Tag Archive: Football


Nathan Enderle may be flying under the radar right now, but he won’t be for long. He is already getting some attention before his senior season has even begun, and there is good reason for that. Right now I have Enderle as my #3 senior QB without hesitation behind only Locker and Ponder. I have watched at least two games of each of them, but Enderle’s tape was the most surprising to me. He really did impress me, and as a result I decided to put a write-up together after I finished watching him lead Idaho against Bowling Green. Here it is, hopefully you enjoy it!

Enderle really impressed me in this game. He had an up and down first half, but that was partially due to dropped passes from his receivers. However he clearly settled down after a while and he showed me a lot of NFL ability. First, he has NFL size and definitely has NFL arm strength. He showed good accuracy but I wouldn’t say it’s very good, or at least it wasn’t in this game. It was good, but there were some throws that were not put on the numbers or his receivers had to make a bit of a tough adjustment to bring the pass in. He has impressive arm strength and he can put zip on his passes without stepping into his throws, which he did a couple times in this game. His mechanics are solid and he has a good, quick throwing motion. Once or twice in this game I noticed him dip the ball closer to his waist, so even though he has come a long way with his mechanics and footwork he still has room to improve in this area.

Enderle has the size, arm strength and intangibles to be a successful NFL QB.

He shows good poise in the pocket, but he is still developing a bit in this area also. Two or three times I saw him not trust what he saw or he didn’t like what he saw so he left the pocket prematurely (at least in my estimation) when he could have stepped up or bought time inside the pocket and found someone to throw to. However for the most part he showed a lot of poise in the pocket and I was impressed with how he felt the pressure by stepping up and buying more time in the pocket. I don’t know how tough he is, but he took a couple of hits after he delivered a pass and he popped right back up, and he didn’t seem to shy away from contact very much. He doesn’t have much in the way of mobility, so he won’t be scrambling for a lot of yards in the NFL. He does have at least some ability to extend plays outside of the pocket, but he doesn’t offer much more than that.

Enderle did a good job of adjusting in this game though, which is about as impressive as anything he did in this game. His best receiver, Max Komar, had at least three or four drops in this game and Enderle realized that he was not having his best game, so he started to rely more on other receivers who were making plays for him. He would still go to Komar every once in a while, but it was just not his day. He showed confidence in his other receivers by throwing them the ball with good zip on his throws and expecting them to make the play and often they did make the catch for him. He delivered his passes on time and he really trusts what he sees when he is reading a defense. Like everyone he will make mistakes every once in a while when reading defenses (like when he saw the safeties down closer to the line of scrimmage when the linebackers were showing blitz, so he found his hot read and threw him the ball quickly but everyone had backed off and dropped into a zone so it was knocked down and incomplete), however he does a good job of reading defenses pre-snap, he seems to make a lot of checks and audibles at the line of scrimmage, and he spends an almost unbelievable amount of time under center given the current landscape of college football. So many teams run spreads with their QB’s in shotgun, and the teams that run pro-styles seem to work in a lot of snaps in the shotgun. Enderle spent the vast majority of this game under center, which was really nice to see.

I also really liked what Enderle did with his eyes all game. He did a great job of using his eyes to get the defense to key on the wrong side of the field or on the wrong receiver before he would go to his left or his right to the guy he wanted to deliver the ball to. He kept the defense off balance all game with this and I truly believe the way he used his eyes was the key to Idaho winning the game. Even when he did key on a receiver on a quick throw the defense couldn’t bite hard on it because if they did he could easily go to his second progression and make them pay for it. Unlike most QB’s in college or in spread offenses you can’t just key on their first read and jump his routes, you need to be patient and react when the ball is thrown, not before. Otherwise he will make you pay. That is the mark of a smart and experienced QB, and that is very encouraging for Enderle’s NFL prospects. I didn’t see a QB use his eyes as well as Enderle did in this game the entire year I was scouting last year, so that should give you some context for how rare and impressive this particular skill is for a junior quarterback to possess.

Enderle uses his eyes better than most of the QB's I have ever scouted on the college leve. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

When I watched this game I did not know how it ended which made it fun because I was emotionally invested rooting for Idaho and Enderle and hoping that he would have a good game, and he did just that. But Idaho was losing by a touchdown with 32 seconds left and they were in their own territory. Enderle snapped the ball and got flushed out of the pocket and he hurled a deep ball down the left sideline just before he got hit and his receiver made a nice adjustment to get under it and make the catch. I couldn’t believe that the throw was completed. They called a quick play and it was incomplete over the middle, so with eight seconds left they called a timeout to draw up a play. Enderle came under center, snapped the ball and threw a laser down the seam to his go-to man Matt Komar between two defenders for a touchdown, and I honestly yelled I was so excited. I couldn’t believe Enderle had pulled off this come-back drive, and then the unthinkable happened: Idaho went for two. I was hoping for overtime to see more of Enderle under pressure, but this was a huge play for Idaho. This would be their first bowl win in years, and it would cap off a great year when the previous two years they had a combined three wins. Now, winning this game was all on Enderle’s shoulders. He snapped the ball, patiently waited in the pocket after his drop, and found his WR Preston Davis in the back of the end zone for the winning completion. I absolutely couldn’t believe it. It was a terrific game and it was a terrific comeback drive capped off with a two point conversion. Enderle threw four touchdowns in this game, but no throws in his entire career were more pressure-packed and critical than his last two passes of this game, and he made two good ones to win the game for Idaho.

I truly believe that how a QB reacts under pressure, when he is being blitzed, or when the game is on the line says a lot about him. And that was what impressed me so much about Enderle in this game. He routinely made big throws on 2nd and long, 3rd and long, for touchdowns in the red zone, and ultimately he won the game with two huge throws with almost no time left on the game clock to win. There aren’t a lot of QB’s in college or the NFL who can do that, but Enderle looks to be one of them. I am truly excited to see him play next season, and I have very high hopes for him. Honestly, his game is not very different from Matt Stafford, the #1 pick in the draft from two years ago. That is not to say that I think Enderle will go #1, but he has comparable size, arm strength, poise and talent to Stafford, which is pretty high praise for a QB that not many of you know anything about yet. But believe me and you, if he plays like he did in this game regularly next year he will go in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft. If he isn’t well known enough yet Enderle will without a doubt be my sleeper at QB for 2011.

Thanks for reading, hopefully you learned something about this talented young QB who is definitely flying under the radar (for now).

–Tom Melton

Advertisements

Hey everybody, sorry I haven’t put up a new post in so long. I have been busy at my internship lately and I haven’t had time to break down any new games or do much work on my watch list. I am very nearly done with the offense though, so more rankings are sure to come.

Today though, I decided to break down the Senior class of QB’s. I got a number of comments about my QB rankings, and I decided that I may have involved too many underclassmen in my rankings. I only did so because I think that those QB’s will very likely be better than most of the QB’s that are currently Seniors, but since a number of those QB’s won’t be in this draft class I thought I would start out with a more basic ranking system- Just Seniors. So here it is!

