Tag Archive: Western Michigan


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.

Alex Carder, QB, Western Michigan: Carder is a solid quarterback for Western Michigan and it has been interesting to compare and contrast him with Tim Hiller, the quarterback he replaced for the Broncos. He’s got solid size at 6’2”, 224 pounds and was productive this season with 3,873 yards, a 65.74 completion percentage, 31 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. The game against Purdue was not one of his better games as he finished with four interceptions marking the second game he had thrown more than one all season (he threw three against Ball State). Carder has solid arm strength and accuracy and is more physically gifted than Hiller was because of his ability to extend plays with his feet and to avoid the rush. He isn’t a burner by any means, but he can move when he has to and is somewhat of a threat to run and pick up yardage with his legs. That said, I think at best he is a late round prospect because despite his solid physical tools I don’t think he has the arm strength to make every NFL throw with solid zip and he doesn’t do a good job of reading defenses and making good decisions at all. His four interceptions yesterday were not coincidences and he could have had a couple more if Purdue had not dropped them. He forces throws into coverage more than he should and part of that has to do with how much he throws the ball but part of that is that he simply doesn’t make very good decisions. He has the ability to make nice throws when he can put touch on them as evidenced by the nice throw to Jordan White for their first touchdown and a couple other throws over the top of the coverage. However, when he attempted to make stick throws down the seam he struggled to put the appropriate amount of zip on them and didn’t place them well which limited his offenses potential as Purdue seemed to get comfortable defending their up-tempo offense. Carder is a solid MAC prospect but he won’t get drafted before the 6th or 7th round next year in my opinion.

White had a fantastic game and honestly, something about him makes me think he will have a successful NFL career.

Jordan White, WR, Western Michigan: White is a beast let me just say that right now. He may not be the fastest guy especially after his knee injury but he is a beast. He has very reliable hands, some of the best in this 2012 class of receivers, and has been insanely productive for Western Michigan both for this season and for his entire career. Now, I don’t expect him to be picked in the first three rounds or anything but I think in the 5th round he warrants some significant consideration. Yes, you’d like to spend those picks on guys with more upside than a guy who probably won’t run much faster than a 4.55 in the 40 yard dash but he’s got solid size at 6’0”, 215 pounds and accumulated 140 receptions, 1,911 yards and 17 touchdowns on the season. He also had 222 yards and a 13.06 average per return as a punt returner. He caught nearly every pass that hit him in the hands against Purdue save one possible drop, but he made some difficult catches look routine and made a fantastic one handed snag with his left hand on a pass thrown one or two yards behind him. Had he not somehow made this terrific catch on a deep ball from Carder it certainly looked like it was going to get intercepted by a Purdue defensive back. White may not have insane upside from a physical standpoint but overall I was pretty impressed with his route running and you can see he has improved this over the past couple of years. He showed some solid burst in and out of his breaks and some suddenness to create separation. Personally I would love to have him on my team because you know he’s going to work very hard, he doesn’t have great speed but he runs good routes, he will make catches when your team needs a play, and he is stronger and more physical than you might think and has shown the ability to gain yards after the catch. I think the 5th round is definitely where he has the best shot to come off the board, but something about him makes me want to put a 3rd/4th round grade on him. He’s just too reliable with too good of hands to pass up.

Anthony Parker, OT, Western Michigan: Parker doesn’t have a great build at 6’5”, 321 pounds not because of his height but because he’s got a pretty big belly. He may want to work on that before any All-Star game he might go to or before the combine, but regardless of that I don’t think he will be able to stick at offensive tackle in the NFL. He struggled mightily against an impressive freshman defensive end on Purdue named Ryan Russell and he will continue to struggle at either offensive tackle spot should he be drafted or signed as an undrafted free agent. Personally I think his best bet is to slide inside to guard where his possibly above average first step and size may give him an advantage and it will mask his lack of lateral quickness to mirror defenders off the edge. It was pretty obvious he couldn’t take away Russell’s speed rush whenever he wanted which led to him opening up his hips too early and too often making him very susceptible to inside moves which Russell took advantage of to create significant pressure on Carder all game. Even if he slides inside to guard there is no guarantee he will be drafted or even competed over to be signed as an undrafted free agent, but I think he has a chance to make it into a camp and compete for a practice squad spot as a guard. He will never make it that far as a tackle.

