Category: NCAA Football Prospect Recaps


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

Renner has plenty of potential and I'm excited to see what the future holds for him and North Carolina's offense now that Larry Fedora is running things.

Bryn Renner, QB, North Carolina: Renner is a quality QB but in his first year as a starter he wasn’t able to win the bowl game this year. However, he returns a lot of talent next year as a junior in Giovanni Bernard, Erik Highsmith (who was his real go-to guy today) and Jheranie Boyd. Additionally he will have an experienced offensive line blocking for him. He made some significant strides this year and finished with the 2nd most passing yards in North Carolina history thanks in part to the weapons he had at his disposal on offense (Dwight Jones most notably) and to Bernard establishing a running game. There’s plenty of upside there and you have to be excited by the hire of Larry Fedora who will hopefully aid Renner’s development like he did with Austin Davis. Renner has above average arm strength, solid accuracy and he’s more athletic than most realize. However, he spent too much time dropping his eyes to look at the rush and was left scrambling on 3rd and long situations too much that led to punts. That’s not all on him since he didn’t always have much to do with the negative plays that led to the 3rd and long situations, but it does provide evidence that he needs to develop as a quarterback. Not sure he will ever be a great NFL prospect, but he’s got the ability to be a quality college and NFL quarterback if he is developed correctly.

Giovanni Bernard, RB, North Carolina: Bernard is a special running back and I think he is going to end up going in the first round eventually. He started slow in this game but he showed his potential when he was had some room to run. He’s surprisingly patient for a freshman running back, he has impressive burst, good speed, catches the ball well out of the backfield, has impressive shiftiness as a runner and can run through arm tackles effectively. He’s got a boatload of upside and if Renner stays through his senior season then he could help fuel a very intriguing offensive unit for the Tar Heels.

Ryan Houston, RB, North Carolina: I didn’t see him get a single carry in this game which really is a shame. He was a senior in his final game, and makes me wonder if he was becoming a problem child in the locker room or if he wasn’t keeping his weight in check. Earlier in the year he looked much lighter and effective but didn’t warrant much if any work in this game. I’m hoping he gets an invite to some kind of All-Star Game so he can show what he can do because I think he warrants at least UDFA consideration. Will he be drafted? Honestly, probably not. But I still think he can contribute. Here’s hoping he gets his shot to do just that.

Dwight Jones has plenty of upside thanks to his size and athleticism but his hands are inconsistent and I don't think he has the potential to be a #1 target in the NFL.

Dwight Jones, WR, North Carolina: Dwight Jones started out with an impressive touchdown catch as well as a couple other receptions but he really struggled to catch the ball after that as he had at least three drops that I counted. When it comes down to it his hands just aren’t that good. He body catches regularly and doesn’t make very many tough catches away from his body which limits his range as a receiver and means whoever is throwing him the ball has to make a stick throw right on his body or he isn’t as likely to catch it. He can threaten teams deep and has an impressive combination of size and speed but his hands just aren’t what you would expect them to be. He has upside without a doubt but I don’t think he has the makings of a #1 receiver in the NFL at all. I don’t think he is a leader that can be counted upon for a big catch when you need a 3rd down conversion or a critical touchdown, nor do I think he had the right attitude when the Tar Heels were losing this game in the 1st half and again in the 2nd half. I don’t really think it’s a coincidence that he was not targeted after dropping a number of passes and had nothing to do with their most successful scoring drives after his initial touchdown reception. Jones is a quality NFL prospect with upside but there is no way I would put a first round grade on him. Like I thought earlier in the year I still have a 2nd-3rd round grade on him and I don’t think he will be a #1 receiver in the NFL, though I do think if he landed in the right situation he could be a quality #2.

Erik Highsmith, WR, North Carolina: I am convinced that Highsmith has the best hands of any receiver on the Tar Heels this year. He made a number of catches in traffic and made catches to convert 3rd downs when the team needed it the most. He did a good job catching passes away from his body, making catches despite contact and moving the chains for the Heels. He even got vertical once or twice but the passes were underthrown from Renner (evidence of less than ideal arm strength) and he couldn’t come down with them. Highsmith will be back for his senior season and with quality size at 6’3” (he only weighs 190 pounds according to the listing I found, but he’s been adding weight every year) as well as 49 receptions, 726 yards and 5 TD’s after the bowl game today. He should be Renner’s go-to receiver next year when he needs to move the chains and in the red zone especially.

Jheranie Boyd, WR, North Carolina: Boyd may not have great hands, much like Jones, as he body catches frequently and I’m not convinced he has the range to make catches outside of his body like Highsmith does but boy can he stretch a defense vertically. He has impressive speed to get downfield despite a surprising listed 40 yard dash time of 4.52. He looks a LOT faster than that on the field, and I have a feeling that that time is not accurate. Regardless, he stretched the defense vertically very effectively today and finished with three receptions for 95 yards and a 44 yard touchdown. That gives him 14 receptions, 292 yards and 5 touchdowns on the season. That may not be an impressive stat line, but keep in mind that the Tar Heels offense was pretty balanced this year with its first 1,000 yard rusher in over a decade in Bernard and well over half of Renner’s passing yards were accounted for by Jones and Highsmith. Boyd’s role should increase next year as long as he can continue to haul passes in, avoid drops, and stretch defenses vertically.

Jon Cooper will be one of the top three senior offensive guards in the country next year so keep an eye on him.

Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina: Cooper is a quality guard prospect and should be one of the top three senior offensive guards in the nation next year especially if David DeCastro of Stanford elects to declare for the 2012 NFL Draft. Cooper has quality size at 6’3”, 310 pounds but moves very well for his size as evidenced by how well he gets to the second level and by how well he pulls. I haven’t been able to evaluate him as much in one on one situations when trying to drive block, but he is definitely the Heels’ best offensive lineman. Look out for him next year!

Travis Bond, OG, North Carolina: I wasn’t able to see much of Bond today but he is the “other” offensive guard prospect on the Tar Heels. He’s much larger than Cooper as he stands at 6’6”, 340 pounds and is less mobile than the nimble Cooper. His size helps and hurts because he is the size of an offensive tackle but is inside at guard which can create issues against smaller defensive tackles that can gain automatic leverage because of his height. I’ll make sure to watch him more next year since it wasn’t much of a priority since I was confident that he wasn’t going to declare, but keep an eye on him since he will be in the 3rd-4th round mix next year.

Quentin Coples, DE, North Carolina: Coples may be the most well-known prospect on the Tar Heels and for good reason. He’s a talented player with a great combination of size, athleticism and strength. He has very strong hands which he uses to help him shed blocks and keep blockers off of him. He is listed at 6’6”, 285 pounds with a 4.76 40 yard dash time. His edge speed isn’t great and I think that is going to prevent him from being an impact 10+ sack player in the NFL, but I do think he will be a quality 4-3 LE if he is drafted. That makes me think he won’t be a top 10 pick like a lot of people thought he would be coming into the season, but I could see him as a top 20 overall selection because a 4-3 that can stop the run and rush the passer is a pretty rare find. Coples has shown he can do that and that he has a quality motor, though I don’t think his football IQ and recognition skills are very impressive. The Heels gave up a staggering number of rushing yards today, but the defensive tackles were more to blame for that than Coples was in my opinion. Coples played a role in it, but I don’t think that it was necessarily indicative of his run defense as an individual. I would be very surprised if he dropped out of the 1st round after a less than stellar senior season but I don’t think he should go in the top 10 at this point.

Donte Paige-Moss underwhelmed just about everyone this year as many expected him to declare after this season and go in the 1st or 2nd round.

Donte Paige-Moss, DE, North Carolina: Paige-Moss was widely considered a possible early declaration and a potential 1st round draft pick before the season began (despite some claims that he was overrated from a select few, you know who you are) but he had a minimal impact all season and was replaced by Kareem Martin opposite Coples for the entire season. Paige-Moss is a freak athlete but his technique is almost non-existent and his only success occurs when he can beat the offensive tackle off the edge using his impressive athleticism to run around the edge for the sack. He’s got a lot of upside still, but without getting stronger and learning some semblance of hand usage he won’t ever live up to his potential. One slight sign of hope is that Paige-Moss made a great effort pursuing downfield and from the backside today which was encouraging to see when many Tar Heel defenders seemed to be going through the motions. This offseason will be crucial for him because if he hits the weight room and works on his hand usage then he might be able to redeem himself. It’s all up to him and what level of work he is willing to put in. I’m not saying he is going to prove his doubters wrong, of which I am one of them based on his performance this year, but I can’t rule it out.

Tydreke Powell, DT, North Carolina: Tydreke Powell is a solid NFL Draft prospect and he will likely be at the Senior Bowl in Alabama (hopefully I will be as well) but he played poorly today. His upside as a pass rusher is limited and I don’t think he will be a significant pass rusher in the NFL by any means, but if he is going to be able to be a 2-down nose tackle in a 4-3 or a 3-4 he is going to have to hold up against the run well and he was struggling in that aspect today. He was able to penetrate on occasion, but he was not maintaining his gap responsibility at all and that led to gaping holes for Missouri up the middle for Franklin, Lawrence and Moore to run through. It was pathetic to be honest, and Powell is the nose tackle that is usually double teamed and frankly he wasn’t doing his job. This game isn’t a 100% accurate reflection of his ability but it definitely hurts his stock in my eyes. His value is going to be as an occasional penetrator but primarily being able to stand up effectively versus double teams and not get washed out. He didn’t do a good job of that today and that hurts his stock going into the All-Star game portion of the year.

Sylvester Williams has a ton of potential and should be back for his senior season. He's very raw and is still early on in his development as a defensive tackle, but with quality coaching he could be a stud.

Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina: Williams was the other starting defensive tackle for the Heels today and while I love his upside as a prospect he also struggled to stop the run today against Missouri. He was mostly facing double teams but he was pushed off the ball more than I would like and struggled to get off blocks at times. He’s a very raw player as he barely played football in high school and played at a junior college before transferring to the Tar Heels. He’s got a ton of upside but he is still developing, so it shouldn’t be surprising that he hasn’t developed the technique necessary to be a dominant defensive tackle. He definitely has that upside and has definitely flashed his upside by penetrating and disrupting plays in the backfield. The next step is to get stronger, develop his hand usage and learn to stand up better versus one on one blocks to avoid getting washed out. He definitely contributed to the problems today but because he isn’t often lined up at nose tackle he isn’t always the key cog to holding up the offensive linemen at the point of attack. He is asked to win one on one match-ups more often than not, Powell is usually the guy that is expected to occupy the double team and keep the linebackers clean. Neither happened today and that was what led to a lot of running lanes up the middle for Missouri.

Zach Brown, OLB, North Carolina: Zach Brown has a lot of upside due to his athletic ability but he struggles against the run at times and that is very concerning to me. He’s pretty good in coverage and he made a great catch on an interception today but he very rarely made plays versus the run and on the seemingly infrequent occasion that he was in position to make a play he missed at least four or five tackles and I only saw him wrap up for a tackle one time the entire game on a tackle he made late in the 2nd half at the line of scrimmage. His tackling and run defense is a serious concern, but his ability to blitz allows him to make plays in the backfield due to his athleticism and he is so athletic that he makes plays in coverage. I just don’t think he’s a very sound football player and that’s why I don’t have a 1st round grade on him and personally think he is quite overrated. He’s got a lot of potential but he doesn’t fight off blocks well, he isn’t a good tackler and he will be a liability versus the run unless he gets stronger. I have a 3rd round grade on him currently because he has

Reddick is a quality middle linebacker and while he is a better tackler than Zach Brown he still tackles too high at times.

Kevin Reddick, ILB, North Carolina: Reddick is a quality linebacker that should come back for his senior season. He’s a junior so he is draft eligible but I think that even though there may be sanctions and a transition from Butch Davis’ regime to Larry Fedora’s it would be good for him as a prospect if he returned. Hopefully Fedora finds a defensive coordinator that likes to attack because the Heels defense is ferocious when it can dictate games with its athleticism and pass rush. That said, Reddick is a solid NFL Draft prospect himself and I think he is a more fundamentally sound football player than his teammate Zach Brown. He’s a better tackler than Brown (even though he attempts more arm tackles and tackles high more than I would like) and at 6’3”, 240 with a listed 40 time of 4.67 he isn’t a slouch when it comes to combinations of size and athletic ability. He missed a tackle or two today as well and isn’t necessarily the impact player that Brown is at times, but he is more reliable in my opinion. It will be interesting to see if he comes back or not but I think it makes sense for him to return. He isn’t an elite prospect and even if he comes back next year I wouldn’t expect him to go much higher than the 3rd round.

Charles Brown, CB, North Carolina: Brown is another undersized, primarily zone corner that the Tar Heels have produced but I don’t think he is as good as Burney was at the position. Brown is a solid tackler and is decent against the run but his only value is in zone coverage and even in that aspect he is not much more than above average. He can close on plays in front of him but his ball skills are less than stellar and his ability in man coverage is limited by his lack of size, speed and ball skills. He will be a late round pick if he is drafted at all, and if he is drafted when Burney went undrafted it would be a pity. Burney was always the better corner in my mind.

