Tag Archive: Michigan


Size: Lewan has great size for a tackle prospect. He is listed at 6’7”, 310 and has the frame to add more weight. For as much of a power player as he is he looks pretty light considering he is so tall. He has plenty of strength already, but I think he can get even stronger and he has the frame to add the weight. He also looks like he has pretty long arms which is important for remaining outside at tackle.

Athleticism: Lewan isn’t a special athlete, but he is a good one considering his size. He has shown that he can get to the 2nd level smoothly, I have seen him pull effectively, and he has enough mobility to make an impact on screens. He doesn’t have that “quick-twitch” ability to mirror that the great left tackles have though, and while he has enough lateral agility to hold up at left tackle in the NFL I think his upside is higher on the right side.

Technique: Overall Lewan’s technique is pretty good, but I definitely have some bones to pick with his game. First, I think his hand placement could be better in pass protection. He has a tendency to get grabby once he locks on and will stop his feet after he locks the defender up at times which leads to some embarrassing block sheds if the defender has enough strength to challenge Lewan. Second, he really seems to struggle when he can’t initiate contact quickly after the snap. Because of this I think he likes to reach and overextend to try to engage the defender and that negatively impacts his balance. That and when a defender gets into his pads and has the leverage edge are really the only times he can ever be bull rushed in pass protection. I think he needs to work on replacing his hands when defenders attempt to slap them away, because if he can recover from that and engage the pass rusher he can engulf them with his long arms and strength. However, his ability to recover and anchor is impressive and is one of his strongest assets. I just think some of the holds he gets away with at Michigan are going to be called more consistently in the NFL (there was one play against South Carolina where he had a handful of Clowney’s jersey in his left hand and a handful of Clowney’s dreads in the other).

Pass Protection: This is where you really have to scrutinize Lewan to see if he will be a left tackle or not. I think he can stick at either position, I just think he will be a superior player on the right side. But finding a stud left tackle is hard to do, and finding an adequate one is usually enough to satisfy a NFL team (see the extension the Falcons just gave Sam Baker this offseason) and I think Lewan has the skillset to be an adequate pass protector on the left side. He doesn’t have ideal short, choppy steps in pass protection and his footwork reminds me some of Jake Long when he came out of Michigan. He doesn’t change directions as well as you would like for a blind side pass blocker and that is why he is going to have so much trouble with smaller, quicker pass rushers in the NFL. He matches up fine with bigger, stronger pass rushers, but the explosive, quick guys have given him problems. Like I mentioned earlier, I think he needs to work on his hand placement and not let his hands get so far outside in pass protection. He definitely has a tendency to hold and that becomes a lot more obvious when he lets his hands get outside on the shoulder pads, but in general he keeps them between the numbers. His struggles really start when a pass rusher slaps his hands away or negates his ability to engage him. This was evident in every game I watched of him, whether it was Michael Buchanan (who weighs about 60 pounds less than Lewan), Prince Shembo or Jadeveon Clowney, if they knocked his hands away and prevented him from engaging he had a lot of issues. He was fine against bigger, stronger pass rushers like William Gholston or Clowney when he tried to bull rush him 1 on 1, but he didn’t fare as well against explosive moves, particularly to the inside. He needed help from his left guard or from a running back against Clowney when he went inside on him and I think that is one weakness that Lewan has. He regularly tries to take away the speed rush but that makes him vulnerable to the inside move because he doesn’t have the quickest feet and doesn’t change directions quick enough to recover sometimes. Overall, I think Lewan can be a reliable pass protector, but he’s going to need chips from TE’s and RB’s and occasionally help from his inside guard against more dynamic, explosive pass rushers.

Run Blocking: This is generally the strongest aspect of Lewan’s game. He generates quality push off the ball when asked to block man to man, he has the athleticism to get out of his stance and wall defenders off, and he can move well enough to pull and get to the second level. Much like in pass protection he struggles against quicker defenders though, particularly when he’s pulling or trying to reach a linebacker. Quicker players that can avoid engaging him can give him trouble, and because he isn’t agile or quick enough to react and still make the block there are times he barely gets his hands on the defender before they have essentially avoided his block completely. He’s at his best when he can lock on, drive his legs and generate push off the ball or when he can block down on defensive tackles. He can generate pancakes either way. I don’t think he’s going to be an ideal fit in a zone blocking scheme, but he can execute zone concepts (though I don’t have notes on him as a cut-blocker). There are times when he leans too much and has issues with balance and he gets tossed aside like a rag doll which really concerned me. It doesn’t happen often, but when Michael Buchanan throws Lewan to the ground despite giving up 60 pounds (at least) it makes you wonder. He’s definitely a good run blocker, but it bothers me to see him shed so easily at times.

Overall: Lewan is a quality offensive tackle prospect and I’ve got a 1st round grade on him, but I don’t think he is a franchise left tackle. Jake Long was a superior prospect in my opinion, and I thought he could be an all-pro at right tackle even though he has had a relatively successful career on the left side. Lewan won’t be quite as good as long on the left side and I don’t think he has the same dominant upside on the right either. Still, I think he could be an adequate left tackle and that warrants top 20 consideration even if he ends up being a superior player on the right. He’s going to need help against stud pass rushers, particularly quicker, more explosive guys that can keep him from locking onto them, but he will be a plus run blocker on the left side and shouldn’t need consistent help unless he’s facing a truly elite talent (such as Jadeveon Clowney). He’s going to have his struggles on the left side, but I love his motor and tenacity and that makes me think that even if he doesn’t have the ideal left tackle skill set he will still have a long, successful career either on the left or the right. Perhaps he will never be dominant on either side, but I think he will be effective.

Projection: Top 20. He’s got left tackle upside (even if I think he has more upside on the right) and that will warrant top 20 consideration.

East-West Shrine Game Recap

Quarterbacks:

1-      Nathan Stanley, Southeastern Louisiana- Stanley still has room to improve as his accuracy and timing seemed to be a bit off at times, but he has the size and arm strength that makes him an intriguing developmental Day 3 guy in my opinion. He has a ways to go from working under center and making reads, etc. However, he’s got talent worth stashing as a 3rd quarterback late in the draft in my opinion.

2-      Colby Cameron, Louisiana Tech- Cameron has never been my favorite prospect, but he showed me a little more velocity than I thought he had this week and I think he has some potential to be developed into a solid back-up.

3-      Matt Scott, Arizona- Scott certainly had his struggles this week, but he spins a clean ball and has the 2nd best velocity of all the quarterbacks in St. Petersburg and has the kind of athleticism that teams will be looking into at quarterback given the emergence of the zone read in the NFL. He’s very much a developmental prospect that is better out of the shotgun than under center at this point, but I think he warrants consideration on Day 3.

4-      Alex Carder, Western Michigan- I have never been a big fan of Carder and I don’t think he’s going to be a NFL starter, but he grades out as a 7th round/UDFA quarterback from what I’ve seen of him. I don’t think he spins a very clean ball and doesn’t have much beyond average arm strength and velocity, so I don’t think he has much upside at the next level.

5-      Seth Doege, Texas Tech- Doege’s lack of arm strength was on display this week and while he has made a career out of overcoming adversity I don’t think he is going to be a NFL starter. He will attempt to follow in the footsteps of Graham Harrell and be developed as a potential back-up in the NFL.

6-      Collin Klein, Kansas State- Klein struggled with velocity and accuracy every day that he was here and I think that there were so many questioning whether he could play quarterback at the next level coming into the week that it’s even more difficult to make that argument now. I actually expected him to be bigger considering the beating he took the past two years running the ball so much but he only weighed in at 218 pounds despite being over 6’4”. He looked best to me when he was running the ball, and maybe someone will still take a flyer on him late on Day 3 to try to develop him or maybe sign him as an undrafted free agent, but it’s hard to imagine him being a NFL quarterback after watching him this week.

Running Backs:

1-      Christine Michael, Texas A&M- There’s not a strong argument to be made that Michael isn’t the running back with the highest upside here in St. Petersburg. According to @DashDiallo1 (Follow him) he is high on the reserve list for the Senior Bowl and he has had a great week. Brandon pointed out something I had not noticed before- Michael seemed to be looking at the ball as he was taking hand-offs and pitches instead of keeping his eyes up and reading his blocks. I hadn’t noticed this, but that’s definitely something that he has to work on. He has all the size and athleticism to be a quality NFL running back, and if he can clean up his eye level when taking hand-offs or tosses he will be ready to make an immediate impact. It is certainly concerning, but it should be coachable.

