Tag Archive: Heisman


Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor: Everyone knows Robert Griffin is the Heisman, but he wasn’t even the most productive player on his team or on the field tonight. Regardless of how terrible the defensive play was in this game Griffin demonstrated his ability early on making a couple stick throws when there was good enough coverage to warrant such a throw. However, he left the pocket prematurely pretty regularly in this game and didn’t seem comfortable standing tall in the pocket to deliver throws downfield. He’s shown the ability to do this at times, but I would like to see more consistency from him there. Because of the amazing season he’s had not a lot of people are talking about the question marks around his game, and continuing to develop his pocket poise instead of scrambling after his initial read like he was doing after facing consistent pressure in the 2nd quarter against Washington. He’s got insane upside and he has a very high football IQ according to all I have heard, however he needs to continue to study to improve his pre-snap reads. Baylor runs a very up-tempo offense and he runs it very well, however at times the desire to snap the ball quickly outweighs making a good pre-snap read and adjustment. In the 2nd half you saw Baylor make an adjustment for this which led to snapping the ball later in the play clock and also led to more successful plays and less sacks. It proves that Griffin can do it, I just want to see him do it more consistently and from under center versus the shotgun. I still don’t think Griffin should start Day 1, but I don’t think that young quarterbacks should play Day 1 at all except for special exceptions. However, the NFL has established a poor precedent by continually starting rookie quarterbacks not only during their rookie seasons (which I can understand if they prove they are ready) but day one. Here’s hoping Griffin goes to a team with a solid veteran ahead of him on the depth chart so he can learn for half the season before he enters the line-up.

Terrance Ganaway, RB, Baylor: Ganaway had the game of his life against Washington last night with 200 yards on only 21 carries (9.5 ypc average) as well as a staggering FIVE touchdowns on the night. Washington’s defense was absolutely dreadful, especially against the run up the middle, but Ganaway still helped himself by taking advantage of it. He has NFL size at 5’11”, 240 pounds but his 40 time is listed as a 4.62. He demonstrated some of his speed and as a power back it’s not expected that he run a 4.4 flat, but he ran with more power this season and has the potential to be selected late on day three of the NFL Draft in my opinion. He was very productive this season, perhaps due to defenses keying in on Griffin so intently, and it’s hard to think of a way he could have ended his career at Baylor with a better performance than 200 yards and 5 touchdowns. He demonstrated more burst than I thought he had a couple times last night, and showed his value as a short-yardage or goal-line back by punching in a couple of touchdowns inside the 10 yard line. He’s shown that he can run through arm tackles and pick up yards after contact this year, so he has some value. Unfortunately for him there’s not a huge market for one-dimensional power backs any more but I do think Ganaway can make a roster as a late round pick or as a UDFA.

Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor: Wright is a 1st round pick as far as I’m concerned. He’s been a stud all season and while he may not have been the focal point of Baylor’s offense last night he has definitely improved his draft stock all year long. I’d love to see him at the Senior Bowl, but at this point all it can do is hurt him. He’s a top 32 guy without a doubt, and should have a great NFL career. There’s not much else to say about him at this point. Here is my scouting report on him.

Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor: Williams has potential due to his 6’3” size though he only weighs 190 pounds. He has a listed 4.49 40 yard dash time which is good given his height but he needs to get stronger. He was incredibly productive given his relatively inconsistent hands as he produced 59 receptions, 957 yards (16.22 avg) and 11 touchdowns in 13 games. There’s almost no way he will be this productive next season as a senior without Robert Griffin should he declare as I expect him to, so his stock will move up or down based on how hard he works to add weight and how hard he works to improve his hands. He dropped too many catchable passes this year and because he can’t expect to replicate his statistics this year without Griffin it will be up to him to make the most out of all of his targets. Right now he isn’t doing that and that limits his NFL potential.