QB Senior Class Rankings:

1- Jake Locker, QB, Washington- This is closer than you might think, but I think that if Locker can take more significant strides forward this year, similar to what he did last year, then he will end up being a very high first round pick. He probably has the best odds, at least right now, of going #1 overall. He has an extremely high ceiling and I have no reason to think he won’t continue to improve, so he gets the nod over Ponder here.

2- Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State- There isn’t much doubt in my mind about this one. I was very impressed by what I saw from Ponder last year, and I think he will continue to improve this season as well. I personally think FSU’s offense could be extremely explosive, and that certainly has a lot to do with Ponder’s development. If he continues to play very well and very efficiently at QB then I think his stock will shoot up, and he could very well be a top 15 or maybe even top 10 pick.

3-Pat Devlin, QB, Delaware- I have only seen some clips of Devlin on youtube, but they are pretty impressive. From what I have seen, he seems to have very impressive touch on his passes, he does a good job of moving in the pocket to find throwing lanes and does a good job of checking down and not forcing passes downfield. What he needs to show me is how well he can go through his progressions (because he was mostly going to his first read or checking down to his back) and how much zip he can put on more difficult, NFL throws. He shows impressive accuracy and touch, but you can’t get by on that alone in the NFL. He threw a couple passes that were good, NFL throws, but it was a little hard to tell how much zip he had on each pass. If he can show me that good, NFL zip on his throws then he could very well be an early 2nd round pick. Without it, he will probably be a 4th round selection.

4- Nathan Enderle, QB, Idaho- I have yet to see him play for a full game, but I saw him play a bit when I was looking at Mike Iupati last year (Iupati played OG on Idaho). He has good size, seems to have good arm strength but I was most impressed with what I saw of him against Bowling Green, where he led a very late comeback and ultimately won the game 43-42 after Idaho converted a two point conversion with four seconds left. He threw the touchdown pass to set up the tie and showed good poise and patience in the pocket on the two point conversion as he found his WR in the back of the end zone for the win. I am excited to watch him play and take more copious notes, and I want to see what he does this year. But I really think he has NFL potential based off of the little I have seen.

5- Jerrod Johnson, QB, Texas A&M- I have seen Johnson at his best when he was going blow for blow with Texas and Colt McCoy in a 49-39 shootout. He went 26/33, had 342 yards passing, 97 yards rushing and threw four touchdowns on the day with one interception against a very good Texas defense and secondary. That was really impressive to me, but he still has some things he needs to improve on. Personally I think he is more of a mid-round selection, but he has good size, mobility and arm strength, so there is plenty of talent worth developing. He doesn’t go through progressions well and his footwork and mechanics are still a work in progress, but that can be coached up. As a mid-round selection he presents good value, but I would be a little surprised to see him creep into the 3rd round unless he shows significant progression in going through his reads and in his footwork as a senior.

6- Greg McElroy, QB, Alabama- I honestly didn’t anticipate McElroy being this high on my list, but I have seen more of him than I have of Dalton, Mustain or a couple other players, so I am rather comfortable with what he can do. He may not ever be a great NFL starter, but I do think he can start in the NFL and that makes him stick out among many of the remaining senior QB’s on this list. He has proved to be a competent game manager at Alabama, and even though he has it pretty easy on offense with Mark Ingram, a good offensive line and Julio Jones he has needed to step up at times too, and step up he has. If McElroy was as bad as some say he is Alabama wouldn’t have gone undefeated and won the National Championship last year. Yes, there are definitely better QB’s than McElroy, a number of them are on this list, but he has been effective enough at Alabama that he will get a chance to make a team as their #3 much like his predecessor John Parker Wilson did with the Atlanta Falcons. If he can grow into a more critical role this year it will only help his NFL prospects, but I’m not sure he will ever be more than a game manager and a late round pick.

7- Tyrod Taylor, QB, Virginia Tech- Tyrod is a player I would not have placed this high on this list a few months ago, but he belongs this high now. I saw him take great strides as a junior, and that culminated in his impressive performance against Tennessee in Virginia Tech’s Chick-Fil-A Bowl win. You can see my analysis of that game below this post. In any event, Tyrod still needs development but he has come a long way in his time at Virginia Tech and at this point he definitely warrants a 6th-7th round pick, and I think a strong senior season could improve those prospects.

8- Andy Dalton, QB, TCU- Dalton is a relative unknown to me, but I do have a game of him to watch so I will make sure I take a look at that. I know he had a very ugly game against Boise State that involved three interceptions (that is the game I have to re-watch, so that probably won’t be pretty) but I need to see Dalton excel when he is tested with similar competition to his own TCU team. He was tested against Boise State and the results were not promising. I think he will have a good year as a senior, but until he proves he makes his team better and that he doesn’t wilt in the face of great opposition he will not be worth much more than a  late round pick or a UDFA pick-up.

9- Mitch Mustain, QB, Southern Cal- Mustain is an interesting case because he looked like he was going to get off to a roaring start when he was a freshman at Arkansas but apparently there was some kind of a falling out between him and Coach Houston Nutt, and ultimately he transferred to USC. There he was unable to win the starting job when Barkley, Corp and he were competing for it, and now he is the primary back-up to Barkley. He clearly has ability as he was 8-0 as a freshman starter at Arkansas and he threw five touchdowns in the USC Spring game this year, so it will be interesting to see if he gets any snaps this year in garbage time or if he is forced to step in for Barkley because of injury, though hopefully Barkley stays healthy. In any event, Mustain clearly has the ability to play at this level, the only question is whether that ability projects to the NFL. It will be hard to say if we don’t see him play at all, but I think it’s safe to say that Mustain warrants a 7th round pick and if not that he should be a priority free agent signing, because I think he can make a NFL team as a #3 or as a practice squad player.

10- Ricky Stanzi, QB, Iowa- Stanzi is a guy that I am not a big fan of. He wins a lot and he was clutch last year, but I was never impressed with him when I watched him play. I saw him play live against Wisconsin and though they won that game I feel that it was more because of inept defense than because Stanzi played extremely well. All Iowa ran was quick slants and quick outs and the Badgers never got up on the line to press them and disrupt their routes, and seemed content to let Stanzi just pick them apart the whole way downfield before he would take a deep shot to keep the defense honest. It was very frustrating to watch since I was rooting for the Badgers, but it wasn’t particularly impressive on Stanzi’s behalf either. He will need to show me a lot as a senior to make me think he warrants a late draft selection at all.

11- Case Keenum, QB, Houston- Keenum is relatively well known because he puts up video-game like numbers at Houston, but the fact is he operates out of a spread offense and isn’t ready for the NFL at all at this point. Perhaps he will take some strides in this direction as a senior, but the offense he runs is not preparing him to make the jump to the NFL at all. So even if he is accurate and does have decent arm strength, it won’t matter. He will very likely fall out of the draft just like Graham Harrell did because he was a system QB and didn’t have the size or arm strength to make the transition out of the spread and into a pro-style NFL offense.

