Tag Archive: FS


Doege is fighting an uphill battle to get drafted, but he has a shot if he can show some progression during his second season as a starter.

Seth Doege, QB- Doege is the next in a long line of extremely productive Texas Tech quarterbacks who managed to produce on the college level despite less than ideal measurables or arm strength. Doege is listed at 6’1”, 205 pounds and may only be 6’0” tall in reality. He doesn’t have elite arm strength, but he might have enough to play at the next level. His statistics are obviously inflated due to the offense he runs (he passed for 4,004 yards, 28 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while completing 68.5% of his passes, but threw the ball 581 times and completed 398 passes to do so). His yards per attempt was a relatively pedestrian 6.89 and that is largely due to the large number of quick passes the Red Raiders use. They run a lot of bubble and tunnel screens and the offense is predicated on getting the ball out of Doege’s hands quickly and accurately, which has enabled quarterbacks with relatively weak but accurate arms to put up gaudy numbers in this system that dwarfs the production of quarterbacks at other schools, even those with superior natural ability. This is the type of offense that turned me off from the spread because it covers up so many of the quarterback’s flaws. It’s a very smart coaching move that allows the staff to pluck smart, accurate passers up in their recruiting classes, some of which wouldn’t get offers from power schools in the same region, and develop them into 4,000+ yard passers. However, it makes it difficult to evaluate prospects in the system because it doesn’t translate well to the NFL (though some of the concepts translate more than they did a few years ago, particularly the love affair with spreading the defense out and throwing high percentage passes such as quick screens). The quarterback’s deficiencies are masked by the quick passing that doesn’t force him to make many NFL throws, go through difficult progressions and it makes it difficult to evaluate how the quarterback executes when throwing in a muddied pocket or with pressure bearing down on him. Running backs are often only getting carries out of the shotgun, offensive linemen don’t have to pass protect as long because of the sheer multitude of quick passes, and wide receivers rack up tons of yardage thanks to the quick-hitting offense that spreads out the defense.

I’m sure I’m coming off like an asshole right now, but this offense really does complicate things for talent evaluators and it’s one reason that quarterbacks that play in this specific kind of spread offense get drafted later than most think if they get drafted at all. I can’t tell you how many Houston fans were mad at me for saying Case Keenum wouldn’t get drafted two years ago, but when he got his chance, did he? Doege is fighting an uphill battle playing in this offense, and if he wants to get drafted he will have to show the arm strength to make NFL throws, particularly throws outside the hashes. He will need to show the ability to go through his progressions and not lock on to one receiver or one half of the field, and he will need to show that he knows how to manipulate the pocket, throw under duress and do so accurately and efficiently. That’s a lot to ask of him, but quarterback is the most demanding position in sports for a reason. But that’s just the issue with projecting quarterbacks from this offense into the NFL- they are often protected so much by the brilliance of this offensive scheme that by the end of their college career they aren’t prepared for the transition to the pros. Whether it is spending almost their entire college career in shotgun, making simple reads or throwing a multitude of short, high percentage passes and benefiting from yardage gained after the catch, these quarterbacks tend to struggle when forced to transition. Even Graham Harrell, one of the success stories of this Texas Tech program for making it to the NFL and competing to be Aaron Rodgers’ back-up in Green Bay, had to go to the CFL before he got his chance to really stick on a NFL roster. I’m not saying Doege will have to do the same thing, but I’m also not ready to say he will stick yet either. I’m looking forward to seeing what he has to offer in his second full season as a starter this year.

Ward is only a junior this year but he really emerged as a sophomore last year. As Doege’s go-to guy he should be in line for an even bigger year this season.

Eric Ward, WR*- Now that I got that spread offense rant out of the way, I can continue on down the list of prospects that Texas Tech has to offer. The top returning wide receiver is Eric Ward, who is listed at 6’0”, 203 pounds. He totaled 84 receptions, 800 yards and 11 touchdowns as a sophomore this year and as Doege’s go-to guy he has a very realistic chance at 100 catches, 1,000 yards and 10+ touchdowns this season in my opinion. Ward isn’t going to run a 4.4 flat in my estimation, but he has enough speed and burst to be a NFL receiver and proved that his hands were reliable last season. When I’ve seen him I’ve seen him catch with his hands, and that is critical for any receiver attempting to get to the next level. I’m excited to see what Ward can do this season, because I still don’t have a great feel for his route running and his ability to create yardage after the catch.

Darrin Moore, WR- Moore is the big, physical target that projects as a nice red-zone target at the next level. He is listed at 6’4”, 220 pounds and caught 47 passes for 571 yards and 8 touchdowns as a junior last year. I haven’t seen much of him at all, but if he is really 6’4” he may have the potential for a transition to tight end if he doesn’t stick as a receiver, though I’m sure he has very little experience as a blocker. Still, his size and red zone potential intrigued me enough to keep an eye on him this year.

LaAdrian Waddle, OT- Waddle is the only Texas Tech offensive lineman I was impressed with when I watched them, and he sticks out at 6’6”, 318 pounds. He’s got the measurables that evaluators will like, but as I mentioned earlier he is protected in this scheme by all of the quick passing. I’m not convinced that he can stick at left tackle in the NFL and I have yet to evaluate him much as a run blocker, but if he can generate any movement off the ball in that area he could be a solid fit at right tackle in the NFL.

Dartwan Bush, DE*- Bush is an undersized pass rusher listed at 6’1”, 255 pounds and managed 28 tackles, 3 TFL and 2 sacks in 7 starts as a sophomore. He was impressive in the spring game based on what I was able to read about it and he recorded 2 sacks in that game alone. Bush is likely to be the Red Raiders best pass rusher this season and while I haven’t evaluated him much because he was only a sophomore last season I am interested to see if he can provide a pass rush off the edge that Texas Tech could really use on defense.

Terrance Bullitt, OLB*- Bullitt is a former safety who transitioned to the linebacker spot in Texas Tech’s new 4-3 defense this year. He started all 12 games at safety last year and managed 56 tackles, 9.5 TFL and 4 pass break-ups. Now he will be a strong side linebacker in their 4-3 defense, and at 6’3”, 215 pounds he has the frame to add weight and potentially hold up there. He’s got a nose for the ball-carrier and I am excited to see how he transitions to this new linebacker position full time, since he played in the box quite a bit as a safety last season.

Cody Davis, FS- I didn’t know much about Davis but the 6’2”, 203 pound safety was the Red Raiders’ leading tackler last season with 93 tackles, 3 TFL and 5 pass break-ups. He has moved back to more traditional safety position after spending a lot of time in the box in the 4-2-5 defense Texas Tech employed previously. Davis is a reliable tackler, though I don’t know much about his coverage abilities. From what I’ve seen of him, he looks like a primarily in the box type of safety, and is likely a fringe draftable prospect who should get a shot to contribute as a special teamer if nothing else.

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From now until the season starts I will be previewing the prospects from Big-12, ACC and Big East teams for the upcoming season. My colleague at NFL Draft Monsters Justin Higdon (follow him on Twitter @afc2nfc) will be covering the SEC, Pac-12 and Big-10 and you will be able to read those posts on NFL Draft Monsters. Check them all out to get ready for the 2013 NFL Draft by identifying the prospects you need to learn about!

Today I am previewing Oklahoma State. The Cowboys had their best season in team history last year despite the crushing loss to Iowa State that prevented them from playing in the BCS National Championship game (a match-up I would have liked to see, actually, between Oklahoma State’s passing game and LSU’s pass defense). Still, Oklahoma State is coming off of a 41-38 OT win against Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl and the program has a lot of momentum and buzz around it despite losing Brandon Weeden, Justin Blackmon and Markelle Martin to the NFL Draft. There was a lot of anticipation for Oklahoma State to name a starting quarterback, but on the day of the NFL Draft Head Coach Mike Gundy named true freshman Wes Lunt as the starting quarterback for the 2012 season. This surprised plenty of people (including myself) but it’s not hard to see why he made that decision. Gundy has said that he wants to continue the pocket passing-type offense that Dana Holgersen established at OSU with Brandon Weeden two years ago, and at 6’4″, 212 pounds Lunt fits that tall, strong armed pocket passer description better than junior Clint Chelf or redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh (Chelf is 6’1″, 201 pounds and Walsh is 6’2″, 199 pounds). Obviously Lunt didn’t win the position based only on his height, he showed a strong, accurate arm when he was confident enough to unleash it and from what I was able to see of the spring game he showed some poise in the pocket even when pressured to keep his eyes downfield. This season will be a big test for him and Oklahoma State’s offense, and they will likely rely heavily on their run game spearheaded by Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith, their respective lightning and thunder combo at running back. They have some returning talent at receiver in senior Tracy Moore and sophomore Josh Stewart, but the true surprise of the spring was junior Charlie Moore’s emergence. Together, Gundy is hoping they will keep Oklahoma State’s offense afloat while they also sort out some issues along the offensive line thanks to having to replace three starters up front.

However, Gundy has been quoted saying this 2012 defense might be the best one he’s had since taking over as the head man at Oklahoma State, and if the front four can help slow down opposing running games while providing some much needed pass rush, he might be right. Oklahoma State’s strength figures to be at linebacker and in the defensive secondary where they return 6 of the units 8 returning starters. These groups are headlined by linebackers Alex Elkins and Caleb Lavey, cornerbacks Brodrick Brown and Justin Gilbert as well as safety Daytawion Lowe. If Oklahoma State’s defensive line can match the production of the rest of the defense then Gundy’s team might be able to coast on their running game and defensive prowess to a 9+ win season. They have the special teams to do it as well thanks to All-American Quinn Sharp returning for his senior season as Kicker, Punter and Kickoff specialist and the Cowboys have one of the nation’s most consistently productive return men in cornerback Justin Gilbert. This Oklahoma State team might look different than in the years past, but I believe that as Lunt becomes more comfortable as the starter this team could become a dark horse in the Big-12 despite losing two first round draft picks. Concerns on both the offensive and defensive lines scare me, but if those units come together they could push for another 10 win season. Here is the prospect breakdown for Oklahoma State:

Randle has a complete game thanks to his ability to run, catch and pass protect despite only one full season of starting experience. He will be the work-horse of Oklahoma State’s backfield this year, so we should know if he can carry the load or not after this season.

Joseph Randle, RB*- Randle is the top offensive player returning for Oklahoma State and will be relied upon to carry the load and help take pressure off of true freshman starting quarterback Wes Lunt. Lunt has a strong arm and Brandon Weeden-esque size, but he will be only months removed from high school graduation and will need to be brought along slowly. This will be a huge test for Randle’s NFL prospects because if he is able to effectively gain yardage despite facing more defenders in the box then Randle’s stock should rise even higher than it already has. He has NFL size for a running back at 6’1”, 194 pounds, plenty of speed, and his versatility to gain yardage on the ground and catch the ball effectively out of the backfield will make him particularly valuable to Oklahoma State this season. I wonder just how great his acceleration is to hit the hole, as he looks like he runs at one speed once he gets the ball in the backfield. He has impressive lateral agility and can make guys miss while also running through arm tackles, but I don’t see the burst to get through the hole that others do (at least not yet). He seems to have impressive vision and does a good job finding cut-back lanes, and has enough straight-line speed to rip off big chunks of yardage. I was also impressed at how good he was in pass protection, as I never saw him let a free rusher get into Weeden’s face despite only being a sophomore. But this year his vision will be as important as anything else this season as teams will try to take him out of the game and force their true freshman quarterback to win the game with his arm instead of handing off to a potential top 50 pick running back.

