A quick rundown of the newest pro Scarlet Knights.
Kenny Britt - Tennessee fans may be confused after reading all of the varying scouting reports out there. Specifically; the Titans just cut Pacman Jones, and now they're going after player alleged to have an inflated self-image? Well, he has a right to be confident on the field. He's that good. It doesn't show up on the stat line (which are largely terrific), but Britt is a terror on the field. He plays with incredible swagger and larger than life confidence.
That does not mean that he's a showboat, or a me-first guy. Far from it. But when he steps on the field, his attitude is that he's better than the guy covering him. And he's going to prove it. By, as Jason McCourty would say, running through his opponent. He doesn't look to avoid defenders with the ball in his hands; he actively seeks them out, for the sole purpose of destroying them in an act of sheer brutality.
He's a nice athlete, a good route runner, and has above average hands. I'v read some concerns about his catching technique, but the knocks on him that he dropped too many balls in 2008 or got off to a slow start are as overblown as the supposed character concerns. Britt carried Rutgers on his back all season long. Tennessee has a thin depth chart at wideout, which should afford Britt the opportunity to see the field sooner rather than later.
I was listening to Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher on NFL Radio Sunday evening talking about the fact that Rutgers wide receiver Kenny Britt was so appealing to the Titans because he spent his entire college career running NFL-style routes down the field - instead of the bubble screens that have become so prevalent in the college game today.
As one last note, I actually have heard second hand that he can be a little off-beat at times, but nothing about Kenny being a bad person. I didn't want to say anything until after the draft about that, it might be the reason why the off-the-field chatter snowballed. I don't think it's a big deal though, and the specifics didn't take anything away from my sheer awe at his play every week.
Mike Teel - Teel landed in a great situation in Seattle, where Matt Hasselbeck is on the wrong side of thirty, and the front office is starting to think about the long term future of the position. Undoubtedly, Teel had an up and down career at Rutgers. At times he looked like an All-American, and in other games he struggled with accuracy, decision making, and touch on his passes. Scouts love his intelligence and leadership, and believe that some of his problems as a thrower stem from (correctable) mechanical flaws.
The Scarlet Knight fanbase is generally appreciative of Teel, but there remains a vocal minority that didn't care for his play. I can remember back in 2006, roaming the streets of New Brunswick following a win over USF, where students were literally calling for his head in the streets. And this was following a win.
The local media is fond of him, but the rest of the country actually thought he held back Rutgers during the past few years, which was nonsense. One thing's for sure: Teel's Facebook wall took quite a beating at times. I was stunned that several, far worse, quarterbacks received invitations to the Senior Bowl and Shrine Game over Teel. His late rise up draft boards, and subsequent drafting over many of them represent a vindication in that respect.
Jason McCourty - He had a solid career at Rutgers, but badly struggled in 2008, making several mental mistakes as opposing defenses routinely picked on him when left alone in man coverage. It was confounding; Rutgers was breaking in a new defensive backs coach, but McCourty was universally seen as heady and sharp. He's also a great character player, and routinely displayed top-notch athleticism, which is what ultimately convinced the Titans to take a flier on him I suspect. There are no bad picks in the sixth and seventh rounds. This was a gamble worth taking. Will get a look returning kicks.
Courtney Greene - Greene's stock fell off after he got to a bad start in 2008, but it was still a surprise to see him slide all the way to the seventh round. Following the departure of the team's other starting safety Ron Girault, depth chart needs forced Greene to play more of a coverage role early in the season, and he struggled in the role. Greene's play came on during the second half of the season, where he started to look like his old self again.
Greene will play strong safety in the NFL, and he's best used creeping into the box to stuff the run. His biggest strength is a propensity to force turnovers. Courtney first cracked the lineup as a true freshman, and was a four-year starter. He was overall a very good player barring one bad half season, and I think that the Seahawks got a huge steal to land him that late on the second day. He's landing in a good situation in Seattle. They have one of the worst starting safeties in the NFL in Brian Russell. Despite being a seventh round pick, it wouldn't be a surprise at all to see Greene stick, and even earn playing time as a rookie,
Tiquan Underwood - Underwood shares several factors in common with a couple players listed above. Like Teel and McCourty, he is very smart, and personable off the field. His fortunes too mirrored the overall team's in 2008. In the first half, with Rutgers getting off to a 1-5 start, Underwood could not have played more poorly, dropping many easy catches.
He came on as the season progressed, and finished the year on a high note. Underwood too tested very well at the Combine and at his pro day. He still has a lot of untapped potential, and that's the kind of roll of the dice that is common in the later rounds of the draft. He'll probably be used more out of the slot in the NFL, in more of a deep threat role than he was accustomed to in college. He'll also get a look returning kicks and as a gunner.
Kevin Malast - Malast is another good athlete in this bunch, and played well last season. I suspect that he would have been drafted had he likewise excelled in 2007. He profiles as a speedy weakside linebacker in Chicago's Tampa-2 defensive scheme, and could make his name on special teams.
Kevin Brock - One of the many stars of RU's pro day. Brock is a decent blocker, and showed good athleticism at Rutgers. He did not play particularly poorly in 2008, but lost his starting job at midseason to his underclassman backup. I think that happened mainly because Shamar Graves was about as good as Brock, and still had two-plus years of eligibility to improve. He'll be primarily a developmental pass-catching tight end for the Panthers.
Jamaal Westerman - Westy still has a bit of untapped potential, and will have more opportunities to get to the quarterback as an outside linebacker in the Jets' 3-4 defense. He has the quick first step that 3-4 teams look for in their pass rushers. On the field, he had a decent career at Rutgers. His rush was inconsistent at times, but that may have been because Greg Schiano brought pressure and blitzes from all over the field, and also liked to generate it from the defensive tackles. Jamaal had a breakout season in 2006, but never seemed to take the next step after that.
Pete Tverdov - Based solely on 2008, he's the second best player on this list. Now I know how Texas Tech fans must feel, because what Rutgers does with its front four and blitzes is as peculiar as Captain Mike Leach's passing game. Tverdov was a great penetrating one-gap defensive tackle for two years, but would certainly have to move to end in the pros. Would have played end with any other team, or even outside linebacker had he been in a 3-4. There's no justice if he doesn't at least get a cup of coffee in some team's minicamp. Unfortunately, there's been some talk that he may not pursue football at the next level.