12- Mike Hartline, QB, Kentucky- I wanted to rate Hartline higher than this, but it was hard to do since he has been so inconsistent and he also has had some trouble with injuries. There is something about him that makes me think he could be a potential sleeper though, so I will say that I think Hartline could move up boards and end up getting drafted with a good performance as a senior. He has good size and the Kentucky passing offense just isn’t as effective without him. I will be looking to see how he does this year and will probably watch a couple of his games to see if his potential sleeper status is justified. At this point though, his best shot is being a UDFA. That could change, though.

13- Scott Tolzien, QB, Wisconsin- Tolzein looks like Peyton Manning compared to what Wisconsin dealt with in 2008 when Adam Evridge was playing QB, but he has still not proved enough to me as far as the NFL goes to warrant being drafted. I do think he would get signed as a UDFA at this point, but I need to see more progression as a senior if he is going to sneak into the later portion of the NFL Draft.

14- Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada- I will say outright that I am not a fan of Kaepernick at all. He and Nevada have a great rushing offense and that is all well and good, but I am not impressed with Kaepernick’s passing at all. He has good numbers, but I don’t think he projects to be a draftable QB in the NFL at all. If he shows me something as a senior that could change, but as of now he is just a great runner with great size who can throw too.

15- Kevin Riley, QB, California- Kevin Riley was a guy who I thought could be much higher on this list before I watched him play last season. However, he really disappointed me when I watched him play against USC. Even with Jahvid Best he didn’t play up to my expectations. It will be interesting to see how he does as a senior, but I can’t imagine he will play any better now that Best has gone on to the NFL. Riley was very disappointing to me, and if he has a year like last season he will likely only get UDFA offers.

Taylor Potts, the QB from Texas Tech, warrants an honorable mention here because I like his toughness, his intelligence and he played well as a first year starter the year after Graham Harrell graduated, but like Harrell he will likely be unable to shed the “system QB” tag and will go undrafted. Whether he sticks with a NFL team or moves on to the CFL or another league is up to him, though.

So there you are, my top 15 senior QB’s for 2010. Hopefully that was a good read, and again I am sorry that I have not been posting as regularly as I have been previously.

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Obviously I took a lot of notes on Virginia Tech’s players, but I also took note of what some Tennessee players were doing. I took notes on their two best WR’s Gerald Jones and Denarius Moore, brief notes on their TE Luke Stocker, their MLB Herman Lathers, their OLB LaMarcus Thompson and their freshman safety Janzen Jackson. I liked what I saw from all of them, but they had their ups and downs.

Jones has pretty good size and hands, and emerged as a reliable target for Crompton during his junior season.

Gerald Jones had a pretty good game and only had one drop plus two good catches he made with his hands from what I saw. He was pretty consistent in this game, but he also let a pass or two get into his pads which is something I did not like. He was routinely open on curl routes near the sideline and did a good job of making catches with his hands there. He seemed to do a good job of finding a hole in the zone and making a catch there. His biggest challenge coming into his senior season will be to clean up his hands, continue to improve his route running and he needs to just be more consistent. He had something of a breakout year last year as a junior as he matched and exceeded his career totals from his previous two seasons in catches and yards and almost matched his career total in touchdowns (he had four last year and his previous career total was 5). It will be interesting to see how he does this year, because I honestly like him in the mid-late round range right now, especially if he can knock this bad habit of letting passes get into his pads.

Moore has great speed and has shown some impressive route running, but he needs to be more consistent catching the ball with his hands.

Denarius Moore had more ups but also more downs in this game. He had a couple of nice catches that he made with his hands away from his body, and really showed some nice route running ability when he burned Kam Chancellor deep in the 2nd half and when he set up a play action pass well when he faked a block and then darted into the end zone for a touchdown. He had three good catches, but he also had two huge drops. The biggest drop could have been a game-changer for Tennessee as it was on the same play when he burned Chancellor deep. He faked a post to the outside and then darted back down the seam and he completely turned Chancellor around and got at least four yards of separation. The ball was on target and it got to him more or less in stride but he tried to catch it up against his pads and it fell to the turf. If he makes that catch or tries to secure it with his hands first and then cradles it against his body it is almost certainly a touchdown that would have brought Tennessee within six points. Instead it was a drop and Tennessee would later punt the ball away on that drive.

Moore has great speed (4.42 timed speed) and he has great quickness to get in and out of his breaks, and really showed some dedication to his route running in this game. But he has to clean up those drops because you can’t drop a pass like that in the NFL if you want to stick on a roster. He also dropped another touchdown pass later in the game, but he was diving for it as it was a little low and he got hit as the ball got there. It hit his hands and it would have been a nice catch, but regardless of the circumstances it was still a drop. So like I said, Moore had an up and down game, but those dropped touchdowns will probably haunt him for a long time. That is, before he makes up for them by improving his hands and making more big plays as a senior than he did as a junior. Like his teammate Gerald Jones he matched and exceeded his career totals in receptions and yards but he also exceeded his career totals in touchdowns as a junior. If he improves his catching ability he could move up boards quickly with his speed and route running ability, so I am excited to see him play this year.

Luke Stocker was not overly involved in this game and I didn’t take any notes on him as a blocker, but he had a decent game receiving. He had a couple catches, both of which he made with his hands away from his body, and showed some toughness making a catch in traffic and dragging a defender for some tough yards after the catch. I don’t know why Tennessee doesn’t involve him in the passing game more as he seems to have reliable hands. Hopefully next year he will have a more significant role in the passing game.

Lathers has decent size, pretty good instincts and plays well when he can play downhill versus the run.

Herman Lathers looked pretty good to me in this game. He is a little undersized for the MLB spot as he is only 6’1”, 213 pounds right now, but he should put on more weight before his sophomore year. Despite being a little light, he did a good job versus the run. I am not sure how good his change of direction ability is, but when he can play downhill versus the run and shoot a gap he is very effective. He is a pretty good tackler but he missed a tackle or two on Ryan Williams (but so do a lot of people) over the course of the game. Overall I was impressed with him versus the run, but didn’t see much one way or another versus the pass since VT didn’t involve Greg Boone in the passing game at all. He had a pretty good season starting as a freshman, so I am interested to see how he does as a sophomore now that he has some experience.

Thompson is undersized but he packs a punch as a hitter.

LaMarcus Thompson had a pretty solid game, especially versus the run, and made me check on his measurables and his production from the past season. He had 35 tackles, seven tackles for loss, one sack, one QB hurry and one forced fumble. He isn’t very big at 6’1”, 221 pounds, but he looked good supporting the run in this game. He will be a senior this year, so it will be interesting to see if he can put on a little weight. I don’t know how good he is in coverage, but even if he doesn’t do that well he should get a shot as a late round pick or a UDFA because he is a good tackler who really packs a punch as a hitter. He strikes me as a late round pick who will make a team because he will be able to contribute positively on special teams. How he performs as a Senior will determine whether he ever improves his stock beyond that.

