FanPost

Gary Barnidge on Football Outsider's top 10 NFL Prospect List

Barnidge comes in at number 10:

"10. Gary Barnidge, TE, Carolina Panthers
For seven years now, the Panthers have failed to find a pass-catcher at tight end who could follow in the footsteps of the retired Wesley Walls. Kris Mangum couldn't run. Jermaine Wiggins went from eight catches in 2003 as a Panther to 71 in 2004 as a Viking. Mike Seidman and Michael Gaines never developed. Dante Rosario only teases, and Jeff King is a blocker first, second and third. Barnidge, a fifth-round pick out of Louisville in 2008, is the guy they've been waiting for. He has the speed to effectively run up the seam and take out the Cover 2. He also has the hands to hold onto the ball when Darren Sharper hits him or LaRon Landry breezes past him. He's the Panthers' second-best receiver. Once Carolina realizes it, Barnidge immediately becomes a sleeper tight end for fantasy purposes.

9. Justin Forsett, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Given a chance to carry the ball last year while Rome burned around him, Forsett put up an 18.2 percent DVOA, fourth-best among qualifying backs. The DVOA of the other Seattle backs wasn't as pretty: Julius Jones was at minus-6.2 percent, and the remains of what used to be Edgerrin James mustered a whopping minus-30.2 percent. Forsett was also the team's best receiver out of the backfield. With investments along the offensive line and a guaranteed lack of Seneca Wallace at quarterback, Forsett should remain one of the league's most efficient and quietly effective backs in 2010. Professionals personnel note: Seahawks GM Tim Ruskell tried to give Forsett away, waiving him after selecting him in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL Draft but got Forsett back after the Colts picked him up and couldn't find him a consistent roster spot.

8. Early Doucet, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Kurt Warner may be gone, but the Cardinals still have Larry Fitzgerald on one side of the field, and Anquan Boldin's been dealt to Baltimore. That means plenty of opportunities for the receivers on the other side of the field. While Steve Breaston gets more hype, Doucet's the guy who's more likely to fill in as Boldin's long-term replacement. While Breaston's skill set is built around his speed and deception, Doucet has the attributes you think of when it comes to Boldin: Good hands, strong enough to break the jam at the line of scrimmage, excellent blocking in the run game and fearless heading over the middle. He's even got the negative attributes people applied to Boldin: small hands and a history of injuries. The Cardinals are moving towards a more balanced attack. Replacing Warner with Matt Leinart is a negative, but Doucet should make some noise as a very effective second banana to Fitzgerald.

7. Jonathan Goff, LB, New York Giants
It takes a lot to follow Antonio Pierce, who helped lead the Giants' defense to a Super Bowl. It says a lot, though, that the Giants let Pierce go and then passed on options in the draft and free agency to give Goff, a fifth-round pick out of Vanderbilt in 2008, a clear path to the starting Mike gig. He profiles as a better run-stopper than Pierce was, and while he's nowhere near as experienced when it comes to reading quarterbacks, he's faster than Pierce, which should help in coverage. With the Giants' move to the Tampa 2, Goff will assume the role played by guys like Barrett Ruud and Gary Brackett. He has great potential as an IDP linebacker and should help the Giants back towards the top of the defensive charts.

6. Orlando Scandrick, CB, Dallas Cowboys
Two years ago, Scandrick grossly outplayed Mike Jenkins despite being taken several rounds after him in the 2008 NFL Draft. Last year, Jenkins broke out and had a Pro Bowl season, but Scandrick held his own as one of the league's best slot corners for a second consecutive season. He had the best Success Rate (explained here) of any Cowboys cornerback, finishing 12th in the league at 59 percent. Scandrick isn't about to break into the starting lineup, but he's extremely effective in his role. With the league-wide trend towards passing, that role gets more and more important with each year.

5. Justin Tryon, CB, Washington Redskins
It's hard to make much of an impact in the Washington secondary. Over the past few years, no team has dedicated more resources to the defensive backfield -- both draft picks and free agent cash -- than the Redskins. Yet, while DeAngelo Hall allows countless completions and LaRon Landry overruns play after play, the team unearthed a bona fide starting corner in the fourth round of the 2008 draft. Tryon only started two games during his second year in the league, but he played like he belonged in the Millionaires' Club. According to the Football Outsiders game charting project, Tryon allowed 5.8 adjusted yards per attempt, nearly a half-yard better than any other Redskins corner. Despite spending time in the slot, Tryon didn't allow receivers to get open deep; passes at him were only thrown an average of 7.8 yards away from the line of scrimmage, the lowest figure -- by far -- among Redskins corners. He took Fred Smoot's job away during the year, and while he has to beat out Phillip Buchanon for the nickel job in camp (spoiler: he will), he may have Carlos Rogers' starting job in his back pocket by the end of the season.