James Franklin has definitely progressed since the beginning of the season and that is encouraging. He threw 8 of his 11 total interceptions in three games, so it will be interesting to see how he does in the SEC.

James Franklin, QB, Missouri: Franklin had a terrific first half but demonstrated some of his inconsistencies by struggling at times in the second half. Some of that was the playcalling taking the foot off the gas to some extent, but he was not making the same impressive stick throws he was in the first half. He was very productive thanks to his rushing total but his passing wasn’t as impressive nor was his decision making. He’s got upside due to his size, arm strength and developing accuracy as well as his athleticism to pick up yardage with his legs. He’s improved since the beginning of the season in my opinion, and that’s all you can ask for from a young quarterback. It will be interesting to see what strides he can take next season as a junior against tougher defenses in the SEC.

L’Damian Washington, WR, Missouri: L’Damian Washington is definitely a WR to keep an eye on. For one he is a great story even beyond football thanks to all he and his family have been through which makes it even more fun to see him having success on the football field. On top of that, he’s a 6’4″, 185 pound receiver that increased his production from 5 receptions for 35 yards and 0 TD’s as a freshman to 20 receptions, 364 yards (leading to a team-leading 18.20 yards per reception average) and 3 touchdowns. Those numbers are sure to increase over the next two years as he and James Franklin continue to develop together. He demonstrated reliable hands against North Carolina and has intriguing upside because of his size, athleticism, body control and hands. Keep an eye on this kid, I know I’m rooting for him.

Wes Kemp, WR, Missouri: Kemp is a senior wide receiver on Missouri that will probably not end up getting drafted however he has a pretty impressive combination of size and athleticism as he stands at 6’4″, 220 pounds and has a listed 40 yard dash time of 4.47. I don’t think he’s much of a sleeper and at best will be a 7th round pick barring a significant stock jump thanks to an All-Star game or an impressive performance at the combine. This is largely due to his inconsistent hands that led to some drops when I watched him last year against Blaine Gabbert and his production did not elevate as a senior. He will intrigue some teams because of his physical attributes, but at best I see him improving his hands and developing into a solid #4 or #5 receiver in the NFL, and that is assuming he makes a roster. But don’t be surprised if teams give him a shot because you can’t find 6’4″, 220 pound receivers that run a 4.5 or faster everywhere.

Moe isn't the biggest or the fastest player in Missouri, but he may be the most reliable and while it isn't flashy it certainly counts for something.

T.J. Moe, WR, Missouri: Moe is a pretty underrated receiver that has solid NFL upside. He’s not the biggest, the fastest or the most explosive but he was Gabbert’s most reliable target last year and I don’t think that has changed with Franklin throwing him the ball. Moe had 54 receptions, 649 yards and 4 touchdowns receiving this year and also contributed 61 yards rushing, 47 yards on punt returns and a solid 607 yards with a 23.35 yards per return on kick-offs. He is listed at 5’11”, 195 pounds with a listed 40 yard dash time of 4.49 and none of that blows you away, but he is as reliable as they come and should have a good senior season next year. I’m not sure he will be more than a 4th round pick because I’m not sure he has a lot of upside since what you see is what you get with him: a receiver that doesn’t have great size or great speed but has very reliable hands and will make plays for you when you really need it. He won’t be at the top of everyone’s list but he will be one of those guys that goes a little lower than he probably should but then surprises everyone in training camp when he catches everything and becomes a favorite of the coaching staff.

Does this look familiar? If you watched the Saints beat the Falcons on Monday Night Football you saw Jimmy Graham catch a very similar touchdown against a quality corner Brent Grimes. Egnew has similar potential.

Michael Egnew, TE, Missouri: Egnew may be the most underrated tight end in the country right now. He’s got great size at 6’6”, 245 pounds and a very impressive listed 40 yard dash time of 4.6 flat. He is definitely an impressive athletic specimen and when you combine that with his very reliable hands you have a very intriguing tight end on your hands. His closest comparison may be Jimmy Graham to his combination of great size, athleticism and very reliable hands (though Graham does drop passes from time to time). However, Egnew is often split out as a receiver and rarely lines up and blocks as an inline tight end which will be one of the major things he has to work on. His blocking has not been demonstrated like the other top draft eligible tight ends and that will make teams that run the ball a lot with an inline tight end blocking wonder if he will be a good fit in their scheme. Additionally he is rarely jammed off the line of scrimmage allowing for an easy release which won’t continue in the NFL. Despite this both his blocking and defeating jams off the line of scrimmage can be coached and that makes me think that if he is picked anywhere outside of the top 50 that he may be one of the better values in the draft.

Dan Hoch, OT, Missouri: Hoch is a guy that I thought might be able to slide over to LT at some point when I was scouting Blaine Gabbert last year. That never really materialized but I think he may have draftable ability as an offensive tackle prospect. He doesn’t have very good athleticism but he has great size at 6’6”, 320 pounds as well as quality length. If he is drafted it will be as a late round pick in the 6th or 7th round but the more likely scenario may be signing with a team as an undrafted free agent and attempting to make a roster that way.

Jacquies Smith, DE, Missouri: I honestly didn’t see much of Smith today and that might be a pretty accurate reflection of the impact he had this year. It’s pretty clear to me that Aldon Smith created the havoc as a pass rusher for Missouri last year and that Jacquies Smith was more of a secondary pass rush option that benefited from his presence opposite him. Without Aldon Smith around Jacquies Smith’s numbers dropped slightly from 10.0 TFL’s and 5.5 sacks to 8.0 TFL’s and 5.0 sacks. Now, that isn’t a huge drop, but with or without Aldon Smith it demonstrates that Jacquies Smith isn’t an impact pass rusher and that hurts his stock. However, he does have the build and some athletic ability to offer possible upside thanks to his 6’3”, 255 pound frame and his listed 40 yard dash time of 4.62. He’s got upside due to his athleticism but his production has been less than impressive. I still need to watch him more to determine exactly why, but I would be surprised if he went before the 4th round when players with measurables but limited production tend to start coming off the board.

Hamilton may not be a stud DT prospect but he definitely has draftable ability as a 4-3 NT and I think he may go as high as the 5th round.

Dominique Hamilton, DT, Missouri: Hamilton seemed to have a pretty good game today as Missouri bottled up a very good running back in Giovanni Bernard early and often despite the occasional quality run. Hamilton may not be a household name at defensive tackle and honestly I haven’t scouted him specifically at this time, but at 6’5”, 305 pounds he definitely has the size to play NT in the NFL either as a 4-3 NT or as a 3-4 NT depending on whether he can add weight to that frame. I’d be surprised if he couldn’t to be honest, and judging by the issues UNC had running up the middle I’d say Hamilton can create some problems by occupying blockers in the middle. It sure would have been interesting to see if Hamilton could have made the same impact for the Tar Heels at nose tackle today, but that is neither here nor there. Right now I don’t have a great fix on Hamilton’s ability but there are a number of quality nose tackle prospects popping up in this 2012 class so don’t be surprised if you see a number of defensive tackles drafted this year. There may not be a lot of elite talent but it seems to be shaping up to have some depth to it.

Zaviar Gooden, OLB, Missouri: Gooden is a junior linebacker for Missouri who flashed some potential today and made a very impressive interception on a ball that rolled on Dwight Jones’ back that he managed to corral before it hit the ground. He’s definitely on the draft radar for next year and hopefully he goes back to school to continue to improve. He’s 6’2”, 230 pounds and has a listed 40 yard dash time of 4.67. He’s not a freak athlete as far as size or athleticism is concerned, but he was pretty productive this year with 80 total tackles (54 solo), 6.0 TFL, 1.0 sack, 4 pass break-ups, 2 interceptions and one blocked kick. It will be interesting to see how he does next year in the SEC against potentially tougher competition.
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for reading! More prospect recaps are on the way as bowl season heats up!

–Tom

Austin Davis has had an impressive career at Southern Mississippi but he is an average NFL Draft prospect in my opinion.

Austin Davis, QB, Southern Miss: Austin Davis is a solid college quarterback that has been productive throughout his career but I just don’t see him being a future NFL starter without something considerable changing. His arm strength is average, his accuracy is average, he has not impressed me with his poise in the face of pressure, and while he does have mobility I don’t think it makes up for some of his shortcomings as a passer. He spends the vast amount of his time in a shotgun, has solid mechanics, but there is nothing spectacular about him. He may be draftable but if he is then he is going to be a late round pick in the 7th round range but I would not be surprised if he went undrafted.

Tracy Lampley, RB/WR, Southern Miss: Lampley is a junior playmaker on Southern Miss and has consistently made plays when they really need them most. He is only a junior so he should be back next year, but he absolutely dominated against Houston with 71 yards rushing and 125 yards receiving with two touchdowns. He has also demonstrated some potential as a punt returner this year with 350 yards and 1 touchdown on the season as well as an average of 12.07 yards per return. He is a smaller player at only 5’9”, 168 pounds according to the listing I have but he definitely has 4.45-ish speed. He’s very explosive and just has a knack for making big plays. He is definitely an under the radar guy to watch for his senior year next year for the 2013 NFL Draft.

Dominique Sullivan, WR, Southern Miss: Sullivan is a sophomore wide receiver on Southern Miss that I think has significant potential. He has impressive size at 6’4”, 208 pounds and even though he was behind two seniors on the depth chart he produced 27 receptions, 386 yards and 2 TD’s this year after barely contributing anything as a freshman. He is ready to step up into a go-to guy role in my opinion and will be one to watch as a junior next year. I don’t know how good his hands are yet because he had a solid catch in traffic on one hand but also dropped a pass he let get into his pads once and let a quick slant that was high but hit him right in the hands bounce off them and fall incomplete. He’s got upside but all his physical ability is worthless without quality hands.

Cordarro Law absolutely took this game over in the second half. He is a very consistently disruptive player, the only question about him is his lack of size.

Cordarro Law, DT, Southern Miss: Cordarro Law is an undersized defensive lineman as he is listed at 6’2”, 261 pounds but may weigh more than that. He is a pretty athletic defensive lineman, he flashed a nice spin move in this game, solid hand usage, and has been an absolute TFL machine this year. After this game I believe he will have 20 if not more on the year which is very impressive. He is very consistently disruptive due to his athletic ability, burst and quickness. I like his potential as a DT in a 4-3 scheme but if he is lighter than 280 pounds he is going to need to gain some weight because even 280 pounds is pretty undersized for a 4-3 DT. He has legitimate upside and while I’m not sure he will be a very high draft pick I have a gut feeling that he will be involved in a NFL rotation sooner rather than later. He’s got a good motor, solid technique and good athleticism. He can contribute at DT if he can add weight without losing the quickness that has made him so disruptive.

Lampford Mark, RB, Nevada: Mark is a player that I had never watched before tonight but he has impressed me. Is he the next Adrian Peterson? No, but I think he can contribute at the next level. He might not be a starting back, and he might not get drafted early, but I think he has NFL talent. He’s a 6’1”, 200 pound running back but so few people are talking about him that I can’t even find a listed 40 yard dash time for him. He was Nevada’s leading rusher this year and will finish with 900+ rushing yards on the season after another huge rushing game against Southern Miss. I really hope he gets an invite to an All Star game but even if he doesn’t I think he warrants some consideration as a UDFA. Maybe he won’t get drafted, but I saw enough from him tonight to think that he at least has a shot at the next level.

Rishard Matthews, WR, Nevada: Unfortunately Matthews did not play in this game but he is probably the top rated prospect that could have played in this game. He is listed at 6’2”, 215 pounds and produced 91 receptions, 1,364 yards and 8 touchdowns as well as 307 yards and a punt return touchdown (13.35 average per return). It’s too bad he wasn’t able to play in this game and he clearly had an impact because Nevada’s passing game really struggled to get going even with Mark’s fantastic first half.

Brett Roy isn't the biggest defensive tackle but he is strong, has a great motor and has such a good work ethic it's hard to doubt him.

Brett Roy, DT, Nevada: Roy is not a highly rated defensive tackle prospect but I think his combination of size (6’3”, 280 pounds), strength, hand usage and a very obvious intensity and motor will make him a draftable prospect. He wasn’t as disruptive as Cordarro Law was in this game, but he definitely had a significant impact. He seems to have strong hands and pursues well because of his motor. He could stand to add some more weight to get up to 285+ but I don’t think that will be an issue as it was announced during the game that he came to the Wolfpack as a 200+ pound safety and is leaving as a 280+ pound defensive tackle. Roy strikes me as a guy that isn’t the most athletically gifted player but his work ethic, motor and sheer effort level will lead him to a NFL defensive tackle rotation. He’s probably in the 5th-6th round range right now, but maybe he will move up if he performs well in an All-Star Game.

James-Michael Johnson, LB, Nevada: I haven’t seen much of Johnson but he has been invited to the Senior Bowl so assuming my credentials are good to go I will be able to see him in person in just a few weeks. He didn’t have a mind-blowing stat line this year as the 6’2”, 240 pound linebacker had 88 total tackles (44 solo), 4.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 1 INT, 1 forced fumble and 3 pass break-ups. He’s a pretty solid player that is a mid-round prospect at this point but Dontay Moch was a mid-round guy at this point in the season also but shot up draft boards because of his athleticism. I’d be surprised if Johnson did the same, but his stock can still be boosted.