Janzen Jackson had a pretty good game. He seems to be a good tackler and he may be the next great playmaking safety for the Volunteers. He got into some trouble earlier in the year as he was potentially involved with an armed robbery and back in August he was held out of practice and forced to run for the duration of that practice because he missed curfew. He seems to have some issues with maturity, but he sure is talented. He had a very nice play when he picked off Tyrod Taylor to end a drive late in the 1st half when VT seemed to be on the move to pick up either a touchdown or a field goal. He is athletically gifted and has a lot of potential, but you have to wonder if the light will come on for him and he will keep himself out of trouble or if he will let off-field issues derail his career. NFL teams will not pick guys with serious character concerns early in the draft anymore, so if he keeps this up he will plunge his stock when he finally declares for the draft later in his career. However, I liked how he looked on the field, especially when he made that nice leaping grab to pick off Tyrod Taylor.

So that is all I have to say about Virginia Tech-Tennessee. If you actually read all of this I commend you for it because it was at least six to seven pages on Microsoft Word prior to the addition of photos. Hopefully you liked what I had to say, and feel free to comment if you agree or disagree with anything I wrote in here.

Thanks for reading!

–Tom Melton

Upon request I watched this game again, but I am glad I watched it because I got to see Tyrod Taylor play in his final game of his junior year, plus I wanted to have some notes on the various Virginia Tech players who are young and up and coming. There were also a few of these guys on Tennessee. There aren’t a lot of guys who are going to graduate and enter the draft next year on either team (aside from Tyrod Taylor on the Hokies and Luke Stocker, Gerald Jones and Denarius Moore on the Volunteers), but it was still interesting to see a lot of the young players on either side. Here is my write-up on Virginia Tech and Tennessee:

I liked a lot of what I saw in this game and I was glad I rewatched it and didn’t just pay attention to one player like I had in previous viewings. First and foremost I was concerned with watching Tyrod Taylor to get a feel for how far he had come as a QB since he got the redshirt taken off of him a couple years ago. Overall I was impressed, because he has really come a long way as a passer in his time at Virginia Tech. The comparisons to Mike Vick are inevitable because they are both scramblers, they both play at Virginia Tech, and both are arguably as good at running as they are at passing (if not better at times in their careers).

Tyrod Taylor showed better accuracy, timing and patience from the pocket in this game.

However, I think Tyrod is much more advanced from a passing standpoint than Mike Vick was during his time at Virginia Tech. I took particular note of every throw he made in this game, and he flashed the ability to use his eyes to keep safeties and DB’s honest before delivering the throw to an open target two or maybe three times out of his 18 pass attempts. That might not seem like an impressive number, but I know for a fact that there are QB’s who get hyped up as 1st round picks who can’t and haven’t ever done that. Especially those that operate out of a spread offense. But this was exciting to see because I had never really noticed Tyrod doing this before. I don’t know if I just wasn’t paying attention to it or if he wasn’t doing it, but regardless I was excited to see him doing this. That is a NFL skill.

I also looked over my notes (I took eight pages of them in a word document while I watched this game) and counted up his good, great and bad throws. He totaled seven good throws, one great throw and three bad throws. There were a few passes that were neither here nor there, so I didn’t include them in this evaluation. He threw one interception in this game and it was a bad decision, but I was impressed with his ability to move past it and come out in the 2nd half and play well. All three of his bad throws came in the first half, and he looked very good in the 2nd half. He threw some absolute frozen ropes down the seam in this game, and showed the ability to go through more than just one or two progressions a time or two. He will still stare down his primary receiver or one side of the field but he does a better job of using his eyes to his advantage than he used to. He showed great zip and arm strength which we all knew he had, but he also showed improved accuracy in this game. He missed high with a throw or two during the course of the game, plus he threw the interception which was just a bad throw into coverage, but other than that he was accurate with the majority of his passes. That was good to see. But perhaps just as importantly as his passes being delivered accurately the vast majority of his throws were delivered in rhythm and on time as his receivers were coming out of their breaks. That impressed me as much as anything else. Seeing him make good reads, delivering accurate throws on time (and from the pocket no less) shows that he is really growing as a passer.

However he had a few bad throws and he still doesn’t do a great job of going through his progressions. I counted twice he dropped back and scrambled unnecessarily before he went through all of his progressions. He has great mobility and does a great job of picking up yardage with his legs to extend drives, but he still gets himself in trouble every once in a while when he doesn’t buy time in the pocket and stay patient to go through his progressions. He has come a very long way in this department from what I can tell however, so I am excited to see how he does in this regard as a Senior.

Overall I was quite impressed with Tyrod. The majority of his throws were good, accurate passes and he looked much better throwing from the pocket than I gave him credit for. His release looks clean and just like Vick he can flick his wrist and the ball will go 60 yards. But his accuracy has improved a lot and his passes are being delivered with much better timing and rhythm than I had ever seen from him before. If he keeps progressing like this I think he will be drafted as a QB and will make a roster as a developmental #3 without a doubt.

Williams got stronger as the game went on before leaving with an ankle injury with the game well in hand.

Naturally I was very impressed with Ryan Williams in this game. He started slow in the second half, but for all the ridicule Bryan Stinespring gets for his predictable and sometimes pitiful playcalling from Virginia Tech fans he did a good job of mixing up the way he was getting Ryan Williams the ball in the 2nd half and it got him more running room and he made the most of it. Williams has good vision, great patience for such a young running back, good quickness and burst to hit the hole, he runs hard and runs through arm tackles easily and has the strength to push the pile and get consistent yards after contact. But he can also make guys miss, turn on the jets and outrun a lot of defenders. He’s a very, very good running back. He seems to have ok hands out of the backfield, but that is something he will need to work on as far as I can tell. And like all young RB’s he needs to continue to work at his pass protection. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Williams had another great year and declared for the draft as he is a redshirt sophomore. If he did I would expect that he would be a 1st round pick without a doubt. He is as good as advertised, that’s for sure.

I took notes on all three of Tyrod’s primary targets in the passing game: Dyrell Roberts, Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale. I liked what I saw from all three of them to be perfectly honest. Roberts has the most potential of the trio because he has good size at 6’1”, 196 pounds but he has speed to burn with 4.42 timed speed. He can really get deep, and VT does what they can to get the ball in his hands. He didn’t have what I would call a “good catch” in this game, meaning he didn’t make a nice catch away from his body with his hands. He had two catches in this game and he let both of them get into his pads, which is not something I like to see from WR’s. This is a very bad habit and it can lead to a lot of drops, especially in the NFL. Hopefully he will work on catching the ball with his hands this summer, because if he can shake that bad habit I think he could be a much more consistent threat. With his size, speed and playmaking ability he just needs to work on his hands and his route running ability before he can take off. He has a lot of potential, but he still needs some work in my opinion.