Drew Nowak, DT, Western Michigan: Nowak had a fantastic season this year with over 20.0 TFL, 8.5 sacks, a forced fumble and two blocked kicks but that won’t guarantee himself a spot in the 2012 NFL Draft. He is listed at 6’4”, 295 pounds but he didn’t look quite 6’4” to me and I wouldn’t be surprised if he measured in as short as 6’2” personally. I also noticed that he seemed to have relatively short arms which led to him getting engulfed by the larger Purdue offensive linemen. He has above average burst off the line of scrimmage and flashed some solid hand usage as he tried to beat the Purdue interior linemen off the snap. However, that didn’t work very often and while he forced Purdue’s left guard to hold once or twice (even though it was uncalled) he didn’t have a very significant impact on the game because of his struggles to keep Purdue’s offensive linemen from engaging him and taking him out of the play. He has solid size, solid athleticism and a pretty good motor but I don’t think he’s going to be anything more than a late round pick or possibly a UDFA if he can’t improve his stock in the offseason.

Freddie Bishop, DE, Western Michigan: Bishop didn’t stick out to me very much but he flashed some solid edge speed when he was in the game. TerBush and Marve threw a combined 20 passes so there weren’t a lot of opportunities to rush the passer, especially because some of those were quick screens designed to get the ball out quickly. Bishop emerged a bit statistically this year and it will be interesting to see how he and Paul Hazel do next year as they will likely be one of the best pass rushing tandems in the MAC.

I think Paul Hazel has the size, athleticism and upside to be a quality 3-4 OLB if he can fill out his 6'5", 210 pound frame.

Paul Hazel, DE, Western Michigan: I hadn’t seen Hazel play much before but I was impressed with him as a pass rusher. He’s got quality height and length at 6’5” and he looks like he has long arms, however he only weighs 210 pounds! He absolutely HAS to get above 225 pounds before next season or his stock is going to drop as his game is dissected. He’s a pretty fluid athlete and while I haven’t seen him drop into coverage a lot he looks like he could be athletic to make that transition. Hopefully WMU lets him stand up more next year. But the most important part of this offseason will be adding weight for Hazel, and it will be very telling if he doesn’t come back bigger and stronger because he needs to.

Johnnie Simon, S, Western Michigan: Simon wasn’t always in on defense from what I could tell but I was very impressed with his run defense, his tackling, and his ability to blitz off the edge. He may have been playing in a “Buc” role where he is like an additional linebacker, but he proved effective versus the run regardless of how he was used. He had a solid stat line as far as pass break-ups and interceptions this year with seven break-ups and two interceptions on the season, so he will be one to watch as he continues to develop as a junior next year.

Caleb TerBush, QB, Purdue: I expected TerBush to throw a bit more than he did but Marve actually threw a comparable amount and was arguably more effective doing it. TerBush has another year left whereas Marve is graduating so it will be interesting to see what he will be able to do with some starting experience under his belt. He’s not much of a NFL Draft prospect at this point, but he has NFL size and a solid arm, so you have to keep an eye on him for that reason. He doesn’t have much pocket poise and doesn’t operate in a NFL offense since he doesn’t make a lot of stick throws downfield, but he has a chance to grow this offseason and during his senior year.

Akeem Shavers, RB, Purdue: Shavers had the best game of his career running 22 times for 149 yards with a long of 44 yards. Shavers has solid size at 5’11”, 203 pounds and displayed pretty good burst, acceleration and speed to rip of nice yardage. He will be competing for touches next year in a relatively crowded backfield and didn’t really have a break-out year this year, so it will be interesting to see if he is the main guy or if Ralph Bolden, the RB he was replacing in the starting line-up in this game, will be the main man. I liked what I saw of Shavers yesterday, but it’s hard for me to project him as anything more than a 7th round pick or a priority free agent at this point.

Akeem Hunt, RB, Purdue: Hunt only had four touches on offense against WMU but he rushed for 38 yards including a 33 yard long. He is only a freshman and should help Purdue establish this run-heavy offensive attack next year. He will likely be the #3 scat back next year barring injury to either Bolden or Shavers, but he is the leading candidate to take over as the feature back in two years as a junior. He’s undersized at 5’9”, but he has good quickness and speed.