2-      Ray Graham, Pittsburgh- Graham should be ready to contribute right away as he has the burst and athleticism you want as well as reliable hands. He’s had a good week and was the strongest back on the East roster.

3-      Zac Stacy, Vanderbilt- There are some that are high on Stacy and some that aren’t, but I’m a fan. He’s not a flashy back, but he does a lot of things well and I think if he lands with the right team he could be a solid contributor as a rookie. He’s not as explosive as Michael or Graham but his game translates to the next level.

4-      Kerwynn Williams, Utah State- Williams looked good this week as well and despite being an undersized back he has some burst and explosiveness. I don’t think he is a sub 4.5 guy in the 40 and there were some times I saw him get strung out when he tried to get the edge this week. I’m not sure he can be a NFL starter, but I think he has the potential to be a complementary back.

5-      Zach Line, SMU- Line caught my eye last year when I was watching SMU and I think he is going to make a NFL roster as a running back/fullback hybrid. Pure full-backs aren’t very typical anymore and that makes Line’s skill set valuable. I haven’t seen him block often, but he runs the ball effectively despite a lack of great speed and he has caught the ball well when I’ve seen him this week.

6-      Montel Harris, Temple- Harris has so many red flags thanks to his injury history and off-field issues that even with a great performance this week I would have hesitated to give him a draftable grade. He’s an undrafted free agent to me not only because of those things, but because of the wear and tear he’s had as a ball carrier. If you invite him into a camp and he impresses that’s one thing, but this running back class is way too deep to pick him in my opinion.

Wide Receivers:

1-      Corey Fuller, Virginia Tech- Coming into this week I thought Fuller was a sleeper and while he may not have had a perfect week I think he showed that he is a smooth runner with room to grow as a route runner, impressive straight line speed and reliable hands. There were plenty of people looking forward to seeing what Marcus Davis could do, but more and more I think evaluators are realizing that Fuller was the more talented Virginia Tech receiver on this roster. This was his break-out campaign and he has plenty to work on, but he is a great day three sleeper at receiver that has a lot of upside.

2-      Chad Bumphis, Mississippi State- Bumphis isn’t going to burn you vertically and I think he’s probably in the 4.5-4.54 range in the 40 yard dash, but what he can do is out-quick you. He is so good in and out of his breaks, he showed that he can run good routes, and he generated separation when he was allowed to work in the slot. He’s not going to run by a lot of players vertically, but he can make plays in the slot and gain yardage after the catch.

3-      Erik Highsmith, North Carolina- The only disappointing thing about Highsmith’s week was the weigh in, where he apparently measured at 6004 (6’.5”) instead of his listed height of 6’3”. He also measured in at 190 pounds with 8 inch hands, the smallest on the entire East roster. However, while he may not be a blazing fast kid he runs solid routes, knows how to use his hands to keep defenders off of him and he has good hands. In a very deep class at receiver Highsmith is going to be overlooked by a lot more flashy receivers, but even if it’s in the 6th-7th range or as an undrafted free agent I would be surprised if he doesn’t make a roster.

4-      Keenan Davis, Iowa- Davis had a good week this week and while I don’t think he’s a great threat on the outside I like him as a slot receiver threat. He measured in at a legit 6’2”, 216 pounds with huge 10 3/8” hands and while he doesn’t exactly eat up cushion he showed reliable hands all week. I liked what I saw from him this week and in the game.

5-      Emory Blake, Auburn- Blake didn’t stick out to me too much in a positive or negative way this week, but when I saw him I didn’t see drops and he may not be a guy with blazing speed but he can stretch the field vertically and track the ball in the air. He’s going to be a day three guy as well thanks to this very deep class, but he has a NFL skill set.

6-      Anthony Amos, Middle Tennessee State- Amos isn’t going to blow the doors off the combine by any means (4.5-4.54 guy in my opinion) but he has some quickness to him, he can create a little separation when he’s running routes (though he can improve here) and he showed impressive hands to snag passes outside of his frame. He’s another late round kid, but he can be a reliable possession guy for you at the next level, particularly in the slot.

Tight Ends:

1-      DC Jefferson, Rutgers- Jefferson had an impressive week and it was really evident that he was not properly utilized at Rutgers in part because of poor quarterback play. He’s got all the size and athleticism you could want at tight end and he showed the ability to high point throws and make catches with his hands outside of his frame. He’s got a lot of untapped upside and could be a nice value in the 3-4 round range given his talent level.

2-      Joseph Fauria, UCLA- Fauria was a player I was looking forward to evaluating this week, especially as a blocker, but he got injured early in the week and wasn’t able to come back in time for the game. He’s got plenty of upside thanks to his size and athleticism so it was a shame we didn’t get to see him compete all week.

3-      Lucas Reed, New Mexico- Reed was a player I was not familiar with at all but despite lacking blazing speed he has reliable hands along with a NFL body that should make him a relatively appealing day 3 target in a deep tight end class.

4-      Chris Pantale, Boston College- Pantale isn’t a flashy prospect but I thought he had a solid week. I don’t think he’s going to be a top 100 prospect by any means, but he should get a look later on day three.

Offensive Line:

1-      Terron Armstead, OT/OG, Arkansas-Pine Bluff- I don’t think anyone had a better week than Armstead did. He wasn’t perfect, but he showed that he can play offensive tackle from an athletic standpoint. He showed better technique than I anticipated as well and even though he opened up his hips early at times and got beat inside he was too much for any defensive end to handle in the game. The only defensive ends I saw beat him rushing the passer this week were David Bass and Devin Taylor, and we saw what happened to Tanner Hawkinson when he was tasked with blocking Taylor in the game.

2-      Mark Jackson, OT/OG, Glenville State- Jackson has the size and length you look for in an offensive lineman at over 6’5” with 33.5” arms. He didn’t look great outside at tackle because I don’t think he has the foot quickness for it, but if he loses a little weight (he weighed in at 341 pounds, I think he would be better off in the 325-330 range, so that’s something to monitor at the combine or his pro-day) I think he would be fine at guard. He is strong and while he doesn’t look like a natural puller he can generate push off the ball and he’s hard to shed after he engages you. He’s a quality day 3 option at guard.

3-      Manase Foketi, OT/OG, West Texas A&M- Foketi was a huge let down this week since we never even got to see him practice. I saw him standing watching drills on Monday and wondered if he was going to get in on practice the next day but he didn’t practice on Tuesday either and by the end of the week he wasn’t even in St. Petersburg anymore. I haven’t found out why he never competed but I am interested to hear what the reason was.

4-      T.J. Johnson, C, South Carolina- Johnson got some time at center and at guard this week and while he isn’t a great athlete he has all the size and length you could want at center as he measured in at over 6’4”, 323 pounds with 33 inch arms. He has shown that he can anchor against strong defensive tackles 1 on 1 and he looked good snapping the ball this week. He was the best center in St. Petersburg all week and he definitely warrants a pick on Day 3.

5-      Earl Watford, OG, James Madison- Watford didn’t play in the game unfortunately (I heard it was something with his knee) but he showed that he is athletic enough to play guard at the next level even if he still needs to get stronger and continue to improve on his technique. If he can add some lower body strength to help him anchor and drive he should stick on a roster.

6-      Jeff Baca, OG, UCLA- Baca is a late round guy but I think he has solid anchor and did a pretty good job in pass protection this week. He doesn’t have a lot of starter upside at the next level, but he did enough this week to earn a late round draftable grade from me.

Defensive Line:

1-      David Bass, DE, Missouri Western State- Bass was extremely impressive to me this week. I came in with high hopes for him and he certainly lived up to them. He has NFL size, athleticism and he did a good job versus the run and the pass all week. I have to go back and watch more of him, but I think he has helped elevate himself into potential top 100 consideration.

2-      Mike Catapano, DE, Princeton- Catapano isn’t an elite athlete but he has a great motor, he’s strong, has active hands and is hard to push off the ball. He is the kind of kid who is going to get the most out of all his ability and his 6’3”, 270 pound frame with just under 34 inch arms. He’s an impressive kid and he’s going to be a contributor to a defensive line rotation as a rookie.

