Tag Archive: Greg McElroy


E.J. Manuel's performance this year will either be the reason Florida State climbs back to the top of the ACC or the reason they have a mediocre season. If he plays well, the old FSU could be back. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)

6. Florida State- Florida State lost quarterback Christian Ponder but outside of that they return a LOT of starters, key starters too. Jermaine Thomas at RB will be huge for them, they have talent at receiver, and they return a quality offensive line (especially their tackles Andrew Datko and Zebrie Sanders). They also have one of the best pass rushers in the country in Brandon Jenkins, who should draw considerable attention this year as he attempts to mimic his incredible success from last year. Florida State’s saving grace will be E.J. Manuel’s considerable playing experience considering he was the back-up to Ponder all this time, but because of Ponder’s injuries he not only has regular season experience but bowl game experience. While he wasn’t dominant or spectacular in all of his playing time, he definitely showcased ability and should play well enough to give Florida State a good shot at an ACC title. If he plays really well then they may have a shot at a great bowl game or even a chance to win the National Championship.

7. South Carolina- South Carolina is returning a lot of talent and has a great recruiting class coming in. They have a number of players ready to emerge, and if Stephen Garcia can finally get his act together (and keep it together, which is usually the tricky part) South Carolina should have a great season. Garcia, Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffrey will make the offense viable provided the offensive line helps them out, and South Carolina should have a fierce pass rush if Devin Taylor emerges like I expect him to. South Carolina definitely has a lot of talent, and this may be the ole ball coach’s best chance to win a SEC title in a long time, with Alabama, Auburn and Florida all in a significant transition stage.

Trent Richardson has incredible upside and should help carry the Crimson Tide offense while A.J. McCarron adjusts to his new role as the starter. (AP Photo/ Butch Dill)

8. Alabama- It’s tough to ever count Alabama out of the top 5 or 10, but if there was a year to do it this would probably be the year. They lost a quarterback who is apparently allergic to losing in Greg McElroy, a Heisman winner and future NFL stud in Mark Ingram, a dynamic wide receiver in Julio Jones, multiple offensive linemen (most notably James Carpenter, who I might have had an interview with had I not projected him to go in the 3rd round) and Marcell Dareus, just to name a few. Losing four first round draft picks plus a quarterback who lost less times in his college career than I do when I play a full NCAA Football on Xbox is about as bad as it gets for a college program, but Alabama is an elite program now and like USC used to do they aren’t going to rebuild, they are going to reload. The problem with that is, while they can reload at most positions and they return a LOT of talent on defense, QB is going to be a question mark. A.J. McCarron is expected to be the starter, but he has little playing experience and will only be a redshirt sophomore. The QB position is incredibly important, especially for a possible national title run, and while I expect ‘Bama to be formidable because of their defense and a very dynamic running back in Trent Richardson and a receiver I am high on in Marquis Maze, if McCarron doesn’t step up in a big way they will lose at least a couple games even with a favorable schedule for a SEC school.

9. Oklahoma State- Oklahoma State had a fantastic season last year and they return some key starters this year, specifically Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, two of the key cogs in what may have been the most explosive offense in the country last year. They lost Kendall Hunter though, a very effective RB who really was the final piece to their explosive offense puzzle, so replacing him with another effective player will be critical if they want to have similar success on offense again this year. On defense they have some talent, but it will be a question mark until they step up in my opinion. They haven’t had much on that side of the ball in a while but it has been overshadowed by their high octane offenses. If their defense can step up then Oklahoma State has a chance to give Oklahoma a run for their money.

Russell Wilson may not have played for Wisconsin last year, but this year he could be the key to unlocking the potential of multiple players on offense, most notably wide receiver Nick Toon.

10. Wisconsin- Wisconsin is returning a lot of quality players, such as Montee Ball, James White, Nick Toon, Ricky Wagner, Peter Konz, Kevin Zeitler, Louis Nzegwu, Chris Borland (coming back from injury), Antonio Fenelus, Devin Smith and Aaron Henry, to name a few. They will still have a very good offensive line as they return three good starters and already have a replacement for Carimi in place at LT in Wagner. RT will be an area of concern, as well as the DE spot opposite Nzegwu, previously occupied by the #11 overall draft pick J.J. Watt. They do have a significant upgrade on the way at QB though, and Russell Wilson’s transfer to Wisconsin makes them a favorite to win the Big-10 this year. Their pass defense is concerning to me though, because they lost two established starters in J.J. Watt and Niles Brinkley and while they might have solid replacements for them Wisconsin’s pass defense was an issue before they even lost them (see Rose Bowl game against TCU). If they can generate a quality pass rush and play better pass defense then Wisconsin could go a long way, but that back end is concerning to me.

Thanks for reading my most recent installment of my Preseason Top 25 Rankings! The top five teams will be unveiled tomorrow!

–Tom

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Scouting Report:

McElroy is a smart, fundamentally sound quarterback but he doesn't have a lot of upside.

Positives: McElroy has decent size, some mobility to extend plays, slightly above average arm strength and pretty consistent accuracy. He is accurate on short throws and pretty accurate on intermediate passes, and has a pretty good feel for the pocket for when to step up, side-step the rush and when he should scramble to buy more time. He doesn’t throw a great ball on the run but he is quite good at isolating a defender on the outside and forcing them to commit to him or a receiver and then flicking the ball over his head if the defender commits to him. He has solid zip on intermediate throws and leads his receivers well on short throws. He is very intelligent and should have no problem learning and thriving in a NFL offense given his two years of starting experience in a pro-style offense at Alabama. Because of that offense he is comfortable going through reads and progressions but in college that was not always necessary. He also has experience dropping from center and executing play action fakes. McElroy also has pretty sound mechanics as far as footwork and his throwing motion is concerned.

Negatives: While McElroy is a fundamentally sound player he does have his flaws. For one thing he frequently stared Julio Jones down during his two years as Alabama’s starting quarterback. It’s hard to blame him for that since Jones is so talented, but for a guy who is regularly mentioned as a very smart player and as a guy who has no problem going through progressions in Alabama’s pro style offensive scheme he sure did like to stare Julio down a lot. McElroy will also struggle with ball placement on throws outside of ten or so yards. On deep curls or more downfield throws he will not lead his receivers appropriately, throwing the ball a bit behind them or throwing it high making the catch more difficult than it would have been if he led the receiver. I also have not seen McElroy anticipate throws or throw receivers open. A few times I saw him hold onto the ball too long and take sacks because he didn’t attempt to throw his receiver open, particularly against zone coverage. I don’t know if that is a confidence issue or if he is thinking too much and doesn’t want to throw a pass that might end up being intercepted, but not throwing guys open like that is something that worries me about him. His anticipation does leave something to be desired and sometimes he will be late on timing throws and that will lead to interceptions in the NFL (it has occasionally in college as well). His arm strength really is nothing to write home about, and while he has better accuracy it isn’t otherworldly either. At times his throwing motion will be a little bit slow for my liking, particularly on longer throws that he knows he needs some extra strength to make.

Overall: McElroy is a sound guy who is going to make the most of his ability, the problem is there isn’t a lot of natural ability to take advantage of. He doesn’t have great size, his arm strength is average, his accuracy is above average, and he’s an average athlete. He will make the most of that ability thanks to his intelligence and his work ethic, but his ceiling is not very high and even though he only started for two years at Alabama I don’t think there is much untapped potential that any teams will discover in him once he makes it to the NFL. He has the potential to be a solid starter who manages the game and won’t force passes into coverage and cost his team the game but I don’t think he will ever be a guy who can win a game late for his team either without a very good supporting cast like he had at Alabama.

Projection: Late 3rd/Mid 4th round. I think McElroy would be a 4th or 5th rounder in a better quarterback class but this class is so terrible that he may very well end up in the 3rd round. It will be interesting because whoever drafts him is likely picking a guy who will be a back-up for two or so years before getting a chance to start. If he can go to a team laden with talent on offense he could have success as a starter, but he won’t make his teammates better for being their quarterback despite his leadership ability and his quality intangibles.

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

Arm Strength: 2.5
Accuracy: 3.0
Mobility: 2.5
Decision Making: 3.5
Mechanics: 3.5
Pocket Awareness: 3.5
Intangibles: 4.0

Thanks for reading! Dareus is on the way still!

–Tom

Scouting Report:

Dalton's accuracy on downfield throws really underwhelmed me.

Positives: Dalton has solid size for a QB, he has average arm strength, good accuracy inside of fifteen yards and solid zip on throws within that same range. He has some experience dropping back from center and executing play action fakes which I like to see, and he is good at quickly making reads after executing the fake. He also has a very good play fake, plus he has pretty good mobility. His footwork is solid, and he has a smooth throwing motion and pretty consistent mechanics. He was extremely productive at TCU, he won a lot of games there and really helped put their program back on the map.

Negatives: Dalton looks a little skinny to me on film, he rarely has great zip on his throws unless they are under ten yards, and he is very inconsistent with his accuracy outside of fifteen yards. The offense that he operated in was largely shotgun based, though he did drop from center occasionally and run play action, but the reads were not usually very complicated and frequently he would seem to know where he was going with the ball when he snapped it. His arm strength really does leave a lot to be desired in my opinion, especially on deep passes where not only does his lack of arm strength become apparent but his problems with ball placement when challenging defenses downfield become apparent also. He also makes very questionable decisions when he forces the ball downfield, and really is only accurate when he can throw the ball over the top of man coverage where he can float it and let his receiver run under it. Really outside of fifteen yards his ball placement just isn’t nearly as consistent and that is really alarming for a QB who is going to have to make throws like that in the NFL. I have also not seen him show a lot of anticipation on his throws, nor have I seen him throw guys open as much as I would like.

