Tag Archive: Inside Linebacker


Wisconsin Badgers Prospect Preview:

Joel Stave, QB, Sophomore- If my opinion means anything, then Joel Stave should be the starting quarterback of the Wisconsin Badgers. He has to have the inside track for the job after the way he played in the spring game, but the new Badgers Head Coach Gary Andersen likes his quarterbacks to be mobile so it’s no sure thing. However, Stave has all the size (6’5”, 219) and arm strength a Badger fan could ask for. His accuracy impressed me as well, but he has room to grow in that area (particularly on deep balls, which he is hit or miss on). On top of that, Stave essentially saved Wisconsin’s season last year by solidifying the quarterback position and giving them a semblance of a passing game, so I trust him to be an effective starter for the full length of a season if he can stay healthy. Stave completed 58.8 % of the 119 passes he threw a year ago and started 6 games. He passed for 1,104 yards, 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions in those games. He may not be perfect, but if the Badgers can run the ball effectively they won’t need him to be. I’ll take him over any Badger quarterback I’ve watched since I started watching college football with the obvious exception of Russell Wilson. Now, if Stave can’t stay healthy the Badgers do have a reliable option in Curt Phillips, a 6th year senior, that they can trust to take snaps at quarterback. Still, if I have to choose between Stave and “Curt Tebow” as I took to calling him during some of his late game heroics last year I’ll take Stave and not think twice.

Melvin Gordon, RB, Sophomore- Gordon is a kid that I heard about during the spring game last year and I immediately was intrigued. A 6’1”, 206 pound kid with what I believe is sub 4.5 speed? Sign me up. Gordon was impressive last year and despite being behind both Montee Ball and James White he racked up 621 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns with an INSANE 10 yard per carry average. Not only that, but he added 151 yards and a 21.6 yard average per kick return as well. Gordon is an impressive back with the strength to run through tackles, impressive burst and enough long speed to rip off big chunks of yardage. He’s going to be the next great Wisconsin running back and I’ve been saying it since last August. I still feel the same way, and I can’t wait to watch him split the carries with James White this year.

James White, RB, Senior- White is an interesting player, because as a sophomore he really ran into the “sophomore slump” that talented freshmen run into at times. The 5’10”, 197 pound back ran for “only” 713 yards (5.06 ypc) and 6 touchdowns after rushing for 1,052 yards and 14 touchdowns as a freshman. He got back on track as a junior, rushing for 806 yards (6.45 ypc) and 12 touchdowns despite carrying the ball less than he did as a sophomore (125 carries vs 141 carries). He’s Wisconsin’s speed back and he has legitimate sub 4.5 speed, he’s very quick, and he has surprising strength for a smaller back. Not only that, but he’s a reliable and dangerous receiver out of the backfield who figures to be featured more in this role as a senior. I like White, but I can’t quite shake that sophomore slump season from my memory despite the bounce-back year he had last year. I’m still hoping to see that absolutely dynamic freshman again, and I hope he comes back for one last hurrah this season.

Jared Abbrederis, WR, Senior- Abbrederis is a player I’ve been rooting for since he was a freshman. He’s a former walk-on who actually got playing time in one receiver sets over Nick Toon even as a freshman while Toon was a junior. He’s a high effort, high work ethic player who may not be the biggest or the fastest, but he finds a way to get the job done. He’s listed at 6’2”, 188 pounds but I think he will measure in at 6’1” or maybe even 6’0” even. He’s probably going to run in the 4.55 range for his 40 yard dash time so he’s not a burner, but he runs good routes, has good quickness and reliable hands. If he gets drafted I think it will be at the end of the draft, likely in the 6th-7th round range, but it’s entirely possible he ends up signing with a team as an undrafted free agent. Still, Abbrederis has been a reliable receiver for the Badgers since he arrived on campus and he produced 49 receptions, 837 yards and 5 touchdowns last year despite the carousel at quarterback throughout the season.

Kenzel Doe, WR/KR, Junior- Doe was flying under my radar as he only hauled in 16 receptions for 121 yards as a sophomore but I expect his role on the team to increase significantly this year. Doe is a dynamic threat in the slot and as a return man and I expect him to be utilized in a number of ways to take advantage of his speed. Doe is listed at 5’8”, 170 pounds, so he is quite undersized, but he has plenty of speed and quickness to help compensate for that. As a return man he averaged 27.9 yards per kick return and 12.4 yards per punt return, including an 82 yard touchdown against his new Head Coach’s former team Utah State. He had a very good spring game and I fully expect to see him as Wisconsin’s primary slot receiver, kick returner and hopefully punt returner as well. If Stave wins the job I think Doe will easily exceed his 16 receptions and 121 yards as a sophomore.