Jeremy Smith, RB*- Smith is the alleged thunder to Randle’s lightning and he backs that up, weighing 204 pounds despite only being listed at 5’10”. He figures to be a key cog in Oklahoma State’s offense this season as he will have to help keep Randle fresh over the course of the year. The running game has never been more important for Oklahoma State now that they are starting a true freshman quarterback, so Smith will be counted on to produce another season like his 2011 one where he totaled 646 rushing yards (7.1 ypc), 9 touchdowns and 11 receptions for 81 more yards out of the backfield. Randle and Smith combined to rush for 33 touchdowns last season, and both averaged better than 5.8 yards per carry. The yards may not be as easy to come by at times this season now that the wide open passing attack won’t be operated by a 28 year old veteran with a top 10 NFL Draft pick stretching defenses vertically, but the duo should be able to effectively take pressure off of Wes Lunt as he acclimates himself to the Big-12.

Tracy Moore, WR- Moore is the top returning receiver for Oklahoma State this season and figures to be the go-to guy for Wes Lunt in the passing game. He is listed at 6’2”, 220 pounds and returns after a 2011 season with 45 receptions, 672 yards and 4 touchdowns. He has shown fairly reliable hands, the ability to adjust to the ball well in the air and reportedly has similar straight-line speed as Justin Blackmon. Like Blackmon, he also can gain yards after the catch thanks to his speed and strength. That makes me think he has the potential to really improve his draft stock this season if Lunt can get the passing attack off the ground. Unfortunately, much like Blackmon, Moore has had a couple of run-ins with the law. He was held out of the Fiesta Bowl against Stanford by Mike Gundy (haven’t been able to find a specific incident that led to this) and has had two run-ins with the police in a three month span. He was arrested on March 24th on suspicion of public intoxication (he was of legal age to drink at that point I believe) and at 2 am on Sunday, June 3rd he was cited for public urination. He was only fined in both instances, totaling $398 in all, but after some of Blackmon’s run-ins with the law as well as other arrests in both the football program and other Oklahoma State programs I’m sure it would help the coaching staff sleep better at night if their players stayed out of trouble more than they currently do.

Charlie Moore may be an under the radar name right now, but if his 9 receptions, 243 yards and 3 touchdowns in the Oklahoma State Spring Game are any indication, he’s ready to break out as a junior.

Charlie Moore, WR*- Moore is a 6’2”, 202 pound junior who only had 3 receptions for 56 yards as a sophomore. Now that top targets Justin Blackmon and Josh Cooper have moved on, Moore has an opportunity for more playing time. He has reportedly seized it as he had 9 receptions, 243 yards and 3 touchdowns in the spring game and it sounds like he had a very good spring. His performance in the spring game prompted Joseph Randle to say this: “I’ve been saying that he’s gonna be an All-American since the first day of spring.” It may not have surprised Randle, but suffice it to say it surprised pretty much everyone else. There’s no guarantee Moore will be one of the passing game’s primary targets because of his spring game performance, but I’m certainly not going to write it off and I don’t think Oklahoma State coaches are going to either. He showed some straight-line speed, an impressive ability to high point the ball and come down with catches in traffic and showed reliable hands as well. Moore definitely has some sleeper potential to him, so don’t be surprised if he and Moore both catch 50+ balls on the outside while sophomore Josh Stewart tears things up in the slot.

Lane Taylor, RG- Taylor stands at 6’3”, 328 pounds and comes into his senior season with 36 career starts including 12 as a junior when he didn’t allow a single sack. That doesn’t guarantee that he is a quality pass protector, but it’s a flashy stat at least. He is by far the most experienced starter on Oklahoma State’s offensive line, a unit that had its struggles during the spring, so it will be interesting to see if he plays well without a savvy veteran under center. He has shown the ability to drive block defenders as a mauling guard but also has a little phone-booth quickness to position himself and seal defenders to create running room for Randle and others. He looks a little slow footed and doesn’t project that well to a ZBS or a scheme that requires him to pull consistently, but he looks like a possible mid-round selection in the 2013 NFL Draft right now.

Ryan Robinson, DE- Robinson is returning for his second season at Oklahoma State after he transferred in from junior college the year before. He stands at 6’4”, 246 pounds and reportedly looked quick off the edge in the spring and Mike Gundy said that he was in much better shape this spring and that he had finally “gotten it” after a year with the program. He only had 21 tackles, 2 TFL and 1 sack as a rotational player last year, but now that he figures to be in the starting line-up in better shape with the light-bulb coming on he could be a surprise pass rush threat for an Oklahoma State that desperately needs one; they don’t have a single defender returning that had more than 2 sacks or 4 quarterback hurries in 2011. Oklahoma State might have some talented linebackers and defensive backs, but without a pass rush the defense won’t improve. Robinson may play a critical role in providing that pass rush.

Alex Elkins, WLB- Elkins is the second leading tackler from 2011 and the 6’3”, 222 pounder returns for his second season with Oklahoma State after transferring from junior college to try to build on his 90 tackle, 4 TFL,1 sack, 2 pass break-up and 1 interception statistics from a season ago. Oklahoma State returns each of its three starting linebackers and figures to be a strength of the defense. Elkins was the most productive last season and has a chance to be even more productive now that he has a year of starting experience under his belt.

Caleb Lavey, MLB*- Lavey started all 13 games for Oklahoma State in the middle last season and as a first year starter he had 74 tackles, 4 TFL, 1 sack and an interception. There are rumblings that he could be the next great linebacker at Oklahoma State, and while I can’t attest to that it sounds like he had a good spring and figures to be a strength of perhaps the strongest part of Oklahoma State’s defense: their linebacking core. He is listed at 6’3”, 240 pounds and figures to be even more productive than he was as a true sophomore in his first season as a starter.

Brodrick Brown, CB- Brown is an undersized corner, listed at only 5’8”, 183 pounds, but there is no doubt that he can make plays on the ball due to his 15 pass deflections and 5 interceptions in 2011. It wasn’t a fluke either, he had 8 pass deflections and 2 interceptions as a sophomore (his first season with significant playing time). He may be undersized but his skills are undeniable, and while he doesn’t project to playing corner outside in the NFL he may have ideal nickel corner skills. He won’t be a high pick because of his lack of size, but if he has another productive season as he continues to demonstrate his impressive ball skills he will be a sure-fire NFL Draft pick.

Gilbert may have the most upside of any defender returning for Oklahoma State. His combination of size, athletic ability, ball skills and his playmaking ability with the ball in his hands after a turnover or on a kick-return make him a very intriguing NFL Draft prospect.

Justin Gilbert, CB*- Gilbert is the taller and perhaps more athletic of the two starting corners for Oklahoma State standing at 6’0”, 194 pounds, but he was similarly productive as his teammate Brodrick Brown. He had 10 pass deflections and 5 interceptions as a sophomore, his first as a starter. However, he also offers explosive potential as a kick returner as he returned 26 kick-offs for 698 yards (26.85 avg) and 2 touchdowns as a freshman before following it up with a near identical season as a sophomore with 26 kick-off returns for 703 yards (27.04 avg) and 2 more touchdowns. If you’re a betting man (or woman) I would probably bet on him returning 26 kick-offs for about 700 yards and 2 touchdowns on kick-offs again this year, but you assume all risk and reward if you actually bet on that. Regardless, Gilbert clearly has legitimate NFL talent as a corner and as a return man, and that means he should be on your radar heading into 2012.

DayTawion Lowe, FS*- Lowe is Oklahoma State’s returning leading tackler on defense, and having a safety lead your team in tackling can be an indication of a poor defense, and that was the case last year for Oklahoma State according to most. Regardless, Lowe had 97 tackles, 2 sacks, 5 pass break-ups and 1 interception in his first season as a starter. Lowe stands at 5’11”, 198 pounds and is the 3rd starter returning to Oklahoma State’s secondary which figures to be a strength of the defense. If the defensive line can pick things up the Oklahoma State could be a sneakily good defense, but the secondary figures to be reliable again this year with both starting corners and a starting safety returning.

Quinn Sharp, K/P/KOS- Sharp was an All-American as both a Kicker and a Punter last season. The 6’1”, 205 pound special teams ace made 22/25 field goals (missing 2 from 30-39 and 1 from 40-49, he did not attempt a 50+ yard field goal) and had a 38.8 yard net average as well as 12 punts of 47 downed inside the 20 yard line. I personally think Tress Way of Oklahoma was more deserving of All-American honors as a punter, but on top of being an effective field goal kicker and punter he also had a remarkable 61 touchbacks on kick-offs which was first in the nation by 21. This was preceded by 53 touchbacks in 2010, so it wasn’t a fluke. He’s a safe bet to be a reliable kicker, punter and kick-off man again in 2012, and may have a NFL future as a kicker and kick-off specialist if not as a punter as well.

From now until the season starts I will be previewing the prospects from Big-12, ACC and Big East teams for the upcoming season. My colleague at NFL Draft Monsters Justin Higdon (follow him on Twitter @afc2nfc) will be covering the SEC, Pac-12 and Big-10 and you will be able to read those posts on NFL Draft Monsters. Check them all out to get ready for the 2013 NFL Draft by identifying the prospects you need to learn about!

Next up I am covering the Texas Longhorns. The Longhorns had an underwhelming season by their standards in 2011, finishing 8-5 with a bowl victory over Cal for their 8th win of the season. The Longhorns season was defined by their quarterback controversy, originally starting Garrett Gilbert before they started a merry-go-round between Sophomore QB Case McCoy and True Freshman David Ash. McCoy was regarded as the better passer, and put up better passing numbers, but neither was convincing enough to get Mack Brown to name them the starting quarterback outright. However, David Ash appears to be in the lead after the spring, partially due to a better performance (based on what I saw) in the Spring Game. As the saying goes “when you have two quarterbacks, you really have none” and if Texas cycles between Ash and McCoy again this season their offense will never get off the ground. They have plenty of talent at running back with Malcolm Brown, Joe Bergeron, Johnathan Gray and Jeremy Hillis all figuring to get some touches throughout the season. They return some talent at receiver as well with Jaxon Shipley, Mike Davis, Marquise Goodwin and speedster DJ Monroe. I also think their offensive line will be much better this season thanks to the addition of JUCO offensive tackle Donald Hawkins, who looks like a legitimate NFL prospect at left tackle. That caused a shuffle of returning starters on the line, leaving Trey Hopkins, a 2011 starter at right tackle, moving inside to left guard, and Josh Cochran, a 2011 starter at left tackle, moving to the right side. Dominic Espinosa and Mason Walters remain at center and right guard respectively, and outside of Hawkins Texas has four returning starters along the offensive line. That should really help their running game and their pass protection of either Ash or McCoy at quarterback.

The strength of the team figures to be the defense though, led by stars such as Alex Okafor, Jackson Jeffcoat, Jordan Hicks, Carrington Byndom, Quandre Diggs and Kenny Vaccaro. The defensive line looks to be ferocious as usual with Okafor and Jeffcoat manning the defensive end spots and another talented JUCO transfer Brandon Moore replacing Kheeston Randall at nose tackle with Ashton Dorsey emerging as the starter at the three technique. The linebacking core has the most to replace as they lost stalwarts Emmanuel Acho and Keenan Robinson, but Jordan Hicks looks to have fantastic upside there to help hold the unit together. Their secondary is as talented as ever with the star corner tandem of Carrington Byndom and Quandre Diggs at corner along with talented freshman Duke Thomas pushing for playing time. Kenny Vaccaro is the top safety on the team, and one of my favorite draft prospects at the position. Adrian Phillips will start opposite him, but sophomore Mykkele Thompson has been pushing him in the spring and had a kick return for a touchdown in the Spring Game. I’m not sure what to expect from their special teams, but they have plenty of potential return men in Jaxon Shipley, DJ Monroe and Mykkele Thompson, among others. This Longhorn squad will go as far as the offense can take them, as the defense figures to be extremely difficult to pass on thanks to their talented pass rushers and elite secondary. Here is the prospect summary for this 2012 Longhorn squad:

Ash may not be a good passer yet, but he has adequate arm strength and athleticism for the position. Not only that, he has clearly progressed since last season while Case McCoy continues to make similar mistakes.