3-      Devin Taylor, DE, South Carolina- Taylor is a guy who has as much upside as anyone in St. Petersburg but when I’ve watched him he just hasn’t lived up to his immense upside given his athleticism and his 6’7”, 275 pound frame. He had an up and down week in my opinion, but he had a great game going up against Tanner Hawkinson all night. Hawkinson doesn’t have good enough feet to stick at tackle and he doesn’t have the strength to play guard so Taylor beat him using his speed and his strength consistently all night. Taylor won’t have it so easy with NFL caliber tackles at the next level though, and despite his intriguing upside I still am not sold on him being an impact pass rusher at the next level.

4-      William Campbell, DT, Michigan- Campbell had a good week going against a poor cast of interior offensive linemen on the West roster but he has NFL size and athleticism. He never lived up to my expectations at Michigan but while he is still raw he certainly has upside. I think he’s a day 3 caliber draft pick with some upside as a nose tackle in a 4-3.

5-      Scott Vallone, DT/DE, Rutgers- Vallone didn’t have an amazing week but he has shown the ability to be disruptive and make plays versus the run. He’s never been much of a pass rusher, but I think he has some value as an undersized defensive tackle.

6-      Will Pericak, DT, Colorado- Pericak isn’t a flashy player but I think he has a place on a NFL roster. He’s got the size, length and strength to stick in a defensive line rotation. His motor and effort level impressed me this week.

Linebackers:

1-      Keith Pough, Howard- Pough had a fantastic week of practice. I think the thing that impressed me the most was the vocal leadership he was able to show and he was one of the only players that was able to energize the West practices at all. I definitely need to watch more of him but he really stuck out to me this week.

2-      DeVonte Holloman, South Carolina- I didn’t see as much of Holloman as I wanted to this week but he showed me enough to make me want to go back and watch more South Carolina to see him in action. He is likely a day 3 pick, but I think he has NFL talent.

3-      Sio Moore, Connecticut- Moore doesn’t strike me as a great fit in a 4-3 as an outside linebacker but I haven’t seen him in coverage a lot. Still, I think he is at his best when he is rushing the passer and when he was given the opportunity to that (even with his hand down) he was effective. I don’t think he fits the mold as a 3-4 OLB either though, so he might be a two down linebacker in a 4-3 who can put his hand down and rush the passer on obvious 3rd downs. He has upside, but he’s not a fit for every team in my opinion.

4-      Gerald Hodges, Penn State- Hodges packs some punch as a hitter but he didn’t stick out to me frequently this week when I was watching practice. When I did see him he seemed to flow to the ball well but I didn’t see him shed blocks effectively at the point of attack. That’s something I’ll certainly have to investigate more when I watch Penn State.

5-      A.J. Klein, Iowa State- Klein is a tackling machine that impressed me when I watched Iowa State, but he didn’t stick out to me much this week. He’s not a great athlete so he is going to have to compensate for that with good or great instincts, but I didn’t get a good enough look at him to evaluate that this week.

6-      Steve Greer, Virginia- Like a couple other linebackers in St. Petersburg he isn’t a great athlete but he showed a nose for the ball when I saw him this week and I already knew he was a good tackler. He’s going to have to play special teams to ensure a roster spot but I think he’s got value as a back-up linebacker.

Cornerbacks:

1-      Brandon McGee, Miami- McGee had an up and down season when I saw him play this year but he had a very good week. He showed fluid hips, good feet and impressive ball skills this week and he is going to run a very impressive 40 yard dash time at the combine. He’s got a lot of upside so keep an eye on him.

2-      Nigel Malone, Kansas State- Malone has been a guy I’ve liked all season since I previewed Kansas State before the season and he continues to live up to my expectations. He’s not the biggest or the fastest, but especially in a zone scheme he could be a very reliable corner. He’s got smooth hips, good feet and impressive ball skills. He evidenced those in the game as he got a pick 6 (even though it was thrown right to him). He might not end up in the top 100, but I’ll take him any time on Day 3.

3-      Terry Hawthorne, Illinois- Hawthorne has plenty of upside but he didn’t seem to close on passes in front of him very well this week, didn’t show me very smooth transitions and while he has good ball skills I wonder how good of a starting corner he can be. He had a nice interception when he was dropped into zone in this game (looked like Cover-3 but it was hard to see from the press box which was on the opposite side of the field from his interception) and he has talent, I just don’t know if I’d pick him day 2.

4-      Branden Smith, Georgia- Smith is an undersized corner who isn’t a great tackler but he is a good athlete with quality ball skills. He did badly misplay a pass thrown by Matt Scott to Chad Bumphis in the game that led to a long touchdown reception for Bumphis, but he usually plays the ball well. He doesn’t have the size or length to be an impact player and he weighed in at under 170 pounds but he has enough talent to warrant consideration on day 3.

5-      Sheldon Price, UCLA- Price had a solid season this year at UCLA and while I still have some questions about his game he definitely has the speed to play corner and he looked pretty good when flipping his hips in coverage this week. He has sub 4.5 speed which allows him to recover when beaten initially as well which helped him in 1 on 1’s this week.

6-      Josh Johnson, Purdue- Johnson has shown the versatility to contribute as a return man on special teams and to be a solid corner. He’s undersized but he showed me some ball skills this week and I think he warrants mid-late consideration on day 3.

Safeties:

1-      Cooper Taylor, Richmond- Taylor was a player I hadn’t seen at all coming in and I was anticipating him being a stiff, oversized safety that wasn’t good in coverage. I am happy to admit I was completely wrong and that Taylor showed good hips, impressive range and a good feel for the safety position. He’s got a great combination of size and athleticism and I think he warrants top 100 consideration based on what I saw from him this week.

2-      Duke Williams, Nevada- I’ve had my eye on Duke for a couple years now since he was a junior. He can really hit and while I have some questions about him in coverage I think he is a quality option at safety on Day 3.

3-      Shamarko Thomas, Syracuse- Thomas has good range and while he is undersized he seems to support the run pretty well despite the occasional missed tackle. At times he bites too hard on the run though and as the last line of defense that is a problem. He will get knocked for his lack of size, but if he can work on being less aggressive I think he could have a future as a starter.

4-      Earl Wolfe, NC State- Wolfe was a player I had a high opinion of coming into the week but he showed some ability in coverage as well as some ball skills. He’s a little undersized at 5’11”, 206 pounds but I think he will get drafted on day 3.

5-      Zeke Motta, Notre Dame- Motta carried a late day 3/undrafted free agent grade for me coming into the week but he showed more range and fluidity in coverage than I expected. I’m still not sold on him beyond a day 3 prospect, but he’s got more upside than I originally thought.

6-      Rashard Hall, Clemson- Hall didn’t impress me a lot when I watched tape of him but he has some ball skills and despite some missed tackles he looked solid against the run. He’s not my favorite safety prospect, but I think he has draftable talent.

Conference Predictions:

SEC:

West:

1-      LSU

2-      Alabama

3-      Arkansas

4-      Mississippi State

5-      Auburn

6-      Texas A&M

7-      Ole Miss

East:

1-      South Carolina

2-      Georgia

3-      Tennessee

4-      Florida

5-      Vanderbilt

6-      Missouri

7-      Kentucky

SEC Title Game: LSU and South Carolina: LSU is SEC Champion

Analysis: The SEC is loaded as usual, particularly the West. LSU loses Tyrann Mathieu which is unfortunate for every college football fan, but if Zach Mettenberger can establish a consistent passing game then the LSU offense is going to absolutely take off. Alabama is extremely talented as usual, but they are replacing so much on defense and at their skill positions on offense that there’s no way that they replicate their 2011 season. They are my early 2013 favorites however. Arkansas lost Bobby Petrino and their top three receivers, but unless their defense improves they won’t bump LSU or Alabama out of the top of the West. I went back and forth on South Carolina and Georgia a lot because both teams don’t have a great track record of delivering when the pressure is on. South Carolina’s defense could end up better than Georgia’s though, and even though I like Aaron Murray I have some questions about Georgia’s offense. Tennesse has talent and should be solid, but Florida’s ridiculous handling of their quarterback competition means I can’t project them any higher than 4th in the East. Vanderbilt is a bit of a dark horse with a strong core on offense and a bright coach in James Franklin, but just getting to a bowl game would be a successful season for them.