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Kellen Moore has a very high football IQ and good accuracy but his arm strength and size limit his overall upside as a prospect.

Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State: Moore was the superior quarterback in this game and it wasn’t because of his size and arm strength it was because of his impressive football IQ and accuracy. He consistently made good pre-snap reads, flashed the ability to make anticipation throws, and delivered throws with quality ball placement. He threw two interceptions but the first one bounced off of Tyler Shoemaker’s hands for an easy interception and the second one occurred when he was hit as he threw and the ball floated in the air and was easily caught by a defender. He got lucky that he didn’t throw three as he got hit as he threw one other time and the ball floated in the air and an Arizona State defender seemed to misplay it as it fell harmlessly to the turf. Regardless of his interception total Moore was impressive in this game. He still has to transition to playing under center more consistently in the NFL which was partially demonstrated by a fumble as a result of a mishandled snap in one of his few snaps from under center. He also doesn’t do a great job in the face of pressure which was illustrated a bit by his issues throwing interceptions and some other poor passes when Arizona State was able to generate a pass rush against him. He’s a good quarterback with a quick release, good accuracy and a great head on his shoulders which makes him draftable in the 4th/5th round range but he will be limited by his very average arm strength and his lack of elite size. He will get drafted for his accuracy, experience and his football IQ and that will help him stick on a NFL roster as a back-up. If he can develop for a couple years he might get his shot at a primary back-up role which could lead to a chance as a spot starter. You never know what might happen, but I don’t think Moore is going to be an expected starter in his first two or three years in the NFL.

Doug Martin is without a doubt the top senior RB in this draft class and if he makes it to the 3rd round I think he will be an absolute steal.

Doug Martin, RB, Boise State: Martin is probably the most impressive 2012 NFL Draft prospect in this game in my opinion. I have a 2nd round grade on him right now and I could see him sneaking into the 2nd round if he impresses in the postseason. He not a tall back at 5’9” but he weighs 208 pounds and looks very strong. He’s got good leg drive, good vision as a runner and as a return man, he runs through arm tackles with ease, has good balance to absorb contact, impressive burst, acceleration, patience, soft hands and he is likely one of the best pass blockers of any of the running backs in this draft class. I think he’s going to be a very good running back in the NFL and he is almost certainly going to end up starting or contributing right off the bat depending on where he ends up going. He’s a complete back and honestly he warrants comparison to another do it all back already succeeding in the NFL: Ray Rice.

Tyler Shoemaker, WR, Boise State: I haven’t seen much of Shoemaker this year but he had a solid game tonight. He isn’t a freak athlete at receiver at 6’1”, 212 with a 4.5 40 yard dash but he has solid hands in combination with that size. He did have one key drop tonight that led to an interception, but he produced 954 yards and 16 touchdowns on 62 receptions this year. He warrants late round consideration to be sure, but I definitely need to see more of him before I come to a complete conclusion.

Nate Potter, OT, Boise State: Potter always struck me as a guy who would have to slide inside to guard, but seeing him a bit more before tonight has made me reconsider to a degree. I think he could move inside in a zone blocking scheme, but I think his best position may ultimately be at RT in a ZBS. He isn’t a force in the running game and might be overmatched inside at guard in that aspect, but he isn’t an impressive LT in my opinion and will have to shift from that spot to be a quality starter in the NFL. RT is the compromise I think makes the most sense so he won’t be overmatched as a pass blocker or as a run blocker. I’m not sure where I project him right now, but a 3rd/4th round grade makes sense at this point.

Billy Winn is a quality defensive line prospect that should be able to play DT in a 4-3 or DE in a 3-4.

Billy Winn, DT, Boise State: I was very impressed with Billy Winn last year and I am still impressed with him. At 6’3”, 300 pounds he has NFL size and should be able to play defensive tackle in a 4-3 or possibly defensive end in a 3-4. He wasn’t as statistically productive this season but he drew significantly more attention this season after he demonstrated a lot of ability last year. He definitely warrants 3rd round consideration and may very well be one of the players that improves his stock in a postseason all-star game. He’s got upside and I’m excited to see where he ultimately ends up.

Shea McClellin, DE, Boise State: McLellin is a quality NFL prospect. I’ve got a 3rd round grade on him right now but he’s got legitimate NFL ability. He’s got an impressive motor along with solid size at 6’3”, 255 pounds. I think he will be a rotational guy for a while, but reminds me a bit of Brian Robison who has found his way into the starting lineup for the Vikings. He had 9.5 TFL and 6 sacks coming into the game against Arizona State and added another sack at least in that contest, and while I don’t think he will be a high draft pick I do think he’s going to get drafted in round three or four.

George Iloka, S, Boise State: Iloka is an impressive specimen for a safety at 6’3”, 215 pounds with a 4.5 listed 40 yard dash time. He has never impressed me an awful lot in coverage, but he demonstrated the ability to cover receivers in man coverage tonight against Arizona State which is encouraging. He only had 7 career interceptions including just one over the last two years as well as only 6 pass break-ups over that same time period. Perhaps that is because offenses respected him and didn’t challenge him, but I’m not convinced that is the case. Regardless, he has legitimate NFL talent and projects as a 3rd/4th round pick right now. It will be interesting to see what he does at either the East-West Shrine Game or the Senior Bowl. His performance at either game could be critical for boosting or hurting his stock.

Brock Osweiler may have had a tough night against Boise State but he showed plenty of mental toughness and leadership. He's raw but he has a lot of upside.

Brock Osweiler, QB, Arizona State: Osweiler is a guy I have been talking up all year since seeing him play months ago. He’s a first year starter and is clearly very raw but he flashes ability that is definitely encouraging. Will he be a 1st round pick next year? Maybe, but it’s definitely not a sure thing at this point. He definitely has that ability but he hasn’t been consistent enough yet to be considered a lock in that regard. He has great size at 6’8” and a rocket arm but his accuracy isn’t always what you would want it to be, his throwing motion could use a bit of tweaking and he doesn’t have a lot of experience as a starter. He needs to learn to make better pre-snap reads and being able to compare and contrast his game with Moore’s was very interesting. Moore relies upon his smarts and his ball placement to succeed whereas Osweiler is more reliant on his physical tools like his size, athleticism to extend plays at times and his rocket arm strength. As Osweiler learns to move in the pocket better, make better pre-snap reads and hopefully improve his accuracy a bit he will be a very good QB. His accuracy is good right now, but it could be improved especially if he continues to drill his footwork. I’m not sure what impact having a new coaching staff at Arizona State will do for him, but hopefully it has a positive impact and not a negative one. If it has a positive impact then Osweiler could be in the 1st round conversation next year.

Gerell Robinson, WR, Arizona State: Robinson has had a great season and most people didn’t know a thing about him before this year. He was easily Osweiler’s go-to receiver and while he didn’t always make the play he consistently came up with a 3rd down catch or a big gain downfield to extend drives and provide a spark to Arizona State’s offense. He has legitimate NFL prospects due to his 6’3”, 222 frame and his 4.58 40 yard dash time. He won’t be a burner in the NFL and some of the vertical plays he was able to make at Arizona State won’t be as realistic against more talented, athletic corners than he faced in college this year, but he has plenty of upside as a possession receiver due to his impressive size. He’s got reliable hands and consistently makes catches in traffic so even if he doesn’t create elite separation at the next level he can still produce. Additionally, he has the size and hands to be an effective red zone target which increases his value. Finally, he also seems to be a pretty willing blocker which with coaching could make him even more valuable. I have a 5th round grade on him right now, but it will be interesting to see if he gets any postseason love from the East-West Shrine Game or maybe even the Senior Bowl. I’d love to meet him down there and interview him considering how much I have watched him this year as a result of taking a look at Osweiler and Vontaze Burfict.

Mike Willie, WR, Arizona State: Willie is the less impressive starting receiver for Arizona State. He was in Robinson’s shadow all season this year but I think he has the potential to make a team either as a very late draft pick or as an undrafted free agent. He has solid size at 6’2”, 212 pounds, a listed 40 yard dash time of 4.59 and solid hands. He didn’t play as well as Robinson did this year, but I think he could still make a roster, contribute on special teams and eventually get worked into a rotation. He’s never going to be more than a 4th/5th wide receiver on a roster, but he could contribute as a possession type receiver on 3rd down and in the red zone. The trouble is there are plenty of those types of receivers available and the NFL is looking for big time playmakers and Willie just isn’t one of them. That hurts his stock.

Rashad Ross may not have had glamorous numbers as a junior but he contributed much more late in the season and is my early favorite to be Osweiler's new go-to guy next year during his senior year.

Rashad Ross, WR, Arizona State: Ross is listed as a DB on the depth chart I’m looking at for Arizona State but he has come on late in the season as a wide receiver and as a return man in light of Jamal Miles’ absence. He only had one reception for nine yards against Boise State but he absolutely burned a Boise corner on a double move and may have scored a touchdown if Osweiler had been able to get the ball off despite Boise State’s pressure. Regardless, he had a significant impact on the game as a return man by returning the opening kickoff of the 2nd half 98 yards for a touchdown to briefly give Arizona State some momentum and a chance at a comeback. At 6’0”, 174 he doesn’t resemble three of the top receivers on Arizona State who are 6’2” or taller and profile as possession type receivers due to their large frames. Ross may be 6’0” tall but he is very skinny but has great speed to threaten vertically. He produced 16 receptions for 241 yards and one touchdown in Arizona State’s final seven games after only totaling two receptions for 13 yards and zero touchdowns in their first six of the season. I think he has the upside to return as a senior as Osweiler’s future go-to guy much like Robinson did this year and with his speed and burst I think he could have a huge year next year. I’d like to see him come back at 175+ to help keep himself healthy for a full season, but his speed and playmaking ability should be on full display for Arizona State next year. Keep an eye out for him.

Garth Gerhart, C, Arizona State: Gerhart is a solid but not spectacular center prospect. This interior offensive line class is pretty strong this year, especially if a couple juniors declare, so Gerhart may not go as high as he would in other years. However, Gerhart has the potential to get drafted in the 5th round range, make a NFL roster as a back-up, and eventually work his way into the starting lineup. He’s a very experienced player, he’s a good snapper, and while he won’t be able to handle a defensive tackle one on one very often he definitely profiles as an eventual NFL starter. He reminds me a little bit of Todd McClure because of his lack of ideal size but in spite of it he was an effective starter for multiple years. I don’t know if his football IQ and intangibles are as impressive as McClure’s, but if they are then I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a starting NFL center in a few years.

Jamaar Jarrett, DE, Arizona State: Jarrett isn’t a stud defensive end and he may not get drafted before the 7th round if he is drafted at all, but I have a feeling he will make a NFL roster somehow. He has quality size at 6’5”, 262 pounds and looks like he can add weight to his frame. He has a less than impressive listed 40 yard dash time of 4.90 which makes sense because he isn’t a pass rushing menace by any means. However, he is solid versus the run and has a quality motor which he demonstrates when pursuing from the backside and making stops downfield. His best bet may be to bulk up to 280+ and attempt to stick as a 3-4 DE, but regardless I think he has a NFL future as a back-up somewhere.

Will Sutton is only a sophomore and is a bit undersized judging by his listed weight but he has been consistently disruptive all year and I expect big things from him as a junior.

Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State: Sutton is only a sophomore defensive tackle but he has plenty of upside. He was incredibly disruptive tonight against Boise State and he got a number of clean hits on Kellen Moore and was responsible for one of his interceptions by hitting his arm as he threw. He isn’t the biggest guy as he is listed at 6’2”, 270 pounds but he definitely looked bigger than that (in a good way) against Boise State tonight. I would not be surprised to see him up to 285 by the time his junior year comes around next season. He may not be the biggest guy but he definitely has impressive burst and quickness and flashed some hand usage to disengage from blocks to pressure Moore consistently tonight. He is definitely an impressive player and while the stats haven’t shown it yet he was one of the rare consistently disruptive forces on Arizona State’s defense this year. Look for him next year, I think he might be ready to explode on the scene.