David Ash, QB**- I didn’t want to include true sophomores in this post, but Ash, Shipley and Quandre Diggs made it impossible not to. Ash is the least talented of the three right now in my opinion, but the 6’3”, 222 pound quarterback looks like the odds on favorite to be the starter in 2012, particularly because Case McCoy did not impress me much in the Spring Game. Ash has the stronger arm and more athletic ability, but as he continues to become more comfortable in the offense I think his accuracy will start to improve. He showed much better decision making in the Spring Game and started to just take what the defense was giving him instead of forcing the issue, which is important for his development. I’m not sure he will ever be a great NFL prospect, but his success this season will be a critical factor in whether Texas is competing for the Big-12 title or whether they are a borderline bowl eligible team again.

Jaxon Shipley, WR**- I wanted to leave Shipley off this list very badly, but I just couldn’t do it. He’s too talented. He is Texas’ best returning receiver in my opinion, finishing just one catch short of the team lead with Mike Davis (Davis had 45, Shipley had 44 as a true freshman), he was 2 yards short of the team lead for receiving yardage (Davis had 609, Shipley had 607) and was tied for the team lead with 3 touchdowns. He made a lot of plays last year despite the musical chairs at the quarterback position, and with David Ash looking like the 2012 starter at quarterback Shipley should have plenty of opportunities to get on the same page with him and make even more plays. He offers a lot of versatility as a dangerous receiver, return man, and is a threat to throw the deep ball on gadget plays as he showed in the bowl game against Cal and in the 2012 Spring Game where he threw a perfect touchdown pass to Mike Davis. Shipley may only be a true sophomore, but he has NFL written all over him.

D.J. Monroe, WR- Monroe is a 5’9”, 175 pound senior and while he won’t be a starter at wide receiver I think he warrants NFL consideration because of his impressive speed and his versatility. He is learning to play receiver exclusively so that Texas can run their sweep play with him without it being a give-away every time he is on the field. If he gets opportunities in the return game I think he can prove to be an impact player there as he was in 2009 when he returned only 16 kickoffs for 537 yards (33.56 avg) and 2 touchdowns. He hasn’t been as effective since, but he has game-breaking speed and any time he gets the ball in his hands he can take it the distance. That’s exactly why I think he will catch some eyes as both a receiver, a runner and as a kick returner if he gets enough touches.

Donald Hawkins looks like he has definite left tackle potential and should help anchor a talented Longhorns offensive line this season.

Donald Hawkins, LT*- Hawkins is a JUCO transfer who stands at 6’5”, 310 pounds and based on what I have seen he has legitimate NFL potential as a left tackle prospect. He moves VERY well for a man his size, showing some burst off the snap and impressive change of direction ability for a 310 pound man. He has very impressive burst into his pass set out of the two point stance, and flashes some ability to anchor. He moves very well for such a big man, gets to the second level easily and locates defenders and blocks them effectively. Needs some work technique wise, and he’s clearly raw, but he has immense upside. At times he opens up his hips a bit too early, making him vulnerable to the inside move. Seems to mirror defenders pretty well, but has more than enough foot speed and athleticism to take away speed rush without having to open hips so early. I’d like to see him finish blocks better, but he clearly flashes left tackle athleticism and impressive mobility in the run game. I’m very excited to see how he does in his first season as a starter right out of JUCO. Keep an eye on him.

Mason Walters, RG*- Walters is a 6’6”, 315 pound guard with room for additional mass on his large frame. He comes into his junior season with an amazing 25 career starts all at right guard. Not only does he have a ton of starting experience for a junior, he also snaps at center during the spring. That versatility certainly appeals to NFL evaluators, as does his experience. He could stand to get bigger and fill out his frame, as he looks pretty skinny at only 315 pounds (it feels weird to type that). He is the most experienced starter on Texas’ offensive line, so it will be interesting to see how he does as a junior.

Trey Hopkins, LG*- Hopkins is listed at 6’4”, 298 pounds and has moved inside to left guard after starting 13 games at right tackle last season. Haven’t been able to get a great feel for his game, but he has 17 career starts coming into his junior season and should get a lot of attention as scouts flock to games to see Texas’ defense, but also their impressive left tackle Donald Hawkins.

Alex Okafor definitely has NFL potential, but I don’t think I see an elite NFL pass rusher when I watch him.

Alex Okafor, DE- Okafor has 4-3 defensive end size at 6’5”, 260 pounds. He has the athleticism to drop into coverage when asked, so I think he can play OLB in a 3-4 or DE in a 4-3. I don’t think he has as much burst/explosion out of a two point stance as he does with his hand in the dirt. Unfortunately, he doesn’t look like he has a lot of edge speed to me. He looks like more of a 4-3 LE to me than a guy you want to rely on for 8-10 sacks and consistent pressure. He doesn’t have elite explosion off the ball and he seems to be more of a fundamentally sound, hard working player rather than a physical freak in my opinion. I’d like to see him dominate more blocks, particularly when he is only being blocked by tight ends in the running game. He has good awareness and a good motor, and plenty of athleticism as well as long arms, but I don’t see the bend and elite explosion to make him a top draft pick. I think his future is at left end in a 4-3 or at strong side linebacker in a 3-4 defense. I think as he gets a bit stronger he will be better versus the run, and if he improves on his flashes of hand usage I think he will be more effective. Okafor has plenty of NFL upside, I’m just not convinced it will be at the right end position in a 4-3 defense.

Jackson Jeffcoat, DE*- Jeffcoat is the more explosive, high upside half of Texas’ elite defensive end duo. Jeffcoat has more edge speed and burst than Okafor does, but outside of his speed rush I don’t see much to like about Jeffcoat’s pass rushing. The 6’5”, 250 pounder has the speed to get the edge versus most college tackles but struggled to do so versus Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M’s impressive left tackle. And when he can’t win with his speed rush he is largely rendered ineffective. He doesn’t have much else in his repertoire and gets taken out of the play once he is engaged. He was very productive last season, especially in the 2nd half of the year, where he totaled all 8 of his sacks in the last 7 games and had a sack in 6 of the last 7 games Texas played, only coming up empty versus Texas A&M on Thanksgiving (against a NFL caliber left tackle). He had 3.5 TFL and 0 sacks in Texas’ first 6 games, and that leads me to believe his best football is awaiting him in his junior season at Texas. He needs to add pass rush moves to his repertoire, get stronger and improve his hand usage for that to happen though.

Brandon Moore, DT*- Moore looks to play a little upright which negates his listed size of 6’5”, 335 pounds, though he doesn’t look like he weighs that much on film. If he does weigh that much, he looks to carry it pretty well. He shows some burst off the ball and has flashed the ability to split double teams as a pass rusher, and has reportedly shown the anchor and lower body strength to make himself very difficult to move versus the run. He flashes some awareness and change of direction ability, though I’m not sure how good his motor is. If Moore can anchor the nose tackle position vacated by Kheeston Randall and provide not only a plugger in the middle to help clog up running lanes but also demand double teams as a pass rusher life will be a lot easier for the smaller, quicker Ashton Dorsey inside.

Ashton Dorsey, DT*- Dorsey is only listed at 6’2”, 295 pounds but he makes up for his lack of ideal size with impressive athleticism. He is quick off the ball and shows that he can be disruptive, and managed 6 tackles for loss and 1 sack as a sophomore in 2011 despite only starting 4 games. He is the man at the 3 tech position now though, and could be one of the key cogs on a very talented defensive line. I don’t think he will be ready to make the jump even if he has a big season this year, but he certainly has a chance to be put on the NFL radar thanks to Texas’ duo of talented defensive ends Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat.

Jordan Hicks has superstar potential at linebacker, and figures to pick up where Keenan Robinson left off at linebacker for Texas.

Jordan Hicks, OLB*- Hicks is listed at 6’2”, 235 pounds and from all I have read he has superstar potential at outside linebacker. He has shown ability in coverage, as a blitzer, and returns with 65 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack and four pass deflections in 8 starts last season as a sophomore. He had the best game of his young career in the bowl game against Cal as he totaled 7 total tackles (5 solo), 2.5 tackles for loss (including 1.5 sacks) and a pass break-up against the Golden Bears. He has reportedly had a great spring, and seems to be ready to pick up where Keenan Robinson and Emmanuel Acho left off.

Carrington Byndom, CB*- Byndom certainly looks like he’s going to be the next quality NFL corner in a long line of quality NFL corners to come out of Texas. He stands at 6’0”, 180 pounds, has impressive speed, closing burst, instincts and ball skills. He had 58 tackles, 8 TFL (amazing for a corner), 15 pass break-ups and 2 interceptions as a sophomore. He only has 13 career starts, all coming as a sophomore, but if he has another impressive season this year he could very well be a top 40 draft pick.

Quandre Diggs, CB**- Diggs is only a sophomore, and a true sophomore at that, but I just couldn’t leave him off this list. That’s how good he is. As a true freshman the 5’10”, 200 pound corner was 2nd Team All Big-12, had 51 tackles, 4 TFL, 15 pass break-ups and 4 interceptions. Clearly quarterbacks figured out that there was no sense in challenging him to avoid passing at Byndom, as Diggs and Byndom combined to break up 30 passes and intercept 6, forming one of the top cornerback tandems in the nation. That tandem figures to only get better this season, especially since Texas has ANOTHER talented true freshman corner who has been impressive in the spring by the name of Duke Thomas. Keep an eye on all three of these corners, because they are going to make it very difficult for opposing offenses to pass on them, especially with all the talent they have on the defensive line.

Kenny Vaccaro, FS- Vaccaro is the most experienced member of the Texas secondary with 19 starts coming into his senior season. He’s a ball-hawk and a playmaker, and has demonstrated the ability to be a playmaker in coverage, versus he run and as a blitzer. He returns as Texas’ leading tackler with 82 tackles, 6 TFL, 2 sacks, 8 pass deflections and 2 interceptions. He stands at 6’1”, 215 pounds and as if it wasn’t hard enough to pass on Texas’ talented cornerbacks, Vaccaro makes it even more difficult roaming in the defensive backfield. I think Vaccaro has top 50 pick written all over him if he continues to play like he did last season.

From now until the season starts I will be previewing the prospects from Big-12, ACC and Big East teams for the upcoming season. My colleague at NFL Draft Monsters Justin Higdon (follow him on Twitter @afc2nfc) will be covering the SEC, Pac-12 and Big-10 and you will be able to read those posts on NFL Draft Monsters. Check them all out to get ready for the 2013 NFL Draft by identifying the prospects you need to learn about!

First up for me is Oklahoma. They are a popular pick to win the Big-12, but I am not so sure. I don’t trust Landry Jones at quarterback even though he accumulates attractive stats. Not only that, but the Sooners return ONE receiver with any starting experience what-so-ever in college football. They will be completely reliant on young freshman receivers to take the pressure off of him, and we all saw how Jones did when his #1 target Ryan Broyles went down at the end of the 2011 season. They have talent at RB and their offensive line is good, but they lost their top two pass rushers in Frank Alexander and Ronnell Lewis and they don’t return a single defender with 6 or more sacks (their leaders have 5.5, 4.5 and 3.5). They have a very good secondary highlighted by Tony Jefferson and Demontre Hurst, and Tom Wort anchors the defense at middle linebacker, but I am concerned that the Sooners won’t be able to generate a pass rush without blitzing. That will make things more difficult for their secondary, and I don’t know how their run defense will be. Overall, there are a lot of question marks with this Oklahoma team, but they are still being picked to win the Big-12. I can’t go out on that limb, and I think they will end up with 9 or 10 wins. So, without further adieu, here is their prospect preview:

Landry Jones has a lot of work to do if he wants to restore his name as a potential top 5 quarterback come draft time. As of right now, I have a 4th round grade on him.

