Tuesday, 6 August 2013

40 Players in 40 Days: Numbers 33-28

As a result, of my life circumstances I am now way behind on the Pac-12 Top 40 Players countdown and as a result, I'm going through a bunch of names with only abbreviated explanations today. The blog had to take an unfortunate sacrifice in the past week and a half and this is the consequence. I'm going to release the next six players in the countdown today and more multi-player posts this week in order to get caught up and do the full blog posts that the top 20 players deserve. Before we get to today's big rundown, here's a recap of the list so far, which I can use myself.

40. WR Chris Harper, Cal
39. OLB/S Dion Bailey, USC
38. S Alden Darby, Arizona State
37. OT Tyler Johnstone, Oregon
36. DE Chidera Uzo-Diribe, Colorado
35. S Deon Bucannon, Washington State
34. LB Shaq Thompson, Washington

33. Taylor Hart
Quick, who led the Ducks last season in sacks? You're first instinct would probably be Dion Jordan, the former All-American pass rusher who was drafted third overall by the Miami Dolphins. It was actually Hart, who tallied eight sacks and played his role within the Ducks defense perfectly. I cant think of anyone else in the conference who is a better system fit than Hart. The Ducks run a 3-4 that is predicated on using height, length, and athleticism at the point of attack. Hart is a beast at 6-6, 292 pounds and uses his size to its utmost potential. He occupies space beautifully, commanding double teams and giving the linebackers behind him freedom to make plays. As a fifth year senior who didn't really break into the lineup until last year you have to wonder about his athletic upside and whether he has reached his ceiling. he also has highly talented sophomore Deforest Buckner hot on his tail searching for more playing time which prevents him from being higher on the list. But, the bottom line is that Hart is a very good and effective player who knows his role on the team and fills it perfectly.

32. Deandre Coleman
Coleman is an interesting guy because his talent and dynamism is undeniable but it just doesn't seem like he has the right fit anywhere. He had the right size to play Nose Tackle and Clancy Pendergast's 3-4 but didnt like it there. He had the athletic upside to play one of the end spots and produce but he might have been a little too big for that spot and teams were able to just run away from him. With Cal moving to a 4-3, I think Coleman is going to finally find his niche as an interior pass rusher who can anchor against the run. He's had a bit of a star-crossed career so far but I'm looking for Coleman to have a huge season terrorizing backfields in the Pac-12.

31. Terrance Mitchell
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu might be the best corner in the nation and he gets all the hype and praise at Oregon but he couldn't do it without Mitchell. Ifo piled up one of the better stat lines you'll ever see from a CB last season but that had a lot to do with what T-Mitch was doing on the other side of the field. Mitchell's guy was simply never open, leading to teams routinely throwing toward Ekpre-Olomu and paying the price for it. Mitchell is actually a little taller and longer than IEP and has better cover skills. IEP is the superior athlete and playmaker which puts him higher on this list and in the eyes of NFL scouts but the gap isn't as wide as many would imagine.

30. Hroniss Grassu
I personally think Grassu is the best Center in the nation. Grassu has to call out protections and identify blitzes at the line of scrimmage and is also faced with making shotgun snaps 80 times a game in Oregon's blistering offense. A lot can go wrong for a center in shotgun, certainly more than with the QB under center so I think Grassu needs to receive more respect for consistently snapping the ball on target and preventing negative plays from happening at the snap on the ball. He may be the best at his position but he is a little diminutive at 6-2, 290 and gets blown off the ball a little too much for my liking. If he can put on some more weight and play more physically, I would put him higher but I think he has room to improve despite being the best.

29. Henry Anderson
I touched on this in the Tyler Johnstone piece but I think Anderson made the All-Pac 12 team based on one performance so I'm hesitant to put him way up on the list with the likes of Anthony Barr, Scott Crighton or Anderson's teammate Trent Murphy. I do think he has the talent to get up there and perform on that level every week but for now I'm keeping him back in the low 20's. I really like how he uses his strength and long reach. He uses one long arm to keep lineman away from him while using the other arm to go after the ball carrier. It's a rare ability to have and it helps give Anderson one of the highest ceilings in the conference.

28. Kevin Hogan
yes, I have Hogan way down at 28 and I don't have him in the same class as Marcus Mariota, Brett Hundley, or even Taylor Kelly. Look, Hogan was great down the stretch last season, but his sample size was so small, I'm not ready to project him as the next big thing. He didn't take over until week nine and despite going undefeated with him at the helm, don't you think there has to be some warts in his game that prevented him from beating out freshman Josh Nunes for the job out of camp? I've seen this movie too many times in this conference to fall for it again. The guy who comes in midway through a season, puts together a few great games, gets anointed the next great one before he plays a full season, and then regresses drastically. From Kevin Riley, to Nate Longshore, to Rudy Carpenter, to Justin Roper, to Patrick Cowan. I`ve seen this scanario so many times it makes me feel nervous about Hogan.

I still think Hogan will develop into a great player and be much higher on this list next year. but, for now I'm holding him back and waiting to see a larger sample size, just in case he is the next Longshore.

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