Big 10:

Legends:

1-      Michigan

2-      Michigan State

3-      Nebraska

4-      Iowa

5-      Northwestern

6-      Minnesota

Leaders:

1-      Wisconsin

2-      Ohio State

3-      Illinois

4-      Purdue

5-      Penn State

6-      Indiana

Big-10 Title Game: Wisconsin and Michigan: Wisconsin is Big-10 Champion

Analysis: If Wisconsin doesn’t come out of the Leaders division to compete for the Big-10 title again this year then Bret Bielema should just quit, because outside of Illinois there is no eligible team that has a slightly realistic chance of keeping them out of the title game. Michigan and Michigan State will be a terrific battle down to the end of the season in my opinion, and ultimately it will come down to how well Denard Robinson can deliver the ball and avoid turnovers in big games in my opinion. If he carries the Wolverine offense on his back he could be a finalist for the Heisman as well. Nebraska has some talent, but they will never be a legitimate Big-10 title contender until they get a real quarterback to replace Taylor Martinez, who is one of the worst passing quarterbacks of all the teams that don’t run an option offense.

ACC:

Atlantic:

1-      Florida State

2-      Clemson

3-      NC State

4-      Wake Forest

5-      Boston College

6-      Maryland

Coastal:

1-      Virginia Tech

2-      Georgia Tech

3-      North Carolina

4-      Miami

5-      Virginia

6-      Duke

ACC Title Game: Virginia Tech and Florida State: Virginia Tech is ACC Champion.

Analysis: Florida State is incredibly loaded, particularly on defense. Their defensive line is the best in football in my opinion, even better than LSU’s, and they return enough talent on offense to be a dark horse contender for the National Championship game. I don’t think they’ll make it because I’m not a big believer in EJ Manuel, but if he can improve enough to put up points this team could end up in the top 5 by season’s end. And yet, I have a gut feeling that this is Virginia Tech’s year and I think they will go toe to toe with Florida State in the ACC Championship game and win. I trust Logan Thomas more than Manuel in critical situations even if he is younger with less experience, and Virginia Tech returns plenty of talent on defense as well. Clemson will be nipping at Florida State’s heels as well but I don’t think Clemson’s offensive line has enough talent and experience to keep Florida State’s relentlessly deep and talented front four from terrorizing Boyd when he drops back to pass.

Big 12:

1-      West Virginia

2-      Kansas State

3-      Oklahoma

4-      Texas

5-      TCU

6-      Oklahoma State

7-      Texas Tech

8-      Baylor

9-      Kansas

10-   Iowa State

West Virginia is Big-12 Champion.

Analysis: I’m sure plenty of people will be surprised that I have West Virginia and Kansas State ranked ahead of Oklahoma and Texas, but I have plenty of faith in West Virginia’s offense to pass their way to the top of the Big-12 and if their defense improves at all they could very well win this conference. Kansas State shocked everyone last year by not only being good but by being good enough to get to the Cotton Bowl. And yet, everyone is writing them off again this year even though they return plenty of talent across their roster, and even their losses on defense aren’t irreplaceable. Collin Klein is the Tim Tebow of the Big-12 and he will keep Kansas State competitive even if it isn’t always pretty, and those writing KSU off will look foolish again this year. Oklahoma continues to be ranked in the top 5 year after year regardless of how many times they fail to live up to their talent level. Landry Jones plays a big role in that, and there aren’t many quarterbacks I wouldn’t want leading my team more than Jones. He’s not reliable under pressure, he panics in big time situations and collapsed when his best receiver Ryan Broyles went down last season. Oklahoma has plenty of talent on defense, but that has never stopped them from failing to live up to expectations, and even though Mike Stoops is back in the fold I don’t think it will be enough to win the Big-12 or a National Championship. Texas seemed to be on the right track naming a starting quarterback, but now the competition is back on and when you have two quarterbacks you really have none. So as good as that defense is it won’t matter if they don’t have any continuity at quarterback.

Pac-12:

North:

1-      Oregon

2-      Washington

3-      Stanford

4-      California

5-      Oregon State

6-      Washington State

South:

1-      Southern Cal

2-      Utah

3-      UCLA

4-      Arizona State

5-      Arizona

6-      Colorado

Pac-12 Title Game: USC and Oregon: USC is Pac-12 Champion.

Analysis: The Pac-12 is honestly one of the worst conferences top to bottom in the country, I was shocked by how little overall depth both divisions had. The North has three, maybe four bowl game caliber teams and the South has TWO. Look at that 3-6 list, only UCLA has an chance at a bowl game out of those four teams, and ASU, Arizona and Colorado should be awful this season. Oregon and USC both have a pretty easy road to the Pac-12 title game if you ask me, though Washington and Stanford won’t be pushovers even in spite of all the talent they lost.

Big East:

1-      Cincinnati

2-      Louisville

3-      South Florida

4-      Pittsburgh

5-      Rutgers

6-      Syracuse

7-      Connecticut

8-      Temple

Cincinnati is Big East Champion.

Analysis: The Big East is probably the worst big time conference in college football and they are clinging on for dear life and relevance right now. Cincinnati is the best by default this year now that West Virginia bolted for the Big-12, and after Louisville there isn’t a lot to write home about in the Big East. There’s the potential for some bowl eligible teams, but there isn’t a legit title contender in this whole conference and whoever the winner is will likely play a better conference champion in a BCS bowl game and get the tar beat out of them like Connecticut did two years ago at the hands of Oklahoma.

 

Thanks for reading, and happy college football season to each and every one of you!

–Tom

Quarterback Rankings:

1-      Matt Barkley, QB, Southern Cal

2-      Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee*

3-      Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas

4-      Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech*

5-      Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

6-      Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia*

7-      E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State

8-      Mike Glennon, QB, North Carolina State

9-      Casey Pachall, QB, TCU*

10-   Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma

Running Back Rankings:

1-      Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina*

2-      Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin

3-      Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas*

4-      Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State*

5-      Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina*

6-      Ray Graham, RB, Pittsburgh

7-      Christine Michael, RB, Texas A&M*

8-      Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama*

9-      Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson

10-   Dennis Johnson, RB, Arkansas

Wide Receiver Rankings:

1-      Robert Woods, WR, Southern Cal*

2-      Keenan Allen, WR, California*

3-      Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee*

4-      Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State*

5-      Da’Rick Rogers, WR, Tennessee*

6-      Cobi Hamilton, WR, Arkansas

7-      Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor

8-      Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia

9-      Aaron Mellette, WR, Elon

10-   Ryan Swope, WR, Texas A&M
Tight End Rankings:

1-      Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame*

2-      Jake Stoneburner, TE, Ohio State

3-      Joseph Fauria, TE, UCLA

4-      Philip Lutzenkirchen, TE, Auburn

5-      Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford*

6-      Michael Williams, TE, Alabama

7-      Jordan Reed, TE, Florida*

8-      Ryan Griffin, TE, Connecticut

9-      Colter Phillips, TE, Virginia

10-   Ben Cotton, TE, Nebraska
Offensive Tackle Rankings:

1-      Chris Faulk, OT, LSU*

2-      Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M*

3-      Ricky Wagner, OT, Wisconsin

4-      D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama*

5-      Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan*

6-      Oday Aboushi, OT, Virginia

7-      Alex Hurst, OT, LSU

8-      Justin Pugh, OT, Syracuse

9-      Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M*

10-   James Hurst, OT, North Carolina*
Offensive Guard Rankings:

1-      Barrett Jones, OG, Alabama

2-      Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina

3-      Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama

4-      Travis Frederick, OG, Wisconsin*

5-      Alvin Bailey, OG, Arkansas*

6-      Larry Warford, OG, Kentucky

7-      Omoregie Uzzi, OG, Georgia Tech

8-      Braden Hansen, OG, BYU

9-      Blaize Foltz, OG, TCU

10-   Lane Taylor, OG, Oklahoma State
Center Rankings:

1-      Khaled Holmes, C, Southern Cal

2-      Graham Pocic, C, Illinois

3-      Travis Swanson, C, Arkansas*

4-      James Ferentz, C, Iowa

5-      Mario Benavides, C, Louisville

6-      Dalton Freeman, C, Clemson

7-      Matt Stankiewitch, C, Penn State

8-      Joe Madsen, C, West Virginia

9-      Braxton Cave, C, Notre Dame

10-   Ivory Wade, C, Baylor
Defensive End Rankings:

1-      Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU*

2-      Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas*

3-      Alex Okafor, DE, Texas

4-      Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State*

5-      Margus Hunt, DE, SMU

6-      Michael Buchanan, DE, Illinois

7-      Devin Taylor, DE, South Carolina

8-      Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon

9-      James Gayle, DE, Virginia Tech*

10-   William Gholston, DE, Michigan State*
Defensive Tackle Rankings:

1-      Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah

2-      Johnathon Hankins, DT, Ohio State*

3-      Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama

4-      Bennie Logan, DT, LSU*

5-      Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina

6-      Kawann Short, DT, Purdue

7-      Johnathan Jenkins, DT, Georgia

8-      Akeem Spence, DT, Illinois*

9-      Shariff Floyd, DT, Florida*

10-   Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Middle Linebacker Rankings:

1-      Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame

2-      Shayne Skov, ILB, Stanford

3-      Kevin Reddick, ILB, North Carolina

4-      Michael Mauti, ILB, Penn State

5-      Nico Johnson, ILB, Alabama

6-      Arthur Brown, ILB, Kansas State

7-      Jonathan Brown, ILB, Illinois*

8-      Bruce Taylor, ILB, Virginia Tech

9-      Jonathan Bostic, ILB, Florida

10-   Christian Robinson, ILB, Georgia
Outside Linebacker Rankings:

1-      Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia*

2-      Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU*

3-      Sean Porter, OLB, Texas A&M

4-      Brandon Jenkins, OLB, Florida State

5-      C.J. Mosley, OLB, Alabama*

6-      Gerald Hodges, OLB, Penn State

7-      Jelani Jenkins, OLB, Florida*

8-      Chase Thomas, OLB, Stanford

9-      Khaseem Green, OLB, Rutgers

10-   Kenny Tate, OLB, Maryland
Cornerback Rankings:

1-      David Amerson, CB, North Carolina State*

2-      Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State*

3-      Jonathan Banks, CB, Mississippi State

4-      Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU*

5-      Jonny Adams, CB, Michigan State

6-      Nickell Robey, CB, Southern Cal*

7-      Carrington Byndom, CB, Texas*

8-      Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State

9-      Micah Hyde, CB, Iowa

10-   Tharold Simon, CB, LSU*
Safety Rankings:

1-      Eric Reid, FS, LSU*

2-      T.J. McDonald, FS, Southern Cal

3-      Kenny Vaccaro, SS, Texas

4-      Robert Lester, FS, Alabama

5-      Tony Jefferson, FS, Oklahoma*

6-      Bacarri Rambo, SS, Georgia

7-      Ray Ray Armstrong, SS, Miami

8-      John Boyett, SS, Oregon

9-      Matt Elam, SS, Florida*

10-   Vaughn Telemaque, FS, Miami

Defensive Ends:

1- Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina: Coples was dominant at times this week and looked unblockable in 1 on 1 drills versus almost everyone on the South offensive line. He can be as good as he wants to be thanks to his great combination of size, length and athleticism. He projects to be a great LE in the NFL if he continues to work and provide the effort level that he had this week.

2- Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama: Upshaw has convinced me that he can play 4-3 DE or 3-4 OLB. I think he might be a better 3-4 outside linebacker, but he’s got plenty of upside. He might not have ideal measurable and 40 yard dash times, but he is a very strong, powerful player that is fundamentally sound. I wouldn’t bet against Upshaw in the NFL, and I don’t think you should either.

3- Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina: Ingram definitely impressed me this week. I think he can play in both a 4-3 and a 3-4 as well, and should be fine at outside linebacker where I think he might have the most upside. He has an impressive variety of pass rush moves and was all effort this week, taking reps standing up, with his hand in the dirt at DE and even inside at defensive tackle at times in 1 on 1’s.

4- Shea McClellin, DE/OLB, Boise State: McClellin feels like he should be higher on this list, but the three guys ahead of him are potential 1st rounders much like McClellin might end up being. He’s an impressive kid with better speed and pass rushing ability than a lot of people give him credit for. He’s a top 60 pick for sure, may be a top 40 guy when all is said and done.

5- Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall: Curry definitely has upside, and should get a 2nd or 3rd round grade from me after I finish my tape study of him, but he didn’t beat Mike Adams all week and didn’t look overly impressive rushing the passer this week. Once he was engaged he struggled to rush the passer, and while he has size and athletic ability he needs some development.

Defensive Tackles:

1- Mike Martin, DT, Michigan: Martin really impressed me this week. He’s not tall, but he’s very well built and is extremely strong, plus he has natural leverage because of his lack of ideal height. He’s got a terrific motor and very active hands, and just doesn’t stay blocked. He’s going to go higher than a lot of people expect him to.

2- Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson: Thompson definitely showed his athleticism this week when he beat people off the ball initially with his burst and hand usage. He’s a 2nd round pick in my opinion but he’s got plenty of upside as a 3-tech, and he reminds me a bit of Jonathan Babineaux from the Atlanta Falcons.

3- Kendall Reyes, DT, Connecticut: Reyes weighed in lighter than I was hoping him to, but he’s got plenty of burst and athleticism off the snap. He’s got upside as a pass rusher, and might be able to contribute in a rotation early on in his career in pass rushing situations, but I worry about him versus the run. He can penetrate and get into the backfield, but I think he might get washed out in the run game if he doesn’t get stronger and put on a little weight.

4- Derek Wolfe, DT, Cincinnati: Wolfe came into the week very underrated but he had a strong week all week, showing his versatility to play defensive end or defensive tackle. He projects very well to a 5 technique or to a 3 technique at the next level in my opinion. His versatility will definitely help him on draft day, and he really opened some eyes this week if they hadn’t watched him play much. He may end up with a 3rd or 4th round grade from me once all is said and done. I think he has a future as a NFL starter without a doubt.

5- Jaye Howard, DT, Florida: Howard is someone I’ve been a fan of since early on in his junior season when I was watching tape of Florida. He’s got NFL size and athleticism, and I think he may end up in the fourth round when all is said and done. He’s not rated high but he’s got the ability to contribute to a NFL rotation early on in his career.

Linebackers:

1- Keenan Robinson, OLB, Texas: Robinson is my favorite linebacker here and it was really fun to be able to interview him yesterday. He’s a complete linebacker than can play all three positions if needed, but projects best to the weak-side. He’s strong, can attack blocks, is a very good tackler who has pop as a hitter, shows ability in coverage and can blitz when asked to. He’s got it all, and he’s very underrated despite that. I may end up putting a 2nd round grade on him when my film study on him is done.

2- Zach Brown, OLB, North Carolina: Brown had a great week, partially because the practices were non-contact and he wasn’t able to display his relatively poor tackling skills. This week was the perfect venue for Brown to show off his terrific athleticism and his ability to run around and find the ball. However, when he’s got the pads on and is asked to tackle he will come back down to Earth because he’s not a fundamentally sound tackler and often tries to go for the big hit. He also likes to arm tackle, and doesn’t consistently wrap up at all. I expect two or more missed tackles from him today.

3- Lavonte David, OLB, Nebraska: David is an undersized linebacker who will probably have to play weak-side linebacker in the NFL, but he’s a very good tackler who is a pretty complete linebacker himself. If he was a little bit bigger he would be a very highly thought of prospect, and I have always been one who doesn’t like to overlook smaller players with lots of talent.

4- Sean Spence, OLB, Miami: Spence is another undersized playmaker at linebacker. He’s even smaller than David is unfortunately, and at the beginning of the week there was talk of moving him to safety, but I think he has to stay at linebacker personally. He’s got good instincts, is a reliable tackler and shows some ability in coverage. Play him at weak-side linebacker and he should be fine.

5- James-Michael Johnson, ILB, Nevada: JMJ is one of the more athletic middle linebacker prospects in the draft this year. Like Brown, the practices this week were a chance for him to put on a show thanks to his athletic ability. I’m much more interested to see how he tackles today.

Cornerbacks:

1- Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama: Jenkins looked like a 1st round pick the entire week. He’s an impressive athlete  with the ability to play press-man, off-man or zone coverage in my opinion. Some were not high on him coming into the week, but I knew I was watching a special corner when I saw him at Florida. He’s got off-field concerns that will hurt his stock, but I still see him ending up in round 1. I feel more comfortable with him on the field than I do with Dre Kirkpatrick.

2- Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia: Boykin is an undersized corner but he presents plenty of upside as a starter at corner as well as a return man. He won a college football award for versatility this year, and I think he may end up in the 2nd or 3rd round range once all is said and done.

3- Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt: Hayward has been underrated for the last two years but he’s finally starting to catch some people’s eyes. He told me he thought part of that was that not a lot of people watch Vanderbilt, which I definitely think has some merit. But he put his skills on display this week and I think he’s a top 100 player without a doubt.

4- Jamell Fleming, CB, Oklahoma: Fleming is a guy that not a lot of people have been high on, but I like his upside as a man or zone coverage corner. He’s a quality cover man, and I think he has starter potential in the NFL.

5- Leonard Johnson, CB, Iowa State: Leonard Johnson came into the week with a little hype and I think he lived up to it. He’s not a very good off-man corner, though he does have the ability to mirror receivers which impressed me, but his value comes as a press-man corner or perhaps in zone. I think he’s a top 100 player as well.

6- Ryan Steed, CB, Furman: Steed isn’t a big corner but he has pretty good change of direction ability which he showed this week. He looked better in press-man than off-man, but struggled a bit when asked to locate the ball and make a play on it at times. I haven’t seen much tape on him, but I think he has upside and would like to see more of him if I get the chance.

Safeties:

1- George Iloka, S, Boise State: Iloka is one of the more physically impressive players here thanks to his impressive size, length and athletic ability. He didn’t impress me in man coverage this week, but he’s got pretty good range and his size will help him deep against big, physically imposing receivers at the next level.

2- Markelle Martin, S, Oklahoma State: Martin didn’t stick out to me a lot this week, but he’s always looked reliable on film and in a weak safety class he may go earlier than he should. I’m interested to see how he does when he’s asked to play deep in pretty vanilla coverages today.

3- Brandon Taylor, S, LSU: Taylor was a playmaker at safety this year for LSU but I didn’t quite see the playmaking ability here this week. He’s definitely a draftable prospect in the 4th round range, but I’m not sure how much upside he has.

4- Antonio Allen, S, South Carolina: Allen is a player that has a good feel for finding the ball and seems to be a pretty reliable tackler. I’m not sure how he is in coverage though, so I’m looking forward to seeing him more today.

5- Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame: Smith has had a solid week but he hasn’t been great. He’s not a flashy player and seems like a pretty reliable guy, but I’m not sure he has starter upside at the next level.

Kickers/Punters:

1- Randy Bullock, K, Texas A&M: Bullock was the Lou Groza award winner this year and he was a great kid to talk to when I had the chance. He’s got a strong leg and he’s obviously very accurate, so I’ll be rooting for him in the NFL. He may even have a chance to get drafted, which isn’t a given for kickers.

2- Drew Butler, P, Georgia: Butler has a very strong leg, I noticed it last year when I was scouting Justin Houston. He can really punt that ball a long way, and has a shot at getting drafted even though he had a pretty inconsistent year kicking for Georgia when I watched him.

3- Brad Nortman, P, Wisconsin: Nortman is a very good punter with a strong leg as well. He, Butler and Anger from the Shrine Game all showed draftable ability to me which is pretty rare for punters.

North Roster Notes:

Tight Ends:

Michael Egnew (Missouri) continued to be the class of the tight ends in Mobile. He’s such an impressive athlete and he is flashing ability as a blocker this week. He’s got reliable hands, he knows how to use his body to shield defenders, and if he continues to improve as a blocker he could be a top 40 selection. Regardless, I think he’s a 2nd round lock. He’s underrated in the scouting community right now, but that won’t last long. He’s the top senior tight end. Brian Linthicum (Michigan State) didn’t practice today, I’m not sure why. Hopefully he will be back on the field in the next day or two.

Offensive Line:

As I said in my preview of the Senior Bowl I think that Kevin Zeitler (Wisconsin) is the top senior offensive guard and I still believe that. He looks like a 2nd round lock to me, and all the scouts around me were impressed with him today. He’s an impressive player and while he was beat by speed a couple times overall he had a good day. I talked with him briefly when I set up an interview after the practice and he thought he did poorly, but seemed to be his own toughest critic and assured me he would be better on Wednesday. He might be the 2nd or 3rd best offensive lineman in mobile this week. Mike Adams (Ohio State) continued to impress today. He wasn’t quite as impressive as he was yesterday, but he still played well and got some time at right tackle and guard as well as left tackle. I don’t see a great push from him in the run game so I don’t like his potential as much at right tackle, so I think left tackle is his best position. He will struggle with speed at one point, but barring an unforeseen injury the match-up between Adams at left tackle and Coples at defensive end may be the most intriguing of any that could occur in that game. I can’t wait to see that.

Mike Brewster (Ohio State) is a solid center but I don’t like his ability to anchor and he struggles against bigger, stronger players at times. He did show the ability to handle Ta’amu at times, but Ta’amu struggles with leverage and hasn’t played as strong as he looks sometimes. He’s the best center in Mobile, but that isn’t saying as much as one might think. Kelechi Osemele (Iowa State) continued to struggle a bit in my eyes. He’s powerful and has a nice punch, but it seems to be limited to the phone booth. He lumbers when he moves, struggles to redirect and doesn’t have the athleticism to stick at right tackle. He will have to move inside to guard and he might limit teams from a scheme standpoint there. He can excel in a man scheme that doesn’t require a lot of pulling from him, but if he’s in a scheme that requires more movement from him he will struggle in my opinion. Mitchell Schwartz (California) also had an up and down day. He’s a solid, 5th/6th round right tackle prospect but he might have to move inside to guard. I don’t think he has much starting upside in the NFL, and he struggled with speed outside today.

One player that really stuck out to me today was Senio Kelemete (Washington). He has the versatility to play guard or tackle but spent most of his time at tackle today. I don’t know if he can play left tackle, and I think his upside is highest at guard, but he is an impressive athlete with a good first step and some pop on contact. I would like to see him sustain and finish a little bit better, but he’s an impressive player that may end up in the top 100 selections come draft day. His versatility to play tackle and guard will only boost his stock. Tony Bergstrom (Utah) also flashed a little bit today. He didn’t have a great day, but he has a pretty impressive initial punch and may have the makings of a right tackle in the NFL. I haven’t seen him much, but on one play his initial punch sent a defender to the ground in 1 on 1’s.

Defensive Line:

Mike Martin (Michigan) has arguably been the most impressive defensive lineman for the North since practices started. He is a compact guy but he is very strong, has active hands and impressive burst off the line of scrimmage. He and Brewster had a couple impressive battles but overall Martin definitely won the match-up. Scouts have higher grades on him than most media pundits do, so don’t be surprised if Martin goes much higher than people expect. I haven’t studied him yet, but he has the makings of a potential 2nd round grade from me. He’s an animal. Derek Wolfe (Cincinnati) continued to impress. They gave him a few reps at defensive end today which surprised me, but he has been disruptive at defensive tackle so far this week. He’s a great 3-tech or 5-tech prospect in my opinion, and I definitely like what I have seen from him so far. Kendall Reyes (Connecticut) surprised me with his speed and burst off the ball today. I knew he was athletic, but I was surprised to see him come off the ball so quickly. He’s a quality 3-tech prospect, though I’m not sure I have much higher than a 3rd or 4th round grade on him right now.

Jack Crawford (Penn State) probably shouldn’t be here in my opinion. I’m not a fan and neither are the scouts I’ve talked to. He sounds like one of those guys who can show you something in practice and flash in 1 on 1’s, but doesn’t show up on game day and struggles to locate the ball. Vinny Curry (Marshall) hasn’t shown me much when I have seen him either. He has ability, I just don’t think he has 1st round ability. He didn’t show me round one ability on tape and he hasn’t shown it to me here yet. I’m hoping to see him perform like I’ve heard he can, but it’s not there yet. Billy Winn (Boise State) also disappointed me a bit today. He was going up against some quality talent on the North offensive line, but he only won one or two match-ups if I remember correctly. He stayed blocked more than I saw on tape, and didn’t have much variety in his pass rush moves. I’ll be watching him the rest of the week, but he looked like a 3rd round guy to me today. Alameda Ta’amu (Washington) was also unimpressive to me today. He’s got everything you could want in a 4-3 or 3-4 nose tackle prospect but it just doesn’t equate to a quality performance. The size and athleticism is there, he just can’t produce. He’s a two-down player in a 4-3 and might be able to play three downs in a 3-4 if he can prove he can collapse the pocket, but the pass rush just isn’t there from him. He needs to play with better pad level to avoid negating his natural power, as he was even blocked by Brewster in 1 on 1’s today. He’s got upside, but he’s a 3rd rounder in my opinion.