Overall: Dalton is a decent quarterback, but he isn’t someone I would pick in the first three rounds personally. His arm strength is average and while his accuracy on short passes and some intermediate passes is very good and he hits his receivers in stride when he challenges defenses downfield he has to put touch on his passes or he doesn’t place the ball well and that will lead to turnovers in the NFL. He seems to be pretty smart, hard working and doesn’t appear to have any character concerns so I think he will stick in the NFL, but primarily I think he will be a back-up and at best a solid game-manager type of quarterback. His arm strength and downfield accuracy is just too much to overcome to ever be a truly effective starter in my opinion.

Projection: 4th round. He may go a little bit earlier than this thanks to his reputation as a winner and as a very successful college quarterback, but I think most teams will be wary of his arm strength, his inconsistent decision making and his questionable downfield accuracy. He definitely has potential thanks to his solid size, average arm strength and quite reliable short passing accuracy, but improving on the longer, more difficult throws will be challenging once he makes it to the NFL.

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

Arm Strength: 2.5
Accuracy: 3.0
Mobility: 3.0
Decision Making: 3.0
Mechanics: 3.5
Pocket Awareness: 3.0
Intangibles: 3.5

Thanks for reading my scouting report on Andy Dalton. As promised my reports on Julio Jones, Greg McElroy and Marcell Dareus are on the way.

–Tom

Scouting Report:

Mark Ingram is one of the most well-rounded running backs to enter the draft in years.

Positives: Ingram is a very talented RB. He has good speed and can get the corner (probably 4.48-4.5 speed approximately) and has pretty good burst to hit a hole or to break off a nice chunk of yardage. He runs with good power, runs through arm tackles easily, has impressive leg drive and has great vision to run between the tackles. He secures the ball well and rarely fumbles and he has shown some ability as a pass protector. He also catches well in the flat or out of the backfield even though he isn’t a featured receiver in their offense, but he has soft enough hands to catch screens or passes in the flat in the NFL. Does a good job of getting North/South and doesn’t waste a lot of time dancing around in the backfield wasting steps. Does a very good job of patiently allowing his blocks to set up but then identifies the cut-back lane and plants and drives very effectively.

Negatives: Isn’t the most explosive back and doesn’t have elite speed to break off huge runs or to get the corner and won’t be as effective on toss or stretch plays in the NFL as he was in college as far as getting the edge. He could stand to improve as a pass protector but most rookies coming from the college ranks need improvement, he at least has experience doing so. Might not have the highest ceiling because he has shown so much of what he can do at Alabama.

Overall: Ingram is a special running back prospect, not because he is an insanely electrifying athlete but because he is a quality athlete that plays intelligently and does things the right way. He is about as well rounded as running backs get coming out of college and should be able to contribute, if not start, immediately once he reaches the NFL. I haven’t seen him block a lot as a pass protector, but given some coaching I’m sure he can develop into a reliable pass blocker should he be asked to stay in and protect. He is a rare player in that he is an every down player in a league that does not have many of those left. He can run the ball between the tackles to wear down a defense, he can catch the ball out of the backfield on screens or on a check down, and he can stay in to pass protect on 3rd down and long on obvious passing situations. He should be a top 20 lock, but you never know what will happen on draft day. In a league where teams seem content to draft running backs later and later Ingram will reward whoever drafts him in round one with a very consistent and dependable running back for the next seven or eight years.

Projection: Top 20. He shouldn’t get past the Dolphins at #15 or the Patriots at #17 but if he does someone could very well have a steal on their hands. He isn’t a flashy, unreal athlete but he is extremely well rounded. That means he won’t go in the top five, but he will be worth every penny you pay him.

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

SPEED: 4.0
POWER: 5.0
AGILITY: 4.0
VISION: 5.0
HANDS: 3.5
BLOCKING: 3.0

Hopefully you all enjoyed my scouting report on Mark Ingram. In the coming days I should have a report up on James Carpenter, Greg McElroy, Marcell Dareus and Julio Jones. So keep checking back in!

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Scouting Report:

Blaine Gabbert has a great combination of size, arm strength and accuracy. He is also mature for only having started for two seasons.

Positives: Great size, arm strength and accuracy. Has solid mobility and while he might not look graceful as a runner once he gets going he can really pick up a lot of yardage. He has solid vision too and has a good feel for when he should just tuck it down and take off. He has plenty of zip on his throws to make passes from the left hash to the right sideline without a problem, and he can make just about any throw. He has overall terrific ball placement and does a great job of leading his receivers, even against good man coverage, to give them plenty of opportunities for yards after the catch. He has shown flashes of the ability to anticipate his receivers coming open and I have seen him throw a few of his receivers open, but his offense isn’t necessarily conducive to that. He does a good job throwing against man coverage and zone coverage alike because of his accuracy. He can carve up zone coverage with ease and does a great job of combining arm strength, accuracy, timing and touch to throw passes down the seam or down the sideline in-between two defenders for impressive completions. As I said before he is accurate enough to complete passes to his receivers even against blanket man coverage because of his ball placement. He has shown some signs of pocket poise and he has a solid feel for when pressure gets there. I think he progressed in this area as the season went on because he looked better in this aspect against Iowa than he did in all of the previous games I watched him in. And even when he scrambles or moves in the pocket he does a terrific job of resetting his feet and delivering throws with good footwork and mechanics. He has a quick release and he does a great job going from not being set to throw to setting his feet and delivering the ball. He seems to throw better on the run when rolling to his right than he does when he is rolling to his left. He also makes good decisions a lot of the time he throws the ball, which might sound simple, but he throws the ball a lot in his offense and thanks to a largely inconsistent running game he ends up in 3rd and longs more than most QB’s I have scouted this year. However he consistently delivers good passes after making a good decision on where to go with the ball. And if there isn’t a good place to throw the ball he will extend the play and 90% of the time he will throw it away instead of forcing a pass into coverage. That maturity to throw the ball away and not risk a costly turnover is one of the more impressive things about him as a prospect in my opinion.

Negatives: I hate the offense he plays in. It isn’t even close to a NFL offense. I kept track of how often he was working with four and five wide receiver sets and in the games I watched I would say it was at least 80 if not 90% of the time. That is one of my biggest problems with him as a prospect. He will have to work on his footwork on his drops because he rarely if ever made a three or five step drop from under center. That can be coached up though. I am not sure how well he reads defenses because a lot of his reads involve him simply looking at one side of the field and then throwing the ball. He isn’t usually asked to scan the field or go through a lot of progressions. How well he does in the NFL will have to do with how well he learns to use his eyes and how hard he works to learn how to read defenses better, etc. So the offense he plays in definitely makes me wary of him as a prospect. I have a couple other red flags that came up when I watched him. One is his trouble with pocket poise at times. As I said earlier I think he has gotten better in this department, but he still has work to do in my opinion. I would say the majority of the times that he scrambles he is leaving the pocket prematurely, meaning he could have stayed in the pocket or stepped up if he needed to buy more time. That is something I would like to see him improve on, but as I said he flashed the ability to do this more as the season progressed which is encouraging. He also struggles with deep balls. This might sound simple, but the vast majority of his deep passes end up incomplete because he overthrows his receivers. This might have something to do with all of his receivers running 4.5’s or slower (in my estimation) but he should still know to take a little off of it or put a little more air under it to let them run under it after playing with them for two years. But his deep passes, at least in the five games I saw of him, were really the only passes that he struggled to throw accurately with any kind of consistency. Perhaps this won’t be as big of a deal with faster receivers, but not everyone on the team is going to be a burner, so it is worth mentioning that he struggles with ball placement on his deep passes. And, while minor, I think he needs some work on squaring his shoulders when scrambling and attempting to throw on the run. He is pretty good at throwing on the run when moving to the right as he is right handed, but he struggles much more in this area when moving to his left. An additional concern I have is how well he will transition to the NFL because he won’t be throwing the ball as often as he did in college on a regular basis. I don’t think it will be a serious issue, but I wonder how well he will be able to get into a rhythm without throwing the ball as often as he did in college. I’m sure he would trade a chunk of his passing attempts for a more consistent and effective running game though, so this might just be me over-thinking things.

I worry about the offense Gabbert played in, but I believe that if you have good enough intangibles you can overcome a lack of experience in a pro-style offense. We will see if Gabbert proves me right.

Overall: The mark of an effective or even great QB involves a few things: Winning, being effective in the red zone and making big throws late in halves, games and on 3rd downs. Gabbert won a lot of games for just being a two year starter, including an upset of then #1 Oklahoma this season. He is efficient in the red zone despite having almost no running game to keep the defense honest and he makes a lot of good throws late in the half, late in games and especially on 3rd downs. I have to say I was skeptical of Gabbert at first, especially because I am not a Todd McShay fan and he was high on Gabbert, but I was really impressed with what I saw when I watched him play. I took 13 full pages of notes on him so I could learn everything I could about him since I hadn’t seen him play much before, and he is now my #1 QB in this draft class because of Andrew Luck’s decision to stay in school. I would have had him ranked in my top 10 prior to this but probably at about 5 or 6, I just never thought he would declare this year. Now that he has and I have watched him a lot I feel perfectly confident ranking him #1 on my 2011 QB rankings. It will be interesting to see how he adjusts to a NFL offense, and while I may be high on him there is no guarantee that the transition will go smoothly. But he has the size, the arm strength, the accuracy and the mechanics to be a successful NFL QB. I wish I could interview him to get a sense for his football IQ, but I think he has pretty good intangibles. I don’t think they are on Matt Ryan’s level, but I think they are adequate. If he has a good football IQ, good intangibles and a good work ethic like I think he does I think he will be a good starting QB in the NFL. Will he be great? I’m not sure. He has the tools to be a great QB, I just don’t know enough about his intangibles and work ethic to say he has that kind of ceiling.