Antavian Edison, WR, Purdue: Edison only had one catch on the game but it was a terrific grab for 23 yards. He went up for a deep ball and it was deflected before it got there but he kept his concentration, caught the ball with his hands and held onto it in traffic for the big gain. It was a great catch, but because Purdue was running so much he didn’t see much more action than that against WMU. Hopefully he gets more touches next year because I think he has some upside.

Gary Bush, WR, Purdue: Bush doesn’t have as good of hands as Edison does and struggled to locate and adjust to a couple deep passes Purdue attempted during this game but he was lethal on screens and took what I believe was a bubble screen for a 33 yard touchdown in the 2nd half. He doesn’t have great size at 6’0”, 175 pounds and he looks very skinny on film but he has some speed and decent hands. He’s a fringe draftable prospect at this point but his speed may warrant some interest.

Ryan Russell has an impressive combination of size and athleticism and demonstrated his upside creating consistent pressure against WMU.

Ryan Russell, DE, Purdue: Russell may very well have been the most impressive player not only on Purdue’s defense but on their whole team against Western Michigan in my opinion. That might sound like high praise for someone who, as far as I’m aware, had one tackle, sack and forced fumble. The sack and forced fumble was an important one though, as it led to a fumble recovery by his fellow defensive lineman Bruce Gaston. He didn’t register a lot of tackles or sacks but he was applying consistent pressure by beating both offensive tackles for Western Michigan when he wanted to. At 6’4”, 264 pounds as a freshman he has fantastic size for someone so young and has a ton of upside. Purdue has churned out some quality defensive lineman recently in Ryan Kerrigan, Mike Neal and now Kawann Short, Bruce Gaston and hopefully Ryan Russell. His motor seemed to wane on one of WMU’s longer drives and he was letting himself remain blocked and wasn’t fighting through blocks. That’s concerning, but he has plenty of upside and should really start to take off on the stat sheet over the next year or two as he comes into his own and continues to develop. Keep an eye on this kid.

Kawann Short, DT, Purdue: Short was widely considered the top draft eligible prospect in this game but I was not impressed. He had a limited impact and seemed to show his frustration from not making plays or getting to the quarterback when he hit Carder after he threw late in the game which drew a flag. It was one of the few times he was in the quarterback’s face against WMU and he didn’t impress me much. Based on that game there’s no way I could give him a 2nd round grade, and it was disappointing since I was excited to watch him more and add to my notes on him. Though he did have a great season and could declare for the NFL Draft if he wanted to after that performance in the bowl game I think it would make more sense to come back for his senior year. He has room to grow if that performance is even a slight indication of what he needs to work on.

Bruce Gaston, DT, Purdue: Gaston is a solidly built sophomore DT and he was solid against WMU. I hope Short comes back because a defensive line of Short, Gaston and Russell would be pretty potent even in a conference with quality offensive linemen. Gaston flashed some ability yesterday by stuffing a play or two at the line of scrimmage as well as getting his hand up into passing lanes at times. He’s got solid upside but I want to see how he continues to develop.

Dwayne Beckford, LB, Purdue: Beckford was one guy I was looking forward to watching in this game but he was suspended for it. I imagine it was a response to Beckford being arrested on the suspicion of drunk driving just a couple weeks before the bowl game. He was also ejected from Purdue’s game against Iowa this year for throwing a punch, so this is unfortunately becoming a bit of a pattern of bad behavior for Beckford. That’s too bad because he was one of Purdue’s best players this year on defense. He’s got maturity concerns without a doubt, so it will be interesting to see if he grows up at all or if he will continue to waste his talent with stupid mistakes.

Joe Holland, LB, Purdue: Holland was one of the pleasant surprises of the night for me. He’s not a freak athlete as he is 6’1”, 229 pounds but he was one of the best tacklers on the field if not THE best and while I don’t think he has starting upside in the NFL I think he could definitely make a career of being a long-term back-up and special teams ace. I expect he will go undrafted but guys that tackle like he does have a place in the NFL on special teams, so look for him on coverage units in the future.

Will Lucas, LB, Purdue: Lucas is an undersized linebacker at only 5’11”, 226 pounds but he makes up for it with his athleticism. He will have to step up as the team is losing Holland to graduation, but he had 74 total tackles this year (43 solo) and 8.5 TFL so he is ready to take the next step in my opinion. He intrigues me as a WLB and on one play he shocked Carder on an option play because he SHOT into the gap and wrapped Carder up for a loss near the goal line. I wrote down that he “looked like a little missile.” So look out for him next year!