Vontaze Burfict, ILB, Arizona State: Burfict is a pretty polarizing player and it’s not hard to see why. He consistently pisses people off with dumb penalties like late hits on a quarterback or on players running out of bounds and he has a bad boy reputation. I don’t know exactly why he was benched late in the season, it may be for a variety of reasons, but one of them I heard was that he refused to go back in the game after he was benched temporarily late in the season. I can’t confirm that, but it was mentioned on the broadcast tonight if I remember correctly. It’s frustrating because Burfict has great NFL size for a middle linebacker at 6’3”, 250 pounds but given his proficiency for dumb penalties on the field and for getting in some fights with teammates off the field in the past it might be hard for some teams to look past his issues to consider him a quality prospect. Now, he isn’t a first round lock because of his size and athletic ability and there are holes in his game, but it will be interesting to see if he declares after his rough season or if he comes back next year to try to make a run at the Pac-12 title with Osweiler at the helm under new coach Todd Graham. I wouldn’t be surprised if he left, but if he does he will have to answer a lot of tough questions about his behavior this season. Some of it is very warranted, but I personally believe he is targeted for personal foul penalties more than even Nick Fairley was last year because of his reputation. I spent a lot of time watching Arizona State this year (partially because I wanted to see Osweiler and Burfict, partially because they are usually on late so there was no other football to watch) and while some of the penalties he drew were legitimate there were definitely times when he drew a penalty for a clean hit that I personally don’t believe should have been a penalty. However, because it was a hard hit or because it was a 50/50 call or no call play the refs threw the flag. That has everything to do with his reputation. Burfict acknowledged the penalties and attempted to back off and not play with as much intensity to avoid the fouls but refs still called him for penalties that I didn’t believe were legitimate. That likely contributed to him boiling over and getting benched. I can’t say that for sure, but that is my take on the whole matter. I believe the personal foul penalties have been severely overblown, but his reaction to them and his attitude issues at the end of the season are definitely concerning. His upcoming decision to go or stay will say a lot about his true character in my opinion. If he has character and wants to win more than anything he will likely come back to try to help his teammates win, but if he is selfish like many claim he is then he will leave to chase money and avoid more possible conflict at Arizona State. We will have to wait and see what he does.

Shelly Lyons, OLB, Arizona State: Lyons is a late round OLB prospect that could very well go undrafted, but I think that his combination of solid size at 6’2”, 228 pounds, reliable tackling and solid coverage warrants at least 7th round or undrafted free agent consideration. I think he could be a quality special teamer that eventually finds himself as a back-up on a NFL roster. I’m not sure he will ever be a starter, but he can make a career out of being a special teams player if he wants to at least in my opinion.

Eddie Elder, S, Arizona State: Elder is a quality tackling safety but I have not been impressed with him in coverage over the last two years. He isn’t a big guy at 5’10”, 185 pounds and doesn’t project as a starting NFL safety but like Lyons I think he warrants late round or priority free agent consideration because of his tackling and his ability to potentially contribute on special teams.

Clint Floyd, S, Arizona State: Floyd may end up like Elder as a late round pick or a priority free agent addition but I think he has a bit more ability in coverage than Elder does. He has similar size at 5’10”, 194 pounds which hurts his NFL prospects as a safety but he seems to be a solid tackler and looked alright in coverage tonight even though he got lucky with his interception. He will likely end up trying to make a roster as a special teams player as well, but I think he has the potential to make a career out of that and being a back-up safety.

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Casey Pachall, QB, TCU: Pachall had a solid game, but was definitely not spectacular. He’s got an impressive combination of size, athletic ability and arm strength but his ball placement was very inconsistent tonight. He wasn’t throwing terrible balls, but he struggled to put the ball where the receiver needed it to make the catch much more than I would have liked to see. He’s got plenty of upside, and he’s got some leadership capability and toughness that make it easy for his teammates to rally around him. For example on a crucial 3rd down that, if converted, would essentially win the game for TCU Pachall kept the ball on a zone read and lowered his shoulder to gain the necessary yardage for the 1st down and ultimately the win. You love to see that from a talent evaluation perspective. He’s got plenty of upside, but he needs to spend this offseason drilling his mechanics to try and improve his accuracy. That is what held him back in this game, though he did come through when his team needed him as he helped lead two 4th quarter touchdown drives, including one 18 play drive that lasted 9:21. The next one was significantly shorter thanks to his perfect 42 yard strike to Skye Dawson that was ultimately the game-winning score.

Waymon James, RB, TCU: Waymon James didn’t finish the game with the most rushing yards on the Horned Frogs, but I think he is definitely their best back. He is a smaller back and is listed at only 5’8″ but he weighs an impressive 203 pounds. He has quality leg drive, good footwork as well as impressive burst and acceleration. He’s not an elite athlete, but he has been productive in each of his two years on TCU and profiles as a quality sleeper prospect for either the 2013 or 2014 draft depending on how long he stays in school. Keep an eye on him!

Josh Boyce, WR, TCU: Boyce was TCU’s go-to receiver this season as he had 61 receptions on the season including his five receptions against Louisiana Tech. He produced 998 receiving yards on the year along with 9 touchdowns and demonstrated quality hands, good body control and ability to adjust to the ball in the air even on very under thrown passes. He’s only about 6’0″, 200 pounds but he’s got upside without a doubt. It will be interesting to see how he progresses next year as a junior in his second season catching passes from Pachall.

Skye Dawson, WR, TCU: Dawson started this game out poorly as he dropped a wide open pass down the seam that would have converted a 3rd and 2 and gone for a huge gain thanks in part to his speed and in part because he was absolutely wide open in the middle of the field. Pachall delivered a nice throw but it went right off his hands and fell incomplete and TCU was forced to punt. I couldn’t see how far back the safeties were, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could have gained 40-50 yards after the catch which would have significantly changed the landscape of this game. However, he still produced 4 receptions, 85 yards and the game winning touchdown in the 4th quarter and was named the player of the game for this reason. Dawson strikes me as a guy who has taken some time to develop as he was a junior this year but it was his first season with significant playing time while Boyce was playing last season as a freshman. Dawson has track speed which makes him a big play threat despite his 5’10”, 175 pound size. He flashes some route running ability which helped him create great separation on the game-winning touchdown he caught. He’s still developing, but he had a bit of a break-out season this year and definitely has some upside as a slot receiver as he enters his senior season.

Stansly Maponga, DE, TCU: Maponga is a guy that intrigued me last year as a freshman and I expected him to improve significantly in his sophomore season. He did just that as he registered 55 total tackles (32 solo), 13.0 TFL, 8.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles and 2 pass deflections this season. He has solid size at 6’2″, 255 pounds but doesn’t have a lot of edge speed from what I can tell. He does have a solid get-off and acceleration when he lines up in a correct stance, but sometimes because he is often asked to stay at home for the zone read or for play-action bootlegs he drops his behind down from the ideal 3 point stance and stands up when he comes out of it. I’m not sure if he is coached to do this or not, but it hurts him when he is run at because he loses his leverage. Regardless, when he is in a correct stance and rushes the passer he uses his long arms effectively to help him avoid blocks, he flashes some hand usage and shows some flexibility to get the edge. He’s not a great pass rusher yet by any means, but he does have some upside. It is encouraging to see him use his long arms to affect passing lanes. It may not show in his number of pass deflections, but he gets his hands up pretty regularly. He’s only a sophomore so it will be interesting to see how he develops in the next year or two.

Tank Carder, ILB, TCU: Carder is a guy that I was very impressed with last year as he seemed to single handedly slow down Wisconsin’s offense in the Rose Bowl last year. Regardless of that great performance I can’t say I have been that impressed with him this year. He has solid size for a linebacker at 6’3″, 235 pounds or so but his combination of solid size and limited athleticism makes it hard for me to project him as anything more than a 5th round pick at this point. His athleticism projects him better to the inside, possibly in a 3-4 defense, but he doesn’t shed blocks that well and his sideline to sideline speed is not ideal. He demonstrates pretty good instincts but at times he will take false steps or take a long time to read the play before he reacts. It remains to be seen if his instincts and smarts will help him overcome some of his physical limitations to eventually be a starter, but for his first couple seasons I would expect him to be a back-up that contributes on special teams.

Greg McCoy, CB, TCU: McCoy is an interesting prospect. He’s listed at 5’10”, 182 pounds and has a listed 40 yard dash time of 4.43 which is awfully impressive. He might be a better return man than a cornerback, but that isn’t to say I think he’s a terrible corner. He’s just a very good return man. This season he produced 979 kick return yards (with a fantastic 30.59 average per return) and took two kick-offs back for touchdowns. He doesn’t have any punt return experience in college, but he might be worth trying out at that position once he gets to the NFL. As a corner I’m not sure how well he projects to the NFL, but he did a good job staying with Louisiana Tech’s receivers when he was thrown at. They aren’t burners by any means, but he was in their hip pocket consistently and every time I saw him he seemed to have good coverage and made a couple plays on the ball to deflect passes away. Will he be a good/great corner in the NFL? I’m not sure, but I think he has enough ability as a corner to stick on a roster as a return man and contribute on special teams before ultimately living up to some of his potential as a nickel or dime corner. It will be interesting to see if he gets invited to any post-season all star games. I’d love to watch him play on special teams as well as demonstrate his upside as a corner.

Colby Cameron, QB, Louisiana Tech: Cameron had a solid start to this game but as I expected once TCU started to bring pressure he struggled more and more. Obviously he didn’t fold like a lawn chair and never complete a pass again, but he faded away from more of his throws, threw without his feet properly set more often, and continued to seem uncomfortable in the face of TCU’s pressure. That led to the offense’s collapse and helped spur TCU to a win, and had Cameron not thrown a perfect pass off of his back foot that Myles White managed to catch up to and haul in for a 61 yard touchdown then Louisiana Tech would have probably lost this game by two or more touchdowns. Their offense didn’t produce a single point in the last 17 minutes of this game and Cameron had plenty to do with that. Cameron is a junior that stands at 6’2″, 205 pounds, has average arm strength and accuracy and in general doesn’t have impressive NFL upside in my opinion. He looks far too uncomfortable in the pocket and struggles in the face of pressure which is always a red flag when you are evaluating QB’s. He led Louisiana Tech to a 5-1 record in his 6 starts this year, but it will be interesting to see if teams find creative ways to pressure him to see how he holds up next year.

Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech: Patton is a junior WR on Louisiana Tech that impressed me in this game. He struggled to create separation from Greg McCoy at times which might hurt his ultimate NFL prospects, but he demonstrated pretty reliable hands and the ability to make catches in traffic which he will need to do at the next level since he isn’t a burner. He still has another year at Louisiana Tech so he has the opportunity to improve and develop further, but he had a very productive season this year with over 78 receptions, 1,202 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has solid size at 6’2″, 195 pounds and a listed 40 yard dash time of 4.56 so while he isn’t an elite NFL prospect by any means I do think he has a chance to be a late round pick if he continues to improve.

Matt Broha, DE, Louisiana Tech: Broha is an interesting prospect. He had a pretty good year this year as he produced 45 total tackles (25 solo), 9.5 TFL, 7.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 2 pass deflections. He’s got solid size at 6’4″, 255 pounds but he doesn’t have much edge speed and he looks very stiff rushing the passer at times. He struggled to get the edge and finish the rush at times, though initially he looks pretty good getting off the ball and using his hands to keep blockers off of him or using a pass rush move like a swim or a club move to gain an advantage. He doesn’t project as anything more than a late round pick or possible free agent to me, but with his size and solid hand usage he has a chance to make a roster. I just haven’t seen much that makes me think he will be a quality rotational guy at the next level.

Terry Carter, CB, Louisiana Tech: I was excited to see Carter in this game but he was very rarely challenged while I was watching. He’s not very highly rated but at 5’11”, 190 pounds he has solid corner size. I wasn’t able to judge his tackling in this game, but he did have 59 total tackles (41 solo) on the year as well as 2.5 TFL, 11 pass break-ups, 1 forced fumble and an interception that he returned for a touchdown. I don’t have a listed 40 yard dash time for him and I didn’t see much of him against TCU, but he had solid coverage the few times I was able to see him. I would be surprised if he was picked earlier than the 5th round right now due to the sheer lack of information on him, but he strikes me as a guy that could be a bit better than most people think.

Sorry it had been so long since my last post. The end of the semester entailed a lot of work like it always does. I’m very much looking forward to getting back to scouting and posting some of my thoughts, so keep an eye out for those as I try to keep up with all the bowl games. Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Get ready guys, this is a long post. It’s over 4,000 words long. You might have to break this one up since it will take a while to read. Enjoy the info!

Logan Thomas: Thomas started a bit slow, but overall I was very impressed. He made some legitimate NFL throws last night and continued to flash his great arm strength that made Virginia Tech want to groom him as Tyrod Taylor’s replacement instead of playing him at tight end like he wanted to. He believed that was his best shot at the NFL, but clearly Virginia Tech was right to play him and develop him as a quarterback. He has size and athleticism that is reminiscent of Cam Newton and is equally difficult to tackle in the backfield and when he scrambles for yardage with his legs. His accuracy is the thing he needs to improve on the most, but it looks much better and more consistent than it did when I saw him earlier in the year. He’s still raw and developing but he’s got tons of upside. As he continues to work on his mechanics and develop pocket poise he could develop into a potential first round quarterback prospect. He’s definitely intriguing, but while he has plenty of upside due to his great combination of size, arm strength and athleticism he still has to continue to work on his fundamentals. As he continues to do that he will become more consistent and really start to legitimize himself as a NFL prospect. It will be fun to potentially watch him in the ACC Championship game as well as a potential BCS Bowl Game. I have been waiting for this Logan Thomas to show up all year as I listed him as a potential break-out player for this season in his first year as a starter, so it is encouraging to see him continually developing week to week.