Projection: Top 10. With Luck not declaring there is going to be a vacuum in the top 10 for teams looking for QB’s. Luck wouldn’t have made it out of the top three anyways, but I don’t think I could spend a top 10-15 pick on Locker right now, and I don’t like Mallett much in the top 20 and some teams figure to be turned off by him from interviews based off of what I have heard. That makes Gabbert a prime candidate to leap-frog them all and come off the board first of all the QB’s. I don’t think he warrants the #1 pick to Carolina, but I could definitely see Buffalo or the 49ers picking him in the top 10. He would get a top 15 grade from me, but thanks to the lack of quality QB’s in this class I think he has a great shot to go in the top 10. That makes his decision to declare this year look really smart in my opinion.

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

ARM STRENGTH: 4.5
ACCURACY: 4.5
MOBILITY: 3.0
DECISION MAKING: 4.0
MECHANICS: 3.5
POCKET AWARENESS: 3.0
INTANGIBLES: 3.5

Sorry about the lull of posts lately, I am back and ready for scouting reports. I’ll have my A.J. Green report up tomorrow and my Justin Houston one up after that! I am also going through all of my Alabama games, so expect reports on Greg McElroy, Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, James Carpenter and Marcell Dareus soon! Hopefully you enjoyed my scouting report on Gabbert. He is a really intriguing prospect. It will be interesting to see where he ends up.

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Here are some positional rankings that I started working on yesterday. I have 10 players for most positions excluding fullback, kicker and punter. Now that I have these rankings churned out I am going to work hard to watch all of the guys I have on this list and churn out scouting reports on them over my upcoming winter break. But until then, enjoy my rankings! Let me know what you think!

* Indicates Junior

**  Indicates Redshirt-Sophomore

Offensive Rankings:

QB Rankings:

1-      Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford**

2-      Jake Locker, QB, Washington

3-      Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas*

4-      Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State

5-      Greg McElroy, QB, Alabama

6-      Ricky Stanzi, QB, Iowa

7-      Nathan Enderle, QB, Idaho

8-      Pat Devlin, QB, Delaware

9-      Cam Newton, QB, Auburn*

10-   Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada

RB Rankings:

1-      Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama*

2-      Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech**

3-      DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma

4-      Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State

5-      LaMichael James, RB, Oregon**

6-      Mikel LeShoure, RB, Illinois*

7-      Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia

8-      Shane Vereen, RB, California*

9-      Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State*

10-   Jordan Toddman, RB, Connecticut*

FB Rankings:

1-      Stanley Havili, FB, Southern Cal

2-      Owen Marecic, FB, Stanford

3-      Charles Clay, FB, Tulsa

4-      Ryan Taylor, FB, North Carolina

5-      Anthony Sherman, FB, Connecticut

WR Rankings:

1-      A.J. Green, WR, Georgia*

2-      Julio Jones, WR, Alabama*

3-      Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State**

4-      Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame*

5-      Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma*

6-      Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami

7-      Ronald Johnson, WR, Southern Cal

8-      Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh*

9-      Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy

10-   Terrence Toliver, WR, LSU

TE Rankings:

1-      Lance Kendricks, TE, Wisconsin

2-      D.J. Williams, TE, Arkansas

3-      Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame*

4-      Luke Stocker, TE, Tennessee

5-      Charlie Gantt, TE, Michigan State

6-      Mike McNeill, TE, Nebraska

7-      George Bryan, TE, North Carolina State*

8-      Rob Housler, TE, Florida Atlantic

9-      Lee Smith, TE, Marshall

10-   Virgil Green, TE, Nevada

OT Rankings:

1-      Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State

2-      Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

3-      Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin

4-      Nate Solder, OT, Colorado

5-      Tyron Smith, OT, Southern Cal*

6-      DeMarcus Love, OT, Arkansas

7-      Marcus Cannon, OT, TCU

8-      Danny Watkins, OT, Baylor

9-      Jason Pinkston, OT, Pittsburgh

10-   James Brewer, OT, Indiana

OG Rankings:

1-      Mike Pouncey, OG, Florida

2-      Rodney Hudson, OG, Florida State

3-      Stephen Good, OG, Oklahoma*

4-      Benjamin Ijalana, OG, Villanova

5-      John Moffitt, OG, Wisconsin

6-      Stephen Schilling, OG, Michigan

7-      Clint Boling, OG, Georgia

8-      Justin Boren, OG, Ohio State

9-      Zach Hurd, OG, Connecticut

10-   Carl Johnson, OG, Florida

C 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-      Kevin Kowalski, C, Toledo

6-      Zane Taylor, C, Utah

7-      Colin Baxter, C, Arizona

8-      Ryan Bartholomew, C, Syracuse

9-      Alex Linnenkohl, C, Oregon State

10-   Chase Beeler, C, Stanford

Defensive Rankings:

DE Rankings:

1-      Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson*

2-      Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina*

3-      Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue

4-      Cameron Jordan, DE, California

5-      Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State

6-      Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa

7-      Jabaal Sheard, DE, Pittsburgh

8-      Sam Acho, DE, Texas

9-      Christian Ballard, DE, Iowa

10-   Cliff Matthews, DE, South Carolina

DT Rankings:

1-      Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama*

2-      Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn*

3-      Drake Nevis, DT, LSU

4-      Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State

5-      Jurell Casey, DT, Southern Cal*

6-      Jerell Powe, DT, Mississippi

7-      Jarvis Jenkins, DT, Clemson

8-      Sione Fua, DT, Stanford

9-      Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina

10-   Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor

OLB Rankings:

1-      Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA*

2-      Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia*

3-      Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M

4-      Travis Lewis, OLB, Oklahoma*

5-      Bruce Carter, OLB, North Carolina

6-      Dontay Moch, OLB, Nevada

7-      Jeremy Beal, OLB, Oklahoma

8-      Mark Herzlich, OLB, Boston College

9-      Mason Foster, OLB, Washington

10-   Lawrence Wilson, OLB, Connecticut

ILB Rankings:

1-      Martez Wilson, ILB, Illinois*

2-      Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama**

3-      Greg Jones, ILB, Michigan State

4-      Quan Sturdivant, ILB, North Carolina

5-      Colin McCarthy, ILB, Miami

6-      Kelvin Sheppard, ILB, LSU

7-      Nate Irving, ILB, North Carolina State

8-      Josh Bynes, ILB, Auburn

9-      Mario Harvey, ILB, Marshall

10-   Casey Matthews, ILB, Oregon

CB Rankings:

1-      Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

2-      Janoris Jenkins, CB, Florida*

3-      Brandon Harris, CB, Miami*

4-      Aaron Williams, CB, Texas*

5-      Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

6-      Davon House, CB, New Mexico State

7-      Brandon Burton, CB, Utah*

8-      Curtis Brown, CB, Texas

9-      Johnny Patrick, CB, Louisville

10-   Shareece Wright, CB, Southern Cal

Safety Rankings:

1-      Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU*

2-      Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA*

3-      DeAndre McDaniel, SS, Clemson

4-      Quinton Carter, FS, Oklahoma

5-      Deunta Williams, FS, North Carolina

6-      Jaiquawn Jarrett, FS, Temple

7-      Marcus Gilchrist, FS, Clemson

8-      Ahmad Black, SS, Florida

9-      Jermale Hines, FS, Ohio State

10-   Jeron Johnson, SS, Boise State

Kicker Rankings:

1-      Alex Henery, K, Nebraska

2-      Kai Forbath, K, UCLA

3-      Josh Jasper, K, LSU

4-      Jake Rogers, K, Cincinnati

5-      Wes Byrum, K, Auburn

Punter Rankings:

1-      Chas Henry, P, Florida

2-      Alex Henery, K, Nebraska

3-      Ryan Donahue, P, Iowa

4-      Derek Epperson, P, Baylor

5-      Dan Hutchins, P, Pittsburgh

Here are some of my notes on the earlier games. I will have more notes on the Nevada-Boise State game later since it ended so late. I’ll probably have those up sometime on Saturday afternoon.

Pitt-WVU Notes:

Lindsey, the DE on PITT, looks really good to me. Pretty good speed off the ball, impressive motor so far and he knows how to stay disciplined. Only a junior, but he has replaced Romeus very nicely and has 15 TFL this year. He has also showed some nice hand usage with a couple of nice swim moves to beat either shoulder of the LT he is going up against. He has 10 sacks this year, and has a sack in all but three of his games… he might fly up boards. I need to see more of him.

He looked less impressive on this past series, he wasn’t coming off the edge as quickly… but that might have something to do with their defensive scheme to contain Geno Smith. I will definitely be watching more of him though.

J.T. Thomas of WVU has made a couple of nice plays. He comes off the edge nicely. He had a great speed rush to get a sack and force a fumble and on the very next play he did a good job to get a TFL versus the run. He looks like he has a pretty good motor, some speed off the edge and he knew just what to do to strip the ball out. He’s a senior and he isn’t the biggest guy at about 6’1 or 6’2”, 225 pounds but he’s got special teams potential and if he can add some weight (his frame doesn’t look like he can have much more than 230-240 on it though…) he could be a solid OLB in a 3-4 in my opinion.

