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NFL rookie revelations from minicamp
Rex Ryan recently busted out the Chris Farley air quotes at a news conference to use the expression “OTA champions.”
Mike McCarthy told us on Sirius NFL Radio that this has been the best offseason program the Packers have ever had since he’s been in Green Bay.
Don’t ever laugh at the importance of June football and how it can shape a season. Just look at all the work Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees have put in over the years.
We give you nine minicamp rookie revelations, SCHEIN 9 style of course.
1. Good to “Koa”
I think that one of the biggest rookie developments in minicamps this spring has been rookie linebacker Koa Misi running with the first team of the Miami Dolphins.
I love this cat. Misi was a star at Utah and will thrive under new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. Miami said good-bye to both Jason Taylor and Joey Porter this offseason, yet the team believes they are better on defense. I happen to agree with this assessment.
Misi proved worthy of being a first-teamer. I think he will shock the world with close to eight sacks and a Brian Orakpo-like effect on the Dolphins. His veteran teammates raved about his performance.
2. “Bryan Bulaga is coming along”
That’s exactly what Mike McCarthy told me this past week.
I think the authorities in Green Bay still have a warrant out for McCarthy and Ted Thompson for stealing the Iowa tackle in the draft, who should’ve been a top 15 pick in the April draft. Bulaga was a finished product playing for Kirk Ferentz at Iowa.
McCarthy was smartly non-committal about Bulaga’s role for the upcoming season. But with aging veterans at tackle and an offensive line that was way too leaky in pass protection, Bulaga will play. He can play guard and I predict Bulaga will start at tackle by midseason. And that will be great news for Aaron Rodgers in a potential MVP season and those who own Aaron Rodgers in their fantasy leagues.
3. C.J. Spiller has sizzle and savvy
We all knew the Clemson rookie could fly. And his strength at running back was very underrated and underappreciated during the draft process.
Spiller has opened eyes at Bills minicamp, impressing everyone in lovely Western New York with not only his performance on the field, but his sponge-like quality to pick up the playbook. Spiller is a bright guy and a football junkie. His work ethic has turned heads in Buffalo and puts him in position to make an immediate impact as a runner, receiver and returner this season.
4. Taylor Mays, tailor made
Niners defensive coordinator Greg Manusky agreed with our take when we chatted on Sirius NFL Radio. San Francisco did in fact get a third first-round talent when they plucked Mays in Round 2.
Mays performed like a dominant player in 2008. He slipped a bit in 2009. With Manusky pushing him, and the defensive coordinator likes his work ethic, Mays will get back to his playmaking ways as a neophyte in the NFL.
5. “Raven” about Baltimore’s rookies
Arguably, the Ravens picked a pair of first-round caliber players when they added Texas' Sergio Kindle and Alabama's Terrence Cody in the second round. And even with the Baltimore defense loaded with talent, the second-rounders have proven in minicamp they can play right away.
Cody will stuff the run on first and second round. Kindle is more than OK medically and will rush the passer in Greg Mattison’s defense. head coach John Harbaugh was very pleased how Kindle dropped back in coverage and back peddled during practice, while Mattison went out of his way to praise Cody for his June performance.
6. Full Deck of Cards
Once again, Rod Graves, Steve Keim and the Cardinals had a sensational NFL Draft. But I love how head coach Ken Whisenhunt is curbing the enthusiasm, pushing his rooks, telling us that thus far they “look exactly like rookies look.” Whisenhunt stresses that first-round pick Dan Williams is in a rotation at defensive tackle. And sure, there’s truth to that.
But even with Williams swimming a bit in minicamp, we anticipate the run stuffer will do just that for the Cards starting in Week 1.
7. Mixed bag for Tebow
Tim Tebow had a bit of a hitch in his delivery, but the coaches believe the issue will be solved. And Josh McDaniels made a point to say Kyle Orton was the team’s starting quarterback.
But Tebow really impressed his teammates with his hard work and dedication during minicamp practices, which to me comes as no surprise.
8. Williams wall
When we talked to Redskins tight end Chris Cooley on Sirius NFL Radio, he had great things to say about the ‘natural fit’ tackle Trent Williams appears to be in Washington. In the ensuing days, coaches and teammates gushed as well. Trent Williams is Ryan Clady, who became an instant star for the Broncos at left tackle under Shanahan
9. Instant impact
I went to Jets mincamp last week and saw Kyle Wilson back on special teams. He instantly makes the Jets better as a return specialist while also proving to be a major upgrade as the nickel corner.