Thanks for reading! I’ll try to keep up with these bowl games, but one man can only do so much!

–Tom

Alex Carder, QB, Western Michigan:
6’2”, 224 lb Jr. 299/445 (67.2% comp), 3,434 yards (7.7 YPA), 28:10 TD:INT, 253 rush yards, 4 TD’s

Jordan White, WR, Western Michigan:
6’0”, 215 lb Sr. 127 receptions, 1,646 yards (12.96 avg), 16 TD’s. 17 PR’s, 222 yards (13.06 average).

Anthony Parker, OT, Western Michigan:
6’5”, 321 lb Sr.

Drew Nowak, DT, Western Michigan:
6’4”, 295 lb Sr. 83 total tackles (35 solo), 20.0 TFL, 8.5 sacks, 1 FF, 2 Kicks/Punts blocked

Freddie Bishop, DE, Western Michigan:
6’4”, 253 lb Jr. 50 total tackles (17 solo), 12.0 TFL, 5.5 sacks.

Paul Hazel, DE, Western Michigan:
6’5”, 210 lb Jr. 18 total tackles (9 solo), 2.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 2 FF’s, 4 pass break ups.

Johnnie Simon, S, Western Michigan:
6’0”, 180 lb Soph. 103 total tackles (55 solo), 8.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 7 pass break-ups, 2 INT’s

Caleb TerBush, QB, Purdue:
6’5”, 225 lb Jr. 163/264 (61.7% comp), 1,803 yards, 12:6 TD:INT, 227 rush yards, 1 TD.

Akeem Shavers, RB, Purdue:
5’11”, 203 lb Jr. 89 attempts, 370 yards (4.16 avg), 6 TD’s. 5 receptions, 58 yards, 1 TD.

Akeem Hunt, RB, Purdue:
5’9”, 175 lb Fr. 29 attempts, 249 yards (8.59 avg), 2 TD’s. 5 KR, 136 yards (27.20 average)

Antavian Edison, WR, Purdue:
5’11”, 175 lb Jr. 43 rec, 561 yards (13.05 avg), 3 TD’s. 124 rush yards, 2 TD’s.

Dennis Kelly, OT, Purdue:
6’8”, 306 lb Sr.

Ken Plue, OG, Purdue:
6’7”, 366 lb Sr.

Peters Drey, C, Purdue:
6’6”, 310 lb Jr.

Kawann Short, DT, Purdue:
6’3”, 310 lb Jr. 53 total tackles (28 solo), 17.5 TFL, 6.5 sacks, 1 FF, 1 pass break-up, 1 kick blocked

Bruce Gaston, DT, Purdue:
6’2”, 303 lb Soph. 28 total tackles (9 solo), 6.5 TFL, 3.0 sacks, 1 pass break-up, 1 kick blocked

Dwayne Beckford, LB, Purdue:
6’1”, 228 lb Jr. 90 total tackles (45 solo), 7.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks, 1 FF, 1 INT, 4 pass break-ups.

Joe Holland, LB, Purdue:
6’1”, 229 lb Sr. 85 total tackles (47 solo), 8.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 1 INT, 5 pass break-ups.

Will Lucas, LB, Purdue:
5’11”, 226 lb Soph. 74 total tackles (43 solo), 8.5 TFL, 1.0 sack, 1 FF, 1 pass break-up.

Josh Johnson, CB, Purdue:
5’11”, 195 lb Jr. 61 total tackles (45 solo), 3.5 TFL, 8 pass break-ups, 2 INT’s.