Lanear Sampson, WR, Baylor: I think Sampson is Baylor’s second most reliable wide receiver. He produced 42 receptions, 572 yards (13.62 avg) and three touchdowns this season. He demonstrated some impressive body control and footwork by catching passes on the sideline last night against Washington and should have a quality senior season because as far as I have seen he has the second best hands of any of the Baylor receivers short of Kendall Wright. He isn’t a huge receiver as he is listed at 5’11”, 200 pounds but he has a blistering 4.39 listed 40 yard dash time. I wasn’t sure I thought he was that fast, but Baylor has one of the fastest groups of receivers in the country, so I can’t say I’m that surprised by that time. It will be interesting to see how Sampson does without RG3 next year, but he should be the highest ranked of the Baylor receivers coming into the season despite only solid statistical numbers. This is because of his athletic ability and his dependability as a receiver even though he wasn’t as statistically successful as Terrance Williams.

Tevin Reese, WR, Baylor: Reese may be Baylor’s most explosive receiver outside of Kendall Wright as he had 51 receptions, 877 yards (17.20 avg) and 7 touchdowns receiving plus 102 yards rushing on only 5 rushing attempts this season. He’s only listed at 5’10”, 160 pounds so he is not a big guy by any means and only has a listed 40 yard dash time of 4.48. He looked a lot faster than that to me on film, but there is no doubt he has the speed to threaten defenses deep. Like Terrance Williams he also had issues with drops this season and needs to correct this if Baylor is going to remain competitive that season. He’s got upside despite his limited size, but he won’t be as effective if he doesn’t catch passes that hit him in the hands more consistently next year.

Keith Price, QB, Washington: Keith Price may have been the most impressive player on the field in this game which is saying a lot considering the Heisman winner was the other starting quarterback. Price threw for 438 yards as he completed 23 of 37 passes for 4 touchdowns and ran for 39 yards and 3 more touchdowns. He demonstrated impressive maturity for such a young player in his first year as a starter and definitely displayed impressive arm strength, accuracy and athleticism. He’s listed at 6’1”, 195 pounds so his size will definitely be scrutinized as he develops as a NFL prospect, but his arm strength and athleticism make him an intriguing quarterback. He had a terrific season as a first year starter and Steve Sarkisian has a great reputation for developing quarterbacks, so there is reason to believe that “Sark” will get the most out of Price’s substantial upside. Hopefully Price stays for his senior season, but that decision is obviously well over a year away.

Chris Polk, RB, Washington: Polk definitely caught some people’s attention yesterday but he’s been an impressive back since he started to get carries at Washington two years ago. He was overshadowed by Jake Locker but he has been integral to Price’s development this year because of his running and his receiving out of the backfield. He’s got NFL size at 5’11”, 222 pounds with a listed 40 yard dash time of 4.48. He doesn’t have great speed but he has good enough speed to be a feature back in the NFL. He’s got great vision, very reliable hands, good footwork, impressive power and really seems to be the total package as a running back. I haven’t seen him much as a pass blocker, but if he declares for the draft officially (which I expect him to do) I’ll take a much closer look at him to evaluate that. Polk definitely has top 40-50 overall pick potential, so if your team needs a feature back then you need to read up on Chris Polk.

Jermaine Kearse, WR, Washington: Kearse is a player that I never really thought would be much of a NFL Draft prospect. In the two years I watched him play with Jake Locker he demonstrated his upside thanks to his solid 6’1”, 200 pound frame as well as his solid speed evidenced by his 4.50 40 yard dash time. He’s not a freak athlete by any means, but he has NFL athletic ability and solid size for a NFL receiver. However, his hands were always a HUGE question mark for me and I thought they would prevent him from being anything more than a 5th-6th round pick when it was all said and done. I haven’t seen enough of him to say that his hands are no longer a concern, but his hands have definitely improved based on what I have seen of him this year and last night. He had 5 receptions for 198 yards and 1 touchdown last night and while 80 of those came on one reception he made catches on throws that last year he may have dropped. That progression is important and when I go back and study Washington’s games from this season I will be evaluating his hands very closely. Hopefully he will be at the Senior Bowl or the East-West Shrine Game so I can evaluate him even further, but keep an eye on him. His stock is rising.