Landry Jones, QB- Jones has NFL size at 6’4”, 229 pounds and has 37 career starts which is a phenomenal amount of experience for a college quarterback. Last year he was on his way to another statistically impressive season with four games remaining, having totaled 3,349 passing yards, 28 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. However, after his top target Ryan Broyles went down with an injury missing the final four games Jones’ production dropped off significantly. He only threw for 1,114 yards in the final four games (after averaging 372 passing yards per game in the first nine, he only averaged 278.5 per game in the final four). On top of that, he threw only ONE touchdown against a less talented Iowa team in Oklahoma’s bowl game and NINE interceptions over that same span. This is as good evidence as any that Jones is a product of the talent around him, not a franchise quarterback that elevates the play of those around him. That four game stretch likely played a huge role in him coming back for his senior season to try to rebuild his draft stock which had tumbled into the 3rd or 4th round. Many draft analysts had him pegged in that area before that, but that four game stretch made it popular to grade him in that mid-round area. Now that he is returning for his senior season he has a realistic chance to leave for the NFL with an incredible 50 career starts, which is just about ideal for a college quarterback prospect. He has the size, and has enough arm talent to play in the NFL. He has good arm strength, though you wouldn’t necessarily know it watching his ball velocity on intermediate throws. He has pretty good accuracy, but the offense he plays in as well as the ability of his receivers help mask some of his accuracy issues. He certainly isn’t as gifted as a pure passer as Sam Bradford was. On top of that, Jones has trouble making plays when his team needs it most, much like I believed Bradford did. He also doesn’t have a lot of pocket poise and makes mistakes when pressured, when good and great quarterbacks make defenses pay in the face of pressure and blitzes from defenses. Jones has an uphill battle to prove to draftniks and scouts alike that he is a better quarterback than he showed in the last four games last season, and to prove that he warrants legitimate top 96 consideration. Gaudy stats won’t be enough, he will need to lead his team to wins with key plays late, make decisive reads and throws under pressure, and work the pocket better and stand tall to deliver throws instead of throwing off his back foot and fading away from pressure. It remains to be seen if he can make the necessary adjustments to force his name back into top 5-10 quarterback conversations, but as of today I am very skeptical.

Dominique Whaley, RB- Whaley is a former walk-on but he burst onto the scene when he surprisingly emerged as the starter for Oklahoma last season. He produced 627 yards and 9 touchdowns in 7 games as well as 15 receptions for 153 yards before his season was cut short due to an ankle injury. He returns for his senior season as the likely starter but will split time with the undersized but explosive Roy Finch and will likely have his goal-line carries stolen by 6’6”, 245 pound quarterback Blake Bell. Whaley’s 40 yard dash time is around 4.55, so not blazing, but if he can overcome injury issues he has the potential to get drafted. He’s no stranger to hard work since he earned his way onto Oklahoma as a walk-on, and that kind of hard work always translates to the next level even if he doesn’t have ideal timed speed.

Roy Finch, RB*- Finch is only a junior and it would be surprising if he declared early, but he is the most explosive back that I am aware of on Oklahoma’s roster so I think he warrants mention. He is only listed at 5’7”, 166 pounds so he is very small and doesn’t have the size or bulk to be a feature back in college or the NFL, but he has an approximate 40 yard dash time of 4.45 and has been productive despite his size. As a sophomore he produced 605 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns on only 111 attempts, plus he totaled 34 receptions for 296 yards as a receiver. He also returned 11 kickoffs for 223 yards. He definitely offers versatility, and his ability to accelerate quickly, stop on a dime, make sharp cuts and make defenders miss in the open field reminds me of Darren Sproles. Sproles’ emergence as one of the most versatile players in the NFL despite his lack of size should only help Finch’s perception if he can demonstrate similar athleticism and versatility. If Trey Franks isn’t brought back (he was suspended indefinitely and Bob Stoops was quoted as saying “we aren’t counting on any of them” referring to Jaz Reynolds, Trey Franks, and Quentin Hayes. When asked if they could be reinstated Stoops only said “we’ll see.”) then Finch could be the primary return man for Oklahoma.

To be honest, I am not sold on Kenny Stills at this point. He has upside, but he’s skinny and I don’t think he is as explosive as advertised.

Kenny Stills, WR*- Stills is the top returning receiver for Landry Jones to throw to this season. The 6’1”, 189 pound receiver was productive last season as he totaled 61 receptions for 849 yards (13.9 ypc) and 8 touchdowns. However, he didn’t total a single touchdown in the last four games when he didn’t have Ryan Broyles opposite him, and I have some questions about his hands, his true explosiveness as a WR as well as his physicality. He has an estimated 40 yard dash time of 4.49 but he just doesn’t look like a burner to me, and he doesn’t look extremely quick in short areas as well. I kind of think he is a product of the offense that he plays in, though he is on the Maxwell watch list, the award given to the best WR in the country. I definitely have some questions about Stills’ ability to translate to the NFL, so I will be interested to see how he does without a #1 target drawing attention away from him, and he won’t have Jaz Reynolds or Trey Franks around to help take pressure off of him.

Trey Millard, FB*- Millard has been touted as the “best fullback I’ve ever had” by OU head coach Bob Stoops, even though he isn’t often on the field as a traditional fullback. He showed up as a reliable blocker for Oklahoma throughout the season and has shown the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield when he is targeted. He’s not a star, but he’s a reliable player. It will be interesting to see if he is involved more in the passing game now that James Hanna has gone on to the NFL.

Lane Johnson, LT- Johnson is a former tight end prospect who is now a senior starting at left tackle for the first time at Oklahoma. He didn’t play in 2010 but started 12 games at right tackle in 2011. He has the size you want in a left tackle at 6’6”, 296 pounds and converted tight end prospects traditionally do pretty well at left tackle thanks to the athleticism it requires to play tight end, so it will be interesting to see how he does at left tackle this year. He looks skinny on film, and could definitely stand to add weight to his frame and it shows when he is bullrushed in pass protection. Shoots off the ball at times, seems to have impressive short area quickness. Shows that he can get out of his stance pretty quickly and get into his kick slide. Doesn’t look like a great drive blocker, but plays with pretty good pad level and seems to mirror well. I don’t see a lot of nastiness and doesn’t always finish blocks, and is a little raw with his technique and footwork but he definitely has the athleticism and foot speed to be a quality blind side protector for Jones this season in my opinion. It will be interesting to see how he does on the left side and if he shows improved technique this year.

Ben Habern, C- Habern enters his senior season with 30 career starts despite missing 6 starts last season due to injury. He is listed at 6’4”, 292 pounds but looks more like 6’3” on film to me. When I have watched him I have never recorded a bad snap, even when I watched his first game back from a forearm injury with a cast on the arm that he snaps with. Shows an ability to anchor and seems to be mobile for a center his size, but can be pushed back when strong defensive lineman gets him on skates. Definitely needs to watch his hand placement when he’s blocking to make sure he doesn’t let his hands wander outside the numbers and draw holding penalties. He doesn’t look like he has very long arms, but he is smart, makes correct blitz pick-ups in pass pro. Seems to be more of a wall-off blocker than a drive blocker. He strikes me as a solid but unspectacular center, and right now is a fringe draftable prospect.

Jamarkus McFarland, DT- McFarland is one of two returning starters on the defensive line for Oklahoma and will need to step up as both Ronnell Lewis and Frank Alexander are gone and they were their best pass rushers. McFarland was solid last season as he started 7 games and totaled 21 tackles, 3 tackles for loss and half a sack. He’s listed at 6’1”, 296 pounds and is currently a fringe draftable prospect. His performance without two proven pass rushers on the outside will be telling for his NFL Draft prospects.

Tom Wort, MLB*- Wort may not be a big linebacker (listed at 6’0”, 229 pounds) but he is tough and seems to be a good leader. He wore Austin Box’s #12 in Oklahoma’s season opener last year and was crying as he came onto the field. He already has 21 career starts in his young career and produced 71 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 2 pass break-ups and 2 interceptions as a sophomore last year. He’s a reliable tackler who is improving in pass coverage, and he’s tough. He’s not big, but he’s effective.

Demontre Hurst has impressive ball skills and he can hit, as you can see from this picture. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Demontre Hurst, CB- Hurst may not be big, he’s only listed at 5’9”, 182 pounds, but he impressed me last season with his ball skills. He enters his senior season with 27 career starts at cornerback and has had 11 pass break-ups and 1 interception each of the last two years while also forcing 4 fumbles over those same two seasons. He has shown me that he is a reliable tackler, has impressive ball skills, is athletic and closes well and can support the run from the cornerback position. He doesn’t have elite height, but he’s a really nice sleeper prospect at corner. Hurst can definitely play.

Aaron Colvin, CB*- Colvin actually finished the season tied for the lead in tackles with Travis Lewis, and as a result is Oklahoma’s leading returning tackler. He also had 6 pass break-ups this season, and figures to move in to the starting position opposite Hurst now that Jamell Fleming has moved on to the NFL. Colvin is taller than Hurst as he is listed at 6’0”, but only weighs 176 pounds. I haven’t seen Colvin play as much as Hurst, so I don’t know as much about his playing style, but I do know he has 9 pass break-ups the past two years, 8 total tackles for loss and a forced fumble. He’s got ability and a surprising amount of experience, having started 13 games in his first two seasons despite quality NFL talent in Jamell Fleming and Hurst above him on the depth chart.

Tony Jefferson, FS*- Jefferson is a player I’ve been high on since I watched him as a freshman and I actually had him on my list of potential break-out players before his sophomore season. He’s versatile as he can line up at safety or at nickel back, he can play man or zone coverage and despite lacking elite size for the safety position (5’10”, 199 pounds) he loves to get involved in run support, he blitzes effectively and he does a great job dropping into coverage. He’s a fluid athlete with good speed, acceleration and ability to close, and one of my favorite draft eligible safeties for the 2013 NFL Draft.

Tress Way, P- I have had my eye on Tress Way since I watched him as a freshman and was blown away by his leg. He’s got a NFL leg without a doubt and it was obvious to me when I saw him two years ago. He is listed at 6’1”, 218 pounds but size and weight aren’t critical measurables for punters. Their hangtime is their key stat, and I was taught that you can hear if a punter has a NFL leg. If he does, the ball will “pop” off his foot like a gun shot. I believe Way has that caliber leg, and not only does he have the leg for distance he had an insane 34 punts downed inside the 20 yard line last season. I can’t find an official ranking list for this stat, but I would have a hard time believing that isn’t near the top which is especially impressive since he only punted 63 times. That means more than half of his punts were downed inside the 20! Punters don’t often get a lot of NFL Draft love, but I think Way has a chance to get drafted if he continues to demonstrate a strong and accurate leg.

I will be previewing Texas next, followed by Oklahoma State. Keep an eye out for them here as well as at NFL Draft Monsters!

–Tom

Defense:

Defensive Line:

1. DaJohn Harris, DT, Southern Cal: DaJohn Harris was a guy that I thought was very underrated all season long and I think he opened some eyes this week. He doesn’t have elite size, strength or speed but he is well rounded and consistent. He needs to play lower at times but he can rush the passer and stop the run from the 3 tech position which is where I think he has the most NFL upside. He should be able to contribute to a rotation early in his career and could go in the 4th round range.

2. Akiem Hicks, DT, Regina Canada: Hicks may not have played like the 2nd best defensive linemen every day but I don’t think there is any question he has the upside to be one of the best players that was in St. Petersburg this week. He has all the size, power, athleticism and length that you could want in a defensive tackle and he flashed a lot of potential this week. It wasn’t always consistent, and he needs significant work on playing with leverage and he needs to develop much better technique and hand usage, but there is a lot of raw potential there. If he lands on a team with a good defensive line coach and they are patient with him he could end up being something special.

3. Dominique Hamilton, DT, Missouri: Hamilton was a late round pick before this week but I think he has piqued some interest through his play this week. He has great size and strength for the position and has flashed some burst off the line of scrimmage to penetrate into offensive backfields. He doesn’t offer a lot as a pass rusher at this point and will stand up out of his stance too often which limits his ability to move offensive linemen. He knows that he needs to work on that though and he has been improving in that aspect since the end of his senior season.