I was wondering when Noel Devine was going to show up and make a play and he took a pass out in the flat and he nearly broke it. He turned a dump off pass into a 48 yard reception and got tackled on the three yard line. That is dynamic playmaking at its finest. Before this play WVU had 25 yards of total offense. Devine was not in a lot in this game and he seemed to be cramping up on the sideline, but when he came in he did not do a lot of running up the middle and was used more to get outside to use his speed. He is a quality change of pace prospect, but I worry about him getting nicked up frequently and not being very effective running the ball between the tackles in the NFL.

Geno Smith has looked solid today. He hasn’t made a lot of NFL throws, but he has been incredibly efficient.

Brandon Hogan has had an up and down game. He had an interception early but he got called for a PI later on in the game. He hasn’t been thrown at a lot, #8 has been targeted more, so I haven’t seen much of him. I still need to evaluate how he is in his back-pedal, how well he can turn and run and how much burst he has to break on the ball. It’s just hard to watch DB’s with TV camera angles.

I didn’t pay particular attention to Bruce Irvin in the game today. I’ll look for him when I re-watch the game, but live I didn’t notice much except that I don’t think he will stick at DE in the NFL. He’s a little light for that, but he has some potential as a 3-4 OLB because he has some edge speed.

Auburn-Alabama Notes:

Nick Fairley has looked good and bad thus far. He got downblocked very effectively by the RT of Alabama on their first series but he has also gotten nice penetration. He had a great move to get a sack but then got a celebration penalty (which I thought was questionable at best) which helped extend Alabama’s drive as they converted a 4th and short after the penalty made it more manageable. He has made some plays versus the run though, but I wonder how well he will stand up against double teams a bit. He definitely has the size, but I just haven’t seen him versus doubles enough yet to know. He reminds me a bit of Kevin Williams as far as his size and playing style. If he can anchor versus the run like Kevin Williams as well as dominate blockers and blow up plays in the backfield he is going to be a hot commodity come draft time. Fairley just made another huge play. He beat the RG very badly off the snap to the inside, Ingram tried to step up and block him and Fairley just powered through him and hit McElroy for the sack, forced the fumble and then scrambled back to the ball to recover it. This was on 2nd and goal with Auburn still down 17, so what a huge play it was for Auburn to stay in the game. Fairley has been extremely disruptive all game, he regularly beat his man off the line when he got a one on one match-up and almost demands to be double teamed. I would definitely grade him as a top 15 pick at this point.

Greg McElroy has looked fantastic thus far. That has something to do with Auburn’s secondary, but he has been delivering accurate throws and showing his whole repertoire thus far with nice zip on his short/intermediate throws as well as great touch on some of his other passes including a nice touchdown to Hanks. The most impressive play may have been when Auburn came after him on a blitz on what I believe was a 3rd down, #45 on Auburn, Carter, came completely unblocked and McElroy did a fantastic job of side stepping the rush in the pocket, setting his feet, continuing to look downfield all the while and he delivered a very nice ball to Julio Jones for a big first down. He is really smart, he has shown very nice pocket poise, good accuracy, above-average arm strength and good decision making… Auburn isn’t a very good defense as far as the pass is concerned, but it’s hard not to be impressed with the progression McElroy has made in his second season as a starter.

It’s too bad that McElroy ended up being knocked out of the game from a concussion, but you could definitely tell that he was out of it when he was trying to walk to the sideline. I would have loved to see if he could muster anything on that last drive, because I think he may have been able to make it interesting. Despite the great comeback by Auburn I was still impressed by McElroy in this game. Obviously the game didn’t go Alabama’s way, but McElroy was accurate and showed a lot of pocket poise in this game. I would definitely grade him as a 3rd or 4th round pick right now. I think he has the potential to be a starter in the NFL after some time on the bench.

On the other hand, Cam Newton has looked very bad so far today. He is being bottled up from a rushing standpoint and that is really hindering his overall effectiveness. I thought that this might happen against Alabama because their defense is so well coached that they won’t often allow him to break contain and make big plays as a result of missed tackles. They are too fast and too fundamentally sound as a defense to let him get free and make some of the ridiculous plays he has made thus far this season. He finally put together a scoring drive and capped it off with a very nice throw over the top of the defense that allowed #80 to run under it for a touchdown, but his other completions have been high throws that his receivers have made nice catches on, including two very critical completions to Kodi Burns for first downs. Now Newton has the ball with less than a minute left and he made his second good throw of the game for a nice chunk of yardage. It will be interesting to see if he plays any better in the second half, but it is absolutely laughable that people are talking about him as a 1st round pick at this point. He is nowhere near developed enough to be selected that high. He holds onto the ball far too long when he is contained in the pocket, he doesn’t have much pocket poise at all and he likes to throw off balance and without consistent mechanics. Watching him play compared to McElroy, a very fundamentally sound, poised QB, is like a night and day comparison… I hope he plays better in the second half, but he has so much work to do before he can be a quality NFL QB that if he leaves this year he will need to be on the bench for two, maybe three years and he still may not pan out considering some of the issues he is having with pocket poise, decision making and overall mechanics. He has a tough test ahead of him in the second half because Alabama has been rolling on offense and he needs to throw them back into this game.

Newton’s first pass of the second half was a touchdown, but it was not a particularly good throw. Yes, it was pretty accurate, but it was in the air a while and Mark Barron could have easily made a play on the ball but he played the ball poorly in the air and misjudged it and #81 caught the ball, stayed on his feet and got the rest of the yardage needed for the touchdown. If this safety played this better then it could have been an easy interception.

Newton has led a furious comeback. He has made probably three NFL throws the entire game, so he hasn’t been an impressive passer, but it’s hard to make an argument that anyone in the country is more valuable to his team than Newton is to Auburn. I’m impressed with his resiliency as well because he could have easily packed it in after they started so slow with two or three straight three and outs while Alabama was rolling on offense. The most impressive throw Newton has made in this game came on 4th down and 3 and he threw a very nice pass into a tight window on the sideline to #89 for a key first down to extend the drive. That was a clutch play to be sure. It’ll be interesting to see if he has another big drive left in him, because even though he might not project to the NFL yet he definitely strikes me as a winner. They’ve been in too many close games and won this year that if he wasn’t a winner and wasn’t clutch that I don’t think they would be undefeated.

Julio Jones has been an absolute beast in this game so far. He has close to 200 yards in the first half and he has been making nice catches with his hands and even though he has been targeted repeatedly he has not had a lapse in concentration that could lead to a drop. He has such great size and he uses it so well to shield smaller players from the ball on slants and curls. He also has deep speed and he is tough to bring down after he makes the catch because he runs tough. He has serious NFL potential, and he could be one of those WR’s who starts slow in his career but explodes onto the scene as a 3rd year WR. He has the highest ceiling of any of the WR’s in this draft. Unfortunately in the second half Julio had a couple lapses in concentration that led to drops that he typically has once or twice a game. That is where the risk comes into play, because his ceiling is so high but if he isn’t catching the ball in key situations his value is negated to a degree.

D’onta Hightower was regularly around the ball, and it’s interesting that he is used both at linebacker and also at defensive end in pass rush situations. That speaks to his ability to get after the passer I suppose. But he made some plays versus the run for the majority of the game. I didn’t see how well he did in coverage, but the impression I have is that he isn’t great in pass defense but that he is better versus the run and at rushing the passer. He has great size and he’s a powerful guy, but I just haven’t seen much of him in coverage specifically.

Mark Barron was pretty disappointing in this game. He was talked up as an All-American by the announcers but he didn’t look like one to me. He’s definitely a good hitter and he plays the run pretty well, though I didn’t pay particular attention to how well he tackles. I will need to see him more to evaluate that. However, I was definitely not impressed with him in coverage. He has pretty good range and enough athletic ability to close on passes, but he just doesn’t seem to play the ball well in the air. On one particular play he played the receiver’s body and the receiver managed to go up and catch the ball (which should have been intercepted in my opinion) and he stayed on his feet despite his contact with Barron and ended up scoring. So while he is a good hitter and he’s an athletic safety, I am not impressed with him as a NFL prospect, especially when it comes to coverage.

Mark Ingram was not very impressive to me yesterday either. He’s probably still the top RB in the country in my opinion, but he did not wow me yesterday to be honest. I don’t think he is going to be a terrific NFL RB, but I definitely see him being a productive workhorse back. Will he be a 1,500 yard rusher like some of the recent great backs like AP or Chris Johnson? I personally don’t think so. But 1,000+ yards and 8-10 TD’s is definitely worth a 1st-2nd round selection and that is where I would pick Ingram right now. I don’t think his stock is going to be a top-15 pick after the slow start to the year so as a later 1st rounder or maybe even an early 2nd rounder he would definitely be worth the pick. His advantage over some of the other RB’s in this class is that he is a running back who can carry the load versus other guys like Noel Devine, Demarco Murray, etc. who are more likely to be complementary backs on the next level.

I will have other notes on Oregon-Arizona (some notes, I only saw about half of the game) and more notes on Boise State and Nevada’s epic game from last night. Hopefully you enjoy these!

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Here are my current QB rankings as of early November. This list does not indicate the order that I think they will come off the board in April, but rather which I like the most at this juncture. Enjoy!

1-      Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford- Luck has a great combination of size, good arm strength, accuracy and he is a very intelligent QB. I don’t think he will come out this year but if he did I think he has the football IQ to transition effectively to the NFL, much like Mark Sanchez.

2-      Jake Locker, QB, Washington- Yes, I have Jake Locker #2 even though I have Mallett going #1 overall in my mock draft. I personally think Locker will be the better NFL player, though he will need more coaching than most probably thought after his incredible progression from his sophomore to junior year. His intangibles are just so special that a good QB coach could really make him a quality NFL starter.