Bryn Rynner: I was very impressed with Rynner in this game. He didn’t have an elite stat line as he was only 14/26 for 224 yards (8.6 yards per attempt) and 1 touchdown, but he didn’t throw an interception against a pretty talented Virginia Tech defense even if they were missing a few players because of injury. He made some impressive throws, displayed a live arm, and extended plays effectively thanks to his athleticism. He’s not a very big quarterback, but I was impressed by his quality arm strength and accuracy. I think he and North Carolina have a bright future as he continues to develop.

David Wilson: Wilson has world class speed first of all. That is obvious the second he touches the ball. He can run between the tackles, he has surprisingly good leg drive given his size, he has reliable hands out of the backfield and he seems to have pretty good vision to find cutback lanes and other seams to run through. The problem with him is that because of his speed he will try to make big plays happen a bit too often when he needs to just gain yardage. This usually happens when he tries to bounce plays outside when he can’t find room to run inside. That doesn’t work against faster defenses though, which resulted in a TFL or two against North Carolina. Wilson is a very versatile weapon though, and given the shelf life of running backs I think he should declare after this year. I think that given the correct situation he could have a Demarco Murray type impact on a roster. He’s a dynamic player who has proven he can be the feature back in college. I’m not positive he can do this at the next level, but he has the potential to be a game changer.

Giovanni Bernard: Bernard scared me when he left the game with an injury but it was reported as only a mild concussion which is great news. Hopefully he will be back for the game against Duke, but as long as he is healthy long term I’d be just fine with him missing it. He is UNC’s first 1,000 yard rusher since 1997 which is almost unbelievable to me, but he has “star” written all over him in my opinion. He has very impressive burst, he runs hard and with good pad level, he has the speed to break off long chunks of yardage, he has good hands out of the backfield (35 receptions in his first year) and has helped legitimize UNC’s offense by establishing a running game that has been borderline non-existent for years. He and Rynner are going to be very fun to watch for the next two or three years assuming Rynner comes back for his senior year and Bernard stays through his junior year since he will be draft eligible as a redshirt sophomore after next season.

Ryan Houston: Houston is a huge power back for North Carolina, however this year he has slimmed down a bit. He is still listed at 6’2”, 245 pounds but he has definitely shaved off extra weight and you can see it. He’s in much better shape. I think he has draftable ability as a late round pick but is more likely to be a UDFA. He runs so hard and has such fantastic leg drive thanks to his great size and strength, but he’s not going to run a good 40 yard dash time in my opinion but he has ability. He’s great in short yardage and on the goal line, and because those are the only carries he ever seems to get that explains his less than impressive ypc average. I’m rooting for him, but we’ll see what happens after the season.

Josh Oglesby: I think Oglesby has ability. It would be in the 7th round or as an undrafted free agent but I think he has some talent. He’s not going to be a feature back in the NFL, but I think he can make a team as UDFA and stick as a special teamer. He is a physical back that could be used in short yardage situations and could help soften up defenses with a few touches, plus I don’t think he has bad hands out of the backfield. He has been productive when he gets touches and provides a more powerful back as a complement to Wilson’s game-breaking speed. He’s not likely to get drafted at all, much less high, but he’s worth at least paying attention to in my opinion.

Jarrett Boykin: Boykin is a guy I have been high on for a long time and he was actually involved in my first set of posts when I started my blog over a year ago in June of 2010. Boykin is a senior wide receiver for Virginia Tech that has potential as a solid #2 in the NFL thanks to his combination of size, quality athletic ability and very big and reliable hands. He’s not a burner and he’s not an athletic freak, but he’s been the cream of the Virginia Tech wide receiver crop for years and is the top receiver in VT history both in receptions and yards (though Danny Coale is a close second in both categories). He’s got NFL potential but is probably a fourth round pick at this point. He had a big day against North Carolina with 10 catches for 106 yards. He seems to have one or two drops on catchable passes a game despite his very reliable hands, so it makes me wonder if his hands aren’t quite great or if he just lacks concentration on a few plays per game. Either way he is more than draftable and I think he has a great shot at a long NFL career because of his team-first attitude, quality work ethic and reliable hands.

Danny Coale: Danny Coale is an undersized Virginia Tech receiver who, despite less than ideal speed, always manages to catch deep passes to the surprise of opposing defenses. He’s got great hands, he’s very tough, he makes catches in traffic, and he has great quickness. He’s more quick than fast which helps him create separation, but he’s smart, will go over the middle and make catches when you need them just like Boykin will. He won’t go as high as Boykin because of his lack of size, but he has made some fantastic catches at Virginia Tech and much like Dane Sanzenbacher of Ohio State (now with the Chicago Bears and getting some playing time…) he might get drafted late or not at all, but he will stick on a NFL roster. I guarantee it.

Dwight Jones: Dwight Jones has NFL size and pretty good speed but he leaves something to be desired as a receiver. He has pretty good hands but he body catches more than I would like to see and he doesn’t run very good routes consistently. He has NFL ability, but I have a 3rd round grade on him right now. He definitely has upside and he has been very productive for North Carolina especially this season with 68 receptions, 1,018 yards and 8 touchdowns. He will definitely get drafted, but I don’t think he is anything beyond a solid/quality #2 in the NFL. He’s definitely not a #1, and I don’t think he will be the gamebreaker he is at times for UNC even with a #1 caliber receiver opposite him.

Erik Highsmith: Highsmith is a 6’3”, 190 pound junior wide receiver on North Carolina. He has some upside due to his size and reliable hands, but he is more of a possession type of receiver. He doesn’t threaten much vertically but he’s reliable when he can create separation and get the ball thrown his way. He has had a career high 41 receptions, 608 yards and 4 touchdowns so far this year. He will likely be the #1 or #2 receiver next year with Jones graduating and while I don’t have anything beyond a 5th round grade on him at this point I do think he has draftable talent. I could see him being a nice #4 receiver in the NFL, one of those guys you can bring out on the field on 3rd down or in the red zone that you know will catch it if you throw it his way and that can find a hole in a zone for a first down conversion. He won’t make the streaking touchdown necessarily (though he did have a huge gain to set up a late UNC touchdown as they attempted a late comeback) but he will be in the NFL.

Marcus Davis: Davis is a developing receiver on Virginia Tech. Not a lot of people realize this but Logan Thomas is losing two senior wide receivers to graduation after this season.  Davis has emerged as a legitimate #3 target at wide receiver for Virginia Tech (though he has almost identical numbers to D.J. Coles, another quality junior receiver) and has almost matched his career totals from his previous two seasons in just this one year as a junior. This year he has 20 receptions (had 24 in first two years), 330 receiving yards (had 364 yards in first two years) and four touchdowns (had three in first two years). He’s 6’4”, 228 pounds and the first time I saw him play I thought he was a tight end because while he was very big he was also moving incredibly fast. If he is a legitimate 6’3”, 225+ pounds then I think he could have a future at that position, but he probably wants to stick at receiver. While he has played a key role for Virginia Tech this year and I like his hands and his size I think he is going to match his career production again in one season as a senior next year. Logan Thomas will be in his second full season as a starter as a junior and if he continues to develop he could be a Heisman candidate next season much like Cam Newton was as a junior at Auburn last year. Davis will be one of his top two receivers along with D.J. Coles and they should help keep the passing game from dropping off. If VT can replace David Wilson at RB, should he actually declare, then their offense could be very dangerous next year. Davis has a lot to do with that, so look out for him.

Dyrell Roberts, WR, Virginia Tech: Dyrell Roberts only caught three passes on the season but it was brought to my attention by a reader’s comment that Roberts broke his arm early in the season and has the option of choosing a redshirt (since he never redshirted) or a medical redshirt. It’s unfortunate for him because it was the second season in a row he sustained a season ending injury, but it sounds like he will be back next season. He was widely considered VT’s best and most explosive receiver until last season, though I always maintained that Boykin was the best. He is listed at 6’1″, 196 pounds and a listed 40 yard dash time of 4.53. I’d be surprised if he didn’t test faster than that as I believe he has the speed to test defenses vertically, but his hands have always been a huge question mark for him. It will be interesting to see what he does next year, and I for one am hoping he can stay healthy. Thanks to Jim for bringing this to my attention!

D.J. Coles: Coles is another big, athletic receiver for VT. He’s a junior this year and at 6’3”, 224 pounds he has totaled 26 receptions, 331 yards and two touchdowns. That accounts for almost all of his career statistics, but that doesn’t mean he lacks ability. In fact, I think Coles is ready for a break-out receiver next year. I can’t decide whether he or Davis will emerge as Thomas’ #1 target next year, but I think they are both going to have break-out years. Coles’ will be more noticeable because he had such a miniscule impact last year with only three receptions. But he is ready for big things and I think he will be targeted early and often by Thomas next year because of his quality size, very reliable hands and his knack for making the great catch. He adjusts very well to the ball in the air as well and tracks it well off of the quarterback’s hand. He’s going to blow up next year, so watch out for him.

Travis Bond: Bond is the junior right guard on North Carolina and he impressed me a lot in this game. He’s 6’7”, 340 pounds so he absolutely has NFL size and he helped get a consistent push against VT’s interior defensive line. He’s much bigger than all of their defensive linemen and he helped generate a consistent push in the running game, especially when Bernard was still in the game. Even after that they generated enough push to get Blue some yardage even though he’s the #3 back. I didn’t get to evaluate him much in pass protection, but I believe Bond has a NFL future. Just have to figure out what kind of one it is.

Jonathan Cooper: Cooper is another NFL offensive guard prospect on North Carolina. He plays left guard at 6’3”, 305 pounds and he also had an impressive push against VT’s defensive line. I didn’t see him in pass protection either, but he’s a quality junior draft prospect as well and warrants some attention. One noteworthy thing about UNC’s offensive line is that they will return every starter but their center next year and they will be a very experienced group with three seniors (LG, RG and RT) and a junior at LT. A sophomore will likely step in at center, but that’s an experienced group up front that should help clear a lot of running lanes for Bernard next year. I can’t wait to see that.

Quentin Coples: Coples is a very impressive prospect. I think he has a lot of versatility to play inside or outside at the next level, but I’m not sure which scheme he would fit best in yet. I think he would be effective as a 4-3 LE, but I don’t think he would generate a ton of sacks. Regardless, I think he has good edge speed considering his 6’6”, 290 pound frame, very strong and powerful hands, he displays consistently good hand usage to disengage from blocks, and overall has plenty of upside. I’m not sure he will be a top 5 pick like some are suggesting, but he definitely has top 15 pick written all over him at this point. Just haven’t quite seen the dominance that many were expecting.

Donte Paige-Moss: Paige-Moss has been tabbed by many as an overrated prospect on the Tar Heels and I tend to agree. He has fantastic athleticism and was considered a potential break-out player by some, but has not been starting for the Heels and has had a limited impact this year with only 21 tackles (11 solo), 4.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks and two pass deflections. He has a great frame for a pass rusher at 6’4”, 260 and has ideal athleticism for the RE position but he just hasn’t developed at all. He still has plenty of upside if the light comes on for him, but I’m not sure exactly what that requires. I think if he worked harder to get stronger and improve his hand usage he might progress next year as a senior, but he will have to earn his starting spot back or make a serious impact as a rotational guy as a senior. His stock is a mid-round guy that is a high risk/high reward player because he has a lot of upside but there’s very little from his junior year that suggests he will live up to his potential.

Kareem Martin: Martin is the guy who has replaced Paige-Moss at DE for the Tar Heels. He’s got plenty of upside due to his athletic ability as well as his impressive 6’6”, 260 pound size. He is only a sophomore but he has been very impressive with 34 total tackles (18 solo), 6.0 TFL, 4 sacks and 5 pass deflections. UNC does a pretty good job of getting their hands up into passing lanes and Martin is not an exception to that rule. I like Martin and think he has plenty of upside at DE for the Heels and should help replace Coples next year as I expect him to fill out that 6’6” frame and show up at 270+ pounds next season. Martin screams LE due to his size, and if Paige-Moss can get his act together UNC could have the feared pass rush from their DE’s that everyone expected them to have this season. Keep an eye on Martin, he has a lot of potential.

Sylvester Williams: Williams is a guy that stuck out to me from the second VT snapped the ball on their first drive. Williams has great size at 6’3”, 320 pounds and definitely has a lot of ability for such a large man. He’s only a junior but he has 47 total tackles (18 solo), 6.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 1 FF and two pass deflections. I think he is going to be a legitimate 2nd or 3rd round prospect next year, and I am excited to watch him as a senior on a defensive line that has plenty of talent.

Tydreke Powell: Powell is a 6’3”, 310 pound senior defensive tackle. He’s a very strong, powerful defensive tackle that is hard to move in the trenches. He’s got 43 total tackles (18 solo), 4.5 TFL, 1.0 sacks, 1 INT, 1 FF and 2 pass break-ups. He’s not a dynamic pass rusher by any stretch of the imagination, but I think he has a legit NFL future as a 3rd or 4th round pick because he won’t threaten much in the pass game but he is an effective run defender. He can help his stock in a post-season game and I look forward to potentially interviewing him at the East-West Shrine Game or perhaps more likely in the Senior Bowl.