4. Tyrone Crawford, DE, Boise State: Crawford was a guy that was not very well known coming into the week but he definitely impressed me when I watched him. I questioned his ability to shed blocks coming into the week but he definitely showed the ability to do that this week and also showed up bigger and stronger than I expected. I’m not sure he’s a great fit for the 4-3 defensive end position, but I think he may even be able to slide inside to the 3 tech position or continue to bulk up and play the 3-4 defensive end position. His versatility will definitely help him.

5. Justin Francis, DE, Rutgers: Francis definitely looked like one of the better pass rushers at the defensive end spot this week and on top of that he had an absolute non-stop motor all week. He seemed to be the emotional leader of the West defensive line and the guys I talked to from that group mentioned him as a guy with a terrific motor. He will make hustle plays that’s for sure, I just wonder how much upside he has beyond being a rotational defensive end in the NFL.

6. Travian Robertson, DT, South Carolina: Robertson may not be a great pass rusher at this point but he definitely showed the ability to play strong at the point of attack and wasn’t easy to move off the ball for anyone on the East offensive line this week. He offers value as a run stopper and warrants a late round draftable grade in my opinion.

7. Nick Jean-Baptiste, DT, Baylor: Jean-Baptiste (or NJB as I like to all him) definitely showed his potential as a pass rusher this week as I compared him to BJ Raji after watching him in pass rush drills on Monday and Tuesday. He was dominating and he was virtually unblockable 1 on 1. The trouble came in team drills when he faced regular double teams and didn’t look great against the run (which was an issue when Baylor played Washington in the Alamo Bowl as well). He plays a little high at times despite his natural leverage because of his height, but he just isn’t as consistent of a run defender as you would like to see. He has upside and he definitely warrants a draftable grade, I’m just wondering if he will ever be more than a rotational guy.

8. Kyle Wilber, DE, Wake Forest: Wilber definitely flashed his potential as a pass rusher this week but he is too light and lean to stay at 4-3 defensive end in the NFL. He will have to transition to outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense in my opinion, and while he has the ability to at least be a reserve and a special teamer there I just don’t know if he has the athleticism to drop into coverage. He’s tall and pretty lanky so he isn’t exactly built for coverage, but I’ve never seen him drop into coverage before so he is a bit of an unknown in that respect. I still think he is draftable though and he showed some of his ability this week and may cause some trouble for the lackluster group of tackles on the West squad.

9. Micanor Regis, DT, Miami: Regis looked quite good in 1 on 1 drills this week when he was rushing the passer and definitely showed throughout the week that he has a good first step, good burst off the line of scrimmage and he has a pass rush move or two that he can use off the ball to beat you right off the snap. He wasn’t as good once he was engaged though and he struggled versus the run this week. He can definitely contribute to a rotation as a pass rusher inside, but defending the run is something he will have to try to work on in the NFL. That makes me wonder if he will get drafted or just signed as an undrafted free agent to let him earn his way onto the roster or practice squad.

10. Matt Conrath, DE, Virginia: Conrath is one player that I would like to rank higher but based on the week I can’t right now. He was playing out of position this week though and isn’t built for the 4-3 defensive end position in the NFL. I don’t think he’s a good fit inside at defensive tackle either thanks to his 6’7”, 282 pound frame. I think he is definitely a 3-4 defensive end and he really didn’t get to show that this week. He’s someone that I think will go in the later portion of the draft but he takes coaching so well and has a perfect frame for that position that I think he will end up contributing to a roster and potentially ending up as a solid starter in a couple years.

Linebackers:

1. Brandon Lindsey, OLB, Pittsburgh: Lindsey was playing out of position this week as a 4-3 OLB but hopefully he won’t be drafted to play in that scheme. His best fit in the NFL is as a 3-4 OLB. It would have been nice if he had shown the versatility to drop into coverage as a 4-3 OLB this week, but he looked best when he was doing simple drops, particularly in the flat. He didn’t look great in deeper drops and he made his plays on the ball on his shorter drops. He has potential as a pass rusher and should be able to drop into coverage as a 3-4 OLB well enough to eventually be a starter.

2. Josh Kaddu, OLB, Oregon: Kaddu consistently impressed me with his athleticism this week and should continue to do that in today’s game. He is the best 4-3 OLB here this week and he showed that every day in practice. I never got to see him in full pads though so I am interested to see how he runs with them on and I want to see him tackle more importantly.

3. Jerry Franklin, ILB, Arkansas: Franklin is a player that I think is a bit underrated and while he may not be a stud linebacker I definitely think he is a draftable prospect that will provide value as a special teamer and a reserve before potentially being a starter. He won’t start today’s game but he will definitely get playing time. It will be interesting to see the dichotomy between Franklin and Tank Carder at inside linebacker today for the West.

4. Shawn Loiseau, ILB, Merrimack: Loiseau isn’t a guy that makes you say “wow” with his size or athletic ability but he definitely leaves you saying that thanks to his passion for the game and his leadership capability. Whether this kid is drafted or not I would be shocked if he didn’t make a NFL roster because he is willing to do whatever the coaches ask him to and he strikes me as a potential special teams ace. I’m not sure if he has starter upside, but he will definitely be on a NFL roster one way or another.

5. Brandon Marshall, OLB, Nevada: Marshall is the “lesser” of the two senior Nevada linebackers but I think he might be a more fundamentally sound football player than his teammate James-Michael Johnson who will play in the Senior Bowl next week. I really want to see him tackle though and I haven’t seen him in full pads all week, but he has flashed ability in the run game and in pass coverage.

6. Tank Carder, ILB, TCU: Carder made plays in pass coverage consistently this week as we all expected but I haven’t seen an ounce of physicality from him in the trenches and I don’t think he can shed blocks from offensive linemen up at the line of scrimmage. I really want to see him in full pads when he has to fill versus the run because I think that is a serious weakness in his game. I don’t think he has starter potential in the NFL and I think he will end up being a WLB in a 4-3 when all is said and done.

7. Ronnie Thornton, ILB, Southern Mississippi: Thornton isn’t the best linebacker on either Shrine Game roster but he always looked like a good tackler to me on tape and I am excited to see how he does with full pads on today. He will be a reserve and a special teamer at the next level, but I think he can make a roster doing those things.

Defensive Backs:

1. Josh Norman, CB, Coastal Carolina: Norman definitely had the best week of any defensive back as he regularly made plays on the ball either by intercepting them or deflecting them during all four days of practice. I like his ball skills, his size, his great closing burst and his willingness to hit people. He couldn’t lay anyone out this week, but there were two or three times that I can remember he really looked like he wanted to. I’m excited to see how he supports versus the run and how he tackles today.

2. Shaun Prater, CB, Iowa: Prater didn’t have a great season this year but he had a good week of practice this week. He doesn’t have great hands but he has pretty good ball skills, fluid hips and a nice, low back-pedal. He looks like he can be a quality nickel back in the NFL and perhaps even a #2 starter at some point.

3. Micah Pellerin, CB, Hampton: Pellerin was the second best defensive back all week for the East but he doesn’t strike me as a physical player and I really want to see how he supports the run and how he tackles. He is athletic though and showed some ball skills and closing speed this week, but I’m not sold on him having starter upside.

4. Robert Blanton, CB, Notre Dame: Blanton didn’t have a great week when he was dropping into zone coverage and he didn’t always look good in man coverage (particularly against quicker receivers) but he showed his potential as a press man corner one day this week. He looks huge for a cornerback and it’s hard to believe he is only 6’0” tall, but he warrants a draftable grade in my opinion.

5. Duke Ihenacho, SS, San Jose State: I liked Ihenacho coming into the week and I still do but he had his issues in coverage at times this week and didn’t look very fast either. He’s a good tackler though and should be comfortable supporting the run in this game. He’s definitely draftable in my opinion, but I just wonder if he has a future as a NFL starter.

6. Aaron Henry, S, Wisconsin: Henry is someone that plenty of people like but I can’t say I’m as big of a fan. He allowed a lot of big plays this year for Wisconsin and I think that is a problem that will not be easily fixed once he gets to the NFL. He’s got the athleticism and some ball skills but I just don’t think he has starter upside at safety. I could be wrong, but I just haven’t seen it and I have watched a lot of Wisconsin football the past two years.

7. Jerrell Young, S, South Florida: Young didn’t impress me early in the week but he looked better throughout the week to me. I’m not sure where his draft stock is at this point, but I think he is draftable and warrants consideration later in the draft.

8. Keith Tandy, CB, West Virginia: Tandy is someone I was not impressed with this week. He looks tight in the hips and is a little tall in his back-pedal, and I don’t think he has much upside outside of being a zone corner where he can close on things in front of him. He struggled in man coverage this week in my opinion and I think he’s a 4th or 5th round pick right now, maybe even a little later.

9. Rodney McLeod, CB, Virginia: McLeod was a bit of a pleasant surprise in my opinion because he showed fluid hips, good footwork and nice low back-pedal consistently this week. I’m not sure if that transitioned onto the field that well but it was definitely there in drills. He has spent time at safety but I think he has a chance to stick as a corner in the NFL.

10. Blake Gideon, S, Texas: Gideon had some of the same issues that Henry did this week as he let guys get behind him deep at times and he was scolded for it by his coaches when it did. He’s a solid player though and I think he warrants some late round consideration, but if he doesn’t get drafted I think he will be able to make a roster as an undrafted free agent.

Punters:

Bryan Anger, P, California: Anger looked great punting the ball all week whether it was with the wind or into it. He timed well on his hang time and the scouts I was sitting with pointed out regularly the sound that the ball makes when it comes off of his foot. He surprised me with his leg from day one at the West practices and he kept it up all week. He may even be draftable as a punter which isn’t exactly common, but he will definitely get a chance as an undrafted free agent if he doesn’t get drafted. He has a NFL leg.

Defensive MVP Prediction: Nick Jean-Baptiste, DT, Baylor: I like defensive linemen in these games but the interior defensive linemen on the East will have a tough challenge going up against Brandon Brooks, the talented guard on the West roster. NJB has flashed potential this week though and I think he is a bit of a sleeper for this award. He can penetrate and get upfield and he has looked good in 1 on 1 situations this week. He could end up with a tackle for loss or two and a sack today.

