NFC South: Haloti Ngata

Breaking down DTs with Todd McShay

April, 18, 2012
4/18/12
12:47
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A lot of people think the Carolina Panthers will take a defensive tackle with their top pick (No. 9 overall) in the first round. If they do decide to go in that direction, there’s still the question of which one they would take.

The names you hear as candidates in that area of the draft are Mississippi State’s Fletcher Cox, Memphis’ Dontari Poe and LSU’s Michael Brockers.

Let’s turn to ESPN draft guru Todd McShay for a breakdown of those three defensive tackles. He’s got Cox at the top of his list.

“Fletcher Cox, the more tape I watch, the more he just grew on me, and I love his versatility,’’ McShay said in a recent conference call with the national media. “I think he plays the game hard. I think he can rush the passer both from the inside and the outside, different styles, more of a three technique. On the outside he seals the edge and is stronger at the point of attack than when he plays on the inside, but I also see some ability to get off the quarterback with power moves and leverage moves as a left defensive end type or a 3-4 defensive end, as well, on occasion. I think he's the best of the group, I really do, and I think he'll continue to get better."

McShay also said he’s high on Brockers, but doesn’t see him as a finished product.

“I realize that he has some maturing to do, both as a football player and just as a young man, and I think that he shows a lot of potential, but he's not quite there yet,’’ McShay said. “But I think he's going to get stronger. I see some power in his game. I think he can be a really good 3-4 defensive end or play defensive tackle, possibly even nose tackle depending on the scheme, and I think he's the second best defensive tackle.’’

McShay isn’t nearly as high on Poe, who seemed to gain a lot of attention after an impressive workout at the scouting combine.

“I see the workout numbers, and I found myself wanting and waiting and wishing and hoping is what I keep saying,’’ McShay said. “Every single play I watched from Memphis, just hoping that he would make a big play. He will disrupt and he'll be involved in some plays, but for a guy that you're talking about potential top-10, top 12-pick, I just didn't see the production, and I just didn't see a guy who understands and has a great feel for the game. And that's not to say he won't develop, and he very well may, and one day he may be a junior Haloti Ngata. But Haloti Ngata coming out was a much better football player than Dontari Poe is right now, and that scares me, and that's why I've dropped him to where he is as the third best defensive tackle, somewhere in kind of the middle range.’’

Primer on franchise players

June, 16, 2011
6/16/11
11:00
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With optimism rising on the labor front, the fine folks at ESPN Stats & Information have sent out a free-agency primer to help us prepare for whenever the league year starts.

I’ll be sharing bits and pieces of that with you over the coming days to help us all get ready for what should be a very busy free-agent season. We’ll start with the franchise tag and, keep in mind, we don’t know with absolute certainty that the tags will be valid in the new agreement.

But the tag traditionally has been used to protect marquee players and that entails the offer of a one-year contract equal to the average of the top five salaries at that player’s position or 120 percent of that player’s previous year's salary, whichever is greater. Teams can designate a player as an “exclusive” or “non-exclusive” franchise player.

Here’s the definition on those two categories.

Exclusive franchise players: players who have been offered a one-year contract equal to the average of the top five salaries at their position for the current year or the average of the top five salaries at their position at the end of last season or 120 percent of their previous year's salary, whichever is greatest. Exclusive franchise players cannot sign with another club.

Non-exclusive franchise players: players who have been offered a one-year contract equal to the average of the top five salaries at their position at the end of last season or 120 percent of their previous year's salary, whichever is greater. Can negotiate with other clubs but current team has the opportunity to match any offer. If they do not, they will receive two first-round draft picks from player’s new team as compensation.

Prior to the lockout, 14 teams designated franchise players, including the Carolina Panthers with center Ryan Kalil. That ties the record, set in 2009, for the most use of the franchise tag since free agency began in 1993. Only Indianapolis’ Peyton Manning and Philadelphia’s Michael Vick were given exclusive franchise tags.

Here’s a list of players who were given the franchise tag and whether or not they signed the tender.

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