Ricardo Allen, CB, Purdue:
5’9”, 176 lb Soph. 71 total tackles (54 solo), 3.0 TFL, 3 pass break-ups, 3 INT’s (1 TD), 1 FF, 1 kick blocked

1- Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State: Grade: Top 10
2- Alshon Jeffrey, WR, South Carolina: Grade: 1st Round
3- Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame: Grade: 1st round
4- Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor: Grade: Late 1st/Early 2nd
5- Jarius Wright, WR, Arkansas: Grade: Late 1st/Early 2nd
6- Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers: Grade: Early/Mid 2nd
7- Rueben Randle, WR, LSU: Grade: Early/Mid 2nd
8- Nick Toon, WR, Wisconsin: Grade: 2nd/3rd
9- Dwight Jones, WR, North Carolina: Grade: 2nd/3rd
10- Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa: Grade: Grade: 3rd
11- A.J. Jenkins, WR, Illinois: Grade: 3rd
12- Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State: Grade: 3rd
13- T.Y. Hilton, WR, Florida International: Grade: 3rd/4th
14- Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas: Grade: 4th
15- Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma: Grade: 4th
16- Marquis Maze, WR, Alabama: Grade: 4th
17- Greg Childs, WR, Arkansas: Grade: 4th/5th
18- Jarrett Boykin, WR, Virginia Tech: Grade: 4th/5th
19- DeVier Posey, WR, Ohio State: Grade: 5th
20- Jeff Fuller, WR, Texas A&M: Grade: 5th
21- Juron Criner, WR, Arizona: Grade: 5th
22- Rishard Matthews, WR, Nevada: Grade: 5th
23- Jermaine Kearse, WR, Washington: Grade: 5th/6th
24- B.J. Cunningham, WR, Michigan State: Grade: 5th/6th
25- Gerell Robinson, WR, Arizona State: Grade: 5th/6th
26- Lance Lewis, WR, East Carolina: Grade: 6th
27- Jordan White, WR, Western Michigan: Grade: 6th
28- Marvin Jones, WR, California: Grade: 6th
29- Chris Owusu, WR, Stanford: Grade: 6th
30- Derek Moye, WR, Penn State: Grade: 6th
31- Travis Benjamin, WR, Miami: Grade: 6th/7th
32- Devon Wylie, WR, Fresno State: Grade: 7th
33- T.J. Graham, WR, North Carolina State: Grade: 7th
34- Keshawn Martin, WR, Michigan State: Grade: 7th
35- Mike Willie, WR, Arizona State: Grade: 7th
36- Junior Hemingway, WR, Michigan: Grade: 7th/UDFA
37- James Rodgers, WR, Oregon State: Grade: 7th/UDFA
38- Da’Jon McKnight, WR, Minnesota: Grade: 7th/UDFA
39- Thomas Mayo, WR, California (PA): Grade: 7th/UDFA
40- Darius Reynolds, WR, Iowa State: Grade: 7th/UDFA

NCAA Top 25 Picks Post

Here is a post where I make some picks for the games the top 25 teams are playing for the week. I’ll try to do this every week, but I might not always have time. I’ll track them to see how well (or poorly) I do over the course of the season. Enjoy!

Week Four NCAA Picks Post:

Oklahoma over Missouri

Analysis: Oklahoma’s offense and defense are both very good, and Missouri didn’t prove they could win against Arizona State, losing 37-30 in OT. James Franklin will probably struggle to carve up the Oklahoma defense like he did the ASU secondary, and I wonder just how much pressure their defense will be able to apply to Landry Jones. Jones will make poor throws when he has pressure in his face, so that will be the key to hanging in on this game. The problem is, I don’t think Missouri’s secondary can hold up consistently if the Tigers are forced to blitz to create pressure.

Oklahoma by 17

LSU over West Virginia

Analysis: LSU’s defense is the best in the country as far as I’m concerned. They were tested right off the bat against Oregon and stood very tall. I’ve never seen a defensive tackle rotation like theirs in all my years of watching football. I believe that they have four starting caliber defensive tackles, and they arguably have three starting caliber cornerbacks in Morris Claiborne, Tyrann Mathieu and Tharold Simon. Claiborne is a junior and Mathieu and Simon are both sophomores, but they might be the best trio of cornerbacks in the country. LSU’s run defense and pass defense are both very good and their defense is very fast, and I think they are going to cause a lot of problems for Geno Smith and his offensive counterparts. On defense, West Virginia will have to pressure Jarrett Lee, but also stop LSU from establishing the running game because they love to run play action after establishing the run (and they’re quite good at it). Without the play action fake LSU struggles to threaten downfield due to Lee’s lack of arm strength. However, I think WVU will struggle to take away the run game, end up loading the box, and therefore allowing Rueben Randle, Odell Beckham and Deagnelo Peterson to get behind the secondary.

