Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Alex Hall

***

It is finally time to talk about Alex Hall.  I was going to post this on Monday, but the Eagles and Redskins conspired against me and let the McNabb trade go down.  What jerks.  

I popped in a pair of game tapes from 2008.  I watched part of a game from 2009, but Hall was nowhere to be found.  Apparently he got lost in the shuffle when Rob Ryan became the Defensive Coordinator.  Hall's biggest advocate was GM Phil Savage, who wasn't around in '09.  More on Phil later. 

So let's get to Hall and what I saw.  He was the backup SAM.  The Browns were high on him so they got him regular playing time.  He would get on the field in the late 1st quarter or early 2nd.  He would play a few series and then Willie McGinest would come back on the field.  The Browns let Hall play no matter the score or situation.  They really wanted to develop him as a player. 

Hall has a good frame.  They list him at 6'5, 250.  He looks a little skinny...maybe 240.  Solid run defender.  Fights to hold the point of attack.  Does need to get stronger.  Sloppy with his hands.  Hall has pretty good feet.  He's agile for a tall guy.  There was one play that stood out.  He dropped back on a pass play and started to the middle of the field, shadowing a receiver.  Hall then saw the QB start to go wide.  The receiver had continued crossing the field so Hall then went out wide to mirror the QB.  The QB had no one open and started to run.  Hall stopped, came upfield, and tackled the QB for only a minimal gain.  Good play in the open field.  It wasn't a great tackle, but was pretty solid.  The play looked like the Wave Drill that gets done at the Scouting Combine.  Teams want to see a player backpedal, then move laterally, and then finally come back up the field.  Hall did all of that and looked good on the move.  He's not silky smooth, but didn't look mechanical at all. 

I thought Hall showed real potential as a cover guy.  He's not instinctive out there, but never looked lost.  He got good depth on his pass drops.  With more experience he could develop solid coverage skills.  He has the physical ability. 

The Browns were somewhat creative with him.  There were times when he lined up on the slot receiver.  He was a stand-up SAM most of the time.  He did play DE in the Nickel and Dime units on some plays.  I didn't think he stood out as a pass rusher.  Hall has some quickness off the ball, but didn't show explosion.  He did have 3 sacks and 2 FFs as a rookie.  Unfortunately I didn't get to see those games.  Hall played on STs.  He's got the length and speed to be good on coverage units.  Word around the NFL campfire is that one of the concerns the Browns had is that he hadn't become a better STs player.  Bobby April is the best STs coach in the league.  If anyone can get him going it will be Bobby. 

Let's talk about Hall vs Gocong.  We drafted Chris in 2006 and wanted to convert him from DE to LB.  Gocong developed into an effective 4-3 SAM, but never showed us the potential that we'd seen prior to the draft.  He went from raw project to effective starter.  He's now 27 years old.  I'm not sure that he can change much more.  I think that is why we dealt him to a 3-4 team.  Hall is about to turn 25.  We're getting him with some built in LB experience.  With work he can easily get to the "effective starter" level.  We don't know what his ceiling is.  Hall looks like a more natural LB than Gocong.  That's something you have or you don't.  There is a definite possibility that Hall could become a good 4-3 SAM. He'll likely be a role player this year, but I'll be disappointed if he doesn't give Moise Fokou a good challenge up at Lehigh. 


KING ON HALL

Peter King had some interesting stuff on Alex.  He wrote this prior to the 2008 Draft.

This was crazy. Instead of huddling with his gathered scouts in Berea and massaging the draft board, Savage hopped a 10 a.m. flight to Baltimore, rented a car, drove 24 miles to Prince George's Community College, set up four orange cones on a chewed-up open field, and shook hands with one of the most marginal prospects in the 2008 draft: St. Augustine (N.C.) College outside linebacker Alex Hall.
The draft was three days away, and here was Savage, looking at a player he might take in the seventh round, or try to sign as a longshot free-agent. Why? Because Savage trusts his scouts, and one of his pups on the staff, 25-year-old scout Bobby Vega, told him this was the one second-day guy of the linebackers he scouted who could make an impact this year and eventually -- possibly -- be the bookend pass-rusher to Kamerion Wimbley the Browns needed.
Savage had watched some tape and seen production and good speed (26 sacks in three small-college seasons), but now, before committing a precious pick to Hall, needed to see him. Savage placed a football at the end of the line of cones and asked Hall to run in S-curves through the cones and back. Hall ran through the cones, and without being told scooped up the ball in full stride and ran back. The athleticism stunned Savage. He didn't need to see anything else. Vega was right. Hall had a chance to fill a Cleveland void, and he might last 'til the seventh round.

7 comments:

Steven said...

What's your thoughts on Macho Harris? Do you think he is a capable starter or is he better suited as a backup? Do you think he and Demps have a shot at being the RCB?

Kevin said...

Why do you think the Eagles took a 4th/5th + Hall instead of say 3rd/4th witout him. Is he really worth the difference between a 3 and a 5?

He doesn't seem like a starter to me. He screams talented backup. With his frame though, he should be MUCH better on ST than he is. Cleveland routinely has a top 5 unit, so it's not like he was badly coached.

bthackra said...

Tommy,
Interesting comments on the OL in a previous post. Which 3rd-4th-5th rd OTs out there that would be good OG for us and back up LT if necessary? Any intriguing small school guys?

Knowing the way the Eagles value certain positions, what is something you think fans may be surprised about on draft day that is not 'mainstream' yet?

Netherman said...

PE.com had posted the conditions for the McNabb pick next year going from 4 to 3 and one was "McNabb goes to the Pro Bowl". Do you think that means physically goes (i.e. he could be voted in but decline to attend, and we are out the pick), must be voted in as a primary? The wording of these I am sure can get tricky. Would be interesting (not in a good way) if McNabb gets the last laugh denying us a higher pick because he chooses to skip the pro bowl. Hopefully, Andy sends him a fruit basket just in case.

Jason said...

@Netherman,
I was thinking the same thing. I was also curious about the scenario that occurred this year where a player couldn't go due to the Superbowl, then a bunch more decided not to go for whatever reason, which ultimately led to a bunch of QBs getting invited. In that case, if McNabb is one of the players that is invited, does it still move the pick to a 3rd rounder.

If that ends up being the case, the ultimate scenario in my mind would be to have Kolb selected to the pro bowl (not saying he will, this is just a hypothetical), and us making it to the Superbowl, forcing him to not attend and leading to McNabb being invited. :-D

Ezra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ezra said...

@Kevin

Um, not to be a smart-ass, but the Eagles probably took the Hall package because the DID think he was the difference. Savage's voice obviously didn't hurt the support.

@Netherman

Under your worst case scenario, would McNabb's inability to attend the ProBowl due to injury also stop the pick from upgrading? It must, and I mean must, simply mean invitation.