4. Tashard Choice, RB, Dallas Cowboys
Choice is the best halfback the Cowboys have. He lacks the speed of Felix Jones or the raw power of Marion Barber, but as a football player, Choice is the guy we'd want. He's got the best vision of the three backs, and he does a better job of squirming through the hole for extra yards than either Barber or Jones. Where Choice really sets himself apart, though, is in the passing game. He's a better blocker than his two compatriots, and he put up a 23.0 percent DVOA rating as a receiver when Jones was at minus-13.1 percent and Barber couldn't get past minus-9.7 percent. Choice has none of the injury issues that have followed Barber or Jones. He's third on the depth chart because he doesn't have to justify a big contract or a first-round pick, but the second he gets the chance to be a starting back, he's going to be something really special. If we were sure that was going to be in 2010, he might have been at the top of the list.

3. Shonn Greene, RB, New York Jets
Greene's no secret, of course. After Leon Washington broke his leg against the Oakland Raiders in Week 7, Greene entered the Jets' rotation at halfback and became an instant contributor. And when we say instant, we mean it in a literal sense; Greene gained 144 yards on the ground in that game over the final three quarters. He was impressive the rest of the way, but he really turned things on in the playoffs, where he became the Jets' primary back until suffering an injury in the AFC Championship Game. He will retain that role with the departure of Washington and Thomas Jones this offseason. While the Jets are unlikely to be as effective running the ball on a per-play basis in 2010, the increase in Greene's usage rate should be plenty enough to push him past 1,000 rushing yards.

2. Jacob Ford, DE, Tennessee Titans
Placed in the second spot on this list a year ago, Ford held serve in 2009. He didn't see an increase in his playing time; in fact, he didn't start a game after getting three starts in 2008. He still showed signs of being a terrifying pass rusher, though, picking up 5.5 sacks, eight hits and 10 hurries as a situational pass rusher. Despite seeing far less time, Ford had as many Defeats -- plays which stop the opposition from getting a first down on third or fourth down, stops behind the line of scrimmage or forcing a fumble or interception -- as starter Kyle Vanden Bosch (13). Vanden Bosch has gone to Detroit, which opens up a spot on the defensive line. Ford's still a work in progress against the run, which may prevent him from claiming the starting job, but it's impossible to keep him off opposing quarterbacks. By the end of the year, we figure that Ford will be the man in Tennessee.

1. Mike Wallace, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
What Wallace did a on a per-play basis last year as a rookie was pretty remarkable. He led the league in yards per catch (19.4) and finished fourth in DVOA (29.6 percent) among qualifying receivers. Wallace finished 16th in DYAR, our advanced metric measuring total value, despite being thrown only 72 passes. The only other receivers in the top 25 with fewer targets were Robert Meachem and Kevin Walter. And yet, there are still places we can expect him to go in 2010, even with Ben Roethlisberger suspended for the beginning of the season. His 54 percent catch rate was nice for a rookie, but low considering the offense he was in; he should be closer to 60 percent next year. He only averaged 3.4 YAC despite running routes as deep as anyone in football, and that should improve. The departure of Santonio Holmes and the injury to Limas Sweed virtually guarantee him 30 more targets than he had as a rookie. The list of players that averaged more than 18 yards per catch as a rookie with more than 30 receptions includes quite a few stars with similar stat lines to Wallace's rookie year, including Michael Irvin and Jerry Rice. Wallace isn't in their category, but he's almost a sure thing to be a valuable starter. He has a fair amount of potential as a franchise player going forward."

So finally some recognition for having accumulated some young talent over the past several off-seasons.  The fact that we have three players on the list of 25 is a testament to the job Marty Hurney is doing, and a testament to why the veterans where let go.

Here is the link, but I think you have to be signed up for ESPN's Insider thingy...

http://insider.espn.go.com/nfl/insider/news/story?id=5374109

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