One player that really impressed me today was Shea McClellin (Boise State). He’s very athletic, has impressive burst and really gave the offensive tackles trouble in 1 on 1’s today. I love his potential as a 3-4 outside linebacker. I haven’t seen him in coverage this week, but I really think he has the potential to be 1st rounder and an impact player at that position. Hopefully I’ll have an interview later this week, I talked to him briefly after practice today.

Linebackers:

Honestly, I didn’t see much of the linebackers today but one thing I will say is that I like Audie Cole (North Carolina State). He impressed me on film and he has impressed me so far when I have seen him, though that time has been limited thus far. He’s going to be a riser after this week, I can tell you that.

I was focusing on the offensive line and the defensive line today, but my colleague at NFL Draft Monsters Brandon Howard was keeping an eye on the skill position players today. Give him a follow on Twitter @DashDiallo1 and follow this link to get to our complete coverage of the North and South practices! Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Defensive Line:

Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall: Curry is a very talented player but when I watched him I just didn’t see 1st round ability from him. He’s been very productive at Marshall and deserves to be at the Senior Bowl, I just don’t know that I buy him as a 1st round pick based on the film I’ve seen of him. I will be very interested to see how he does against this significant jump in competition.

Mike Martin, DT, Michigan: Martin is an all effort/all hustle defensive tackle that I like despite his lack of size. He’s going to be a rotational guy from day one in the NFL in my opinion and while he won’t wow people at the weigh-in I think he is going to make an impact at the next level.

Shea McClellin, DE, Boise State: I’m glad McClellin got an invite here because I like him as a defensive end. I don’t think he’s a 1st rounder but he’s definitely in the 2nd/3rd round range on my board right now and I haven’t done much film study on him yet. He’s got some edge speed and if he filled out his frame a little bit I think he could be a 4-3 left end and apply a pass rush from the position which is much harder to find that many realize. He can definitely help himself this week, so I’m looking forward to watching him.

Alameda Ta’amu, DT, Washington: Ta’amu had a TON of hype going into the bowl game against Baylor and then Baylor ran right up the middle all game and people started to hop off the bandwagon. Ta’amu didn’t impress me in that game at all obviously, but he didn’t get to be a legitimate NFL prospect because he played like that all season. He will make himself a lot of money this week if he shows he can stand up to double teams and that he has some burst off the line of scrimmage. But he will continue to drop if he gets washed out versus the run and shows no push as a pass rusher.

Billy Winn, DT, Boise State: Winn is a guy I have been high on since last year, he’s got impressive size and length based on the film I’ve seen of him and I really like his upside as a 4-3 DT or as a 3-4 defensive end. He’s got versatility and I think he’s going to end up going in the first two rounds, especially since this defensive tackle class isn’t exactly stacked.

Derek Wolfe, DT, Cincinnati: Wolfe is an underrated player that doesn’t have huge upside but I think he has starting potential in the NFL. Brandon Holstein (@NFLDraftRoundUp on Twitter, follow him) pointed him out to me the first time months ago this season and when I got a chance to watch him I liked what I saw. Again, he’s not a stud defensive tackle but he is definitely draftable in the 3rd/4th round range in my opinion and I look forward to seeing what he can do this week.

Andre Branch, DE, Clemson: Andre Branch was a player that I did not like at ALL when I watched him as a junior last season with Bowers opposite him, so I did not have high expectations for him as a senior at all. Most of his pressure on the quarterback came as a result of one on one’s and he didn’t show that he could use his hands at all and accomplished all his production thanks to his athleticism. But this year he flashed hand usage and the ability to use pass rush moves when I watched him. He has a TON to prove this week because if he has a good week he could be one of the biggest winners of the Senior Bowl thanks to his prototypical defensive end size and athleticism. Keep an eye out for Branch because he could make himself a ton of money this week.

Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina: Coples came into the season projected to be a top 5 pick and his stock has slowly slid ever since then. He didn’t live up to expectations as a defensive end this year and plenty of people are projecting him inside to defensive tackle. I have no doubt that he could bulk up to play defensive tackle, but I haven’t given up hope on him as a left end. I think people really underestimate how difficult it is to find a left defensive end that can play the run and rush the passer at a high level. Coples has that potential and I think that is what will keep him from sliding out of the top 20 or 25 ultimately. He has a lot to prove this week as well, and as a Tar Heel fan I will certainly be rooting for him.

Jaye Howard, DT, Florida: I am really happy that Howard is here. I remember watching him as a junior and thinking that he definitely had draftable ability and I believe he was on my list of potential break-out players this year. He definitely deserves to be here and he could open some eyes this week. He’s not the flashiest guy but he is reliable and should make some plays in the backfield this week.

Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina: Ingram has a chance to make himself a lot of money this week as well. He’s got quality size for a defensive end and has really improved his stock over the course of the season when everyone (including me) thought Devin Taylor and Jadeveon Clowney would be the talk of the defensive end position. I’m excited to see him live this week.

Tydreke Powell, DT, North Carolina: Powell is a player that I personally think is very overrated. He’s got a late round grade from me at this point and having seen a significant amount of film on him I’m not sure there’s a lot he can do this week to change my mind. His upside in the NFL is a 4-3 NT but he doesn’t offer much as a pass rusher and he doesn’t defend the run well either. His best bet is to land in a scheme that asks all of their defensive linemen to penetrate and make plays in the backfield, but he isn’t the athlete to consistently do that (it’s just what he likes to do, based on film). Powell could get exposed this week if he doesn’t play with better gap responsibility, and I have no reason to think he will based on the film I’ve watched.

Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama: I’m very glad Upshaw is here and I’m sure a lot of other people are as well. He will likely be playing out of position at 4-3 DE all week, but he has enough ability to play with his hand down and succeed even if his best position is 3-4 OLB in my eyes. I’m excited to see him in person because he really impressed me when I watched him this year, especially in the National Championship.

Linebackers:

Honestly, I’m not wowed with the linebackers here. Zach Brown (North Carolina) is the odds on favorite to be the first one drafted, but I’m not high on him and he looks like a better athlete than a linebacker when I watch him. He won’t be able to show his tackling ability this week so he could really impress people thanks to his athleticism and potential but he struggles with wrapping up and making quality tackles. One guy I do like is Nigel Bradham (Florida State). He’s not an elite prospect but I think he will be a NFL starter in a 4-3 defense. Another guy I am very high on is Keenean Robinson from Texas. He’s got great instincts and may be my odds on favorite to boost his stock as much as any other linebacker in Mobile this week. Look out for him, he is an absolute player.

Defensive Backs:

This defensive back group took a hit when Mark Barron (Alabama) announced that he would not be here this week, but it makes sense that he elected to skip it because his stock can really only go down at this point. I’m very excited to see Casey Hayward (Vanderbilt) who I have been talking up for well over a year at corner, Janoris Jenkins (North Alabama, formerly of Florida), Alfonzo Dennard (Nebraska), Jamell Fleming (Oklahoma) and Leonard Johnson (Iowa State). Jenkins was a corner I was very high on when he was at Florida, so it will be fun to see him in person despite the troubles he has this past year. Jamell Fleming and Hayward were both on my potential break-out players list that I posted before the season this year, so I am very excited to see both of them live. I really like both of them in coverage even though they may not have prototypical size (Hayward may be 5’9” or 5’10”) and speed. They’re good cover corners and that should show this week.

West Roster Notes:

Quarterbacks:

Chandler Harnish (Northern Illinois) had an up and down day today. He showed that he could make stick throws on one hand, but also missed high some today and threw a pick 6 to Tank Carder in the two minute drill late in practice. He’s still the #2 quarterback in St. Petersburg in my eyes, but he didn’t have a great day today. I talked to him on the phone tonight and he told me that there is a fine line between being too aggressive and being willing to take a shot or throw into a tight window. He mentioned taking snaps from under center and learning to go through progressions as things he has been working on this week, and I think that he has made progress this week. He has made mistakes, but I think he has gotten better and learned from his mistakes. Dan Persa (Northwestern) may have had his best day of practice today, but he looked good today. He might have the best ball velocity of all three quarterbacks on the West, though it wouldn’t be by much. His height hurts him but he is a gamer and has quality intangibles. He will get a shot in camp, I’m just not sure he will be able to stick.