Zach Brown: Brown is a freak athlete that is extremely fast. He is a senior that has decent size for a linebacker at 6’2”, 230 pounds but he definitely needs to get bigger and stronger to hold up in the NFL in my opinion. He looks skinny at times but he has plenty of athletic ability and raw speed. He’s extremely fast and that has helped him accumulate 81 total tackles, 10.0 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 2 INT’s, 3 FF’s and four pass deflections. He is a very effective blitzer because of his speed, but without more strength and better hand usage to shed he won’t be as effective once he is engaged as a pass rusher or as a run defender. He has ideal athleticism for pass coverage though, and could make himself a lot of money with a great post-season game performance in a bowl game and in the Senior Bowl. One problem I have with Brown is his problems wrapping up. He has missed a number of tackles simply because he didn’t wrap up the ball carrier and he likes to go for the big hit, but he isn’t a fundamentally sound tackler. That will hurt him in the evaluation process, but he’s so athletic that a lot of teams will probably overlook it.

Kevin Reddick: Reddick is another one of North Carolina’s talented linebackers. He is only a junior but he is 6’3”, 240 pounds and has had a productive season at middle linebacker. He has 62 total tackles (35 solo), 6.0 TFL, 1.0 sacks and 3 pass break-ups. He isn’t the freak athlete that Brown is, but he has legitimate NFL ability and is probably the best tackler on the team. He is a very reliable tackler and that is one of my favorite things about him. The dichotomy between Reddick and Brown in that aspect is very noticeable. I look forward to watching Reddick next year as a senior.

Charles Brown: Brown is an undersized corner at only 5’10”, 205 pounds but I would be surprised if he didn’t officially measure in at 5’9”. He’s solid in zone coverage, but he gets burned deep and struggles to locate the ball on deep throws while it is in the air. He can be handsy in coverage, and while he is a solid tackler I’m just not sold on him being a legitimate NFL corner. He’s a 5th round pick right now in my mind, and I just don’t think he has a lot of upside.

Jayron Hosley: Hosley has a lot of upside but like a number of corners to come out of VT he has tons of ability but isn’t always consistent. He can make some amazing plays, but can also give up big ones at times. He’s got great athleticism and breaks on passes very well, recovers well due to his great speed when beat and has fantastic ball skills, but he doesn’t tackle very well. He has 8 pass deflections and three interceptions this year as well as one forced fumble despite only being 5’10”, 171 pounds (though I would be surprised if he was not also 5’9”). He doesn’t have NFL size necessarily, but he definitely makes up for it with his athletic ability and ball skills.

J.R. Collins: Collins is only a sophomore but he has tons of upside. He is 6’2”, 240 pounds and like a lot of VT defensive ends he is undersized but very, very athletic. Hopefully he will show up at 250+ pounds for his junior season next year which would help him a lot versus the run (though he was getting snaps inside at defensive tackle this year due to injuries which was baffling considering his size) but it would also make it easier for him to shed blocks and rush the passer. Right now he relies on his athleticism, but as he develops he should be able to use his strength to get to the passer more often. He has 8.0 TFL’s and 6 sacks this year, so expect an even better year next season from Collins. He is definitely one to watch.

Derrick Hopkins: Hopkins is a guy that I really like. Like Collins he is also a sophomore, but he has legitimate NFL size at 6’0”, 301 pounds and surprising athleticism. He impressed me in this game and has had a pretty good year with 43 total tackles (19 solo), 5.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks and one forced fumble. I think he has legitimate NFL upside and I’m excited to watch him develop year to year along with Collins.

Antone Exum: Exum is yet another talented sophomore on Virginia Tech. He has TONS of upside at safety in my opinion at 6’0”, 220 pounds but he has great athletic ability and he has been the definition of a playmaker so far this season. He has 65 tackles (30 solo), 2.5 TFL, 1.0 sacks, 1 interception, two forced fumbles and a staggering 10 pass break-ups. He played very well against North Carolina and I think he has tons of upside. It’ll be interesting to see how he develops, but I am very high on him right now.

As you can see both of these teams have a lot of young, developing talent on their rosters. I think both teams will be good next year, though it will be interesting to see how good. Virginia Tech will be losing a lot of talent at wide receiver but they are returning two more seniors at the position. They may very well lose David Wilson to the NFL which would mean a new running back and two new starters at receiver for Logan Thomas to work with. It’s certainly possible that after his junior year Thomas will declare, but it will be particularly interesting to see he adjusts to a significant personnel change in his supporting cast. On defense VT will be very talented as they aren’t losing much talent at all unless Jayron Hosley leaves. They have a ton of young talent on the roster so next year their defense should be very scary, especially in the front seven and along the defensive line.

For UNC they have a very nice core of young talent on offense. They will be returning 8 or 9 starters on offense including potential studs at QB and RB in Bryn Rynner and Giovani Bernard. Watching those two for the next two years will be very special, so I am excited to see that. As has become customary UNC’s defense is extremely fast and athletic, and they will return 7 starters I believe. They have a lot of young talent in the front 7 and some up and coming talent in the secondary. Their strength is usually in the front 7 though, so it should be a strength again next year. I’m looking forward to seeing how they play next year, but I think that with the right coaching hire UNC could take a big step in the right direction next year.

Thanks for reading, I know it was a very long post. Hope you enjoyed it!

–Tom

Demontre Moore: Moore has plenty of upside. He’s got great size at 6’4″, 245 pounds and has good speed off the edge. Not sure he’s an elite athlete, but he has been very productive this season as a sophomore with 51 total tackles (31 solo), 14.0 TFL, 6.5 sacks, 3 FF’s and 1 pass break up. He and Sean Porter are a fearsome tandem and will be even scarier next year as he will be a junior and Porter will be a senior. He has flashed the ability to shed, keep contain and is a reliable tackler. Showed good burst/explosiveness off the edge.
-Moore made a great play to chase down Diggs on his terrific punt return to save a touchdown. A&M then forced a field goal. Could be a critical play if A&M can get going on offense.

Sean Porter: Porter reminds me a lot of what Von Miller used to be as a junior. He’s 6’2″, 230 pounds and very explosive as an athlete. He has 67 total tackles (44 solo), 13.5 TFL, 8.5 sacks and 1 forced fumble so far this year. He relies almost entirely on his athleticism as a pass rusher and a defender much like Miller used to, but he is still a fearsome player with only that in his arsenal. Like Miller he has plenty of upside and should be back in school next year as a senior, and if he comes back stronger and with better hand usage he could be a very scary prospect much like Miller developed into. It will be interesting to see if he is able to take that next step, but right now he avoids blocks versus shedding them with his speed and burst, but he has to be able to shed and use physical moves to get off blocks once he is engaged. Once he’s engaged he’s not nearly as effective, so he needs to get stronger and work on his hand usage.

Tony Jerod-Eddie: TJE has impressive size at 6’5″, 301 pounds. He has 40 total tackles (20 solo), 6.0 TFL, 4.0 sacks and has shown a solid motor and flashed a swim move. He’s got some potential as a 3-4 DE or a 4-3 DT. Not sure he’s a great pass rusher or run defender, but he has NFL size and that warrants some checking out. He hasn’t flashed a whole lot tonight, but he’s been solid. I’m going to keep an eye on him and see how he looks the rest of the game.

Eddie Brown Jr.: Brown Jr. has been impressive today. He’s tough to move off the line of scrimmage because of his size (6’0″, 310 pounds) and he has a very good burst off the line of scrimmage. He’s regularly one of the first defensive linemen off the ball and moves surprisingly well for a big man. He’s made some nice stops at the line of scrimmage tonight, and definitely has some potential as a rotational defensive lineman. Not sure he’s a starter yet, I just haven’t seen enough of him. But he has some value in my opinion.

Ryan Tannehill: Tannehill is a guy I like, but he has been very off so far tonight. Texas has a talented defense and they churn out talented defensive backs like it’s their job. Tannehill has struggled tonight for reasons I’m not sure of, but there have been drops, bad throws by him, deflections at the line of scrimmage, and he’s gotten hit a bit as well (a few times by Keenan Robinson). We’ll have to see how he does in the second half, but he has much more potential than this. He displayed it a bit on the first drive Texas A&M had when they marched down and scored, but Texas settled in on defense and has thwarted him for the majority of the half since. Tannehill has been very accurate on roll-outs and passes outside the pocket, but he hasn’t been very good inside the pocket yet. He needs to remedy that situation in the second half, because Texas has too much athleticism to continue to rely entirely on passes from outside of the pocket. Corner blitzes will come if they keep doing roll-outs off of play action and he will take more hits, get sacked or turn the ball over. He needs to pass better from the pocket.
-Tannehill has been terrible in this game. Texas has been great on defense since early in this game and their defensive backs have been especially good. Byndom has been in Fuller’s hip pocket all game and has a pick 6, Diggs has nearly made multiple interceptions, Vacarro has an interception, and Christian Scott nearly had his first interception of the season early on with a great break on the ball. Tannehill hasn’t had a lot of open receivers to throw to but he has been inaccurate, he’s stared down his receivers which has led to interceptions and he hasn’t handled his lack of success well as his issues have continued to snow ball. That is worth noting as a prospect, and because this is his 2nd to last game (assuming their 6 wins get them a bowl game which it should) this is definitely going to leave a sour taste in the mouth of evaluators. His only hope is to lead a comeback in the 4th quarter and win a game ugly.

Ben Malena: Malena has been very impressive in this game. He’s been running through arm tackles, churning his legs effectively, displaying impressive burst and speed as well as reliable hands. I’m really enjoying watching him, and should have a lot of touches the rest of the year and next year in a shared backfield.

Jeff Fuller: Fuller has been having a down year and it has something to do with his struggles to create separation. He’s been nicked up, but he struggled to create separation before. He has very impressive hands and can make tough catches even when covered, but you’d like to see him run better routes to generate more separation. A couple times he pushed off of the cornerback defending him to try to get free, but for the most part he was blanketed in the first half. Carrington Byndom has done a great job on him. He’s only a sophomore but he has played great and been in Fuller’s back pocket the entire game. Fuller has the size to beat him (6’4″, 220 pounds versus 6’0″, 180 pounds) but Byndom is more athletic than Fuller is and it has been evident. Fuller has been relatively productive this year, but he has possession receiver numbers with 56 receptions, 602 yards and 4 TD’s on the year. He’s got a 3rd or 4th round grade from me right now, but unless he gets healthy and starts showing he can generate consistent separation he probably won’t move up much more than that

Carrington Byndom: Byndom has been terrific tonight. According to the announcers he matches up with the best receiver on every opposing team and he is only a sophomore. He has been blanketing Jeff Fuller all night and has clearly been frustrating him as he has resorted to pushing off and trash talking, but Byndom has barked back and continues to stick with him in coverage. Byndom has tons of upside as a man coverage corner thanks to his size, speed and he seems to have pretty long arms. He needs to get bigger and stronger, but he’s got tons of upside. Keep an eye on him, he’s #23.
-Byndom had a great play to get a pick 6. He’s a very impressive corner.

Ryan Swope: Swope doesn’t have the same upside Fuller does because he doesn’t have the same size/athletic ability but he has good hands. He has dropped a pass or two in this game though, and hasn’t been able to beat Texas vertically like he has against other teams. He’s been good against zone coverage though, and needs to get more involved in the second half if Texas A&M is going to move the ball. Fuller is being taken out of the game by one on one coverage which leaves a lot of defenders to keep an eye on Swope.

Keenan Robinson: Robinson is a very talented linebacker. He’s clearly very athletic, is a very reliable tackler and has laid the wood on Tannehill a couple times in the first half. He really packs a punch and has a knack for finding his way to the ball carrier and the quarterback. He doesn’t have elite size, but he’s a quality linebacker that is fun to watch.

Quandre Diggs: Diggs is the “other” corner opposite Byndom. He is only a FRESHMAN but he is starting for Texas. He’s 5’10”, 200 but he has 39 total tackles (24 solo), 3.0 TFL, 2 interceptions (a 3rd in this game) and TEN pass deflections. That is incredibly impressive, and he seems likely to be the next stud corner at Texas after Byndom of course. I’ve been impressed with Diggs so far, he had a great recovery to pick Tannehill off. I almost forgot to mention that Diggs is a great punt returner. He flashed a lot of potential in his limited touches in the 1st half, but he really ripped off a great return after A&M’s first punt to set Texas up with the ball on A&M’s 9 yard line.

Kenny Vacarro: Vacarro is a guy that has been tabbed as a potentially underrated safety. It’s tough to watch him play, but he has looked solid in coverage when I could see him. He strikes me as a leader on Texas’ defense and wore Fozzy Whitaker’s #2 jersey because he is injured and unable to play which you love to see. #6 flashed an impressive close to nearly get an interception, but Vacarro is the better prospect at this point.
-Fantastic interception high pointing the ball on the sideline and getting his feet down. Looked like a wide receiver. He’s got a lot of upside.