Roberts has a lot of potential, but needs to catch the ball with his hands more consistently and refine his route running.

I really liked what I saw from Jarrett Boykin though. He was a consistent threat for VT this year and he showed the ability to catch the ball away from his body a couple times in this game, which was nice to see. He can also get deep even if he only has deceptive speed (he was timed at 4.54). He showed this speed when he got behind Tennessee’s secondary right before the half and pulled in a 63 yard pass from Tyrod Taylor that set up a field goal as the first half came to a close. He had four catches in this game, and at least two of them where fundamentally sound catches with his hands. The deep ball at the end of the half looked like it got into his pads a bit, but there was one other play that he let the ball get into his pads too. But what is important is that he has shown he can catch well with his hands, he just needs to work to shake the bad habit of letting the ball get into his body. This is absolutely do-able, even if you have to work on it once you get to the NFL. Personally of the three receivers on VT and the two receivers I liked on Tennessee I was most impressed with Boykin, so I am really excited to see how he plays as a Junior.

I also took notes on Danny Coale when I could, but he only had one catch in this game (though it was a big one for 42 yards) so he didn’t get targeted often. Tyrod was throwing the ball to him when he threw his interception, and Coale had run an effective crossing route. If Tyrod had put more air under the ball and led Coale downfield behind the safety (who made the interception when he broke on the bullet he threw) Coale may have made another big catch. I have been told many times that Coale has great hands, and even though he only had one play to make in this game he made a terrific over the shoulder grab to haul this in and set up a 1st and goal. It was a great throw from Taylor but it was an even better catch by Coale. Hopefully he gets some more passes thrown his way as a junior, but between their fantastic running game and Roberts and Boykin competing for passes, I understand why Coale is flying under the radar. I think he has what it takes to make a NFL roster though. But I need to see him more obviously.

Boykin is the best of the trio of Virginia Tech receivers in my estimation.

I made an effort to watch Blake DeChristopher, Virginia Tech’s RT, but he was fairly unimpressive to me. Whenever I would watch him he would look decent, but nothing special. He would get bull rushed but reset himself and stop the DE’s progress, he would do an ok job of making a cut block, he would do an alright job of walling off a defender in the run game, but it was never anything that really impressed me. I’ll be interested to see if he plays any better as a junior, but I am not sold on him at all right now.

There were a few players I paid attention to on VT’s defense. I liked what I saw from Jayron Hosley (who is a redshirt sophomore cornerback this year), Lyndell Gibson (who is a sophomore middle linebacker this year), Barquell Rivers (who is a junior who plays weakside linebacker), John Graves (who is a junior DT) and Rashad Carmichael (a redshirt senior CB this year). I also looked at Chris Drager when he was in. He is a redshirt Junior DE this season.

Hosley impressed me though he wasn’t in a whole lot. That isn’t extremely surprising considering he was only a redshirt freshman this past season, but when he was on the field he was active. He showed good burst, he looked good in zone coverage (I didn’t see him in man much if at all), and showed impressive ability to read the QB’s eyes and make a break on the ball. He was half a step away from coming away with two great interceptions in this game, and I think one or maybe even both of them could have gone back for a touchdown. As he gets more comfortable and gains more experience I really think Hosley is going to be a playmaker. He also returns punts for them, and he fielded one near the 5 yard line and I thought “Oh no, here’s a mistake by a young guy” and he made one guy miss and all of a sudden he was at the 25 yard line. He tried to make a really sharp cut and lost his footing after a 22 yard return, but if he had made that cut he probably would have been gone for a 95 yard touchdown on that punt return. He has a lot of speed, quickness and burst, plus he looks good in coverage. He also did a good job disguising a blitz off of the edge and leveled Crompton for a sack. Overall I really liked what I saw from Hosley and can’t wait to see him in the starting lineup as a sophomore.

Hosley has a ton of potential, and nearly came away with 2 INT's in this game. In addition he was one cut away from a 95 yard punt return TD.

Lyndell Gibson also looked good to me. He is the starting MLB for Virginia Tech, but it wasn’t that way for the entire season. He got the starting nod pretty late in the season, but he started the last five games (including the bowl game) and the Hokies won every game. He really seemed to stabilize the defense according to what Bud Foster had to say about it. Gibson showed pretty good instincts and even though he is a little undersized (5’10”, 230 pounds I believe) he played well in this game. He seems to read plays well and did a good job of fighting off blocks from an experienced Tennessee offensive line all game. I liked that he shed blocks pretty well but also had the fluidity to avoid them and make plays at the line of scrimmage. I am also not sure I saw him miss a tackle in this game. He also looked solid in coverage, though he tried to jump an underneath route to Luke Stocker (Tennessee’s TE) but Crompton held onto the ball and got it to Stocker after he came open again. Overall I liked what I saw, and it will be interesting to see if he keeps the starting job as a sophomore. Hopefully he does and he continues to progress.

Barquell Rivers had a decent game, but he had some ups and downs. He missed a couple of tackles, but he also made some nice stops up at the line of scrimmage, and had one or two tackles for loss. I didn’t see him in coverage often, but I never saw him get beat. Overall I didn’t have my eye on him that much, but every once in a while he would show up for better or for worse. It will be interesting to see how he does next year, but I can’t say I am sold on him at this point.

Gibson helped solidify the defense once he was inserted into the starting lineup for the last 5 games of the season.

I learned earlier today that the VT-Tennessee Bowl Game was John Graves’ first significant playing time of the season (Shout out to Andrew Thompson for that) so that might explain why I was relatively unimpressed with him. For one you can tell that VT experimented with him at DE because he only weighs about 270-275 pounds, but he just did not have a great game. He definitely had some highlights as he did a great job of splitting a double team, swatting away Hardesty as he tried to block him and sacking Crompton while forcing a fumble. He later recovered a fumble after Worilds sacked Crompton late in the 4th quarter. But for the majority of this game he was getting double-teamed and washed out in the run game or stonewalled in the passing game. He didn’t seem to quit despite all of this, which is a good sign for his motor. However, the fact still remains that he needs to get up to 285 at least before he is going to hold up well against the run at all. He was simply overpowered in the run game by Tennessee’s veteran offensive line, so he needs to put on some weight before next year to help him get stronger at the point of attack. He could also stand to improve his hand usage and his moves to get off of blocks (such as the rip, swim and spin moves most players work on). He has some potential because he gets off the line pretty quickly, seems to have a solid motor and definitely has some athletic ability. But to make the jump from a DT/DE ‘Tweener to a quality starting DT he is going to need to get stronger (especially in the lower body) and improve his hand usage. I will be looking forward to seeing how he does with that in this coming season.

Carmichael has a lot of potential and seems to have a great work ethic, which could mean a great senior season for him.