Running Backs:

I continue to like what I have seen from Bobby Rainey (Western Kentucky) and I am excited to see how he does on Saturday. One guy I was impressed with today was Marc Tyler (Southern Cal). There weren’t any practices with full pads this week, so it was tough to get a great feel for the running backs, but Tyler is finally healthy and he looked faster than he did on tape to me. He’s caught the ball better every day this week and seems to have pretty soft hands. He has impressed me the last couple days, but I’m excited to see him run through contact on Saturday.

Wide Receivers:

Jarius Wright (Arkansas) and Devon Wylie (Fresno State) continue to lead this group. They’ve both helped themselves this week, but Wylie has definitely opened more eyes I think. Unfortunately Junior Hemingway (Michigan) seems to have suffered a hamstring injury and may not be able to play in the game on Saturday. Here’s hoping his injury heals up and he is able to go. Greg Childs (Arkansas) has had a solid week and the defensive players I have talked to have been impressed with him. I’m still not sure if he is 100%, but I will know more after I get to talk to him at length in an interview.

Offensive Line:

Brandon Brooks (Miami Ohio) continued his strong play today. He still looks like the top offensive line prospect in St. Petersburg. DaJohn Harris told me he thinks he’s the only lineman who hasn’t lost a one on one battle this week.

Defensive Line:

Dominique Hamilton (Missouri) continues to display his strength and power, but he stood up too much out of his stance for my liking today. But he has the potential to play at the nose in a 4-3 or MAYBE in a 3-4 as well as a 5 technique. He’s been strong all week, but I’m ready to see him in the game on Saturday.

When I spoke to DaJohn Harris he spoke highly of teammate Justin Francis (Rutgers) saying he has a non-stop motor that impressed him. I’ve noticed Francis’ motor as well and I think it might help him stick on a NFL roster.

Linebackers:

Tank Carder (TCU) had a pick 6 today and continues to play well in coverage but his lack of physicality has been very apparent this week. Obviously they haven’t been in pads and haven’t been tackling, but he has struggled to shed blocks and has stayed blocked too often. Brandon Marshall (Nevada) has looked good as well, and I believe he had an interception today. He may not be flashy, but he’s a reliable football player.

Defensive Backs:

I still believe Shaun Prater (Iowa) is the top corner on the West roster and the second best corner in St. Petersburg this week. He has pretty good footwork and good hips. I like something about Rodney McLeod (Virginia) as well. He’s got good feet and hips and I think he has some developmental potential as a corner. He hasn’t had a great work of practice, but I think he has tools that a coach can work with.

West Roster Notes:

Boy did it rain a lot at this practice. Just when it seemed to be letting up it seemed to pour rain. It rained literally the entire time, though it did let up towards the end when they called it. Not ideal conditions, but there was still information to be gleaned.

Quarterbacks:

Chandler Harnish (Northern Illinois) didn’t have a great day in the wet, rainy conditions. He didn’t measure in with big hands (9 ¼ inches) so I think that as well as the rain made it a little hard for him to grip the ball at times. He fumbled a couple exchanges when I was watching him early in practice and he missed high with some wobbly spirals when I watched him later in team drills.

Running Backs:

I continue to like Bobby Rainey (Western Kentucky) and I think he has a chance to open some eyes on Saturday. Marc Tyler (Southern Cal) doesn’t look like a great athlete, but he sure does look strong and he has caught the ball better the last couple of days. He doesn’t look like a NFL starter to me, but if he can stay healthy I think he can make a roster and possibly work himself into a contributing role.

Wide Receivers:

Devon Wylie (Fresno State) continues to make me look like a fool for not including him in my prospect preview at the beginning of the week as he had a strong day despite the rain today. He’s not perfect, but he looks like one of the top receivers on the West squad. Jarius Wright (Arkansas) continues to impress and run good routes, but his hands aren’t quite where I would like them to be. Dale Moss (South Dakota State) has the size and he can catch the ball, but I am still not sold on him from an athletic perspective.

Tight Ends:

Kevin Koger (Michigan) got nicked up late in practice, not sure what happened or what his ailment is, but hopefully he is alright. David Paulson (Oregon) had one drop in team when I was watching which was frustrating; his sure handedness is something I like about him.

Offensive Line:

Tom Compton (South Dakota) had a solid day run blocking but he got absolutely blown by on the outside by Tyrone Crawford in team. Crawford isn’t exactly a speedster, so while Compton has flashed some upside at times this week I have a feeling he will end up an undrafted guy who will try to make a team as a right tackle. I’m not sure I saw Marcus Zusevics (Iowa) out there today. Maybe I am just oblivious, but I don’t have a single note on him and I don’t recall seeing him at any point. He looked like he hurt his ankle on Tuesday, so hopefully it’s nothing serious.

Ryan Miller (Colorado) and Matt Reynolds (BYU) continued to struggle today. Miller is going to have to stay inside at guard which won’t be easy to do at his height. Traditionally guards at that height are mauling offensive linemen who were outside at tackle in college but had to move inside at the next level. Miller is no mauler and has struggled with hand placement all week. He doesn’t have a strong lower body and has struggled a lot versus bull rushes as well. He looks like a 6th round pick to me at this point. Reynolds is a guy I haven’t been high on for well over a year and that hasn’t changed this week. He continues to bend at the waist, struggles with balance and doesn’t have the lower body strength to anchor against quality bull rushes. He’s barely a draftable prospect in my eyes at this point.

Brandon Brooks (Miami, Ohio) continues to shine as the best offensive lineman on the West squad. His size and power is impressive and he earned high marks from Coach Mangino during practice today in 1 on 1’s when he said “Brandon, do you realize how much better you are now than you were on Monday?” You love to see a prospect progress during the week with coaching, and Brooks has done that. He looks like a future NFL starter at guard with some coaching.

Moe Petrus (Connecticut) has not impressed me this week. He looks like a late round/undrafted player at this point and really struggled in one on one drills today. David Snow (Texas) wasn’t much better, and I think he will end up going undrafted as well.

Ben Heenan (Saskatchewan) and Al Netter (Northwestern) have both flashed ability at guard. Heenan looks like he is a late round pick or undrafted player at this point, but he has flashed ability here and there. He doesn’t look like he anchors very well against bull rushes at times though, and has been beaten badly at times. He might be an alright fit in a zone-blocking scheme though as he has looked comfortable combo  blocking all week and looks fairly mobile. Netter has improved considerably during the week after shifting inside to guard on Monday. I like him a lot better as a guard as expected and he has done a good job using his length and his lower body strength to anchor against bull rushes. He struggled with this at times on tape, but he has looked better this week. He’s a draftable guy that I think could end up being a quality reserve or possibly a solid starter inside at guard.

Defensive Line:

Tyrone Crawford (Boise State), Dominique Hamilton (Missouri) and DaJohn Harris had good days today. Hamilton and Harris have looked good all week, but today was the best Crawford has looked to me. He beat Compton bad off the edge in team drills and looked strong at the point of attack. He looks like he could be a solid left end in a 4-3 even though I don’t think he offers a whole lot as a pass rusher, but he might also be able to bulk up and try playing defensive end in a 3-4. More than likely he will end up being a rotational guy in a 4-3 defense in my opinion and go in the 5th or 6th round range. Hamilton continued to demonstrate his size and strength and did a good job bull rushing today. When he stays low he can be tough to handle. Coming into the week I thought he might be a nice 2-down 3-4 NT or 4-3 NT, but I think his best position is probably 3-4 defensive end at this point. He has some burst and can penetrate at times versus the run, but he doesn’t offer much as a pass rusher and I don’t think that is entirely likely to change. Harris, though, has some upside as a pass rusher. He continues to penetrate into the backfield in team drills and has been tough to handle for most in 1 on 1 drills. He has helped himself this week and should go in the 4th round range and contribute to a rotation early in his career.

Linebackers:

I liked what I saw from Brandon Marshall (Nevada) today, he sniffed out a screen and seemed to have a solid day today in the rain. He’s a late round guy like most of the linebackers in St. Petersburg are, but I like what he brings to the table as a tackler. Josh Kaddu (Oregon) and Jerry Franklin (Arkansas) are my top two linebackers on the West squad, with Tank Carder (TCU) earning a 5th or 6th round grade from me.

Defensive Backs:

Shaun Prater (Iowa) continues to look solid in coverage this week and I think that Rodney McLeod has some ability at corner. I’m not sure what role he will be in once he gets to the NFL, but I think he can make a roster. He hasn’t been great this week, but he has been solid.

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