Kasen Williams, WR, Washington: Williams is probably going to be the go-to guy at wide receiver for Price now that Kearse and Devin Aguilar are both graduating. He is listed at 6’2”, 212 pounds but just looks huge for a freshman on film. He’s got NFL size and hands and he demonstrated that this year by producing 36 receptions, 427 yards (11.9 average) and 6 touchdowns as a freshman. If Price stays for his senior season in two years then Williams and Seferian-Jenkins would both be juniors and that offense could be awfully fun to watch. That’s a long way away, but Williams has legitimate NFL ability and could be another very talented receiver in the Pac-12. Keep an eye on this kid.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington: Seferian-Jenkins is almost without a doubt the best freshman tight end I have ever seen in my entire life. Some of the catches this kid was making last night reminded me of Rob Gronkowski or Tony Gonzalez, and that is not an exaggeration. He is a 6’6”, 258 pound FRESHMAN tight end who produced 41 receptions, 538 yards (13.1 avg) and 6 touchdowns in his first season as a starter. That is absolutely remarkable, and his upside is absolutely staggering. I think he has the potential to be the #1 TE off the board in two years and honestly looked like he could have been a 1st round pick in this NFL Draft based on his receiving capability. Obviously he has a lot of time to continue to develop, but I can’t say enough about how impressed I was with this kid last night. His future is very, very bright.

Josh Shirley, DE, Washington: I had honestly never noticed Shirley before when I watched Washington but he definitely stuck out last night as he sacked the reigning Heisman winner THREE times. He wasn’t effectively blocked very often, but he definitely generated a lot of pressure and like so many of the Huskies impressive players last night he is only a freshman. He is listed at 6’3”, 229 pounds and produced 28 total tackles (23 solo), 12.0 TFL, 8.5 sacks (3 against Baylor), 2 forced fumbles and one pass break-up on the year. His future seems to be bright as well and seems like a possible candidate to be an OLB in the future. I thought he was a linebacker at first when I saw how well he was moving, but he is listed as a DE on Washington’s depth chart on the site I use. Look out for this kid in the future.

Alameda Ta’amu, DT, Washington: Ta’amu seemed like a top 40-50 lock before this game and many were raving about how hard it was to move the 6’3”, 337 pound mammoth defensive tackle off the ball. That was not the case for Baylor last night and that led to a huge game for just about anyone that elected to run with a Baylor uniform on. Washington gave up 482 rushing yards on 52 attempts and a few of those were negative yardage because of a sack on Robert Griffin. They also gave up 8 rushing touchdowns and on many wide open runs through the middle of Washington’s defense Ta’amu was nowhere to be found. He did not have a productive season with only 30 total tackles (15 solo), 7.0 TFL, and 3.5 sacks but often with run stuffing nose tackles the stats don’t tell the whole story. Unfortunately for Ta’amu the story being told now is not a positive one as his stock seems to be slipping. Here’s hoping he will be at the Senior Bowl so we can see him against quality competition with more support from the rest of his defensive teammates. Washington’s whole defense was god awful last night, but that includes Ta’amu.

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Wisconsin-Illinois:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yale-Harvard:

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

Michigan-Nebraska:

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

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

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

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

–Tom

Analysis of Game: Oklahoma State

Jerrod Johnson has a lot of talent, but I think he needs to work on his fundamentals to warrant a draft selection as high as the 2nd round.