Jacob Pedersen, TE, Senior- Pedersen isn’t the same prospect that Lance Kendricks was at the position a couple of years ago, but Pedersen is a poor-mans Kendricks to me. He’s not the same athlete, he doesn’t have the same upside, but he is reliable in the pass game and as a run blocker. He’s not going to be a dominant in line blocker at the next level, but as an H-Back type blocker he will be just fine. At 6’4”, 237 pounds he’s not a huge guy but he has enough athleticism for me to think he’s going to get day 3 consideration. He isn’t a flashy player that does anything spectacularly well, but he is solid in all areas.

Ryan Groy, OT/OG, Senior- Groy is a player I was initially worried about sliding outside to tackle, but I think he will be able to hold up alright there as a senior. It’s tough to project how the 6’5”, 318 pounder will do on the blind side since I’ve never seen him play there, but he has enough lateral agility, good enough length and a strong enough anchor for me to think he can handle it. Originally I viewed him as only a guard, but after watching him and taking notes I think he might have a shot at playing tackle at the next level. That is all obviously projection, and I’m certainly not sold on him as a NFL left tackle, but he is carrying a day 2 grade from me into the season without a doubt. I’m excited to see what he can do, because as a guard he showed pretty good hand placement, a good anchor, and was smooth getting to the second level. He doesn’t strike me as a mauler in the run game, and is at his best when he can double team a defender, seal him off, cut him, or combo block and get to the second level. He’s not a great puller, but he looked solid when asked to do it. I think he’s going to be a good ZBS fit at the next level, and could potentially be a very good right tackle in a scheme that uses a lot of those concepts. I can’t wait to see what he can do outside at tackle this year.

Rob Havenstein, OT, Junior- Havenstein was a bit of a problem area for Wisconsin’s line last year but I see potential when I watch him. The most surprising thing about the 6’8”, 342 pound lineman was how quick he was out of his stance as a pass blocker. He gets good depth, is often the first one out of his stance, and doesn’t look like he will struggle with speed off the edge if he can improve his technique over the next two seasons. He has the length, he has the size, he just needs to work on some of his mechanical issues. He ends up on the ground a lot as a result of poor hand placement and I’m not sure if he’s a natural knee bender at this point. He’s obviously huge and is effective when he blocks down on defensive tackles and can wash them out thanks to his size and strength, but he’s not great at getting to the second level. He showed some ability to recover in pass protection which was encouraging, but I’m going to be watching him closely next year to see how he does when he is tested by quality pass rushers.

Kyle Costigan, OG, Junior- It’s official- the Kyle Costigan bandwagon starts behind me. I am driving it and there’s no one that can convince me otherwise. I LOVE this kid’s game. He’s listed at 6’4”, 313 pounds but he moves like he weighs 280. He is such a smooth puller, he is a text book combo blocker, he gets to the 2nd level easily, and he is a very good cut blocker. Not only that, but in the Ohio State game he absolutely held his own in 1 on 1 situations with Johnathan Hankins which is no easy task. He was only a sophomore, but he was awfully impressive to me in the games I watched. He looks like a potential 1st round draft pick if he continues to improve and get stronger. Look out for him.

Dan Voltz, C, Freshman- Voltz is a player I obviously haven’t watched any of yet but the coaches seem to be high on him and he’s being pegged as a potential future 1st rounder following in the steps of Peter Konz (2nd rounder) and Travis Frederick (1st rounder, even if everyone hated the pick). He’s listed at 6’4”, 301 pounds and is supposed to be very smart based on what I’ve read about him. It’s going to be tough to pick up where Frederick left off from a football IQ standpoint but I’m excited to see what he can do as the only underclassman starting on Wisconsin’s offensive line at what some consider the most critical position.

Ethan Hemer, DE/DT, Senior- Hemer is a player I’m excited to watch this year because I think the 3-4 scheme that the Badgers are installing as their new base defense will play to his strong suits. He’s listed at 6’6”, 296 pounds so he is essentially the prototype 3-4 defensive end. Last year he managed 24 tackles, 1 sack, 1.5 TFL and 3 pass defections in his first year as a starter. I expect him to be more disruptive this year and I think 3-4 teams are going to be intrigued by him as a possible day 3 selection.