Quarterback:

1-      Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri*

2-      Jake Locker, QB, Washington

3-      Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State

4-      Ricky Stanzi, QB, Iowa

5-      Cam Newton, QB, Auburn*

6-      Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas*

7-      Greg McElroy, QB, Alabama

8-     Andy Dalton, QB, TCU

9-      Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada

10-      Pat Devlin, QB, Delaware

11-   Nathan Enderle, QB, Idaho

12-   Tyrod Taylor, QB, Virginia Tech

13-   T.J. Yates, QB, North Carolina

14-   Scott Tolzien, QB, Wisconsin

15-   Justin Burke, QB, Louisville

16-   Ben Chappell, QB, Indiana

17-   Adam Weber, QB, Minnesota

18-   Adam Froman, QB, Louisville

19-   Justin Roper, QB, Montana

20-   Mike Hartline, QB, Kentucky

Running Back:

1-      Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama*

2-      Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech**

3-      Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State*

4-      Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State

5-      Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois*

6-      Demarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma

7-      Delone Carter, RB, Syracuse

8-      Jordan Toddman, RB, Connecticut*

9-      Bilal Powell, RB, Louisville

10-   Shane Vereen, RB, California*

11-   Derrick Locke, RB, Kentucky

12-   Dion Lewis, RB, Pittsburgh**

13-   Darren Evans, RB, Virginia Tech*

14-   Stevan Ridley, RB, LSU*

15-   Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia

16-   Taiwan Jones, RB, Eastern Washington

17-   Roy Helu, RB, Nebraska

18- Johnny White, RB, North Carolina

19-   Daniel Thomas, RB, Kansas State

20-   Jamie Harper, RB, Clemson*

21-   Anthony Allen, RB, Georgia Tech

22-   Da’Rel Scott, RB, Maryland

23-   Allen Bradford, RB, Southern Cal

24-   Brandon Saine, RB, Ohio State

25-   John Clay, RB, Wisconsin**

26-   Graig Cooper, RB, Miami

27-   Alex Green, RB, Hawaii

28-   Damien Berry, RB, Miami

29-   Vai Taua, RB, Nevada

30-   Nic Grigsby, RB, Arizona

Fullback Rankings:

1-      Stanley Havili, FB, Southern Cal

2-      Charles Clay, FB, Tulsa

3-      Owen Marecic, FB, Stanford

4-      Anthony Sherman, FB, Connecticut

5-      Henry Hynoski, FB, Pittsburgh

6-      Patrick DiMarco, FB, South Carolina

Wide Receiver Rankings:

1-      A.J. Green, WR, Georgia*

2-      Julio Jones, WR, Alabama*

3-      Randall Cobb, WR, Kentucky*

4-      Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy

5-      Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami

6-      Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland*

7-      Greg Little, WR, North Carolina

8-      Vincent Brown, WR, San Diego State

9-      Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh*

10-   Titus Young, WR, Boise State

11-   Niles Paul, WR, Nebraska

12-   Terrence Toliver, WR, LSU

13-   Ronald Johnson, WR, Southern Cal

14-   Denarius Moore, WR, Tennessee

15-   Ryan Whalen, WR, Stanford

16-   Greg Salas, WR, Hawaii

17-   Jeremy Kerley, WR, TCU

18-   Dane Sanzenbacher, WR, Ohio State

19-   Dwayne Harris, WR, East Carolina

20-   Tori Gurley, WR, South Carolina**

21-   Aldrick Robinson, WR, SMU

22-   Courtney Smith, WR, South Alabama

23-   DeAndre Brown, WR, Southern Mississippi*

24-   Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, WR, Iowa

25-   Cecil Shorts III, WR, Mount Union

26-   Chris Matthews, WR, Kentucky

27-   Stephen Burton, WR, West Texas A&M

28-   Marshall Williams, WR, Wake Forest

29-   Austin Pettis, WR, Boise State

30-   Perry Baker, WR, Fairmont State

Tight End Rankings:

1-      Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame

2-      Lance Kendricks, TE, Wisconsin

3-      Luke Stocker, TE, Tennessee

4-      Jordan Cameron, TE, Southern Cal

5-      D.J. Williams, TE, Arkansas

6-      Rob Housler, TE, Florida Atlantic

7-      Virgil Green, TE, Nevada

8-      Andre Smith, TE, Virginia Tech

9-      Julius Thomas, TE, Portland State

10-   Mike McNeill, TE, Nebraska

11-   Weslye Saunders, TE, South Carolina

12-   Zach Pianalto, TE, North Carolina

13-   Charlie Gantt, TE, Michigan State

14-   Preston Dial, TE, Alabama

15-   Lee Smith, TE, Marshall

16-   Cameron Graham, TE, Louisville

17-   Schuylar Oordt, TE, Northern Iowa

18-   Stephen Skelton, TE, Fordham

19-   Kyle Adams, TE, Purdue

20-   Brad Taylor, TE, Baylor

Offensive Tackle Rankings:

1-      Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

2-      Tyron Smith, OT, Southern Cal

3-      Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin

4-      Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State

5-      James Carpenter, OT, Alabama

6-      Jason Pinkston, OT, Pittsburgh

7-      Nate Solder, OT, Colorado

8-      Orlando Franklin, OT, Miami

9-      James Brewer, OT, Indiana

10-   Marcus Gilbert, OT, Florida

11-   Lee Ziemba, OT, Auburn

12-   Joseph Barksdale, OT, LSU

13-   Chris Hairston, OT, Clemson

14-   Derek Newton, OT, Arkansas State

15-   Derek Hall, OT, Stanford

16-   Willie Smith, OT, East Carolina

17-   Jarriel King, OT, South Carolina

18-   D.J. Young, OT, Michigan State

19-   Rob McGill, OT, Louisiana Tech

20-   Jah Reid, OT, UCF

Offensive Guard Rankings:

1-      Mike Pouncey, OG, Florida

2-      Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor

3-      Will Rackley, OG, Lehigh

4-      Rodney Hudson, OG, Florida State

5-      Marcus Cannon, OG, TCU

6-      Benjamin Ijalana, OG, Villanova

7-      John Moffit, OG, Wisconsin

8-      Clint Boling, OG, Georgia

9-      Stephen Schilling, OG, Michigan

10-   Zach Hurd, OG, Connecticut

11-   David Arkin, OG, Missouri State

12-   Keith Williams, OG, Nebraska

13-   Andrew Jackson, OG, Fresno State

14-   Andrew Phillips, OG, Stanford

15-   DeMarcus Love, OG, Arkansas

Center Rankings:

1-      Stefen Wisniewski, C, Penn State

2-      Kristofer O’Dowd, C, Southern Cal

3-      Tim Barnes, C, Missouri

4-      Jake Kirkpatrick, C, TCU

5-      Jason Kelce, C, Cincinnati

6-      Brandon Fusco, C, Slippery Rock

7-      Alex Linnenkohl, C, Oregon State

8-      Zach Williams, C, Washington State

9-      Ryan Bartholomew, C, Syracuse

10-   Colin Baxter, C, Arizona

Defensive End Rankings:

1-      Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri

2-      J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin

3-      Cameron Jordan, DE, California

4-      Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State

5-      Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson

6-      Justin Houston, DE, Georgia

7-      Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina

8-      Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue

9-      Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa

10-   Jabaal Sheard, DE, Pittsburgh

11-   Christian Ballard, DE, Iowa

12-   Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona

13-   Sam Acho, DE, Texas

14-   Pierre Allen, DE, Nebraska

15-   Pernell McPhee, DE, Mississippi State

16-   Allen Bailey, DE, Miami

17-   Ugo Chinasa, DE, Oklahoma State

18-   Greg Romeus, DE, Pittsburgh

19-   Cliff Matthews, DE, South Carolina

20-   Chris Carter, DE, Fresno State

21-   Ricky Elmore, DE, Arizona

22-   Brandon Bair, DE, Oregon

23-   Markus White, DE, Florida State

24-   Eddie Jones, DE, Texas

25-   Ryan Winterswyk, DE, Boise State

26-   Lazarius Levingston, DE, LSU

27-   Karl Klug, DE, Iowa

28-   Cheta Ozougwu, DE, Rice

29-   Clay Nurse, DE, Illinois

30-   D’Aundre Reed, DE, Arizona

Defensive Tackle Rankings:

1-      Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama

2-      Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn

3-      Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois

4-      Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor

5-      Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple

6-      Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina

7-      Drake Nevis, DT, LSU

8-      Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State

9-      Kenrick Ellis, DT, Hampton

10-   Jarvis Jenkins, DT, Clemson

11-   Jurrell Casey, DT, Southern Cal

12-   Lawrence Guy, DT, Arizona State

13-   Jerrell Powe, DT, Mississippi

14-   Ian Williams, DT, Notre Dame

15-   Sione Fua, DT, Stanford

16-   Martin Parker, DT, Richmond

17-   David Carter, DT, UCLA

18-   Terrell McClain, DT, South Florida

19-   Chris Nield, DT, West Virginia

20-   Ollie Ogbu, DT, Penn State

Middle Linebacker Rankings:

1-      Martez Wilson, ILB, Illinois

2-      Quan Sturdivant, ILB, North Carolina

3-      Greg Jones, ILB, Michigan State

4-      Colin McCarthy, ILB, Miami

5-      Kelvin Sheppard, ILB, LSU

6-      Nate Irving, ILB, NC State

7-      Casey Matthews, ILB, Oregon

8-      Josh Bynes, ILB, Auburn

9-      Mike Mohamed, ILB, California

10-   Chris White, Mississippi State

11-   Nick Belore, ILB, Central Michigan

12-   Mario Harvey, ILB, Marshall

13-   Akeem Dent, Georgia

14-   Greg Lloyd, ILB, Connecticut

15-   Orie Lemon, ILB, Oklahoma State

Outside Linebacker Rankings:

1-      Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M

2-      Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA

3-      Bruce Carter, OLB, North Carolina

4-      Dontay Moch, OLB, Nevada

5-      Mason Foster, OLB, Washington

6-      K.J. Wright, OLB, Mississippi State

7-      Lawrence Wilson, OLB, Connecticut

8-      Ross Homan, OLB, Ohio State

9-      Mark Herzlich, OLB, Boston College

10-   Brian Rolle, OLB, Ohio State

11-   Jonas Mouton, OLB, Michigan

12-   Doug Hogue, OLB, Syracuse

13-   Scott Lutrus, OLB, Connecticut

14-   J.T. Thomas, OLB, West Virginia

15-   Thomas Keiser, OLB, Stanford

16-   Adrian Moten, OLB, Maryland

17-   Quentin Davie, OLB, Northwestern

18-   Bruce Miller, OLB, UCF

19-   Ricky Brewer, OLB, Colorado State

20-   Kenny Rowe, OLB, Oregon

Cornerback Rankings:

1-      Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

2-      Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

3-      Brandon Harris, CB, Miami

4-      Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

5-      Davon House, CB, New Mexico State

6-      Aaron Williams, CB, Texas

7-      Curtis Brown, CB, Texas

8-      Brandon Burton, CB, Utah

9-      Ras-I Downling, CB, Virginia

10-   Chimdi Chekwa, CB, Ohio State

11-   Johnny Patrick, CB, Louisville

12-   Shareece Wright, CB, Southern Cal

13-   Kendric Burney, CB, North Carolina

14-   Cortez Allen, CB, Citadel

15-   Marcus Gilchrist, CB, Clemson

16-   Curtis Marsh, CB, Utah State

17-   Buster Skrine, CB, Chattanooga

18-   Jalil Brown, CB, Colorado

19-   Brandon Hogan, CB, West Virginia

20-   Rashad Carmichael, CB, Virginia Tech

21-   Chykie Brown, CB, Texas

22-   Chris L. Rucker, CB, Michigan State

23-   Ryan Hill, CB, Miami

24-   Justin Rogers, CB, Richmond

25-   Byron Maxwell, CB, Clemson

Safety Rankings:

1-      Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA

2-      Quinton Carter, FS, Oklahoma

3-      DeAndre McDaniel, SS, Clemson

4-      Tyler Sash, SS, Iowa

5-      Deunta Williams, FS, North Carolina

6-      Robert Sands, FS, West Virginia

7-      Joe Lefeged, SS, Rutgers

8-      Chris Conte, FS, California

9-      Jaiquawn Jarrett, FS, Temple

10-   Ahmad Black, SS, Florida

11-   Chris Culliver, FS, South Carolina

12-   Jermale Hines, FS, Ohio State

13-   Da’Norris Searcy, SS, North Carolina

14-   Jerrard Tarrant, FS, Georgia Tech

15-   Jeron Johnson, SS, Boise State

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Top 32 Big Board

Here is my top 32 Big Board for the 2011 NFL Draft. These, in my opinion, are the top 32 prospects in the NFL Draft. Many of them are hot-linked so that you can read my scouting reports on them. Enjoy!

1-      A.J. Green, WR, Georgia

2-      Marcel Dareus, DT, Alabama

3-    Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

4-    Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri

5-     Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama

6-     Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M

7-      Julio Jones, WR, Alabama

8-      Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn

9-      J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin

10-   Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

11-   Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State

12-   Cameron Jordan, DE, California

13-   Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson

14-   Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri

15-   Tyron Smith, OT, Southern Cal

16-   Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin

17-  Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA

18-  Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina

19-   Brandon Harris, CB, Miami

20-  Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State

21-   Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue

22-   Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor

23- Justin Houston, DE, Georgia

24-   Randall Cobb, WR, Kentucky

25-   Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech

26-   Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

27-  Jake Locker, QB, Washington

28-  Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois

29-   Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

30-   Mike Pouncey, OG, Florida

31- Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple

32- Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Scouting Report:

Rahim Moore definitely gets a 1st round grade for me and I think he has pro-bowl potential as a NFL safety.