3-      Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas- Mallett has as much potential as any QB I have ever scouted because of his amazing arm strength and great size, but how good of a leader is he? How dependable is he late in games to make the right decisions and not turn the ball over? I don’t like his intangibles and his leadership ability and that combined with the offense he plays in, which is not preparing him for the NFL, make me doubt him as a prospect. However, that is just my opinion, and I still believe he is the odds on favorite to go #1 if Luck stays in school.

4-      Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State- I really like Cousins’ game so he stays high on my rankings. He has been effective this year, but I am a little concerned about how he played against Iowa. That was a huge game for Michigan State and he made some mistakes that led to three interceptions. However, I think he has the tools to be a good starting QB in the NFL.

5-      Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State- Ponder has disappointed me in the little that I have seen him this year, but it’s not enough to drop him out of the top 5 of my rankings. I still think he will be a solid starter in the NFL, but he doesn’t look like a franchise QB to me. He is a fringe first rounder in my opinion at this point, so we will see how he does the rest of the year.

6-      Greg McElroy, QB, Alabama- McElroy has been very efficient this year but I am not sure he is much more than a solid NFL starter. I think he will be a solid mid-round pick and he seems to be very intelligent and if he had a good running game and some quality targets to throw to I think he could be an effective QB. Like Ponder I think he may be a product of the players around him rather than a Franchise QB/leader that makes the rest of his teammates better.

7-      Nathan Enderle, QB, Idaho- Enderle was one of my favorite QB’s coming into the season but he has had a very down year so far involving a lot of turnovers. I’m not willing to drop him down in my rankings yet since I haven’t scouted him in any of them specifically yet. However, I have definitely been disappointed with how he has played statistically thus far this year.

8-      Cam Newton, QB, Auburn- It is hard not to rank Newton in the top 10 even though he hasn’t shown me as much as I would like to see as a passer. In my opinion Newton is performing at a level that everyone expected Terrelle Pryor to perform at. He has shown the ability to throw the ball well, but his athletic ability and smoothness as a runner is what sets him apart from other QB’s. He has a lot of improvement to make as a passer, but to produce like he has as a first year starter in the SEC is absolutely amazing to me. I really hope there isn’t anything to these allegations of taking money for signing a LOI (Letter of Intent) because he is a fun player to watch.

9-      Pat Devlin, QB, Delaware- I haven’t ever seen much of Devlin, but from what I have seen he doesn’t seem to have a very strong arm but he does have pretty good accuracy. I don’t think he would be getting the same attention he has gotten from draftniks if it wasn’t for Flacco’s early success in the NFL out of Delaware, but he looks like a solid draft prospect to me.

10-   Ricky Stanzi, QB, Iowa- Stanzi has been statistically impressive this year and currently has the second best QB rating in the entire nation. I have not scouted him much this year, but he has had a strong statistical showing this year to be sure. In his last three important conference games against Michigan, Wisconsin and Michigan State he has thrown a combined nine touchdowns with no interceptions which is incredibly impressive.

11-   Stephen Garcia, QB, South Carolina- Garcia has shown some really incredible flashes, such as his 17/20 performance when the Gamecocks upset Alabama, but he has not been as consistent as I would like. In his three games since the Alabama upset he has thrown a combined five touchdowns with four interceptions and for the first time all season he completed less than 65% of his passes in a game in two of those contests. It will be interesting to see if he bounces back to finish the season strong, because right now he is a mid-round pick in my opinion.

12-   Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri- Gabbert is definitely on my radar but I would be surprised if he declared this year. He has impressive arm strength and accuracy along with good size, but he doesn’t have much in the way of mobility and I don’t like how often he is in shotgun and how much Missouri runs sets with four or five wide receivers. He definitely has NFL potential, but I think he needs to stay for his senior year to have a shot at the first round.

13-   Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma- Jones has had an incredibly productive season in his first full season as a starter and he is only a sophomore. He is playing much more efficiently, but he hasn’t been tested by many great defenses. I really wish I could see him play against Nebraska’s defense this year because they have made some really good QB prospects look like mid-round draft picks this season. He definitely has a lot of potential, but I have the same concerns about the offense he is playing in that I had with Sam Bradford.

14-   Andy Dalton, QB, TCU- Dalton has had a good statistical season but he really hasn’t played anyone outside of Oregon State in the first week, and he struggled in that game statistically. I was not impressed with Dalton at all after seeing him play against Boise State last year, so in my opinion he is a mid-late round pick in the NFL Draft. He has some redeemable talent and ability, but his ceiling is an average NFL starter. I think he may be better suited for a back-up role in the NFL, but I still need to scout him based off of his senior year tape.

15-   Jerrod Johnson, QB, Texas A&M- I have a really good feel for Johnson’s game and I think he is a 4th round pick at this point, perhaps a 5th rounder, but he has good size, athletic ability and a strong enough arm to warrant development. He just puts too much touch and air under his passes, he has a hitch in his throwing motion where he dips the ball below his chest near his hip, and he has poor footwork and pocket poise. With a couple or three years of development he could potentially be a solid starter, but I think he will have a longer road to starting in the NFL than a number of QB’s that I have ranked ahead of him.

16-   Tyrod Taylor, QB, Virginia Tech- Taylor has had an impressive statistical season but he has not been tested much other than the first week against Boise State and potentially against NC State. It will be interesting to see how he performs against potentially tougher ACC teams like Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Miami, but if he continues to play well he will have a chance at the middle rounds, especially if he demonstrates some patience and pocket poise.

17-   Mike Hartline, QB, Kentucky- Hartline has been making me regret not naming him my pre-season sleeper at QB for the majority of the season. He played very well against Auburn, South Carolina and Georgia combining for over 900 passing yards and nine touchdowns with only one interception. He is having an impressive season overall, and I look forward to watching tape of him to see if he has improved on some of the things I saw him struggle with when I watched him against Alabama last year. Hopefully he keeps this up.

18-   Ben Chappell, QB, Indiana- Chappell has had a pretty solid statistical season, however those numbers are padded by games against teams like Arkansas State, Towson, Western Kentucky and Akron. He produced about 1,250 passing yards, a completion percentage of around 68% and 13 touchdowns with no interceptions in those four games. He torched Michigan for an astounding 480 yards passing with three touchdowns and one interception, but he had disappointing games against Ohio State, Illinois and Northwestern where he threw only two touchdowns with a combined six interceptions. He is a late round pick right now, and from what I noticed in the little I have seen him he seems to have a bit of a hitch in his throwing motion.

19-   Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada- Kaepernick is a true dual-threat QB. He is just as likely to beat you with his legs as he is with his arm. He has a strong arm, but I have never been very impressed with him as a passer. I haven’t scouted him yet this year, but I imagine his athletic ability and arm strength will warrant at least late round consideration when the Draft finally rolls around. However, I am not sold on him ever amounting into a solid starter in the NFL, therefore he will be down towards the bottom of all of my rankings.

20-   Nick Foles, QB, Arizona- Foles should be back from his injury this weekend, so it will be interesting to see how he finishes his junior season out. When I have seen him play I have noticed him staring down his receivers quite frequently which worries me as far as his transition to the NFL is concerned. He has good size and a nice arm, but I worry about the offense he plays in and how often he stares down his primary receiver.

21-   Terrelle Pryor, QB, Ohio State- Pryor is an incredibly gifted player, but he still seems like an athlete playing quarterback to me. He has definitely shown signs of improvement this year, but at the end of the day they are just signs. I think if he comes out after his junior season he will get drafted higher than he deserves, but that doesn’t mean he will pan out obviously. He might have a higher ceiling at wide receiver in the NFL than he does at QB, but that is an entirely different can of worms.

22-   Mitch Mustain, QB, Southern Cal- Mustain has been residing low on my rankings all year, and it’s hard to say that he should be much higher considering how limited his playing time has been at Southern Cal, but I think he has the tools to be a successful back-up QB and if he is developed for three or four years I think he would have a shot at being a solid starter in the NFL. He has a lot of experience in a pro-style offense and that will help his transition to the next level.

23-   Scott Tolzien, QB, Wisconsin- Tolzien is nothing more than a game manager at Wisconsin, but he does a good job of avoiding mistakes and he has shown some added ability to make throws on 3rd down this year when they need a conversion. He isn’t going to be much more than a back-up on the next level in my opinion, but I think he could be a solid back-up who could step in and manage the game should the starter go down.

24-   T.J. Yates, QB, North Carolina- Yates is barely on this list and it is only because he has shown flashes of ability this year. I don’t think he deserves to be drafted at this point, and his ceiling is probably a #3 or at best a #2 in the NFL.

25-   Justin Roper, QB, Montana- Roper is a guy who has impressive size but I have not been able to see him play. He has pretty impressive stats even though he is playing at the Division II level, but I look forward to being able to see his arm strength, throwing motion and overall mechanics if Montana is ever televised nationally. A guy with his size and production warrants some consideration.

Hey everyone. Sorry it has been so long since my last post. When I got my computer fixed it seems that all of the games I had downloaded from last year that I planned on re-watching to get a better feel for a lot of seniors and juniors before the season started have either been lost or they are in a very different folder or location on my hard drive than they were before. I tend to believe they are deleted, which is too bad. But I have also been very busy because I just got back to college a week ago so I have been adjusting to that, settling in to my new room, and obviously working for my football team here. I attend Beloit College and the football team here is Division III, but I love working for the team filming their games. They’ve come a long way since I got to campus, so I am excited for their season to start as well as Division I ball and the NFL regular season obviously.