I realized that I would get an opportunity to watch Johnson in this game while I looked for further highlights of Andre Sexton, so I paid particular attention to him in this game. To be perfectly honest, I was not very impressed. He clearly has a lot of talent, but his fundamentals are relatively sloppy overall and his throwing motion is not clean in my estimation. He doesn’t operate out of an exclusively spread offense, but Texas A&M does run a lot of four and five wide receiver sets over the course of a game. That means Johnson is in shotgun quite a bit, though to his credit he did line up under center a number of times. He doesn’t have much poise in the pocket, and needs significant work on learning to stay patient in the pocket so he can buy time by stepping up or side-stepping the rush (which he should have no problem with considering his mobility). However, some of that has to do with his offensive line’s poor performance. I imagine he is used to having to scramble for more time, but if he gets drafted and developed properly by a team with a decent pass-blocking offensive line he should be able to adjust to having a fairly consistent amount of time to scan the field. But as it stands right now he is being pressured very frequently. To make matters worse, it usually happens before he has had ample time to go through his progressions. This isn’t an excuse for ALL of his bad footwork and his other bad habits, but it certainly does explain how he developed some of them and why they are so persistent.

This picture isn't the greatest example of his throwing motion, but against Oklahoma State it looked like he had a dip or a hitch in his throwing motion. That can be an issue.

Johnson does have pretty good size, mobility and arm strength, but a lot of his passes had a surprising amount of air under them in this game. I think this has to do with him not stepping into some of his throws, throwing off of his back foot, etc. However, it is still an issue that I noticed and I thought it warranted mention. So between his lackluster footwork, his throwing motion with a bitch of a hitch in it (he seems to drop it down below his chest on a regular basis) and a number of his passes hanging in the air for too long, Johnson has some issues he will have to overcome to get drafted in the first three rounds come April. Not to mention he will have issues transitioning to the NFL because of his experience in a more wide-open attack at Texas A&M, largely because of all the snaps he takes in shotgun. However, he also rarely goes through more than one of his progressions, and if that option is covered he usually starts to scramble to try to extend the play instead of staying patient, going through his other reads and buying time inside of the pocket. Perhaps as a Senior he will have matured and he will spend more time in the pocket, but he seems to have been conditioned to scramble after his first reads aren’t there, partially because of the offense he runs and how he plays and partially because his offensive line doesn’t consistently give him enough time to comfortably stay in the pocket.

Jerrod Johnson has natural talent that is worth developing, but unless he shows that he is more fundamentally sound this year I would be surprised if he was picked in the first two rounds.

I personally grade Johnson as a 4th rounder at this point, but he could move up with another good season this year. But a good statistical season won’t suffice in my opinion. I think he needs to show more patience in the pocket, better footwork, perhaps better mechanics on his release, and more consistency in going through more than just one or maybe two of his reads on any given play. I would be very surprised if he showed improvement in all these areas, especially if it was significant improvement, but I will watch a few of his games regardless to get an accurate feel of his strengths and his weaknesses. But at this point this is my impression of his ability and if I had to put a grade on him today I would grade him as a 4th rounder. He definitely has talent that warrants development, but he needs mechanical work and that means for a year or two he will need to be developed before he can get any kind of significant playing time.

Feel free to comment if you agree or disagree with this, I love getting comments and the conversation generated from my posts can be very interesting. Hopefully you enjoyed reading this, and thanks for visiting my blog!

–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

Yesterday I managed to re-watch the Washington-USC game from last year when the Huskies managed to upset the then #3 ranked Trojans. Jake Locker was my main focus, but I noted some things about other players also. Here is my analysis of what I saw:

Jake Locker loads up to throw against USC (Doug Zylstra Photo)

Locker was impressive in this game. He wasn’t amazing, but he was pretty good. He has good arm strength and zip on all of his passes and has impressive accuracy. When he sets his feet or even at times on the run he can put the ball wherever he wants it. He has impressive athleticism and toughness, though I waited the majority of the game for him to step into a throw knowing he was going to take a big hit. He has come a long way since his freshman year in terms of his footwork, but he still has a ways to go. He looks more comfortable in his drops, but still needs to clean them up a bit. Once he sets his feet, he needs to step into the vast majority of his throws which he does not do right now. When he does he delivers accurate passes almost every time, but when he doesn’t it is much more of a toss-up. He can throw accurate passes off his back foot or off-balance which is why he can get away with it, but he needs to learn to step into more of his throws even if it means taking a hit for it at times. Those are his major issues with footwork, and I didn’t see any instances of him having trouble with his release, it looked clean the whole game.

