Rookie Report Card: Week Ten


In my weekly column, we take a longer look at two more rookies.  I compare their performance to date against my original expectations of them.  Let’s continue the 2013 series by looking back at two St. Louis Rams in their linebacker Alec Ogletree and running back Zac Stacy.

Alec Ogletree, LB STL

Here is what I saw in college from Ogletree:  The young linebacker plays on both inside and outside, which is a rarity.  Ogletree finds the ball quickly; however, he over pursues at times. He is not as physical of a linebacker as most teams would like playing inside, but he is athletic enough with the speed and vision to recover from most mistakes. Ogletree possesses the quickness/agility of a true sideline to sideline player with good instincts to anticipate where the ball will be.  He needs to get more physical by taking on blockers and shedding them instead of trying to just maneuver out of their way.  The linebacker has a few demons as he got arrested for driving under the influence right before the Combine and missed several games for violating  the drug policy in college. I am hopeful he can put it all together as Ogletree is one of his class’ best linebacker prospects.

This is what I saw from Ogletree against the Colts: The young linebacker has great trail ability to chase down possible receiving threats.  He does a good job of breaking down and getting to the ball quickly, including blowing up wide receiver bubble screens near the line of scrimmage. Ogletree reads the offensive lines blocks to decipher where the play is going.  There were a few times where the young play maker needed to step up and engage the blockers, then shed them to get to the ball carrier.  Instead the linebacker let the blockers get into his body which slowed down his pursuit.

Ogletree spends more time in pass coverage than rushing the passer. When he blitzed, the defender never seemed to be fully committed to getting to the quarterback as if he never thought that he would get there in time.  The young backer was effective covering Coby Fleener most of the day, but that got assisted by the rest of the defense pressuring Andrew Luck. Donald Brown coming out of the backfield gave him a few fits as Ogletree lost sight of Brown on one reception when the offensive linemen got between the two of them.  The running back also juked Ogletree out of another tackle which led to Brown scoring a touchdown in the red zone.

The linebacker disrupted a few pass patterns right on the line of scrimmage where he could manhandle his prey.  Short crossing patterns seemed to give him a bit of trouble as Trent Richardson got he better of him on a couple.  Despite those mistakes, Ogletree is an effective strong side linebacker who has enough athletic gifts to be a middle or weak side backer in a season or two.  The young backer helped out on special teams as he threw a great block on a 98 yard punt return for a touchdown when he destroyed the Colts punter.  Ogletree is a strong dynasty LB3 right now, but he could develop into a LB2 or perhaps more in time.

stacyZac Stacy, RB STL

These are some of the observations of Stacy during his time in college: While Stacy can run out of a single back set for most of the time, he does well running out of the wildcat formation. His downfield vision is impressive as it makes it easier for the young back to read the running lanes that his offensive line creates. Stacy will either make the first defender miss or shrug them off using his strong upper body. The young back makes himself small in the hole, uses strong leg drive (love the way he picks up his feet), and always leans forward for extra yardage. In the passing game, Stacy is a better receiver than a blocker, but gives full effort and could be coached up. He was one of my standout players at the East/West Shrine Game practices and was willing to return punts or kickoffs, whatever it took to see the field.  I expect Stacy to be a part of a running back by committee in the NFL.

Here is what I gleamed during Stacy’s game against the Colts: His stat line shouldn’t impress you (26 carries for 62 yards, a rushing touchdown, and two receptions for six yards).  Stacy is a volume runner as he gets what is blocked and can power through for a little more if you need it.  The young back has strong leg drive and will throw in a little shoulder shake every once in a while. He is agile, possesses quick feet, always leans forward and picks up his feet.

Stacy makes sure to drop his shoulder to take on defenders as he wants to deliver as much pain as he receivers. On a few of his runs, the defense got the better of him too which slowed him down.  The young back tried to be the lowest man in the hole to gain the most leverage as this worked out on his power carry getting into the end zone as he kept his legs churning throughout the run. Stacy did have a fumble earlier in the game, but that was his quarterback’s fault as he knocked the ball off his shoulder pad instead of near his stomach.  He shows no preference to running inside or outside the tackles.  The young runner’s effectiveness waned in the later stages of the game as the defense knew he would be getting carry after carry due to the high Rams point total.

He isn’t just a thumper though, as he also does well in the passing game.  He makes his way quickly into the flat on designed pass patterns or when called upon, Stacy steps up to attack rushers when he is there to protect his quarterback.  Unlike most backs his age, Stacy keeps the play going by blocking downfield when someone else catches the ball.   He has soft hands and does well when working with open space.  Chances are Stacy will not be a true volume back for years on end as his skill level is not elite as he does not do anything exceptionally well.  I see him as a strong RB2 for this season and a dynasty flex play until the Rams get a better prospect in town.

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