Positives: Pretty good size, good athleticism and great ball skills for the position. He reads run well but does not bite on play action, he plays center-field well and it seemed that he was rarely challenged as a junior in the games that I watched, probably because of his reputation of a dangerous ball-hawk. He reads run well and seems to have good instincts, and shows some ability as a downfield tackler and shows wrap-up ability. He reads the quarterback’s eyes well and he keeps plays in front of him, but shows an impressive burst to close and shows good acceleration in coverage and as a run defender. He shows that he can stay with slot receivers in man coverage, but he excels in zone coverage. Has some pop as a hitter at times and breaks on the ball and offensive players well. Shows good effort in pursuit.

Negatives: Moore’s production dipped as far as pass defense is concerned as a junior, but I think that had a lot to do with him playing centerfield and just not being challenged rather than him just not making plays anymore. He also has problems over-pursuing as a run defender and will take some bad angles when coming down to defend the run. He also slides off of bigger ball-carriers and I noticed that sometimes he will drop his eyes and attempt the tackle relatively blindly before making the tackle which I think has something to do with him missing tackles on bigger, stronger players. He will also struggle to get off of blocks from receivers or other blockers getting downfield, preferring to avoid them to get to the ball-carrier. Getting stronger and working on some block shedding would make him a much better run defender.

Overall: I really like Rahim Moore as a prospect. He isn’t the ideal run defender that you want in a safety but he is definitely a ball-hawk. I really think that he has pro-bowl potential at safety in the NFL and I think he will consistently produce interceptions and pass deflections as a NFL FS as long as teams will throw at him. He needs to improve as a run defender though because there were times when he over-pursued the play and it led to a big run for the opposing offense because as the last line of defense he needs to take better angles. He also could stand to improve as a tackler, and it would be great if he stopped dropping his head and lunging at tacklers because that explains a lot of his missed tackles (that and overpursuing/bad angles) but I also saw an instance when he did this and it led to him lunging his head right into a ball-carrier leading to what was probably a neck stinger. I’d hate to see his career shortened because of a neck injury but that is definitely possible when you drop your head like that. However, he is a perfect FS as far as pass defense because he has great ball skills, he times his leaps very well, he reads the QB’s eyes well and he doesn’t seem to bite on play action and rarely lets receivers get behind him. I think he will have a lot of success as a FS in the NFL.

Projection: Late 1st/Mid-2nd. I grade Moore as a first round prospect but because he didn’t time well in the 40 and because of his production drop as a junior I could see him lasting to the early-mid 2nd round. I would personally pick him in the 1st round though.

SKILLS
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite

Speed: 4.0
Tackling: 3.0
Coverage: 4.0
Ball Skills: 4.0
Range: 4.0

My First Mock Draft of the Year

This is my first mock draft of the year and it is only the first round. I hit some snags while doing it, but for my first mock draft since April I thought it was a good effort. Let me know what you think obviously and hopefully you will enjoy the read!

First round:

Pick:  1  San Francisco 49ers- Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas-

Analysis: First off, I don’t think Andrew Luck will declare this year, but if he does I think he is definitely the front-runner for the #1 overall pick.  That said, the next best thing is Ryan Mallett as far as potential is concerned. Mallett’s combination of size and arm strength is borderline unheard of, and as a result his potential is through the roof. He has some mechanical issues, such as his footwork (which I think leads to some inaccurate throws, I don’t think his actual accuracy is as bad as some say), however the #1 overall pick is about production, potential and glitz and glamour, not necessarily the best overall player in the draft. I don’t think Mallett is the best QB in this draft, nor do I think he is the best player in the draft, but that doesn’t mean he won’t go #1.

Pick:  2  Carolina Panthers- Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama-

Analysis: This seems a little high for Dareus especially considering the two game suspension earlier this season, but he is an extremely disruptive force at DE in Alabama’s 3-4 defense, and though I think he would be a great fit in a 3-4 defense in the NFL I think he could play defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense as well. The Panthers’ defense is a bit of a mess right now between injuries and losing starters via free agency or trade, but their defensive tackles are absolutely awful. Until they upgrade that position they won’t be able to stop the run or rush the passer, so I think improving up the middle has to be a high priority for them this year.

Pick:  3  Buffalo Bills- Jake Locker, QB, Washington-

Analysis: I think Locker is a top 10-15 selection right now, but this is a very need-based pick so though I think it is a little bit of a reach as far as my evaluation of Locker’s stock at this point, I think it makes sense. The Bills finally cut Trent Edwards loose since he clearly wasn’t getting the job done and they need a new face of the franchise to promote optimism and sell tickets, and Jake Locker fits that bill perfectly. He has great intangibles, great athleticism and great potential, however he has not progressed the way many people thought he would this year so I think his stock has taken a bit of a hit. He could easily move back up to a top 5 pick by the time the draft rolls around, especially if he plays better the rest of the season, but right now Luck and Mallett are in the drivers’ seat for the #1 overall pick. Some will argue, like they do every year, that they should pass on the potential franchise QB and fill another need in round 1 and get a safer, less risky quarterback in round 2. I made that mistake when I wanted Brian Brohm in round 2 instead of Matt Ryan, so I probably won’t ever feel that way again.

Pick:  4  Detroit Lions- Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU-

Analysis: The Lions have done a very nice job of acquiring nice pieces of talent since Matt Millen was fired. First there was Calvin Johnson, then Matt Stafford and now Ndamukong Suh. However, they are still lacking at the cornerback position, which is where Patrick Peterson comes in. Not only is Peterson arguably the best cornerback in the nation, but he is an absolutely electric return man. Once he gets the ball in his hands he can make guys miss and turn on the jets in a hurry. That makes him dangerous on punt returns and after he comes away with a turnover on defense. Having that kind of a playmaker at cornerback is something the Lions have lacked since they signed Dre’ Bly away from the St. Louis Rams years ago. The Lions could also consider a defensive end or a left tackle here, but in my opinion there is no better player available at either position than Patterson, making him the best selection for the Lions.

Pick:  5  Cleveland Browns- A.J. Green, WR, Georgia-

Analysis: I think that A.J. Green is in the drivers’ seat to be the first receiver off the board in April, and the Browns are a team that needs desperate help both at quarterback and at wide receiver. With Mallett and Locker both off the board already, the Browns should take the best player available and that figures to be Green. The Browns already have a former Georgia Bulldog on the roster in Mohamed Massaquoi, but he is not thriving as their #1 option. Green definitely has #1 WR potential, and he would give whoever takes snaps at QB more options to throw to as a result. I think Green is a very good player, but something about his game makes me wonder how well he will transition to the NFL. Honestly, I think he is a little over-hyped, but I haven’t scouted him yet this year so perhaps I will change my tune once I do.

Pick:  6  Minnesota Vikings- Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska-

Analysis: This may seem like a strange pick, especially since the Vikings picked Chris Cook last year, but the Vikings really like to stick to the best player available, and in this case I think that is Amukamara. Now, when you look at their roster on paper it might not seem like they need a corner. They have Antoine Winfield, Cedric Griffin and Chris Cook waiting in the wings. Asher Allen provides some depth, and bingo! No issue… right? I would say wrong. Winfield has lost a step or two, and will only get slower and become less suitable for the starting role, and Cedric Griffin has now torn both of his ACL’s within the last calendar year. That is too bad, especially since he fits their scheme well, but between Winfield’s age and Griffin’s injury history the Vikings aren’t as deep at corner as they appear to be on paper, and that is assuming Chris Cook pans out as well. Amukamara could really help shore up the position and if Cook pans out they could form a very nice tandem for years to come with Asher Allen filling in at the nickel spot.

Pick:  7  Dallas Cowboys- Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa-

Analysis: The Cowboys have a couple of solid DE’s in Igor Olshansky and Marcus Spears, but Spears has never really lived up to his 1st round pick billing. Clayborn strikes me as an ideal 3-4 DE prospect. He doesn’t have the edge speed to fly off the edge as a 4-3 DE but he is so big, strong and has such good hand usage I think he could be very disruptive at the DE spot in a 3-4. He is good versus the run though I have not seen how well he handles double teams, though with coaching and weight training he should have no issues controlling two gaps in the NFL.

Pick:  8  St. Louis Rams- Julio Jones, WR, Alabama-

Analysis: Julio Jones has a boatload of potential and he hasn’t really come close to reaching it at Alabama. Part of that has to do with how balanced their offense is and how worried teams tend to be about him beating them when the Crimson Tide do pass, but he definitely has the potential to be a better NFL player than he was in college. He has great size, speed and can make some highlight reel catches. If the Rams are looking for a potential #1 WR for Bradford to throw to, Jones is one of the best they could hope to get in this draft class. I have my concerns about Jones’ route running and his tendency to drop passes, but that comes down to concentration because his hands are obviously reliable. Jones is one of the more interesting prospects in this draft class to project to the NFL because he strikes me as a hit or miss guy.

Pick:  9  San Diego Chargers- Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State-

Analysis: I’m not sure how realistic it is for two 3-4 DE prospects to come off the board in the top 10, but the Chargers really need help at DE. Not only is the starter opposite Luis Castillo a better fit as a back-up, but Castillo himself is regularly injured. Heyward has great size, strength and defends the run well. He doesn’t have the speed off the edge to play DE in a 4-3, however I do think he could slide inside to defensive tackle in that scheme. But, I think his best fit is at DE in the 3-4 defense, and a combo of Heyward and a healthy Castillo at DE would be a very big boost for San Diego’s defense.

Pick: 10  New England Patriots (F/Oak)- Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA-

Analysis: The Patriots are notorious for a few things. One is having multiple first round picks (which they have again this year) and the other is consistently spending high draft picks on their front 7 on defense. I think they will go this route again this year with one of their selections at least, and Ayers strikes me as the perfect “Patriot” player. He is a good pass rusher and he can drop back into coverage and make plays. I am not sure how well he defends the run, but he has a lot of potential. This might seem high for him, but the Patriots have made surprising picks like this before, especially when it comes to the front 7.

Pick: 11  Denver Broncos- Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama-

Analysis: The Broncos could really use a stud ILB to play next to DJ Williams, and if they pick up Hightower they could have the beginnings of one of the best front sevens in the NFL. If Ayers, Dumervil, Hightower and Williams are all healthy they would have a very dangerous group of linebackers. They can all get after the passer and defend the run too, which is the scary part. Of course, they all have injury histories which may ultimately scare the Broncos away from Hightower. But ILB is a need for them and Hightower is the best draft eligible ILB prospect without a doubt.

Pick: 12  Cincinnati Bengals- Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina-

Analysis: Part of me wants to see the Bengals draft Christian Ponder, but I don’t think the Bengals will give up on Carson Palmer so easily (even if he hasn’t been the same QB since his horrific knee injury). That said, the Bengals could use a boost to their pass rush, and that is Robert Quinn’s specialty. The guy is an absolute freak athlete, and though he is suspended for the rest of this season for his interactions with an agent I would be relatively surprised if he didn’t declare for the draft this year. Perhaps he will surprise me and stay for his senior season, but I think he is talented enough to still get drafted in the 1st round if he declares. He will be a big gamble because he hasn’t played football all season, but the Bengals have taken risks on guys with worse character concerns than Quinn before so I think Cincinnati is definitely one of the most likely landing spots for Quinn in the first round. Combine their tendency to roll the dice on “character risks” with their need for a boost to their pass rush and Quinn makes a lot of sense.

