Player Notes: Gray, Lindley, Tate

* I recently watched some tape of Texas A&M RB Cyrus Gray. He is 5’10, 200 and coming off a very good Junior season. Gray was only so-so early in the year, but was red hot down the stretch. He finished with impressive numbers, going 200-1133-12. He also caught 34 passes and did okay on KORs.

Gray is a speed back. He’s not a finesse player that goes down on first contact, but he’s definitely a guy that wants to bounce runs out wide when he can. Gray is effective up the middle on draw plays from the spread set, but is better in space than between the tackles. He doesn’t show anything special in terms of vision or instincts.

I think Gray could be an excellent complementary back, but I don’t see him as a starter based on the tape I watched. Pair him with a bigger buy / power runner and you’d have a good NFL combo.

* San Diego State’s Ryan Lindley is one of my favorite QB prospects heading into the 2011 season. He has good size at 6’4, 230. Lindley has a strong arm and shows good accuracy on his deep balls. I also like the fact he played in Brady Hoke’s system. That’s more of a pro style offense and lets the QB throw vertically instead of hitting WR screen after WR screen. Hoke moved on to Michigan so it will be interesting to see how Lindley does in his Senior year. Really good player with big time potential.

* Kenny Tate is a really interesting player. He had a great season in 2010 as a LB/S hybrid. His position title was SS, but he spent most of the time up on the LOS. New coach Randy Edsall has moved him entirely to LB.

Tate (listed at 6’4, 220) came to Maryland as a WR. He was moved to SS because there was a logjam at WR and the coaches wanted him on the field. Good decision by them. And good of Tate to embrace the decision and develop into an impact defender.

Last year Tate had 100 total tackles, 3.5 sacks, 4 FFs, and 3 INTs. He was definitely a stat sheet stuffer. He asked the NFL for an evaluation, but didn’t like what they told him. The problem is that he was an oversized SS that didn’t have the skills to play there. We see guys like that all the time.

Tate is lucky that Edsall is moving him to LB. This gives him a year to show NFL scouts and coaches what he can do at that spot full times. A lot of people make the mistake of assuming big SS types can just be converted to LBs. Nope. Thomas Davis is special. He is one of the most physical players I’ve ever seen. He had no qualms with taking on OL. Davis wanted to mix it up with anyone he could. Guys like Taylor Mays love to hit receivers that aren’t paying attention, but taking on big blockers in traffic is a whole other story. Suddenly those kind of guys go from physical players to finesse players.

Not everyone has a LB mentality. I can’t say for sure if Tate does, but I am impressed with what I’ve seen from him. He’s a good tackler. He looks comfortable playing in the box. Tate can fly off the edge, but also looks right at home taking on a RB in heavy traffic between the tackles. I do love watching him attack downhill on running plays where he lines up deep. Tate flies upfield to attack the RB. He fills the alley in a hurry. There is no hesitation. Tate is generally a wrap-up tackler, but sometimes he gets going too fast and can be a bit out of control. This won’t be as much of a factor when he’s playing up close to the LOS all the time. Tate has excellent closing speed and definitely puts his targets down with authority.

Tate’s cover skills are much better suited to LB than S. He likes to press and jam receivers when he can. He’s not as good playing off in a deep zone. He shows good awareness on underneath routes.

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