Anyways, those are my excuses for not posting lately. Hopefully they are good enough for you so you keep coming back and reading my blog! I am quite unhappy that I lost all of those games that I downloaded, but I’ll get over it.

I figured that I would tide you all over to my next scouting report or game-breakdown with some rankings. Here are my updated QB rankings as of today, August 25th, for Seniors and Juniors that are probable to be in the NFL Draft. That obviously does not include Andrew Luck, a redshirt sophomore QB at Stanford, but I think it would be a mistake if he left even after a great sophomore season, so I won’t involve him in these rankings even though he has 1st round potential. Here you go! Enjoy!

QB Rankings- 8.18.2010

Mallett has as much potential as any NFL QB I have ever seen, and ultimately I think his combination of size and arm strength will result in him being the first QB drafted.

1- Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas- I know I am ranking Mallett #1 on my rankings, but I am not on the Mallett bandwagon yet. Mallett has an absolutely amazing arm and he can make just about any throw you ask of him and it will have zip on it. I have seen him throw lasers off balance without his feet set, which speaks to his outrageous arm strength. He can put the ball where-ever he wants it, but sometimes his accuracy will falter and he will sail passes high or miss a receiver. Some think that has to do with his accuracy, but I think his accuracy is quite impressive. I think the issue is with his footwork. He throws off his back foot, without his feet set, his drops don’t look very good to me and he generally gets away with not having polished footwork and fundamentals because of his absurd arm strength and his naturally talented arm for putting passes where he wants to. But if he wants to improve his accuracy and become an elite QB prospect like so many seem to think he already is then he needs to improve his footwork considerably in my opinion. I personally think Mallett will end up being the first QB selected for a few reasons. First, everyone loves a big arm and Mallett has one of the best arm’s I have ever seen. He can make any throw and he can put a lot of zip on anything he wants to. Second, he has great size to go along with his arm strength. Being able to see over the offensive linemen in front of him so he can read a defense at his height and size makes him even more intriguing. The third thing is a combination of the previous two: Potential. He has absolutely sky-high potential, even if I don’t think he’s a very safe prospect at this point. If he can polish up his fundamentals and develop before he declares after his junior year (in all likelihood) then he could very well be the #1 overall pick in the draft. He just has so much potential. But I am always wary of those types of players because it seems that so often players with Mallett’s ceiling get drafted assuming they will get there and then they never do. But he is my #1 QB right now because I think this could very well be where he ends up. Plus I don’t think it will be possible for Locker to live up to the hype he has gotten as the potential #1 overall pick. He is slightly more safe than Mallett in my opinion, but he doesn’t have the same potential. I just doubt that he will progress as much this year as he did between his sophomore and junior season, which makes me think he will inevitably fall.

Ponder is a safe pick in my opinion, but I think he has the potential to be a quality QB in the NFL.

2- Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State- I am a big Christian Ponder supporter despite being a huge UNC Tar Heels fan. He led a pretty amazing comeback against my Heels last year as a Junior, and I think he is going to have a great senior season leading a potentially explosive offense at FSU, and if he improves again between his junior and senior seasons and plays like he did against UNC last year more often this year then I think he will be a top 15 pick. He has the ability to be a very good NFL QB in my opinion. Some will be surprised that I have him over Locker, but I think Ponder is more NFL ready even if he doesn’t have the same potential that Mallett and Locker have. I am very close to sold on Ponder, so I am very excited to see how he plays this year.

3- Jake Locker, QB, Washington-  If Locker takes strides similar to what he did last year again this year then I think it will be hard to argue against picking him in the top 5. I just don’t think that is realistic since he looked like a totally different QB last year than he did in his first two seasons. He definitely has things to improve on, like stepping into all of his throws, not taking unnecessary chances and just throwing the ball away, going through his progressions and using his eyes to deceive the defense. I can’t wait to see how he does this year, but it seems to be a trend that the #1 rated QB or prospect in general tends to have an underwhelming senior year. Hopefully that isn’t the case with Locker. Though I could definitely see him “sliding” if he doesn’t improve as much as some expect, but unfortunately that is what I expect will happen. Some prospects get over-analyzed when they come back for another year like Locker did, and while I think it will give scouts more time to nit-pick at his game, he has also been compared to John Elway, he has been deemed the mostly likely #1 overall selection in the draft, and everyone seems to be expecting him to progress as much this year as he did the year before. That isn’t fair, but I don’t think he will be able to live up to those lofty expectations this year. On the plus side for a team in the mid 1st-round that needs a QB, Locker may just be available and he could end up being the best one out of Mallett, Ponder and himself. We will have to see what happens, but I expect Locker’s stock to drop.

Enderle has a lot of potential in my opinion, and I think he uses his eyes as well as any QB in this draft class. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

4- Nathan Enderle, QB, Idaho- I watched a couple of Enderle’s games last season and I was incredibly impressed. He has good arm strength, good accuracy, he is pretty fundamentally sound and runs a pro-style offense at Idaho. He not only showed great ability to use his eyes, go through his progressions and make good decisions in the games I watched, but he led the crucial 4th quarter drive to win the game against Bowling Green with a touchdown with well under a minute left in the game and then a two point conversion to win it. It was truly a spectacle to watch and it made me a believer in him. I can’t wait to see what he does as a Senior. Hopefully he manages to overcome losing four of his five starting offensive linemen from last season and show everyone what I saw when I watched his games from last season. If he was more under the radar he would absolutely be my sleeper, but I’d feel like a cheater since I think he has already demonstrated how good he can be.

5- Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State- I really like Cousins but I don’t think he would get drafted before the 3rd round if he came out this season. I am probably much higher on him than anyone else at this point, but that isn’t what matters to me. I’m not afraid to go out on a limb and that is why I have Cousins this high. He runs a pro-style offense and Michigan State, he had 19 touchdowns and only nine interceptions as a sophomore and he wasn’t even the full time starter since Keith Nichol (who has since changed positions to wide receiver) was worked in fairly regularly, even after Cousins got the starting nod. He nearly won the game for Michigan State against Notre Dame with a late touchdown drive, and has shown poise and good decision making when I’ve seen him. He had his ups and downs as a first year starter, but I think he has the potential to be a very good NFL QB. He has mobility to run and extend plays, he has pretty good arm strength and accuracy, he is the leader of the offense and will be a three time captain by the time he is a Senior (assuming he stays) and he has produced. If he can step it up against the big time Big 10 teams this year (like Wisconsin, Iowa, Penn State and in addition Notre Dame) and play better in those games then he will really legitimize himself as a NFL prospect in my opinion. He is definitely my sleeper in the junior QB class, and I have been high on him since last fall when I saw him play against Notre Dame. We will have to see how he does this year, but I expect him to improve quite a bit. That is why I have him so high on my rankings.

Johnson has potential because of his arm strength and athleticism, but he needs to refine his mechanics and streamline his throwing motion.

6- Jerrod Johnson, QB, Texas A&M- I am not the biggest fan of Jerrod Johnson, but I think as a developmental QB he could be well worth a 3rd-4th round pick. I have Devlin rated below him for the time being because I have only seen limited footage of him whereas I have a pretty good feel for what Johnson is capable of since I have seen him play a number of times, both live and when I am specifically scouting him. He has impressive arm strength, good athleticism and good size, but his throwing motion is a little off and he tends to dip the ball below his chest before he releases the ball. He needs to polish his footwork a lot and overall his mechanics aren’t very impressive to me. I have him over Devlin right now because he has more athletic ability and arm strength than Devlin does accuracy and experience as far as scanning the field and going through progressions.

7- Pat Devlin, QB, Delaware- I haven’t seen Devlin play a whole game, but I have watched all the footage of him that I could and he looks like a solid QB prospect to me. He has a clean release, solid arm strength and impressive accuracy. He does a nice job on touch throws, but also shows some zip on passes to the sideline. He throws some nice ropes to the sideline. They aren’t going 100 mph, but they aren’t hanging in the air too long as far as I can tell. I haven’t seen him go through many progressions though, which is concerning. He usually stares a receiver down and either throws it to him, scrambles or checks down from what I have seen of him. Hopefully I will be able to see him play in a couple of full length games during his senior season, but from what I can tell he is going to be a developmental guy because he runs a lot of spread formations, not to mention he doesn’t look like he goes through his progressions well, he doesn’t use his eyes well and I think his footwork needs to be improved. If he had a stronger arm, better footwork or if he scanned the field better I think I might have rated him higher than Jerrod Johnson, but Johnson’s athletic ability and arm strength make him a more valuable prospect based off of what I have seen.

Dalton didn't impress me against Boise State, but he has an opportunity to redeem himself as a senior. Especially now that TCU is ranked high enough that an undefeated season could mean a BCS Championship birth.

8- Andy Dalton, QB, TCU- I’m not very high on Dalton, but from what I understand he is a pretty good leader and he has had a great career at TCU. I was not impressed with him against Boise State at all, but I understand that was one of his less impressive games so I don’t want to judge him just off of that game. I think he has the potential to get drafted in the 4th-5th round right now but I haven’t seen enough of him to evaluate him the way I would normally like. It will be interesting to see how he does this year because TCU will have a chance to get into the National Championship game if they go undefeated. I look forward to seeing how he does against Oregon State in week one.