LSU by 16

Alabama over Arkansas

This one was tough for me to call. Alabama probably has the #2 defense in the country behind LSU (at least as far as I’m concerned, but it’s definitely close) and they have a quarterback with limited experience as well in AJ McCarron. Luckily, they have two talented running backs to take the pressure off of him in Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy. Marquis Maze has stepped up as I thought he would and has 15 receptions, 186 yards and 1 TD in the first three contests. I think Alabama will be able to move the ball on offense against Arkansas’ defense, but I think that Alabama will be able to slow down the Razorbacks offensive attack. I love their WR’s, led by Cobi Hamilton as of now (13 receptions, a team leading 252 yards, 19.4 average per catch and 1 TD) and Tyler Wilson has stepped in to fill the void left by Ryan Mallett like I thought he would. However, Alabama’s defense is vastly better than Missouri State, New Mexico, Troy (the three teams he has faced this year) and much better than Auburn’s defense that struggled mightily to stop big, physically gifted receivers every time they matched up against them. Arkansas won’t get shut out by any means, but Alabama is going to be Tyler Wilson’s first real taste of what it’s like to play against a SEC caliber defense, and I don’t think he’s going to enjoy it.

Alabama by 13

Boise State over Tulsa

This really isn’t a hard pick in my opinion. Boise State’s defensive line is fierce and I expect Billy Winn and company to be in GJ Kinne’s face for the majority of this game. Boise State’s offense is still clicking thanks to Kellen Moore, so I expect this to be a relatively easy win. Kinne has a chance to show talent evaluators what he can do though, as his team is clearly overmatched.

Boise State by 21

Wisconsin over South Dakota

This shouldn’t be much of a contest either, as Wisconsin’s offense has the potential to be one of the best in the Big 10 if it isn’t already the best. Their running game and play action game will be way too much for South Dakota to handle, and hopefully they have continued to work on their run defense. If they don’t have it tuned up soon they will have a lot of trouble stopping Nebraska.

Wisconsin by 21

Texas A&M over Oklahoma State

This one was very tough for me to call as well. This could very easily go either way considering it is a rare battle between the #7 and #8 teams in the country. Oklahoma State’s offense is a juggernaut still led by Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, but Weeden has thrown 6 interceptions already this season, so that is a concerning stat for OSU fans. However, Joseph Randle has stepped up to replace Kendall Hunter very nicely, running for 378 yards and 7 TD’s on only 62 carries (6.1 average). Ryan Tannehill is a dangerous quarterback though, and he’s got a number of weapons to work with. I’m not sure which defense is better than the other, but I do think that Texas A&M will miss Von Miller rushing the passer in this game. However, Oklahoma State’s defense is traditionally their weakness, so that is why I had to go with Texas A&M. I will be at an away game during this contest and I am very angry that I will miss it. It should be a great game. But I had to give A&M the slight edge.

Texas A&M by 6

Nebraska over Wyoming

Not a very tough call on this one. Nebraska should win this game easily even if Taylor Martinez doesn’t dazzle as a passer.

Nebraska by 28

Oregon over Arizona

This one wasn’t as easy for me to pick as I thought it might be. Oregon has a pretty good defense, but Arizona can move the football pretty well. I’m still confident in Oregon, but Nick Foles has a habit of surprising people when they sleep on him. I don’t think Oregon will take him for granted though especially after losing a tough one to LSU in Cowboys Stadium, and that’s why I think they will end up with a big Pac-12 win here.

Oregon by 14

Clemson over Florida State (Upset)

Clemson is absolutely on fire right now, and this is the worst time for Florida State to be playing them. This isn’t a guarantee by any means, but Clemson’s offense is firing on all cylinders and Florida State didn’t get consistent pressure on Landry Jones last week. Clemson’s offensive line isn’t nearly the equivalent of Oklahoma’s, but they have enough weapons on offense to at least make this a plausible upset. I don’t think Clemson has the defense to keep them in the game if they can’t score, so unless their defense steps up and slows FSU down they are going to make me look foolish for this pick.