Kheeston Randall: Randall has demonstrated some ability but he hasn’t been the dominant, disruptive force that I was expecting. He has NFL size and athletic ability, but I think he needs work on his hand usage and pass rush moves. He’s strong and not very easy to move off of the line of scrimmage, but he has left something to be desired thus far.

Randy Bullock:  Bullock is the Texas A&M kicker. He has made 3 FGs in this game, 24 this season. He is a  Lou Groza award finalist. 2 of his 3 field goals in this game have been 50+ yard attempts that he has made convincingly. I want to see him in clutch situations, but two 50 yard field goals is definitely impressive.

Jackson Jeffcoat: Jeffcoat has started to emerge this season along with Okafor. He hasn’t had a lot of pressure on Tannehill as a passer (or at least I haven’t noticed it, hard to see everything at once) but he has made some TFL’s in the backfield against a RB who has been running through unimpressive tackles all game. He’s done a good job versus the run so far.

Alex Okafor: Okafor has emerged as a pass rusher this year. I think they will be really fun to watch next year because they have a lot of athletic ability and upside as pass rushers, but beyond that they have a fantastic secondary that will help them get coverage sacks.

Emmanuel Acho: Acho is a great tackler along with Robinson. He has made some impressive open field stops against Malena who has been making some Texas defenders look silly as the slide off of him. He and Robinson have shown ability in coverage and close very, very fast. Plus they know how to get after the passer when they come on a blitz.

Arkansas-Mississippi State:

Jonathan Banks had a solid game with a sack, forced fumble and solid coverage. He’s a bigger corner and I thought he struggled with faster/quicker receivers and that was evidenced today by Jarius Wright creating consistent separation against him. He didn’t seem to close well when Wright made his breaks on underneath routes, and that allowed him to generate separation and make receptions against Banks. I am a Banks fan, but I think he matches up better with bigger, more physical receivers.

Tyler Wilson was very good today against Mississippi State. He’s putting himself squarely in the 1st round conversation for the 2013 draft. Is he a perfect prospect? No, but he has a live arm, he’s flashed some very impressive ball placement into tight windows, and he has shown me that he’s a bit of a gunslinger. He needs some mechanical work especially when he is outside of the pocket because his mechanics break down and he throws with uncharacteristic throwing motions with varying release points which makes it hard for him to be consistently accurate. Inside the pocket he dips the ball a bit during his motion so I think it could be tweaked to speed up his release. However I was very impressed with the zip he had on his throws today and he made some very impressive stick throws into tight windows. Like I mentioned before, he has a gunslinger mentality to him as a passer and it makes him fun to watch because he makes some incredible throws but with that come some mistakes that aren’t characteristic of more consistent passers. He’s got plenty of upside, but has some flaws as well. He has a HUGE test coming up against LSU’s fantastic secondary next week, and it will be very interesting to see how he does. My personal guess is that he has a productive day but two interceptions. LSU forces a ton of turnovers, and Wilson makes some throws that better defenses could have a shot at. You heard it here first!

Dennis Johnson was incredibly impressive today. He reminded me of Michael Turner “The Burner” back when he was on San Diego and in his first season as the feature back in Atlanta. He’s a smaller back at only 5’9″ but he is very well built at 213 pounds. He only has 91 attempts on the season, but he has produced 606 yards (6.65 ypc) and 3 touchdowns as well as 20 receptions for 258 yards and 2 more touchdowns. As if that wasn’t enough for only 9 games of production without being the established feature back in each game, he also has returned 18 kickoffs for 461 yards (25.61 avg) and 1 touchdown this season. He’s a very talented back, and he displayed great burst, footwork and acceleration into the hole against Mississippi State. He seems to have impressive vision, runs fairly patiently, and does a good job of consistently making one cut and getting North/South instead of wasting steps in the backfield and going East/West trying to generate a big play. He runs with good natural pad level because of his height, runs through arm tackles easily because of his compact body type, lower body strength, impressive leg drive and does a great job of pushing piles and getting yards after contact because of his natural leverage and leg drive. He is a natural receiver out of the backfield and has soft hands and is dangerous after the catch for the same reasons he is dangerous when running the ball out of the backfield. On top of that, he has demonstrated some serious potential as a pass protector. Specifically in this game he was lined up next to Wilson in a shotgun formation, the ball was snapped and as per his assignment he moved to the right of Wilson to see if he needed to pick up a blitzer, there was no one, but he quickly recognized that there was a blitzing defender coming off of the left edge that was not going to be picked up. He then alertly flew towards him and took him out just in time for Wilson to deliver a nice throw to Cobi Hamilton for an Arkansas touchdown. Had Johnson not made that terrific play it would have changed the game entirely. Johnson is one of the most underrated running backs in the country if not the most underrated as Ben Allbright of NFL Draft Monsters has been saying for weeks now. He’s a very talented running back that has an injury history, but now that he is healthy he is demonstrating exactly why he was the starter ahead of Knile Davis on the depth chart. He is a different back from Knile Davis but he is very talented in his own right.

-It was great to see Greg Childs get in on the action in this game. He didn’t have a huge role, but he definitely looked the best that I have seen him since he injured his patella tendon last year. I don’t think there is any doubt that he isn’t 100% yet, but he is definitely vastly closer to 100% than he was earlier in the season. He has very reliable hands, quality size at 6’3″, 217 pounds and while he doesn’t have elite speed he has the ability to make plays on 50/50 balls that gives him value when healthy. His hands are very dependable and he displayed that on each of his three catches for 32 yards in this game, and even displayed some of his patented shiftiness on one play when he made a great snag, made a guy miss with a move to the inside and gained first down yardage. Childs isn’t healthy and hasn’t been healthy yet this year which is why he only has 13 catches for 152 yards and no touchdowns so far, but he is getting healthier each week and that is encouraging. Hopefully, should Arkansas end up in a BCS game, Childs will be healthy enough to make a comparable impact to what he was able to do before getting injured last season.

Jarius Wright was relatively quiet in this game. He had 8 catches for 96 yards but didn’t score a touchdown and his long on the day was 26, which isn’t really anything special for Wright considering his explosiveness. Jonathan Banks was able to take away some of the deep stuff, but gave up underneath passes to Wright and Wilson was wise to exploit that for significant chunks of yardage the way he did. Wright has definitely had better games, but the fact still remains that he is as explosive as any receiver in the country right now and is forcing teams to consider putting an early 2nd round or potentially even late 1st round grade on him the way he has been playing all year.

Joe Adams is an interesting prospect. I say interesting because he’s not necessarily intriguing. You know what you’re getting with Joe Adams. He’s listed at 5’11”, 190 pounds (though I would not be surprised if he was 5’10”) and has produced 46 receptions, 595 yards and 3 TD’s, 9 carries for a mind-boggling 138 yards and 1 TD, plus a phenomenal 16 punt returns for 259 yards (16.19 avg) and THREE touchdowns on the season. To put it simply: Joe Adams is explosive. When he has the ball in his hands he is one of the most dangerous playmakers in the country, potentially as dangerous as Jarius Wright who is making a solid case for himself to be drafted in the top 40 picks in the 2012 NFL Draft. So why doesn’t he grade out as high? He has inconsistent hands because he body catches too much and has had issues with drops, he makes mental mistakes on the field and he is a hot head. By that I mean he lets his emotions get away from him at times which lead to dumb personal foul penalties. Last year as a junior he had an avoidable personal foul penalty in what may have been every single game I watched of Ryan Mallett after the season was over which was very telling. He’s got a ton of athletic ability and potential, I just don’t know how much of that he will reach because of some of his less stellar attributes as a prospect. He could be a huge steal in the 4th round range, or he could be limited to a gimmick fourth wide receiver and a good/very good punt returner.

Cobi Hamilton is a receiver that I have gone on record as saying has the most potential of any of Arkansas’ talented receivers. I still believe this even though he has not been featured in their offense if only because they have so many other viable weapons to utilize. Hamilton is 6’3″, 209 pounds and has produced 29 receptions, 441 yards and 3 touchdowns on the season. Those numbers don’t properly reflect how much ability he has because he is sharing the spotlight with Wright, Adams, Johnson and occasionally Childs and Chris Gragg. While Hamilton hasn’t displayed his full potential yet this season if he does come back next year he will be Wilson’s go-to guy and should make it very clear to the rest of the country just how talented he is. Hopefully he comes back because it would be extremely fun to watch Wilson and Hamilton play pitch and catch as seniors with significant playing experience under both of their belts.

Chris Gragg is a player that I was not even aware of for Arkansas because they just have so many other weapons. He is a 6’3″, 239 pound tight end who has replaced D.J. Williams in the starting lineup for Arkansas this season. He is a junior, but this is his first significant playing time and he has had a quality season as a result. He has produced 38 receptions, 457 yards and 2 TD’s this year, and he had his best game against Mississippi State totaling 8 receptions for 119 yards and a touchdown. He has reportedly improved significantly as a blocker over the course of the year which has led to Arkansas trusting him more and allowing him to evolve further as a receiver, and that seems to be the trend considering his break-out game so late in the season. He’s a talented tight end with very reliable hands and pretty legitimate NFL size, so definitely watch out for him the rest of the season and next year as a senior. He’s going to make teams pay if they forget about him in favor of slowing down Cobi Hamilton.

Chris Smith is an underrated junior receiver on Mississippi State. He has quality hands (even though he had a bad drop on an easy curl route today) but he just doesn’t get to display his ability because of Mississippi State’s terrible passing offense. He only has 30 receptions, 283 yards and 2 TD’s on the season. If you looked at those numbers objectively along with his solid but not spectacular listed size of 6’2″, 205 pounds you wouldn’t think he is anything special. I still believe that he is though. I saw flashes of impressive ability last year and I have seen it at times this year, he just needs a legitimate quarterback who can get him the ball so he can demonstrate it. So keep an eye out for Chris Smith because even if his statistics aren’t impressive there is talent there, he just hasn’t had a chance to show it.

Jake Bequette is a very impressive athlete. He reportedly ran a 4.59 40 yard dash at 270 pounds before the season which is incredibly impressive even though he might be a bit of a workout warrior. Regardless, he has legitimate edge speed and has been very productive for Arkansas in his career. This year the senior 6’4″, 270 pound defensive end missed a couple games due to injury, but has had a solid year with 21 total tackles (8 solo), 6.5 TFL, 6.0 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and one pass deflection. I have a round three or four grade on him right now because while I love his athleticism and his fantastic motor I’m not sure he has enough upside as a starting 4-3 defensive end to warrant top 50-60 consideration in the upcoming draft.

Jerry Franklin always stuck out to me when I watched Arkansas since the beginning of last season when I was scouting them to watch Ryan Mallett initially. He’s a converted safety if I remember correctly and is currently listed at 6’1″, 245 pounds and is one of the leaders of Arkansas’ defense. Coming into the game against Mississippi State he had produced 82 total tackles (38 solo), 10.0 TFL, 0.5 sacks, three pass break ups and one fumble recovery that he returned 94 yards for a touchdown. He is a reliable linebacker and always struck me as a quality coverage linebacker, perhaps because of his experience at safety. I like his potential upside and while he isn’t a 1st or 2nd round pick I think he has a legitimate NFL future.

-There might not have been a more impressive player on Mississippi State than Fletcher Cox in this game. The junior defensive tackle was everywhere, especially in the first half. He recovered a fumble and rumbled deep into Arkansas territory, he made stops at the line of scrimmage after fighting off blocks and he blocked an Arkansas field goal attempt with a vicious move to penetrate into the backfield and get his hands on the kick. Coming into the game the 6’4, 295 pound defensive tackle had produced 40 total tackles (20 solo), 9.5 TFL and 4.0 sacks. He padded those numbers against Arkansas today and really impressed me as this was the first time I had ever paid close attention to him. He’s got very legitimate NFL talent and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him declare early even though there is some defensive tackle talent in this draft if additional juniors declare.

Thanks for reading! Hopefully you enjoyed my notes on this game. There are definitely more to come.

–Tom

Wisconsin-Illinois:

-Montee Ball was the man in this game. He had a fantastic game rushing 38 times for 224 yards and 2 TD’s. He also added two receptions for a cumulative total of -1 yards, but he had a 5 yard reception for a touchdown to help bring Wisconsin back early in the 2nd half. I can’t say enough good things about Montee Ball. Last year he looked like he lacked burst, might have been carrying too much weight, and while he was still very effective I didn’t think he was a legitimate NFL prospect. This year he dropped about 25 pounds and the second I saw him touch the ball for the first time this year I immediately said “Wow, Montee looks like a completely different back.” He has so much more burst, so much more speed to finish runs, and hits the hole harder and faster. He still runs the ball hard, he runs through arm tackles with ease, he can run guys over when he puts his head down, and he gains a lot of yardage after contact. He has very reliable hands out of the backfield, and overall strikes me as a very complete back. Will he go in the first round? I’m not sure, but I would definitely put a 2nd round grade on him at this point. He has feature back written all over him in the NFL, and has proven that he can be an every down back because of the emphasis Wisconsin puts on running the ball and working the clock. Montee Ball, it’s time to go pro! I’ll have a scouting report up on him this upcoming week.