Rashad Carmichael had an alright game against Tennessee. He had an interception that ended Tennessee’s first drive of the game when he was in zone coverage (it looked like VT was running a Cover-3, so Carmichael had a deep 1/3). He was just reading Crompton’s eyes and when he threw it he broke on the ball over the top, but it was overthrown so it went right to him for an easy interception. He didn’t look especially good supporting the run, but he seemed to play well in coverage. I never saw him get beat deep, but VT seemed to be running a lot of zone in this game. He is considered a very good corner by most, as he is coming into his Redshirt-Senior season, but he didn’t look like a great corner in this game. Obviously next year will be critical for him, but I am not sold on him yet. I did read a great article (which can be seen here: http://ncaafootball.fanhouse.com/2010/04/20/virginia-techs-rashad-carmichael-is-hooked-on-video/) about his dedication and film study which really made me like him. He seems to be a great kid, a good mentor (judging by his volunteer and internship work) and you always love to hear about a college player being so dedicated to film study. If his film study is any indication, he should have a great season next year.

I also took brief notes on Chris Drager when he got in the game. He usually only got in on passing downs, but he showed what he could do when he got playing time. He made a nice play on a run on 3rd and long when he beat a TE’s block (after getting combo-blocked initially by Chris Scott, Tennessee’s mammoth LT) and stopped Hardesty for no gain on the play. He showed some burst off the line of scrimmage, and if VT is going to have a good defense this year they are going to need Drager to step up to help replace some of the great pass rush that they lost when Worilds left for the draft.

Hopefully you enjoyed that. I apologize for the ridiculous length. As I said I took eight pages of notes on this, so there was a lot to cover. Part 2 will focus on the Tennessee players that I took notes on.

Thanks for reading! Hopefully it wasn’t too much to read.

–Tom Melton

Last night I got to thinking about this, and I finally wrote down some of my thoughts and it inspired me to write this post up. I know you all would probably rather hear my thoughts on individual prospects, see my rankings or read through my thoughts on recent happenings that pertain to the draft. However, my greatest aspiration in my life as far as my career is concerned is to not only be a general manager of a NFL team, but to ultimately win a Superbowl as the GM of a team. So naturally I have given some thought to what I would do if I ever got a job as a GM, and it inspired me to write this blog post articulating some of the conclusions I have come to at this time. This is mostly focused on player personnel, though I have some thoughts about how to look for a good coach also. But this is going to be long enough without any of those thoughts. Enjoy!

Ron Wolf hoists the Lombardi Trophy with his Head Coach Mike Holmgren

First, you have to consider what schemes you think you want to run so you can hire coaches who shares similar views on how a team should be constructed. Personally I prefer a team that is tough, has a big, strong offensive line and can overpower teams up front. I can’t stand the ZBS because I think it makes it hard to have a lot of success in short yardage situations and on the goal-line, and those are the areas that I want my team to capitalize on. I want one or two receivers who have impressive size, are physical after the catch and attack the ball in the air. They don’t have to be burners, but I’d like them to be able to stretch the field and go up and get the ball. Also, having the kind of toughness that enables them to go across the middle and make a catch in traffic is essential to me. And naturally the QB has to have a quality arm to stretch the field, make accurate passes, etc. However he has to stand tall in the face of pressure and he needs to have the toughness and poise to step into a throw and take a hit. How he reacts in the face of pressure will be incredibly important, plus he has to be a great leader. These quarterbacks are hard to come by, but I am convinced that the best way to prepare your team for a Superbowl is to have a good leader at QB.

On defense I think that I would want to run a 3-4 scheme. I like the options that the scheme gives as far as blitz packages. However I would like to run a base 3-4 with players who are versatile enough to play in a 4-3 in obvious passing situations. That would enable us to take the NT off the field, play the two 3-4 DE’s inside at tackle and the two OLB’s would move to DE to rush the passer. That would give the front line a lot of pass rushing potential, plus we could potentially drop a lot of players back in coverage. But mostly I like the toughness of a 3 man defensive front because each defensive lineman has to be big, strong and smart enough to be responsible for 2 gaps. I’d like each defensive lineman to be able to stand up to a double team because that would make the linebacker’s job easier. I’d like my corners to be able to play man coverage and zone coverage, but being able to play man coverage is more important because the most intricate blitzes in the scheme will leave the corners on an island. Being able to trust them in man coverage will be critical. But if they can play zone effectively it opens a lot of options up as far as zone pressures and overloads.

But first and foremost I would want to build a tough team that can run the ball effectively anywhere on the field, and I’d want to build a team that has a great defense that can go toe to toe with any offense in the NFL and at least slow them down. I have subscribed to the defense wins championships mantra for a long time, and even if your offense is a great unit you need a defense that either creates a lot of turnovers or one that bends but does not break when opposing offenses start to move the ball. I believe stopping the run is the first thing you need to establish before you can have a great defense. Stopping the run makes the opposing offense entirely one dimensional and puts them in a difficult position: Do I continue to attempt to maintain a balance in play-calling even though I know I’m not going to get anything out of the run plays? Or do I abandon the run and become one dimensional and predictable? Neither is a good option for the offense, which gives the defense a significant advantage. Particularly because the team does not have to bite hard on play-action fakes because the run has been stopped so effectively.

I wouldn't have tied the fate of my franchise to Sam Bradford even if God had told me to.

Plus, by dedicating yourself to building a winning defense it means you won’t feel pressured to draft a QB in year one of your regime. This is an extremely common practice, but I think it backfires more often than it usually works. You have to be absolutely sold on the QB you are picking, and usually that means spending a 1st rounder on him. I personally would not have picked any of the QB’s in this draft. I would hate to have the fate of my franchise tied to Sam Bradford, Jimmy Clausen, Colt McCoy or anybody else. If I had an established QB already I would have considered taking Tebow just because his intangibles are off the charts and I think his work ethic is too good to discount him as a NFL QB. However, other than potentially picking Tebow I wouldn’t have tied the fate of my franchise to any of those QB’s. Matt Ryan, Mark Sanchez and possibly Joe Flacco in round 2 are the guys that I would have tied the fate of my franchise to, particularly Ryan and Sanchez. In the upcoming draft I think Jake Locker has a lot of potential, but I need to see more development. I would, however, gladly spend a mid-1st or higher on Christian Ponder at this point. I also think Matt Barkley has franchise QB potential like Ryan and Sanchez did in college.

”]A QB who can win games for you is key in my opinion. Finding a special QB who gives his team a chance to win just by stepping on the field is hard to do because they are so rare. Brett Favre is one, Matt Ryan is one, Tim Tebow could potentially be one but his intangibles have never been in question. I also think that Jake Locker, Christian Ponder and Matt Barkley fit this bill. Those are the guys that I like as QB’s, guys who are great leaders and to quote Ron Wolf: “Players who give their team the advantage simply from stepping on the field.” Ron Wolf and Thomas Dimitroff are two of my idols when it comes to GM’s that I have allowed to influence me. I also really like Ozzie Newsome, the current GM in Baltimore. They all draft efficiently, fill needs well and really preach depth throughout the team. They also didn’t take over, clean house and bring in “their people.” I think that is a mistake that is far too common in the NFL, but people still continue to get jobs and wipe out everyone because it was a losing organization. But just because someone was employed by a losing organization does not make them a loser themselves. It means they were in a bad situation. You have to take the time to not only evaluate the coaches and scouts, but other staff members and especially the players to see if they are capable of helping you build a winner. If you just fire everyone then you are throwing away potentially valuable resources that could have sped up the rebuilding process, and it’s all because you were too lazy to evaluate their performance during the previous season.