Clemson by 7

South Carolina over Vanderbilt

This isn’t as easy of a pick as I thought it would be, especially since South Carolina is in a state of flux and Vanderbilt is undefeated for the first time in recent memory after three weeks. I don’t think Vanderbilt will be able to hold off South Carolina, but stranger things have happened. If it was ever going to happen, I think it would happen now. Steve Spurrier doesn’t seem to have much faith in Stephen Garcia and even though they have one of the best backs in the country in Marcus Lattimore you just never know what will happen in the SEC. I don’t expect Vanderbilt to pull it off, but this is one I would watch as a POSSIBLE upset.

South Carolina by 10

Virginia Tech over Marshall

Analysis: This shouldn’t be much of a challenge for Virginia Tech, but it should be a good tune-up game for Logan Thomas. I think he has tons of upside, and it’ll be interesting to see how he develops throughout the season.

Virginia Tech by 17

Florida over Kentucky

Analysis: Kentucky isn’t a terrible team, but Florida’s defense is vastly better than I expected it to be even without Janoris Jenkins. Chris Rainey really impressed me last week and if he can stay healthy I think he could really improve his draft stock. I’m pretty high on Jonathan Bostic, Jaye Howard and Dominique Easley on their defense, so I’m excited to see them play against Kentucky again. I don’t anticipate the Gators having a lot of trouble in this game.

Florida by 14

Baylor over Rice

Analysis: Robert Griffin has been absolutely LETHAL this year. He’s 41/49 for 624 yards (83.7% completion), 12.74 yards per attempts and he has 8 touchdowns and no interceptions. On top of that, he has 116 yards rushing. Kendall Wright has been huge for Baylor with 20 receptions (14 more than the next receiver), 312 yards (184 yards more than the next receiver) and 3 TD’s. I don’t think Rice has much of a chance to slow Griffin down. The first time he might slow down in my estimation would be October 15th against A&M once they get into the real meat of their schedule. I haven’t been able to watch much of him, but it will be interesting to go back and watch him play to see if he has corrected any of the things I said he needed to work on in my preseason scouting report.

Baylor by 21

South Florida over UTEP

Analysis: South Florida is having one of their best seasons in recent memory, at least to start the season, and BJ Daniels seems to be maturing rather nicely. As long as he continues to develop the sky is the limit for USF, and I don’t think UTEP will have much of a chance to slow them down this week.

South Florida by 17

TCU over Portland State

Analysis: TCU lost a tough one against Baylor in week one, but they seemed to have bounced back in recent weeks. Portland State shouldn’t pose much of a threat, even with an inexperienced quarterback still getting a feel for the starting role.

TCU by 17

Michigan over San Diego State

Analysis: Brady Hoke welcomes his former team into the Big House as the Head Coach of the Wolverines this week as pretty heavy favorites. Denard Robinson isn’t my favorite quarterback but he is incredibly fast and I’m not sure SDSU has the speed to keep up with him in this game. Junior Hemingway has really stepped up this year (even though he looks like a TE rumbling downfield sometimes on go routes). It’ll be interesting to see how Michigan does in this game, but I would be pretty surprised if they botched this game after clawing their way into the top 25.

Michigan by 17

USC over Arizona State

Analysis: Before the game against Illinois last week I might have picked Arizona State in this one, but Brock Osweiler is still developing and even though the Sun Devils had a huge win against Missouri a couple weeks ago I don’t think they are ready to knock off USC. USC has a big chip on its shoulder because of the bowl ban that was placed on them, and I think they will approach this game with something to prove even though they are favored.

USC by 10

Illinois over Western Michigan

Analysis: This shouldn’t be a challenging game for Illinois. Western Michigan isn’t a bad program, but I don’t think they have the firepower to stick with Illinois on either side of the ball. They just fought their way into the top 25, so I don’t think they’ll get upset after just earning their #24 ranking.

North Carolina over Georgia Tech (Upset)

Analysis: I have to admit that I am a UNC fan, so that may have had something to do with this pick (which really isn’t much of an upset, though technically it is). I think UNC’s offense can score on Georgia Tech’s defense, and I think UNC’s defense is fast enough and disciplined enough to slow down Georgia Tech’s option offense that absolutely dominated Kansas last week. Georgia Tech is flying high, but UNC usually plays them pretty well and they are talented enough to pull this off. I really wish I could see this game, but I will be traveling and working while it goes on.

Those are my picks for this week. Hopefully you enjoy them and I look forward to seeing some good football this week. Thanks for reading!

–Tom

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