He still has a tendency to throw some balls into coverage or force passes across his body or when he is off-balance, which is a bit of an issue. But there were plenty of signs that he has matured in this area as well. I doubt he will ever be a 100% pure polished QB in that he doesn’t take some chances, perhaps similar to Brett Favre, but I think there is more room for him to grow in this area before he leaves for the NFL. It will be interesting to see what strides he takes in this regard as a senior, and if he took any significant ones as the year went on in 2009 when he was a junior.

One thing I really want to see Locker work on is using his eyes and going through his progressions better. One thing he didn’t do very well in this game was to go through two or three of his progressions before he looked to scramble. At times the protection just wasn’t there so he was flushed out of the pocket, but there were times when he would look at his first read and then start to roll out to buy more time unnecessarily. This is something he did less than he used to, but it was still something that warranted mentioning. He needs to work on that to be sure. But one thing that he only flashed the ability to do was to look off the defense with his eyes and then deliver a throw to an open receiver that he intended to throw to the entire time. He showed this ability a few times, but he threw the ball 30+ times and he only did this four or maybe five times. I would like to see him do this much more often as a senior, and it will be interesting to see if he does a better job of going through his progressions and of looking off defenders in later games as a junior. But this was one thing that I really thought he needed to work on.

Overall, I am happy with how Locker looked in this game, though I think he could have been much better than he was. It will be interesting to see how he looks in later games from his junior year and how he looks in his upcoming senior season.

Jurrell Casey hits Locker (Doug Zylstra Photo)

I also paid attention to a few other players, though not as closely as I paid attention to Locker. One of the players that just kept showing up was Jurell Casey, a DT on USC. He routinely beat his man and penetrated into the backfield. He had at least two TFL’s versus the run, and a number of stops for limited gains versus the run. On top of that he helped flush Locker from the pocket multiple times, and his pressure allowed Everson Griffen to clean up Locker and get a sack in the 1st quarter. He was very impressive in this game, and I am very much looking forward to seeing him in this upcoming season. He is definitely going to be high on my DT rankings when I come out with them.

I also noted how redshirt-freshman RB Chris Polk looked. He had some running lanes at times, and showed pretty reliable hands out of the backfield, but he didn’t have a great game as far as I could tell. There were a lot of rushing attempts Polk had that were good for losses or very limited gains. I didn’t note exactly why he wasn’t effective, but generally I think USC’s defensive line just won the battle against Washington’s offensive line often. He didn’t dance around in the backfield or try to bounce too many runs outside, so I don’t pin those short or negative gains on him.

James Johnson makes a nice catch against Josh Pinkard (Doug Zylstra Photo)

Locker’s favorite target on the day seemed to be James Johnson, a freshman WR last year. He had a lot of catches in this game, and routinely made big catches for first downs whether he was in traffic or if he got open. He made a terrific catch on the sidelines with a defender draped over him on a 3rd and long on a perfect throw from Locker. He impressed me all game, though I did not pay attention to his blocking. He caught the ball with his hands away from his frame instead of letting the ball come into his pads in every specific catch that I remember from the game. He looks like he has a lot of potential, so it will be exciting to see how he develops this season as a sophomore.

So that about does it. Hopefully you enjoyed reading my thoughts on how the various players from this game looked. I am excited to see all of them again this year, and had Matt Barkley been healthy for this game I would have watched him very closely as well. I will have a write-up on him eventually, probably for more than one game.

Thanks for reading!

–Tom Melton