This is one reason that I would love to be brought in during the NFL season so I could see how everyone operated during the season. This way I wouldn’t have to predict how they would operate based off of how they conduct themselves during the offseason. Ron Wolf had this opportunity and made the most of it by evaluating everyone by watching tape, talking to current employees and seeing if they had the guts to tell him what they really thought, not what they thought he wanted to hear. That is exactly how I would run my organization. Namely, I want you to tell me what you think. Stick to your guns, stand up for what you truly believe and sell me on a prospect if you think he is good. If he’s good we could use him, but if we look at tape of him and he’s not as good as advertised then we won’t pick him. Simple as that. I have no tolerance for “Yes Men” who just pat you on the back and tell you that you are right all the time. That makes no sense to me because, to put it simply: You aren’t right all the time. You are human and you will inevitably make mistakes. That is why you have a team working with you so they can work to balance you out and keep mistakes to a minimum. Yes Men don’t limit mistakes, and I actually think they only serve to give you a big ego. And I have always believed that the only thing a big ego is good for is impeding current progress by getting in the way. So no “Yes Men,” they are a waste of time.

Thomas Dimitroff did a great job of keeping a core of stop-gap players intact while "trimming the fat" and bringing in an influx of new talent when he arrived in Atlanta.

After you evaluate your team you should have an idea of how many quality players you have, how many are just average, and how many are below-average. If you can trim the fat and cut players who won’t help turn you into a winner you should do it. Ron Wolf did this when he took over the Packers and Thomas Dimitroff did this same thing when he got to the Falcons. He released fan favorites Alge Crumpler, Rod Coleman and just recently he released Keith Brooking as he was no longer serviceable as a WLB. This is the way you must approach these moves. These situations are delicate since they are popular players, but when they are a hindrance to you when you play them you need to cut them unless they will take less money to be a back-up. That rarely happens, so you must cut ties with them in my opinion.

Then you need to look at the key positions and determine which need to be upgraded soonest. For me, QB, LT, NT, OLB, ILB and CB are the most important positions to fill with quality players. Having a great leader at QB and ILB is extremely important in my opinion, as they are the heart and soul of their respective units more often than not. That is why they are so integral to me. You also need a good LT to protect your QB’s blind side from elite speed rushers throughout the NFL. NT is integral for the 3-4 defense that I would want to run. The NT will clog up both A gaps (the gap on either side of the Center) and if he does his job well he will draw a double team and make it difficult for the opposing RB to find anywhere to run up the middle and he should be forced to try to cut-back or bounce the ball outside. Then I want two very good pass rushers at OLB. The more guys you have who can get after the QB the better, but having an OLB who can rush the passer really well is an extremely useful asset. If they can get after the QB standing up and with their hand in the dirt they would be ideal. I want to be deep at this position especially, same with NT and corner.

I personally believe that if the heart of your offense or defense goes down you are likely to be in trouble regardless of the back-up you have for him, but at positions that demand a quality player but not an elite player or leader depth is critical. At those positions the players are replaceable and rotatable. Having a quality back-up at NT means you can keep your starter fresh and not have a significant drop-off should he get injured or if he rotates out. The same can be said at OLB and CB. Like I said, the more OLB’s you have that can get after the QB the better off you will be. You will absorb injuries easier, you will keep your starters fresh and you will have opportunities to create match-up problems if you two or three OLB’s who warrant playing time. And the deeper you are at corner the better because so many teams use three, four or sometimes even five WR sets. If you can match-up with those sets with corners who are capable of playing man or zone coverage your defense will be in a much better position to slow or stop the opposing offense.

”]So, once you evaluate the quality of players in those key positions you can look to sign a potential impact free agent if there is such a player available that would fill a need, would not hinder the development of a young player at the same position and that would help speed up the rebuilding process. Michael Turner was such a player for the Falcons, and Reggie White was such a player for Ron Wolf and the Packers. Then you should look to bring in other veterans who can be stop-gaps at positions of need while you look to the Draft to fill those voids more permanently with a younger, better player. I don’t like rushing rookies into playing time before they are ready, and these veterans who you can usually sign for a reasonable price give the rookies a good mentor and they give them time to adjust instead of forcing them to play immediately.

I would probably focus my efforts to find a stud QB, LT, ILB and NT early in the draft. If there is a QB I am comfortable tying the fate of my franchise to available at my pick or that I could potentially trade up to get then I will go after him and solidify that position for the next decade with a great player and leader. Otherwise I will wait until I am confident enough in a QB in another draft. Rushing into a selection with this position can set your team back three, four or even five years, so I refuse to rush it.

Ray Lewis has been the heart and soul of the Ravens defense for years.

Next I would look for an elite leader and playmaker at ILB. If there is such a player available (such as a player in the Ray Lewis, Patrick Willis mold) then he would certainly warrant an early selection. I think Brandon Spikes was such a player for the Patriots, and I think that the trio of Vince Wilfork, Brandon Spikes and Jerod Mayo gives the Patriots the best combo of a NT and an ILB in the NFL. Running up the middle of their defense is going to be extraordinarily difficult with those three guys lined up against you. That is what I want for my defense, a team that is extremely tough up the middle and extremely athletic on the outside to rush the passer and defend the pass. But most importantly you need a terrific leader, and Spikes has been called the Tim Tebow of Florida’s defense. That speaks volumes about his leadership capability. Plus he hits extremely hard, has great instincts and is big and strong enough to attack and shed blocks from offensive linemen. If there is a player in that mold available early in the draft, like the 1st or 2nd round, I will make sure I get him if it possible.

Next I have to look at LT and NT. Both are equally important to their respective units in my opinion, so the order in which I acquire one is not important as long as I get a good one. Picking a guy early just to fill a need is not an interest of mine, and I would rather sign a stop-gap guy, draft someone in the mid-rounds and develop them into a potentially solid starter rather than reaching for someone that I don’t think will be able to play early or ever develop into a quality starter.

If I have either filled these four need positions or if there is not a quality player that I think warrants that early of a pick at those positions then I will look to strengthen my offensive and defensive fronts, or to grab a playmaker at RB, WR or a CB or S who can add depth and potentially develop into a starter. More or less, I look for a BPA. When your team is severely lacking in talent the more talent you can stockpile the better. And I have always considered the dilemma of:

Patrick Willis was the BPA for the 49ers at #11 and he has had the vastly superior career to most of the players selected ahead of him.

