Wednesday, April 27, 2011

NFL 2011 Draft Predictions

Since I have started blogging, I am going to comment on my most favorite thing to watch, the NFL Draft.

Although it is marred with labor and lockout talk, the NFL draft is a great thing to watch.  Each player has worked 10-15-20 years of their lives to make it to the ultimate dream:  The National Football League.

Recently, Chicago Tribune writer, former NFL player and Glenbard West Hitter Matt Bowen shared what it was like to be drafted in the 6th round by the St. Louis Rams:

Bowen expressed how tough it was to wait for his name to be called, watching and waiting for the 197 picks before him.  It was nerve racking, gut wrenching, and then finally when his name was called, the roller coaster of emotions skyrocketed to elation!  

This is why I love every aspect of the NFL Draft.  Here is my mock draft (all player profiles are courtesy of  

1.  The Carolina Panthers select.....  Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama    Newton is just too risky!  Gotta take a cornerstone for the defense.
2. The Denver Broncos select....   Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU    Tempted by the QB's out there, the Broncos want to sure up the defense and Champ Bailey isn't getting any younger, so the Broncos take the safest bet here.  
3. The Buffalo Bills select....  Cam Newton, QB, Auburn   The biggest risk in the draft, the Bills have to get some excitement going in Buffalo, Newton brings it.  With Fitzpatrick, Newton can learn how to read NFL defenses for a year or two and then take over.  
4. The Cincinnati Bengals select.... A.J. Green, WR, Georgia  This is a tough one.  The Bengals would love to go defensive, but there are just too many questions on the offense.  Does Palmer come back?  Well having AJ Green to throw the ball too would help out.  A very unpredictable team and draft pick though, if they have given up on Palmer, Gabbert is their guy.   
5. The Arizona Cardinals select....  Von Miller, DE/OLB, Texas A&M    Miller is the best available pick for the Cards.  They also might want to look at Gabbert, but a vet QB is probably a better option. 
6. The Cleveland Browns select....  Julio Jones, WR, Alabama    Too much of a weapon to pass up!  He is a stud and will make Colt McCoy look like one!

7. The San Francisco 49ers select.... Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska    Harbaugh wants to look at a QB, but he understands how bad a CB is needed for the 49ers.  Prince is not too far behind Peterson.  

8. The Tennessee Titans select....  Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri    They are shocked he is there, but happy as can be.  The mobile QB can help solidify a bad QB Situation for the flaming thumbtacks.  
9. The Dallas Cowboys select....  J.J. Watt, DE/DT, Wisconsin    Wisconsin baby!  A lot of people might think Quinn is the choice here, but Watt fits the 3-4 scheme better and will be an asset to the Cowboys.  
10. The Washington Redskins select.... Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn    The hole left by Hanyesworth is too big of an issue, and even though Fairley has struggled in workouts, he played like a stud last year.  Redskins's owner Synder loves the big name.  
11. The Houston Texans select.... Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina    Are you kidding me?  Opposite Mario Williams?  The Texans can't pass this up, even if they are going to a 3-4 defense!
12. The Minnesota Vikings select... Jake Locker, QB, Washington Time for Locker to clean up the Farve mess.  
13. The Detroit Lions select....  Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College    The former high school Bear helps secure the up and coming Lions.  

14. The St. Louis Rams select.... Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue    The Rams want to get a weapon for Bradford, but it is just too much of a reach for a poor group of wideouts.  

15. The Miami Dolphins select....  Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri    Get your rush on!
16. The Jacksonville Jaguars select.... Cameron Jordan, DE, California  Keep getting your rush on!

17. The New England Patriots select.... Mike Pouncey, G, Florida  The Patriots, for the first time in a while, draft where they are supposed too.  Can't pass this one up!

18. The San Diego Chargers select.... Cameron Heyward, DE/DT, Ohio State 2011 might be the year of the D-Lineman (sackmen)!

19. The New York Football Giants select.... Tyron Smith, OT, USC  They can't believe what some people have slated as the #1 OT drops to them at #19.  Ground and pound.  

20. The Tampa Bay Bucs select.... Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson  The Bucs need a rush man, and they are going to gamble on Bowers.  

21. The KC Chiefs select.... Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois  The Chiefs need that big body in the middle, and a lot of scouts believe Liuget, even though he played in a 4-3 in college, can be that big body.  

22. The Indianapolis Colts select...Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin  Picking up Carmini, will help protect the later part of Manning's career.  

23. The Philadelphia Eagles select.... Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado  This is a question of depth, and the Eagles love their CB's.  

24. The New Orleans Saints select....   Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa  A stud who showed some conditioning issues during the season, but will play well across from Will Smith

25. The Seattle Seahawks select.... Muhammad Wilkerson, DE/DT, Temple   This is not the sexiest pick, but the Seahawks address a need here with an athlete.  

26. The Baltimore Ravens select.... Cameron Heyward, DE/DT, Ohio State  Baltimore still prides itself on "D" and Heyward can be the perfect 5 technique for them.  

27. The Atlanta Falcons select.... Nate Solder, OT, Colorado  Protect the franchise!
28. The New England Patriots select....  Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois  New England just knows how to stockpile picks.  I see them taking a RB here to add some depth.  U of I's LeShoure helps "Shoure" up this position.  

29. The Chicago Bears select.... Stephen Paea, NT, Oregon State  The Bears are desperate for an OL and WR, so there for Jerry Angelo will select... a DT.  

30. The New York J-E-T-S Jets! Jets! Jets! select.... Phil Taylor, NT, Baylor    Rex has been patiently waiting for Taylor to drop into his lap (or feet, insert joke here).  