9- Tyrod Taylor, QB, Virginia Tech- I wrote up a post on Tyrod Taylor earlier in the summer and I have to say I think he has progressed a lot since he had his redshirt taken off and he started to electrify Virginia Tech again. He looks like a QB who can run well rather than a runner who can pass well, which I can’t say I ever thought I would say about Tyrod. He still has progress he can make obviously, but he has come so far in the last few years that it’s hard for me to say that he won’t be drafted in the 5th-6th round range at this point. I think he will have a good senior season, and if he does I would be shocked if he didn’t get drafted. I am very interested to see how he does in arguably the most important season of his career.

Pryor has a lot of potential, but he needs to play like he did in the Rose Bowl more consistently if I am going to buy him as a quality NFL QB Prospect. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

10- Terrelle Pryor, QB, Ohio State- I would have been hard pressed to put Pryor in my top 15 QB’s before I watched him against Oregon in the Rose Bowl, but he made me pause and actually consider him as a potential QB after I saw that game. If he plays more consistently like that then he will definitely move up on my rankings. However, before that I thought he was an absolute joke of a Quarterback, so I am definitely not ready to say that he has arrived and will take the Nation by storm. He has great size and sky-high potential because of his incredible athletic ability, but he is still a great athlete that can play QB to me, not a great QB with incredible athletic ability for the position. It will be interesting to see how he does this year, but I can’t say I expect him to play consistently well like he did in the Rose Bowl last year, so that is why I have him at 10 as of now.

11- John Brantley, QB, Florida- I know that John Brantley doesn’t have much experience, and I know he hasn’t led his team to a lot of wins like Stanzi, McElroy or Tolzien have, but I think Brantley has the ability to be a quality QB prospect. I have watched all of the footage of him that I can find, from the Spring Game this past summer to any throw I could find of him on YouTube. What I see is a pretty good athlete, a guy with good size, a strong arm with good zip on his throws, good accuracy (in the clips I have seen, which I admit have been limited), and even the ability to go through a couple of his progressions. That impressed me because he did as good of a job, if not better, of doing that than Tebow did. I think Brantley has one of the toughest jobs in the entire Nation this year replacing a local and national legend in Tim Tebow at QB of the Gators, so it will be really interesting to see how he handles replacing him on and off the field, because that is a lot to live up to. I think he can do it though, so it will be interesting to see how he plays this season. I think he will have a good first season as a starter, personally.

Stanzi is a solid QB, but he has never impressed me whether I saw him live or on game tape. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

12- Ricky Stanzi, QB, Iowa- Some are higher on Stanzi than I, but I am not a big fan of him. He runs a pro-style offense, or something similar to a pro-style, but he throws a lot of shorter throws and I am not very impressed with his arm strength, the zip he puts on throws and he makes some bad reads and forces throws into coverage at times. It will be interesting to see how he does without his security blanket Tony Moeaki lining up with him this year. He has some weapons he can take advantage of, so I expect him to have a good year, but I don’t know how much of a leader he is, how good of an arm he has or how well he reads a defense. To me he is a 6th round pick right now, because he has proved he can win and produce when he has to, especially late in games, which is something that has always impressed me. Delivering when the game is on the line is the ultimate test of a quarterback’s competence in my opinion, or of any other position. We will have to see how Stanzi does this year, but I’m not a big fan.

13- Greg McElroy, QB, Alabama- McElroy has some poise, but to me he isn’t much more than a game manager. He’s a pretty good one though, because without some of the throws he made over the course of the season I don’t think Alabama would have won the National Championship. But in my estimation he was just a cog that had to do it’s job for the team to win, not a key piece. He doesn’t look like he has a very strong arm, he isn’t overly accurate, he isn’t a fiery leader, he doesn’t have great size, and I’ve never seen him take over a game when his team needs him to. He has put some nice drives together, but they aren’t drives that make me say “Wow, now that is a good quarterback.” They are drives that make me say “Wow, that is a good team.” It will be interesting to see how McElroy does this year, but I don’t have very high expectations for him to be honest.

14- Scott Tolzien, QB, Wisconsin- Tolzien is a solid QB, but he is nothing special in my opinion. That certainly endears him to Wisconsin fans though, because he is leaps and bounds better than recent QB’s they have had, like Sherer or Evridge for example. He has solid arm strength and accuracy, he has decent size and athleticism, but he isn’t overly poised and doesn’t read defenses particularly well in my opinion. But that was his first season as a starter, so it will be interesting to see how he looks with a year under his belt as he auditions for a potential job in the NFL. He could make a career out of being a back-up, so it will be interesting to see how he does.

Mustain may not be a starter at USC, but that doesn't mean he isn't talented. I think he is worth a 7th round pick at this point, and if he performs well in mop-up duty and posteason games... he could move up even higher.

15- Mitch Mustain, QB, Southern Cal- Mustain is definitely under the radar, but before he transferred from Arkansas he was a starter as a freshman and he wasn’t half bad from what I understand. He could have been a four year starter had he seen eye to eye with Houston Nutt, but he went to USC and has been a back-up ever since. However, he definitely flashed ability when he threw five touchdowns in USC’s Spring Game, so hopefully he will get to play in garbage time so I can see his mechanics, his arm strength, accuracy, and everything else. Hopefully Matt Barkley doesn’t get hurt, but USC has said that they would be comfortable handing Mustain the reigns to the offense, which is high praise considering how bad Aaron Corp looked in a reserve role last season. Mustain said that he received 10 offers to leave USC after the two year postseason ban was announced, but he elected to stay at USC because he wants to master the pro-style offense they run so he can adjust to the NFL quickly. That kind of maturity is impressive, and that makes me like him. I think he is definitely worth a 7th round pick at this point, and if he looks good in postseason games… he could be worth even more.

16- Ben Chappell, QB, Indiana- Chappell is definitely flying under the radar right now, but I spent a good deal of time figuring out whatever I could about him and seeing all the footage of him I can without having a game on my hard drive to evaluate him. He has a bit of a hitch in his throwing motion which is a little concerning, but I am seriously considering him as my sleeper QB for the Senior class. I think he has the potential to move up boards and get drafted, but I can’t rank him above other QB’s that I have seen and gotten a feel for before I have seen him play an entire full length game. As it stands now I have only seen selective clips of him. But he seems to be a good leader and he has a pretty strong arm along with solid size and production. It will be interesting to see how he does this year, I am excited to see him play an entire game.

Harris needs to learn to put zip on his throws, because he will struggle mightily in the NFL if he puts as much air under his passes as he did last year.

17- Jacory Harris, QB, Miami- Harris is a good QB, but at this point I don’t think he is good enough that I would draft him over any of the Seniors I have ranked ahead of him. He needs to continue to progress and work on some of his issues, like his throwing motion, his release point, and the amount of touch he puts on all of his throws. I don’t know if he will ever stop putting that much touch on his passes, and that really hurts his potential in the NFL in my opinion. There are times that you need to put some zip on a throw to get it completed, but Harris either doesn’t understand that or he can’t do it, and neither is a good thing. It will be interesting to see how well he does this season, but I think that he has a lot to work on and that is why I ranked him so low.

18- Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri- Gabbert has good size and solid arm strength and accuracy, but he just doesn’t “wow” me in any aspect to be honest. He plays in a spread, had good production and in general performed decently last year. I don’t think he’s a very special prospect, so as a junior if he came out I don’t think he’d get drafted before any of the guys I listed who, for the most part, have more experience and potential. I look forward to watching him to see if he develops into a better passer as a junior though.

19- Jordan Jefferson, QB, LSU- Jefferson has a lot of athletic ability along with good size and arm strength but his accuracy is inconsistent and something about his throwing motion looks off. It looks slow to me and I wonder how much it can be tweaked to speed it up. He has never impressed me that much, but he still has potential and that is why he made my list. I wonder how he will look this year, but I hope he will continue to develop and learn to make better decisions and place the ball better.

20- Nick Foles, QB, Arizona- I had Foles much higher on this list but then I saw his throws against USC and I lost a lot of confidence in him. He checked down a lot, he stared his receivers down on almost every snap, and he generally looked unimpressive. Perhaps he will prove me wrong for ranking him this low this season if he holds onto the starting spot and learns to read defenses better, but I am not really holding my breath on that. I will still watch him, but I don’t expect to see anything special. He was productive last year, but if he can’t read a defense then it doesn’t really matter how productive he is: he won’t make it on the next level.

Again, I am sorry about the long time between these posts. I’ve been working a lot for the football team here and it has just been a busy couple of weeks for me. Hopefully this will tide you over until my next post. Thanks for reading!

–Tom

I took some time out of my time off during Fourth of July weekend to watch some football (like that’s a surprise) and I wanted to take a look at this game to get a feel for what to expect from Alabama’s offense and Kentucky’s offense during this upcoming year. Some of what I saw surprised me in a good way, but overall the guys I took notes on in this game something to be desired. Enjoy my breakdown of the players I took notes on!

Analysis of game:

Hartline has potential but he was plagued by bad decision-making in this game, especially when under pressure.

I watched this game because I wanted to evaluate Mike Hartline as a junior against quality competition, but I went in knowing that he had his struggles statistically in this game. However, it turns out that his performance in this game was just as bad as the statistics showed, if not worse. He never settled in and looked comfortable against Alabama’s pressure, he routinely made bad decisions under duress and did not show much pocket poise at all. He has good height but he looks very skinny and does not look strong or tough. He didn’t demonstrate good pocket poise in this game, and because I put so much stock in how well you handle yourself in the face of pressure I was very disappointed in him because of how he dealt with Alabama’s blitz packages. He showed good zip and some good accuracy in this game, and he throws a pretty good deep ball and put a couple of them right on the money. Like most QB’s, when he can get into a little bit of a rhythm and when he has time to throw the ball he can be effective. But when he is pressured he does not look comfortable, he doesn’t make good decisions and he turns the ball over. That is the bottom line, and barring a cataclysmic change in how he handles pressure and duress differently as a QB as a senior he will be nothing more than a 7th round or UDFA QB to me, which is really disappointing. However, I am glad I found this out now and not after I had already put my faith in him as a potential sleeper at the QB position. He could still show something as a senior and get himself drafted, but he won’t be a quality starter in the NFL because he won’t be able to survive without a great offensive line and running game to keep teams from coming after him when he drops back to pass. That’s too bad, but that is just how these things go sometimes. Just ask Joey Harrington.