-Russell Wilson was not the headliner of this game by any stretch of the imagination. Montee Ball literally carried them, and Wilson was essentially a glorified bystander. He was 10/13 for only 90 yards and 1 touchdown (to Montee Ball) and ran for another touchdown on a naked bootleg at the goal line. Wilson has had much better games, and while he only threw three incompletions two of them were poor throws while he had plenty of room in the pocket to throw. He missed both high, and the second pass was not a clean spiral. Once Wisconsin had taken control of the game he did convert two throws on 3rd downs with ease to extend their drives which should not be overlooked, but I think Wisconsin could have handled Illinois very easily in this game if Wilson had been more of a difference maker in the passing game. You wouldn’t know it by looking at the statistics, but for a while Illinois was doing a solid job of taking Montee Ball away and Wilson wasn’t moving the ball for Wisconsin. Ball and Wisconsin’s offensive line wore Illinois down in the second half, but if that hadn’t happened I don’t know if Wilson could have won this game for Wisconsin today throwing the ball.

AJ Jenkins- Jenkins had an average game with only 4 receptions for 33 yards, but he was impressive. He had a touchdown called back by a very questionable offensive pass interference call on a TE who allegedly “picked” the defender like a basketball player, but in reality he barely touched him as he ran by him (his shoulder nicked Fenelus who was in coverage on the play). Jenkins had created legitimate separation over the middle, caught it cleanly and picked up the rest for a TD only to have it called back. Later on same drive Illinois was inaccurately called for a second “picking” penalty and this was even worse Darius Millines, a wide receiver on Illinois, stopped his route and avoided the defender and may not have actually touched him. Yet, the penalty was still called and another catch and run by Jenkins (this time down inside the five) was negated by a bad call by the refs. Jenkins was matched up with Fenelus the entire game from what I saw, and it was a pretty even battle. Jenkins created separation relatively consistently and if it weren’t for those penalties he would have had about 50-60 yards and potentially a touchdown. I’m a huge Jenkins fan and while I don’t think he’s a 1st or 2nd rounder because I don’t think he has great deep speed he strikes me as a nice #2 or slot receiver in the NFL because of his good hands, willingness to go over the middle, ability to make catches in traffic, and because he can make defenders miss in the open field to pick up yards after the catch.

-Antonio Fenelus had a very good game today. He was matched up on AJ Jenkins all game and while Jenkins did make some plays and create separation against him Fenelus held his own in coverage. Overall he had pretty good coverage on deep throws, he used the sideline well as a defender, but he did get beat deep on at least one play when Jenkins had separation down the middle but O’Toole’s pass was underthrown in the face of the wind. As a result, Fenelus recovered and made a great diving interception on the play. Fenelus had another shot at an interception but it went right through his hands, was tipped around and eventually intercepted by Aaron Henry. I’ve liked Fenelus since I watched him last year and personally feel that he is underrated. He’s not an elite corner prospect, but I think he has NFL ability and is worth mid-round consideration.

-Jeff Allen is the left tackle on Illinois. He has a lot of starting experience with over 30 career starts under his belt, and might actually be a four year starter. I’m not sold on him sticking at LT in the NFL, but I think his upside might be as a right tackle in a zone blocking scheme. He’s pretty agile for his size (listed at 6’5″, 315 pounds) and gets off the ball effectively, especially in the running game. I haven’t seen him much so I don’t know how well he cuts, but he is not a drive blocker so putting him in a man blocking scheme that relies on driving defenders off the ball is not where his upside lies. He does seal well and positions himself effectively to create running lanes for Illinois’ running backs, but I don’t think he has as much upside in a man scheme as he does in a zone scheme. He had a solid game against Whitney Mercilus because he didn’t have as many issues with him attempting to speed rush, but he struggles with speed and I don’t think he has the lateral agility and kick slide to mirror elite NFL pass rushers. I think he could be a solid/quality RT, but is a potential back-up LT that could play there in a pinch. That gives him some value, but I still grade him as a 4th round guy right now. If he has to move to RT his inability to move defenders off the ball in the run game hurts his value if he is forced to move there.

-This was the first game I have gotten to see Whitney Mercilus in since he has caught fire and garnered significant National attention. He’s a legitimate prospect, but I think he has to stick at LE in the NFL. He doesn’t have the edge speed to stick at RE in my opinion. He’s a strong guy with a lot of potential, but it was hard to evaluate him as a pass rusher when Russell Wilson only threw the ball 13 times and Montee Ball had 38 carries for 224 yards. I like his potential, but I need to see more. He had 17.5 TFL and 12.5 sacks coming into the game today, so I just need tos ee more of him.

-Michael Buchanan is another one of Illinois’ talented defensive linemen. He was on my list of potential break-out players before the season began and has produced 11.0 TFL, 6.0 sacks and 1 forced fumble on the year (before the Wisconsin game). He’s got great speed off the edge, but he needs to get stronger and add weight to stand up better against the run. He’s got potential, but still needs developing and coaching.

-Illinois middle linebacker Jonathan Brown may only be a sophomore but he is a star. Before today’s game he had 78 total tackles (only 29 solo), 14.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 4 pass break-ups, 1 forced fumble and an interception. He has great instincts, he fills well, he flows to the ball well, and he just makes plays. I’m a huge fan and he is definitely someone to keep an eye on. He showed up often today as he always does.

-Ian Thomas is an underrated linebacker in my opinion. He’s only 6’1″, 235 pounds but he was filling very well when he had the opportunity to against Wisconsin. Is he a top 100 guy? No, but he’s a quality tackler with 64 tackles (23 solo), 8.5 TFL and 2.5 sacks so far this year. He’s got draftable ability in my opinion, but no one is talking about him. I think he will at worst get picked up as a UDFA and make a roster because of his potential contributions on special teams.

Yale-Harvard:

-Patrick Witt was the only reason I watched some of this game, and while I think he has some arm talent and accuracy I was not overly impressed. He stared down his receivers regularly, didn’t make very good decisions and ended up with two interceptions before I tuned back in to the Wisconsin-Illinois game. He has enough ability to be brought on as a UDFA, but I’m not sure he has draftable talent beyond late round consideration right now. He could make himself some money with a quality performance in a post-season game like the East-West Shrine Game though.

Michigan-Nebraska:

-Alfonzo Dennard didn’t seem to have a very good game against Michigan. I didn’t see much of the game, but when I watched I was not very impressed. I like him, but he hasn’t been helping his stock a lot in recent weeks.

-David Molk may be my #1 senior center in this class. He’s not very big, but he’s very mobile, has tons of starting experience, and is overall very reliable. He won’t be able to block a DT one on one in the NFL very often, but he’s intelligent and should have a very long NFL career. Not a 1st round pick, but definitely warrants 2nd-3rd round consideration.

-Denard Robinson should just move to slot receiver. I know Michigan won this game, but he could be such a dynamic receiver in the slot and that is the only position he has a NFL future at. Just bite the bullet Michigan!

I focused on the Illinois-Wisconsin game, but I had a few notes on the other prospects as well. Enjoy the rest of the games tonight!

–Tom

Keleche Osemele is one of the best offensive guard prospects in the country. His combination of size and strength is very intriguing.

Kelechi Osemele, OT, Iowa State- Osemele impressed me tonight. He’s so big and strong that once he locks on he can drive defenders off the ball in the run game. He seems to finish blocks well and will be fine blocking interior defensive linemen because of his great size (listed at 6’6″, 345 pounds) with long arms and great strength. He doesn’t have the foot speed/lateral agility to stick at LT in the NFL in my opinion, and while he might have a shot at RT I think his upside is highest inside at guard. At that spot he is a first round pick. His long arms will help him in pass protection at guard as well, and he doesn’t seem to lean into blocks and reach in pass protection. Doesn’t bend at the waist, he bends at the knees and lets defenders come to him in his stance. He’s a quality prospect, one of the best offensive guard prospects in the country. Don’t have a report on him yet, but I will eventually.

Leonard Johnson, CB, Iowa State- I can’t say enough about how well Leonard Johnson played tonight. Weeden throws the ball to Blackmon a lot, but a number of times Johnson’s blanket coverage on Blackmon forced Weeden to look at other receivers, hold onto the ball too long and at times force throws. Johnson was very good in man coverage, particularly down the sideline. He did a great job of taking away Weeden’s windows to throw to Blackmon by using the sideline to his advantage and staying right in Blackmon’s hip pocket making it nearly impossible to throw into that window. I wasn’t sure how impressed I was in zone coverage, and even in spite of his great effort mirroring Blackmon for the entire game he still gave up 10 catches for 99 yards and 1 TD. There wasn’t anything he could do about the TD, it was just a terrific play by Blackmon, but he definitely frustrated him and it was a very heated, competitive battle. Additionally, at least three or four of his catches were on screens at the line of scrimmage. Downfield Johnson had very good coverage for the majority of the game. They both seem to be very intense competitors, and while Johnson was jawing at Blackmon more and more throughout the game he never seemed to get so heated that he lost his cool. I had never specifically watched Johnson before, but he left a terrific impression on me tonight. He played great against arguably the best wide receiver in the country.

Brandon Weeden was on top of many Heisman lists prior to this game, but he won't be after his relatively disappointing performance against Iowa State.

Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State- Weeden has definitely had better nights. He was checking down a lot and throwing a LOT of bubble screens which kind of bothered me. More importantly he was checking down in critical situations. He was throwing underneath and into the backfield on 3rd downs late in the fourth quarter instead of pushing the ball downfield. Now, Blackmon was well covered overall tonight and if it weren’t for some bubble screens he probably wouldn’t have had many catches, and while Moore and Cooper stepped up when Weeden got them the ball it didn’t seem like he was consistently making good reads and good decisions tonight. He didn’t come up big in crunch time when his team needed him (until he made a nice touchdown throw to Cooper in the first OT which was immediately followed by an interception on a tipped ball that was forced to Blackmon against pretty solid coverage) and that’s a problem for me when evaluating QB prospects. Considering his age, his throwing motion which could stand to be tinkered with to speed up his release, and some of his issues in this close game it’s hard for me to grade him as a 3rd round prospect right now.

Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State- Blackmon had a good statistical game, but he struggled to create separation against Johnson tonight. Definitely not his best game, and while I’m not sure how many drops he had (may not have had any, but I thought I remembered at least one) he did make some nice catches extending his arms fully and had a terrific play against good man coverage by Johnson as he went up and made a great catch in mid-air as he demonstrated great body control and hands. He scored on that play, and it was definitely a highlight reel play. So while Blackmon didn’t have the best game of his career he still managed to make a couple great catches and plays to help his team. I think he could have done more, but some of that blame has to be placed on Weeden. It was encouraging to see him make plays like that, but at the same time I was hoping to see him step up late in the 4th quarter and in the overtime periods.

Darius Reynolds displayed some upside in this game, and I was particularly impressed with his hand-eye coordination as well as his ability to high point the ball in the air.

Darius Reynolds, WR, Iowa State- Reynolds had a pedestrian game by statistical standards with only 4 catches, 39 yards and 1 touchdown. However, I was impressed with his hands overall (though he did have at least one or two drops) as he made a great catch high pointing the ball well above the defender for his only touchdown in the first half. He almost had a second touchdown but it was ultimately ruled an incompletion. I personally believed it was a touchdown, but regardless of how it was ruled he still made a terrific play to get a hand on the ball, focus on it as he his arm was being grabbed while falling in the air and ultimately reel it in before he hit the ground. Broderick Brown stripped it out after it seemed clear to me that he had maintained control of it, but the referees ruled that there was not indisputable visual evidence to overturn the call of an incomplete pass on the field. Regardless, I had never seen Reynolds play before and he flashed some impressive ability. He’s a late round pick right now, but he flashed some upside tonight.

Jared Barnett, QB, Iowa State- Barnett wasn’t overly impressive in this game statistically, but I was convinced he had poise and composure by how he was playing as the game went on. Then the 4th quarter came about and Barnett made some big time throws and plays to help move Iowa State not only within striking distance but led the comeback to tie the game. He’s a redshirt freshman quarterback but his efforts in this game were very impressive. They weren’t all pretty, but he came up big when his team needed him to.

A.J. Klein, LB, Iowa State- Klein is a junior linebacker on Iowa State that impressed me tonight. He seemed to be a reliable tackler, showed some ability in coverage by deflecting a pass or two, and seemed to be around the ball consistently in this game. I’d grade him as a 3rd-4th rounder for the 2013 class as he has some ability, but haven’t seen enough of him yet and I don’t think he’s an elite athlete. I liked what I saw from him tonight though.

Markelle Martin, S, Oklahoma State- Martin is an athletic player and he had a couple nice plays in coverage tonight. He missed some tackles early in the game and overall I think he earned mixed reviews in this game. He’s an athletic specimen, but I don’t know how high I am on him at this point.

Hopefully you enjoyed my thoughts on the Oklahoma State-Iowa State game. It was sloppy at times, but overall it was a fantastic game and a huge upset. It was definitely a very fun game to watch, and it had a number of legitimate NFL prospects to take a look at. Thanks for reading!

–Tom