    TBC is the only one I can think of. IIRC, he didn't see a defensive snap until week 17 of his rookie year and wasn't a really defensive regular until his 4th year.

    TBC was also a 7th round pick and playing behind a rotation of Vrabel, Willie and Colvin. Cunningham comes in with much greater expectations and much less talent ahead of him.

    I see no reason why he can't contribute as a rookie. I think the perception that OLB's struggle to find the Patriots system is more a result of the immense talent that the team has had at the position.
  19. reamer

    reamer Rookie

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    If anyone wants to better acquaint themselves with Cunningham, then do yourself a favor and check this out: Video Player The SEC Digital Network is the SEC's official online resource for news and full games, so it's totally legal and legitimate. Every single Florida game from last year is available in its entirety if you scroll down the list. You can watch all three of the Gators we drafted. Also, if you click on any of the other team's video channels, you can watch their entire games as well. Very handy tool.

    So far, I've rewatched a handful of games, focusing exclusively on Cunningham, and I'm getting more and more excited about his potential in our system. I really believe he gets significant playing time this year, and will most likely start by the end of the season. By year's end, the youth movement will be in full effect.
  20. scott99

    scott99 Rookie

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    I think this is 99.99% correct. The other .01% is if he just "get's it", blows people away at camp, and just proves to be a stud like Mayo. Ya never know.
  21. BradyFTW!

    BradyFTW! PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Thanks for the writeup Ian, great stuff! If he can come in and make any situational impact at all, even as a 4-3 pass-rusher on 3rd down, I'll be pumped. Maybe I'm just being overly optimistic, though, but I'm at least optimistically hoping (and maybe irrationally so) for even more than that.

    Going back to that interview with Pepper Johnson, I figure they'll stick him in a few formations where his assignments will, relatively speaking, not be hugely complicated. Hopefully he'll own the hell out of the work that they give him, and will make a real impression in areas of need.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2010
  22. lillestroom

    lillestroom Rookie

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    Me neither.

    Its an insurance policy.

    Bet Ninkovitch sticks tho. :(
  23. PatsBoy12

    PatsBoy12 Rookie

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    Your post is great! Thanks for the link.
  24. AzPatsFan

    AzPatsFan Rookie

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    In Belichick Defense there are almost no college players of the right size, who play the OLB position that he wants. They all have to be developed.

    That is one reason that Belichick doesn't draft many; he would prefer to let someone else train them before he gets them. Phifer, Vrabel, Colvin and Thomas fit that category. The people he evaluates as Draftees from other positions get higher, more certain grades, from him and his scouts than projections. The other positions are safer picks, when the object as far as Belichcik is concerned, is to not pick "busts", with prime picks.

    The only other position that is as heavily "projection oriented", and as uncertain, is the only one he has drafted at an even lower priority... Quarterback. BB has only used a high of a single 3 on QB; and even much lower ones all the way.

    Having essentially rebuilt the entire Defense from top to bottom elsewhere, from projected starters to last projected reserve, he had to draft LBs, finally. BB still spent on ILBs first, which are more predictable, and less a projection there, too.

    Despite all that I still maintain that pass rusher was last year's concern. Like Generals, y'all are planning on fighting the "last war", not the "next". Look at the real situation.

    Objectively, BB now has two not-old veterans with resumes of double digit annual sacks; with two high draft picks, a 2 and a 3, pushing them. Behind that he has two depth reserves, who are superb ST players. And a few other long shots. By my count that is likely 4 or 5 genuine players for that OLB corps.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2010
  25. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Great points.
    To expand pass rusher/43 DE./34 OLB is one position where overpowering and outquicking the opponent are both parts of the job. If you think about it the combination of power and speed/quickness is probably more important there than any other spot.
    If you run a 1 gap 43, you can throw that guy at DE and even if he turns out a little phycially weak, you can get plays out of his quickness.
    The problem with evaluating the future 34 OLBs is that there are MANY players strong enough to overpower college OL who cant do it in the NFL, and many that can outquick a lot of college OL but can't in the NFL. Gives you twice the chance to miss in your evaluation.
    What I have seen the most of is the guy who is strong enough at the college level to dominate, but when he gets to the NFL he is dealing with the best of the guys who outweigh him by 50 lbs, and he loses that edge, and his game disappears. This is what happened to Gholston.

    It is a very difficult position to play, and it takes a unique skillset. The coverage is not that big a deal really, its the combination of beating an OT consistently in the pass rush and also being able to hold up on the edge in 2 gap run D. You have to be both quicker and stronger than the typical guy of your size and build.
  26. sbpatfan

    sbpatfan Banned

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    Jermaine Cunningham 6'3 266#
    Shawn Crable 6'5 243#
  27. reamer

    reamer Rookie

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    . . . and . . . ?

    Not sure I know what you're trying to say. :confused:
  28. Marqui

    Marqui Rookie

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    Wow, thats nice. Thanks for linking that.
  29. Kasmir

    Kasmir Rookie

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    Thanks to Reamer's video posting, I've now been able to closely watch Cunningham (as well as the other Patriots draftees) through six of Florida's games from the 2009 season (Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt).

    My impressions, for what they're worth, is that Cunningham is a quietly impressive player, the best defensive player on the Florida team in those games save possibly Joe Haden (who is hard to evaluate from the limited perspective of TV coverage).

    Cunningham is quite a versatile player, lining up almost interchangeably at both LDE and RDE Florida's scheme, almost always in a 3-point stance, but drops into both zone and man coverage surprisingly often. He's by far the most consistent pass rusher on the team (Dunlap takes lots of plays off) and has a great first step, good closing speed, and excellent situational awareness. In addition to his sacks, he generates a ton of hurries, certainly far more than anyone else on the team.

    What was more surprising to me was how well he plays against the run. He consistently is able to 2-gap OT's and shows excellent strength and awareness. He gets blown out by double teams sometimes, but that's not surprising given his size. I actually came away believing this guy could well play blindside DE in an NFL 4-3 and acquit himself well. It's certainly easy to see why the Pats think his conversion to 3-4 OLB could be successful . I didn't notice him playing from a 2-point stance much at all, but as I said, he actually often dropped into coverage, even man coverage, from a 3-point stance, and his ability to play either side of the line is quite encouraging as to his versatility. I'm looking forward to seeing him in camp.

    On a negative note, Spikes was mediocre in the games I watched. Announcers were even pointing this out and attributing it across the season to a variety of injuries they said he had; I believe an achilles injury early on and a hamstring injury later. Spikes was misdiagnosing plays and missing tackles surprisingly often. Certainly Rolando McClain was the vastly more impressive player in the head-to-head game. Spikes certainly brought quite a reputation into the 2009 season, but at least in the games I watched he didn't live up to it for whatever reasons. Hopefully we'll get the Spikes of 2007 and 2008.

    I won't comment much on Hernandez's play, as again it's hard to evaluate from TV coverage, other than to say his blocking is mediocre as advertised. He's quite lanky and lacks explosion and motivation in his blocking. Looks more like a big WR than a TE. Of course he did make a couple of nice receptions downfield.

    Tebow is quite impressive, and I wish the Pats had been able to pick him up. I don't know how long he'll last as a running QB in the NFL, but he's an extraordinary weapon as the man can also really throw the ball and he reads coverages exceptionally well for a college QB.

    Based only on the Florida/Alabama game, I'd say that Deaderick in the NFL will be a JAG. I don't think he can beat out Pryor or Brace, let alone Lewis, Wright, or either of the Warrens.
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2010
  30. Calciumee

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    Thanks... ;)
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