31. The Pittsburgh Steelers select....  Marcus Cannon, G, TCU  The Steelers would love if Pouncey dropped to them, but they have to get some OL help, and Cannon is the man.  

32. The Green Bay Packers select.... Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama    Ryan Grant is coming off of injury and Jackson did not get the complete job done last year.  How about a Heisman Trophy Running Back for the World Champs?

There it is, my first mock draft ever.  These are basically impossible to predict because of trades, but I really did enjoy it.  Here is to the NFL Draft!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

3-5-3 Basics

It is time to breakdown some:

Over the next few weeks I will be breaking down the increasingly popular 3-5 defense, or 3-5 stack.  This defense's roots are based off of the 5-3 defense of the old days, but has been modernized with the evolution of the spread offenses.  The Georgia Military, Air Force, and West Virginia teams helped popularize the defense across the country, and each team has their own tweaks to the offense.  Teams like to play with the 3-5 because of its ability to provide pressure packages and confuse offenses.  These teams are often lacking in size, but they have fast players that are able to get into gaps and disrupt the offensive's flow.  Let's get to the basic alignment:

The 3-5 gets its name for having 3 down linemen, who's positions are as follows:

N-  Noseguard, usually lining up in a 0 or 1 technique
E-  Defensive End, usually lining up in a 4 or 5 technique

There are five "linebackers" who are traditionally faster hybrid safety types that can run to the ball and cover at the same time.  Here are their positions:

Sam-  Strong side stack linebacker, 3 1/2 yards depth in 40 technique
Mike-  Middle linebacker, 5 yards depth in 00 technique
Will- Weak side stack backer,  3 1/2 yards depth in 40 technique
The outside linebackers are a unique part of the defense.  These are players who have to be able to contain the run, and play an important part in the passing defense.  Teams have a variety of names for these positions, ranging from rifle/pistol, jackal/shield, and girls.  For simplicity, I will refer to them as the Lance (left side) and Rover (Right Side):

Lance-  Left outside linebacker, usually in a 90 technique, 2x2 off TE/T
Rover- Right outside linebacker, usually in a 90 technique, 2x2 off TE/T

The defensive secondary is then in a three shell, helping the defense play their base coverage of cover three.  There are three positions:  two corners and one free safety.  

Below is an example of the base defense of a 3-5:

Explanation of techniques and keys for the Base Front

This is a basic start to the 3-5 defense, as I move ahead, I plan to discuss: 
  • Run Fits in the 3-5
  • Blitzes out of the 3-5
  • Coverages out of the 3-5
I look forward to exploring this aggressive, innovative defense in the next few weeks.  As always, check out for the best football coverage on the web.  Send questions/comments or suggestions my way.  Coach Hjorth  

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Counter, Counter, Counter

One of the main reason's that I have chosen Wisconsin's running game to break down is the success it had over the past season.  As shared on one of the best blogs around,, Chris Brown points out the followings statistics that Football Outsiders have broken down.  It is success rate, which is defined as:  

Success Rate: A common Football Outsiders tool used to measure efficiency by determining whether every play of a given game was successful or not. The terms of success in college football: 50 percent of necessary yardage on first down, 70 percent on second down, and 100 percent on third and fourth down.

Here are the top 10 success rates in the last five years:
Ten Best Single-Season Success Rates, 2005-10
1. Hawaii (2006): 60.8%
2. Texas Tech (2008): 56.1%
3. Wisconsin (2010): 55.3%
4. Oklahoma (2008): 55.2%
5. Florida (2007): 55.0%
6. BYU (2008): 54.8%
7. Missouri (2008): 54.7%
8. USC (2005): 54.1%
9. Boise State (2010): 54.0%
10. Texas (2008): 54.0%

credit to:

It is clear that Wisconsin's offense has been extremely successful this past year.  When running a power game with zones and powers like Wisconsin does, defenses often play extremely aggressive.  This brings us to the third part of the Wisconsin running game, the COUNTER.  The Counter employs a standard rule:  The Guard will pull and kick out the EMOLS (End Man On Line of Scrimmage).  The HB will take two counter steps, and then open up receiving the ball from the QB and following the second puller up through the hole, cutting off of their block.  With that being the standard rule, the Badgers can use a variety of pullers to accomplish the same goal:  Success with the counter.

Wisconsin employs three types of Counters, the GT Counter (Guard and Tackle), the GH Counter (Guard and H back) and the GY Counter (Guard and TE).  They use a variety of different formations to run the counter out of.  An example of all three are below.

The GT counter stands for "Guard/Tackle" alerting them that they will both be pulling, the guard kicking out and the tackle leading up on the first threat.

The best thing about the counter is that it can be run to the strength of the formation, or to the weak part of the formation.  This keeps teams guessing on which way the counter will be run.  Below is an example of a Weak GT Counter.

The GH counter stands for "Guard/H-Back" alerting them that they will both be pulling, the guard kicking out and the H-Back (or Fullback) leading up on the first threat.  The changes have been colored coded, the guard is red and the H-Back is purple.

The GY counter stands for "Guard/Y" alerting them that they will both be pulling, the guard kicking out and the Y(or TE) leading up on the first threat.  This requires an athletic Y/TE to get moving on their block.  The advantage of the GY counter, it that you can use multiple formations to get the same result.  Here are two of Wisconsin's more popular formations to run the GY out of:


Through using the zone, power and counter running game, Wisconsin is able to develop one of the best offensive lines and running games in the country.  Their simplicity allows each position player to understand their role and take them to success.  On Wisconsin!

This concludes my breakdown over the Wisconsin Running Game.  As always, check out for the best breakdown of football on the web.  I am open to what is coming up next, send me some feedback, offense or defense?  special teams?  Individual techniques?  Let me know your thoughts...... Coach Hjorth