Picture courtesy of Buccaneers.Com
How many of us watch Vanderbilt football? I would venture to guess only if your team happens to be playing them that day. It is then very hard to judge what kind of player the Buccaneers selected with the 67th overall pick. We have also learned what Raheem Morris thinks about this selection
"I'm really fired up with the movement, I'm really fired up with the size, I'm really fired up with how he prepares himself," said Morris. "He's a smart kid, he understands football. All of those kids from Vanderbilt, you ought to hear these guys talk about football, how much knowledge they have coming from there and how good a job they do out there at Vandy. He's an impressive kid and I look forward to see him getting out there and competing with some of our guys."
To get a comprehensive understanding of Lewis, the type of player he was and the type of player he has potential to be I shot an email over to AnchorOfGold (SBNations Vandebilt Home). They were kind enough to respond with the answers below.
First, Buc'Em sends our condolences for your city. It is one of the finest cities in the nation. We hope and pray for a speedy recovery and help for those who lost people they knew or lost their homes to the flood.
Simply, what are Myron Lewis' strengths and weaknesses?
Lewis's biggest strength was that he is a very intelligent player, who
seems to have a sense for the ball and the ability to sniff out
running plays. He's a big, physical corner with great speed running
downhill and he won't get beaten on the deep ball. Against the run,
his size/strength allows him to shed blockers and make plays close to
the line of scrimmage with solid tackling ability.
His weakness is his fluidity. Lewis's lateral movement and hips are
merely average, and he plays with a jerky style of play on the field.
As a result, good receivers can create separation with crisp routes
for a few moments and a good quarterback/receiver combo can exploit
that -, although Myron's ability to catch up and close on the ball
often masks this inability. He's a very steady player who won't get
burned much and takes away the big play, but he can also get caught on
short routes. As a result, many think that the easiest fix for this is
to move him to safety, though he's a proficient corner who will add
instant value in the Buccaneer secondary.
It seems he is expected to perform well in zones in which he can get physical as opposed to turning and running with guys. What was expected of him in Vanderbilts defense?
From what I can remember, Lewis played in occasional bump and run
packages with zone coverage behind him, but I seem to remember him
playing more man-to-man. His status on Vandy's defense caused many
opposing teams to throw away from him, so often the 'Dores safeties
slumped off of his assignment.
Was he ever asked to blitz? Or was this simply not a part of your defense?
Vandy didn't throw too many corner blitzes at opponents, but Lewis's
side/speed would make him a decent option to supply pressure off the
Because of his length, many projected him as a Safety. As a CB in a T2 you must play low. Does his height hinder or help his game?
Ultimately, his height is a supplement to his game, as his height,
strength, and jumping ability helps make up for his lack of fluidity.
Lewis is a ball hawk, and his physical attributes help make up for his
lack of fluidity and haven't been much of a detriment to his tackling
ability. However, whether that height will remain an advantage in the
next level has yet to be seen.
What CB would you compare him the most to?
The corner I would compare Lewis to is...hmmm...it's tough, but maybe
a bigger version of Shawn Springs - solid across the board, maybe a
bit underrated as a whole. Throw in a little Ty Law for Lewis's
ability to come up with big plays in the biggest games as well.
What is the ceiling for this guy (be honest)?
Lewis's ceiling is probably similar to Springs's as well - a long-term
starter at CB with maybe a couple pro bowl appearances. He'll be
steady and solid for years to come, and his physical style and ability
to make plays will keep him in the lineup, but teams will figure out a
way to exploit his weaknesses for limited success. The biggest
question is if other teams will be able to use his issues with
separation in short routes to predicate a full-time move to safety.
Thanks to his size/ballhawking, he can be successful in either spot.
Again, thanks to TrainIsland at AnchorOfGold.Com for his responses.
There are a couple of reasons I asked the question I asked. First, I wanted to know what kind of defense Lewis was asked to play in. From what I can tell they run a pretty standard college system. They play a large mix of zone and man. They have a 4-3-4, but Defensive Coordinator and DB Coach Jamie Bryant prefers to run an aggressive set of blitzes and coverages. I also wanted to know how Myron Lewis would fit into the Buccaneers defense.