Pick: 13  Seattle Seahawks- Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson-

Analysis: The Seahawks definitely need help at defensive end, and Bowers is the best pass rushing defensive end left on the table (though that isn’t saying much at this point). I honestly think Bowers is overrated at this point because of the hype he had coming out of high school, but he hasn’t really lived up to it during his time at Clemson. He hasn’t gotten to the quarterback as often as I (and many others) probably expected him to, and he doesn’t look like he has the best burst off the line and the best edge speed to be a good/very good pass rusher. At this point I almost think he would be a better fit in a 3-4 defense, but I haven’t scouted him enough yet this year to come to that conclusion yet. Perhaps he will be a better NFL player than college player, but he is just as likely to be a player with huge potential who never lives up to it in my opinion. I don’t know how likely this pick is because the Seahawks made it very obvious last year that they value production over potential when they made two of my favorite picks in the draft with Russell Okung and Earl Thomas.

Pick: 14  Miami Dolphins- Aaron Williams, CB, Texas-

Analysis: The Dolphins have a couple of young corners in Vontae Davis and Sean Smith according to their depth chart, but Sean Smith does not look like a natural corner to me at all. I always thought he would be a better fit at FS, so I think the Dolphins would be much better off drafting another corner and sliding him back to the safety position. Aaron Williams has a lot of potential and athletic ability, and he has been groomed by a program that has been churning out quality defensive back prospects for years now. I haven’t gotten a chance to scout him yet, but I will soon. As you can see from this picture, he is quite the playmaker on the defensive side of the ball.

Pick: 15  Arizona Cardinals- Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State-

Analysis: This seems early for Ponder now since I think he has played himself into the “fringe” first rounder area thus far this season, but the Cardinals have to be desperate for a QB at this point and Ponder is the best available at this point. I think they could definitely go in another direction, perhaps cornerback if one they like is available, or they could slide down to get better value for Ponder or to see if some guys they like are still around. But for the sake of this exercise, I think they have to go with a QB. I don’t think Ponder will be ready to play as a rookie, and when I have seen him this year he hasn’t been particularly impressive. I am beginning to think that his terrific performance against UNC last year was an anomaly and that he will only be a solid starter in the NFL. It will be interesting to see if his performance the rest of that year confirms or denies those suspicions.

Pick: 16  New Orleans Saints- Greg Jones, OLB, Michigan State-

Analysis: Greg Jones is one of my favorite prospects in this draft. He has terrific instincts for the position and it physically pains me to mock him to the Saints, that is how good I think he is going to be. The Saints really need linebacker help, whether it is at WLB or MLB, so Jones makes a lot of sense for them from a need perspective.

Pick: 17  Green Bay Packers- Janoris Jenkins, CB, Florida-

Analysis: I think Jenkins is being underrated by a lot of draft-niks right now because I haven’t seen him in a 1st round mock yet and I think he is one of the top three or four best corners in the nation. He is an absolute playmaker and he is physical and supports the run very well. I think his physicality makes him a good fit in Green Bay, plus he has dreadlocks so he would continue the tradition of the Packers having at least one corner with dreadlocks that was started years ago by Mike McKenzie. Plus, Al Harris and Charles Woodson are both getting old, and Harris has had trouble with injuries in recent years. They have some talent at corner on the roster in Tramon Williams, but to avoid a drop-off at the position the Packers could use another talented corner, and I think that could be Jenkins.

Pick: 18  New York Giants- Martez Wilson, ILB, Illinois-

Analysis: This might seem high for Wilson, and honestly it probably is right now, but I think he has a lot of potential to be a stud ILB in the NFL. He has been a tackling machine this year for the Illini and he is coming off of a season ending injury from a season ago. The Giants might shy away from him because he his injury was from his neck, similar to what helped force Antonio Pierce away from football, but all indications are that he is healthy and he has been a force thus far this season.

Pick: 19  Jacksonville Jaguars- Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh-

Analysis: The Jaguars always seem perfectly willing to take a chance on a super talented player even if they have their question marks. I wonder how well Baldwin will be able to adjust to the NFL because he has been able to cruise on his natural athletic ability for so long and because I don’t think he has good enough burst or quickness to create separation and run effective routes. However, he does have very long strides and good deep speed and he locates and adjusts to the ball in the air as well as any receiver I have ever scouted. He definitely has a lot of potential, but I think he will need a couple of years to adjust to the speed of the NFL and to work on his route running. Then in years three or four he will either strut his stuff or end up being a bust. He strikes me as a boom or bust guy.

Pick: 20  Philadelphia Eagles- Bruce Carter, OLB, North Carolina-

Analysis: The Eagles love to have fast, hard hitting players all over their defense and that makes Carter a perfect fit for their scheme. He is an athletic freak. He is very fast, very strong and he makes plays on defense and on special teams. I don’t think he has very good instincts, though that is masked by his athletic ability on a regular basis. But he won’t be asked to play in coverage that often as the SLB and he should be able to play the run and get after the passer and make an impact on special teams, which is what I think he does best.

Pick: 21  Washington Redskins- Malcolm Floyd, WR, Notre Dame-

Analysis: Floyd is a WR who I have always marveled at. There aren’t many WR’s I have ever seen who high-point the ball in the air better than Floyd does, and whenever there is a jump ball thrown within five yards of Floyd I just assume he is going to come down with it and marvel at how he does it. He doesn’t have very good deep speed and doesn’t run great routes, but his combination of size, leaping ability and reliable hands is hard to come by. He may not strike fear into defenses with his speed, but I think that if he gets single coverage in the NFL he will still find a way to come down with the ball, so despite his lack of deep speed he can still threaten defenses deep. The Redskins really need a deep threat for McNabb to throw to opposite of Santana Moss, and Floyd’s size and leaping ability would really contrast Moss’ quickness and deep speed well.

Pick: 22  Indianapolis Colts- Rodney Hudson, OG, Florida State-

Analysis: Hudson is the top OG in this class in my opinion and though he is relatively undersized he is so technically sound and mobile for the position that I would be shocked if he slides out of the first round. The Colts love a smart and technically sound offensive lineman and they need help up front so this pick seems like a match made in heaven to me.

Pick: 23  Tennessee Titans- Brandon Harris, CB, Miami-

Analysis: The Titans have tried to find a second quality starting corner but none of their attempts have really hit home yet. I think Brandon Harris would fit in very well on their defense because of his athletic ability and his playmaking ability. Not long ago the Titans secondary was coming down with interceptions with astonishing regularity, but as the pass rush has waned so have the turnovers. They need playmakers in the secondary and pass rushers up front, and if Derrick Morgan can get healthy Harris and the rest of the Titans secondary could stand to benefit.

Pick: 24  Houston Texans- Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA-

Analysis: The Texans have needed help at FS for the majority of their existence as a franchise, so I think it is high time that they finally address that problem. Rahim Moore is a playmaking FS at UCLA and had a mind-boggling 10 interceptions last year as a sophomore. He hasn’t had the same success this year, and though I haven’t watched him I can’t imagine teams are challenging him as often as they were last year. Regardless, he would give the Texans that true centerfielder that they have needed for so long, and with Mario Williams rushing the passer he could come away with some easy turnovers as a Texan.

Pick: 25  Kansas City Chiefs- Jurell Powe, DT, Mississippi-

Analysis: The Chiefs really need help at NT in their 3-4 defense and Powe is the best draft eligible NT in the draft in my opinion. He is quick off the ball and is very disruptive versus the run and can collapse the pocket with his bull rush. He actually reminds me a lot of B.J. Raji, minus the spin move Raji flashed at Boston College. Both are built low to the ground but are very strong and thick, and both project well to the 4-3 NT position. However, like Raji, Powe could end up playing NT in a 3-4.

Pick: 26  Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia-

Analysis: The Bucs have one quality corner in Aqib Talib, but they have not yet found a suitable replacement for the ancient Ronde Barber. I am not a huge fan of Ras-I Dowling, but his size is a huge plus and his lack of elite speed is less of an issue in the Bucs defense. If they continue to run the Cover-2 then Dowling could fit in very well, plus they would have two of the bigger corners in the NFL with Talib and Dowling dropping back into coverage.

Pick: 27  New England Patriots- Cameron Jordan, DE, California-

Analysis: The Patriots love to spend their early selections on the defensive side of the ball, and drafting Ayers and Jordan would really shore up two of their weaker positions in their front 7. Jordan looks to be a nice 3-4 DE prospect who I think may sneak into the first round, though I don’t think he will be drafted as high as his former teammate Tyson Alualu was last season. With Jordan replacing Seymour and Ayers rushing the passer and dropping into coverage at linebacker the Patriots front seven would be very dangerous again.

Pick: 28  Pittsburgh Steelers- Derrick Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State-

Analysis: This may be late for Sherrod, but I haven’t had a chance to watch him much yet. He is probably the only OT I would grade as a potential top 15 pick at this point, but the way the draft order came out this week I just didn’t think he would get picked until 28. Regardless, the Steelers could use an upgrade over Max Starks at LT and sliding him back to LT and playing Sherrod at LT would improve their pass blocking and their offensive line as a whole.

Pick: 29  Chicago Bears- Mike Pouncey, OG, Florida-

Analysis: The Bears need help all over the offensive line. I am not sure if Chris Williams will ever be a reliable starter, but I’m not sure the Bears are willing to spend another first round pick on the position until they are sure what they have in him. However, their interior offensive line is also a mess and warrants serious overhaul in my opinion. Pouncey may have played awful at center at the beginning of the year for Florida, but he was a very good offensive guard prospect before his horrible showing at the pivot, and I see no reason he shouldn’t be a quality OG prospect now. The Bears could really use him at either guard position, so drafting him at this spot makes perfect sense, especially if they aren’t completely sold on upgrading Chris Williams yet.

Pick: 30  New York Jets- Allen Bailey, DE, Miami-

Analysis: The Jets seem to attract guys with tons of potential and Bailey would fit that bill perfectly. He has a pretty incredible combination of size, strength and overall athleticism and on paper seems to project perfectly to the 3-4 DE position. However, I personally think he is very overrated. I don’t think he sheds blocks well at all and he usually the last Miami defensive lineman off the line of scrimmage. Being slow off the ball and struggling to shed one on one blocks, much less getting washed out by double teams, makes me wonder how he will ever transition to the NFL. However, I have been wrong before, and if he can improve his hand usage and learn to stand up to double teams and beat one on one blocks more consistently he could be a handful in the NFL. He seems to be yet another boom or bust guy, and if I had to put money on one I would put it on bust.

Pick: 31  Atlanta Falcons- Lance Kendricks, TE, Wisconsin-

Analysis: This may seem awfully high for Kendricks, but I have graded him as a early-mid 2nd rounder since I started scouting him last season, and I don’t feel much differently about him now. I don’t know if he will sneak into the first round or not, but I do know that as an Atlanta Falcons fan I would be ecstatic if we ended up with him on draft day. Kendricks is a great athlete, he has very reliable hands and he is a much better blocker than most give him credit for. He had a number of key seal blocks in the bowl game against Miami last year and I watched him block Allen Bailey one on one on more than one occasion in that same game. He is a good in-line blocker, better than I thought he would be actually, and he is an even better receiver. Drafting him while we still have Tony Gonzalez would allow Gonzo to show him some of the tricks of the trade, and when Gonzo retires Kendricks would be ready to step in and give Ryan a reliable target to throw to at the position. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see the Falcons slide into the 2nd round if they are picking late in round 1. Thomas Dimitroff is a Patriots disciple and the Patriots are notorious for stock-piling draft picks. If there were ever a year for Dimitroff to try that it would be this year.

Pick: 32  Baltimore Ravens- Mark Barron, S, Alabama-

Analysis: Ed Reed has been the gold standard for safety play for years and years, but he is wearing down and injuries or his better judgment will eventually end his career. When that happens the Ravens have to be ready, and getting a playmaker like Barron is the first step for preparing for that day. Reed should still have another year or two left in him (hopefully) and drafting Barron to sit behind Reed (and play when he is injured) would help his development and put the Ravens in terrific position to replace Reed when that day comes. Plus, Dawan Landry and Tom Zbikowski are nothing to write home about.

Thanks for reading!

–Tom