Watching this game certainly opened my eyes to how Mike Hartline carries himself, but I was also very pleasantly surprised by other players on Kentucky’s offense. I also got a closer look at Greg McElroy, Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, Julio Jones and James Carpenter on Alabama’s offense. So it was a good bit of tape for me to watch, and here are my thoughts on those respective players.

First and foremost, the two players who really impressed me the most in this game were Randall Cobb and Derrick Locke on Kentucky. I already knew what Ingram and Richardson were capable of on Alabama, but I had no idea what to expect out of Cobb and Locke, but they really impressed me.

Cobb should be in the end zone a lot next year, and I think he has the potential to be a star.

Cobb is a WR who converted to the position from QB, so he is still learning the position. But Kentucky does everything they can to get him the ball and rightfully so: the guy is an absolute playmaker. I have come to understand that some guys just have an ability that other players don’t to make plays every time they touch the ball, and Cobb is absolutely one of those players. Every time he touched the ball he made a guy miss and got extra yards. He just makes moves and plays that most guys can’t make, and hardly anyone knows who he is. But I guarantee you if you watch a Kentucky game and Cobb gets his hands on the ball he will look like he’s in 3D and the rest of the players are in 2D. He just pops out at you and makes you notice him when he gets the ball in his hands, whether he is taking snaps in the wildcat, catching the ball as a receiver, or returning the ball on kickoffs or punts. He just makes plays and makes guys miss. And the crazy thing is he was only a sophomore, but he was the best player on the field for Kentucky along with Derrick Locke. I often talk about how crucial it is for a QB to tilt the playing field in his teams favor when he gets on the field, but that is absolutely not limited to the QB position. But it is rare to see in any position, and WR is no exception to that. However, I will say this right now: Randall Cobb makes the Wildcats better when he is on the field. He is that special of a player. I can’t tell you how excited I am to see him as a junior, but this kid is going to be a star, I just know it. So remember Randall Cobb’s name, he is going to be a star by the time he leaves Kentucky.

Locke runs hard despite his size, and is effective running between the tackles. To be honest, his playing style reminds me a lot of Warrick Dunn.

Now Cobb may have shot off the screen like 3D fireworks when I watched this game, but Derrick Locke had a quietly good game too, but it was much more methodical and slow to develop than Cobb’s game. Locke is the RB on Kentucky and he will be a senior this season while Cobb is only going to be a junior, however I really liked what I saw from Locke. You can tell he has playing experience because this had to be a frustrating game for him. Alabama’s defense was extremely stout up the middle and Kentucky had to stick with the run even if it wasn’t producing much in the way of yards. But credit to Locke, he stayed patient and got whatever he could on every touch he got, even if it was breaking a tackle behind the line and turning a negative play into a two yard gain. He just kept wearing the defense down and running hard, which is surprising because he is listed at only 5’9”, 190 pounds. So when you look at his size you think “He is a NFL scat back and 3rd down back, the lightning to a more durable, power back’s thunder,” but that is not the case at all. Locke can carry the load, and he did last year with almost 200 attempts and 31 catches as a receiver. He produced almost 1,200 total yards from scrimmage as a runner and receiver along with eight touchdowns as a runner and receiver (six rushing, two receiving).

Now I know this is high praise, but his running style and overall game reminded me a LOT of Warrick Dunn. He can run up the middle effectively despite his size, he is a patient runner and is small enough that he can hide behind his blockers a bit, plus he is an effective receiver out of the backfield and can turn a one yard swing pass into a 12 yard gain by making a guy miss and hitting the accelerator. He is a starting quality back because he can carry the load, and he is good at finding cut-back lanes as a runner. And once he finds a seam he can hit it with a good burst and has the speed to take it the distance once he gets in the open field. Now, I was thinking about how he played and all of a sudden it dawned on me that he reminds me a ton of a poor-mans Warrick Dunn, and the more I thought about it the more the comparison fit well in my opinion. Normally I hate comparisons between two players because there are just too many variables to usually make a valid comparison, but as comparisons go I think this is an accurate one. That’s not to say that I think Locke will be as good as Dunn in the NFL, but I think their playing styles are very similar. I definitely think Locke has the potential to get drafted in the 3rd or 4th round, especially with a productive (and healthy) season as a senior. Not a lot of RB’s stay all four years, especially if they have the talent to go pro, but despite that I think Locke will show that he has a lot to offer a NFL team because of his versatility, and I look forward to scouting him more as a senior. Depending on how well he is known, he could be my sleeper as a RB because he is really flying under the radar right now, but I don’t think that will last much longer.

Now, obviously Alabama was the better team so it was not surprising that they had more players that I needed to take note of, but I made sure to take note on how Greg McElroy and James Carpenter did. When I watched Kentucky I took particular note of how Hartline did, but Cobb and Locke just caught my attention over and over again during their offensive possessions and special teams plays. The same can be said of Ingram when Alabama had the ball, but Trent Richardson and Julio Jones had pretty quiet games. Here are my thoughts on the Alabama players:

McElroy was not much more than a game-manager in this game.

First of all, McElroy looked pretty average to me in this game. I think he has NFL potential similar to John Parker Wilson, but honestly I liked JPW’s game more than I like McElroy’s at this point. Contrary to what the announcers seemed to feel watching this game, I absolutely thought McElroy looked like a game manager for the vast majority of this game. He did have a very impressive drive when Alabama was inside their two yard line and he led them down the entire length of the field on a methodical drive for a touchdown. It was impressive, and it was a good drive, but I can’t say I saw him make a lot of NFL throws in this game. He shows pretty adequate touch and I’d say average or a little above average arm strength, above average accuracy and he doesn’t force throws into coverage and is willing to take a sack instead of forcing a throw where he shouldn’t. His intelligence is well reported, but I don’t see him making a lot of checks at the line like Hartline seemed to be doing in this game, nor do I see him going through more than one or two of his progressions on a regular basis. He also doesn’t use his eyes very well to confuse the defense and keep his real primary read a chance to get open. How a QB uses his eyes to keep a defense honest really says a lot, and McElroy mostly just looks at his receivers as he goes through his progressions, and doesn’t use his eyes well at all. Again, he didn’t look bad in this game, but he did nothing out of the ordinary other than lead that very long drive, but none of the throws or reads he had to make were of particular difficulty by any means. So he I would say is an average to above-average QB in college, but if he was on a less talented team he would not look nearly as good as he does on Alabama, nor would he have his precious undefeated record to cling to.

Ingram has the potential to be a quality every-down back in the NFL.

Ingram, however, impressed me. He is a powerful runner and finishes runs well, plus he runs through arm tackles like they are yellow tape in a marathon. He also showed good vision, patience and pretty good burst and acceleration to go from East/West to North/South quickly. There was one play where he was running to the left, cut laterally to the right to try to find a seam, he found one, made one cut and all of a sudden he was in the secondary on the way to his second touchdown of the day. It was a display of burst and quickness that I wasn’t quite sure he was capable of, so that was very encouraging to see. I think he definitely has NFL talent, so I am excited to see how he does this season.

Trent Richardson also has a lot of talent, but you could tell he was still adjusting to the college ranks in this game. He looked like a totally different running back in the National Championship game against Texas, so you can tell he grew a lot as a player during the course of the year. This was earlier in the year though, so you could tell he was making some mistakes because of his inexperience. It was a quiet game for him, but he showed his potential and I know what he is capable of from the BCS title game. He will definitely make defenses pay for worrying too much about Ingram next year, that’s for sure.

Richardson has a lot of potential, and should help keep Ingram fresh during the season.

One of the more unimpressive players on Alabama was left tackle James Carpenter. He didn’t have a good game, as he routinely looked sloppy fundamentally, ended up on the ground a number of times, got called for two holding penalties and looked uncomfortable in pass protection. He just looked raw fundamentally and didn’t do a good job drive blocking in the run game, and he looked underdeveloped as a pass blocker. When he got his hands on the defender he did a better job of taking him out of the play, but if he had been going against a very good speed rusher he would have been eaten alive in this game. As it was he did fine because Kentucky’s RE was not a household name by any means, but he still did not impress me. Whether he looks any better as a senior is up in the air, but he looked like he 1. might not get drafted until the 6th or 7th round if he gets drafted at all and 2. that he might have to slide inside to guard in the NFL if he sticks with a team. That sure is a drop-off from Andre Smith, who was drafted #6 overall by the Cincinnati Bengals (even though I didn’t like him as a prospect, he was vastly more talented than Carpenter is). Hopefully he looks better as a senior, but my expectations will not be high.

That about does it for my analysis of Kentucky-Alabama from last season. I will have more to say about Alabama after I watch the Texas-Alabama match-up in the National Title game but that is a little further down the road. Hopefully you found this post interesting, and I hope that if you watch either team next year you will be able to recognize some of the things I mentioned about the players I took notes on this game. And seriously, look out for Randall Cobb. The guy has star potential.

Thanks for reading!

–Tom Melton