It is reasonable to believe that Elbert Mack, EJ Biggers and Myron Lewis will all compete for the 3rd CB position, or the Nickel Back, during Training Camp. It will most likely be one of, if not THE, hottest competition in camp. However, let's for a minute pretend that Lewis wins out. To than set realistic expectation for Myron Lewis, it is necessary to look at how Elbert Mack performed last year (albeit in a different defense) and how Aqib Talib performed in 2008. These stats are courtesy of FootballOutsiders.
Elbert Macks Standard Stat Line
|Year||Team||Pos||G||GS||Total Tkls||Tkls||Ast||Sack||INT||IntTD||PD||FF||FR||FumTD||Pen||Pen Yards|
Advanced State Line
|Plays||Stops||Defeats||Yds/Play||Rank||Stop Rate %
||Rank||Adj Team Play Total %||Rank||Run/Pass Ratio|
The biggest take away here should be his stop rate and his defeats. For information on exactly what these are please read this FootballOutsiders Glossary. Defeats are essentially a DB making a play. I hardly consider a tackle on First or Second down a play. While it's impressive, defeats are preventing first-downs.
I would also say that it's fair to expect Myron Lewis to have slightly more defeats (5-7) and at least 5 or more "Stops." I also think a successful year for Lewis would be around a 35% Stop Rate and about 8.5 YPP. This would put him somewhere in the Top 65 CB's. Considering there is 64 starting Corners and he is a rookie, thats a pretty solid rookie year. The 29 plays involved in is pretty standard for a Nickel-Back. Need evidence? See below for Talibs stats from 2008. In regards to Football Outsiders , you need 30 plays to be ranked, but that's fairly irrelevant.
Further statistics would also show that Mack gave up 16 receptions on 20 pass plays and made 3 stops. I don't want to make too many assumptions from these numbers, but from watching Mack and looking at these numbers I feel safe it coming to the conclusion that Mack was consistently out of position and routinely mismatched against faster slot receivers.
Maybe a better projection model would be Aqib Talib in his rookie year. The two players have been compared to each other due to their similar style of play and body types. It also gives us a better glimpse of what to expect from a nickel-back in a Tampa 2. In the Tampa 2, the nickel-back is asked to come in during passing situations and either to play man-up (which will not bode well for Lewis) or to cover the same area you would see the Sam or Will play, only deeper and further out ot the flats. A lot of time the Nickel is used to cover the flats in Corner switches or blitzes. Also, depending on match-ups you may see a mixture of Mack, Biggers and Lewis taking the 3rd CB role. Anyhow, here are Talib's numbers from '08.
|Plays||Stops||Defeats||Yrds/Play||Rank||Stop Rate%||Rank||Adj Total Team %||Rank||Run/Pass Ratio|
Standard statistics would also tell you that he had 23 tackles and 4 interceptions. He also had a 29% stop rate on receptions, meaning he kept a lot more in front of him than did Mack. Again, is that Macks fault? Not completely. Remember, keeping things in front of you is the core discipline of the T2.
I would wager a bet that Lewis stat line will look similar in the percentages with maybe a few less plays that he is involved in, just because of our depth.
A lot of people are lauding this selection of Myron Lewis as the future replacement of Ronde Barber. Certainly time will tell, and that role is Lewis' to take. However, if he does over when Ronde hangs it up it will be because of his ability to create plays in the flats, disrupt the backfield and force runners to turn back towards the middle. We also know of Ronde's ability to get to the quarterback. No CB has ever had more sacks than Barber (25). While I realize the potential to adjust your defense based on your personnel, it would benefit the Bucs and Lewis if he is used in blitz packages. However, according to AnchorOfGold, it's not something he was asked to do much of in college. I anticipate Morris tinkering around with the idea of having some Nickel blitzes to get a bigger, faster corner in the backfield and cause some confusion if not panic on behalf of the quarterback.
I love Train Islands comparison to Shawn Springs. Obviously, that is best case scenario. Shawn Springs was a very underrated zone cornerback for most of his career. I think for a player of Lewis size and abilities, we could see him progress fairly quickly. Cornerback in a zone scheme is one of the easier positions to transition into the NFL, combined with his smarts bodes well. If he does not closely follow Talib's development, I would be surprised.
We won't talk about the terrible decision to throw this ball. Lewis was all over the route from the start, given he did make a great catch and kept his feet inbound.