“Do you pick the best player even if he doesn’t fill a significant need or do you take a lesser player that fills a big need?” I would personally pick the better player nine times out of ten. Settling for a decent or solid player when you could get a good or even great player at a position of relative strength makes little sense to me, especially if your team is hurting for playmakers as the team you are now working to rebuild probably is. Imagine if the Falcons hadn’t picked Matt Ryan, and instead picked Glenn Dorsey because he would have filled a huge need. They would have been lucky to win five games in 2008, instead they went to the playoffs. Imagine if they hadn’t moved up to get Sam Baker, or if they hadn’t drafted Curtis Lofton? Those three players were terrific additions for that team, and they came at three of my key positions that I would seek to upgrade.

After the first year I would ideally have a team with a few quality players and a couple pillars of the team intact from my four key positions. If I have my franchise leaders at QB and ILB then that would be perfect, but that is a hard feat to accomplish. But like I said, you can’t be pressured to draft a QB in the first year of your regime. If you don’t think there is one that can lead you to a Superbowl and win it, don’t pick one. That is exactly how I felt about Sam Bradford this year, and that is why I think he and the Rams are going to be bad for a long time. Mark my words, if Bradford starts from day one he will be a bust and the Rams will regret picking him.

I know this was a long-winded post, but I think that it was good for me to get some of this down on some kind of word-processor and I think it should make for an interesting read. I think my blueprint for building a franchise is pretty solid even though I have no experience making personnel decisions in the NFL yet. Obviously this is just an outline, and you can’t force selections of my four key positions of QB, ILB, LT and NT. If there aren’t good players available in those classes, or if all the good ones are gone when you are picking, you are definitely better off moving on down the list and looking for another position. And if there is a player at another position, particularly one that is a need, that slid and you didn’t think he’d be available and you think he can help you win a Superbowl, go ahead and pick him. I suppose I subscribe to the BPA state of mind, but only to a certain extent. I’m not going to pick three QB’s in a row because I think they can all win me a Superbowl, that makes no sense. I would look for a BPA at another position and ignore the quality QB available early in the draft if I already had one.

So, hopefully you enjoyed reading this. If you have a comment feel free to leave one and I will make sure I respond to it.

Thanks for reading!

— Tom Melton

I am currently putting together a very extensive NFL Draft Watch List for the upcoming the season. The Watch List will consist of every position from Quarterback to Kicker and it will have Seniors, Juniors, Sophomores, and Freshmen on it. For the majority of the positions I will have 20-30 prospects for Seniors, a few less for Juniors, a few less for Sophomores, and ultimately the fewest for the unproven Freshmen.

I am currently working on the offensive part of my watch list. I have adequately completed my watch lists for QB’s, RB’s, FB’s, and WR’s at this point. I am working on TE’s right now, and then I have the majority of the Offensive Line left to go through. I have been working on this for about a month now, so it is a pretty big undertaking.

You might be asking why I am spending all of this time gathering information on so many different prospects, some of which won’t even be quality NFL Draft prospects. Well, namely I don’t want people to sneak up on me when I could have known about them beforehand. I, like most everyone else, like to be prepared. This is the second year I have been working on this, and my hope is that by casting a wide enough net by watching a solid number of Seniors, Juniors and some Sophomores and Freshmen at each position I will not only get a chance to see NFL Draft Prospects from the current year, but I will have some notes and thoughts to look back on before the new season starts the following year. By having a list, or a database of sorts, of players to look to after a NFL Draft is completed will allow me to look forward during the summer before the College Football season starts and watch film of any of the prospects I want to know more about before I begin to evaluate them during their Junior or Senior years when the vast majority of prospects leave for the draft. So even if I end up scouting a player who doesn’t project to be a Hall of Famer, a Pro Bowler or even a starter, my hope is that I will get a feel for his ability before the season gets here, so I can consider how much he has improved (or regressed) from the previous season.

Not to mention, if I get the feeling that a player is a late round prospect, but I think with some development he could really make an impact, I can make sure to keep an eye on him and see if he develops like I think he can. This exact case occurred last season with Ben Tate, a RB from Auburn. I had not seen many Auburn games, but I read what I could find on him and determined that he was going to be the workhorse back for Auburn during his Senior season, and I liked what I heard about him and from what little I had seen of him I liked what I saw. So even though he was projected as a 7th round pick on most draft sites (if that) I deemed him my sleeper at the RB position. It is rather rare for guys like him to catch fire and fly up NFL Draft Boards (Clay Matthews is a prime example of this as well) but lucky for me Mr. Tate made me look smart and took full advantage of being the primary back as he rushed for 1,362 yards (with a 5.2 ypc average), and 10 touchdowns. Subsequently he started to get a lot of attention from the media and scouts alike, and he ended up being selected #58 overall in the 2nd round by the Houston Texans this year. He went from barely being projected to be drafted to a 2nd round selection, which is a truly astounding jump. But I thought he was capable of a breakout season so I was not very surprised to see him doing well, and I am glad he got drafted as high as he did.

Long story short, I saw what Tate was capable of with less consistent touches earlier in his career and I thought he would be able to take his game to the next level and prove that he was worth far more than a 7th round draft pick, and he did that. I informed myself about him before the season started, I watched a little film on him and began to monitor his progress. Watching him produce like I thought he could was very fun for me, and it motivated me to expand my efforts so I could attempt to project more performances like Tate’s.

That is why I am doing this Extensive Watch List, and that is why I am taking my time gathering accurate height, weight, and speed measurements, along with the players production from the year before (if there is any). Then if I can find any news or tidbits of information about him, I can just add that to my notes on him in my Watch List. Then when I come back to my notes on him later when I am watching him I can inform myself about what I thought he was capable of, anything else that I deemed pertinent, and then begin watching him during the most important time of his career as an informed observer, not as someone who has never seen him before. I want to be prepared as much as I can be for unexpected improvements during a player’s Junior and Senior season, and this Watch List is something that I think can help me be more prepared.

It is inevitable that I won’t catch every surprising improvement, but that is what makes the talent evaluation process fun and challenging at the same time. However, I will be well informed on may more prospects this way than I would have been otherwise, so the true long-shot prospects who finally have the light come on during their Senior seasons will still catch me by surprise. I can live with that, especially since there will often be no indication that they would finally make that kind of improvement. But I want to be able to forecast, as well as I can, what a large number of players will be capable of so I can monitor their progress and evaluate them when it comes time for them to enter the draft.

So, that is what I am doing with this Watch List. It will probably take me another week or two to finish the Offensive Watch List, and after I do so I will do my best to put together my Preseason Rankings for each of the Offensive positions before I delve into the subsequent Defensive Watch List. Naturally I will post these rankings here so you all can read them and comment on them.

Thanks for reading all of this, and even if you had to skim over the boring parts thank you for taking the time to check out my blog. I really do appreciate it.

–Tom Melton