Beau Allen, DT, Senior- Allen is the key cog in Wisconsin’s defense this year because if he can hold up versus double teams in the middle and free up Chris Borland and Ethan Armstrong to play clean versus the run then the Badgers will be a much better defense in 2013. Allen certainly has the size to do it as he is listed at 6’3”, 335 and is one of the key players returning on defense. He managed 37 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 5 TFL and 2 pass break-ups as a junior and while I think that his statistics might not be the same as a year ago at the end of the season he may have an even bigger impact. He’s going to see a lot of double teams this year and if he can hold up at the point of attack he’s going to be very attractive to a lot of 3-4 teams at the next level.

Brendan Kelly, DE/OLB, Senior- Kelly is a player I’m really rooting for because he has been through so much during his time with the Badgers. He sustained a serious groin injury as a freshman but attempted to play through it before realizing that he had torn four muscles off of his pelvis, and missed the final conference game the Badgers played that season. When he attempted to come back during fall camp the next year he aggravated the injury, leading to additional surgery and time on the sidelines. He had three total surgeries on his groin and he missed time with a hand injury as well. He stayed healthy (as far as I know) last season and the 6’6”, 258 pounder managed 28 tackles, 5 sacks, 1 TFL and 2 pass break-ups on the year. I’m not sure he’s going to be considered before the end of day 3, but the fact that he even has the chance to be drafted after all the injuries he has sustained is impressive. I’m really hoping he has a break-out year this year rotating with Tyler Dippel at outside linebacker.

Chris Borland, ILB, Senior- It’s hard to believe Borland is finally a senior, but it’s happened. It feels to me like he’s been at Wisconsin forever, but now the “short not small” 5’11”, 242 pound linebacker is getting ready to graduate and attempt a jump to the NFL. Borland’s size is going to hurt him in the eyes of evaluators but he’s strong, moves well and is a very good tackler. He has exceeded 100 tackles the last two years, including 104 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 5.5 TFL and 6 pass break-ups as a junior. Borland doesn’t excel at shedding blocks and can be engulfed by bigger players at times, but he has a good motor and plays the run well. He’s a good blitzer as well, but I don’t completely trust him in pass coverage. I don’t think he’s a liability there, but I think he still has room to improve that part of his game. He’s not going to be a fit for every defensive scheme in the NFL, and many will doubt that he even has starter upside. I’ve seen him play too much to say he doesn’t, but I don’t think he’s going to be given a starting gig. He’s going to have to make the team as a likely day 3 selection and claw his way to playing time. I think he can do it though, and hopefully I’ll be able to see him show his skills at an All-Star game this winter.

Ethan Armstrong, ILB, Senior- I’m not very familiar with Armstrong’s game as last season was his first as a starter, but the undersized 6’2”, 216 pound linebacker started all 14 games last season and managed 93 tackles, 2 TFL, 4 pass break-ups and an interception. I don’t think he’s the same prospect that Borland is and isn’t nearly as filled out considering he is listed as 3 inches taller than him yet he reportedly weighs 26 pounds less. If he can fill out his frame he might have a NFL future, but there’s no way he can last in the NFL weighing under 220 pounds.

Dezman Southward, FS, Senior- Southward is the only returning starter in Wisconsin’s secondary but from all I’ve read about him he has really taken to his new leadership role as the veteran among the DB’s. The most surprising thing to me about Southward was that he only picked up football as a senior in high school (he previously played basketball) and didn’t even play safety. He has had to start from scratch as far as learning the game and as a fifth year senior he has only been playing the game for 6 years. The 6’2”, 213 pound safety is obviously a good athlete and he is being touted as a potential star this year. In his first season as a starter Southward totaled 69 tackles, 8 TFL, 4 pass break-ups and 1 interception from his free safety position. This year he will be expected to be even better in coverage and help Wisconsin create more turnovers.

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East Practice Notes: Day 3

Quarterbacks:

Pat Devlin, QB, Delaware:

Devlin looked a bit better today, he had a couple nice throws that showed good ball placement and accuracy, more like you might be used to if you’ve seen him play in college. His arm strength isn’t as good as I have heard some say, it’s solid but his zip is only adequate on his throws. Because he is at Delaware people are naturally hoping for him to be the next Flacco with a rocket arm, but he is a more accurate passer with only above-average arm strength in my opinion. His progression to a QB who plays from under center will take time, but he bobbled the first two snaps he took from under center when warming up this week, so even though I think he bobbled one today he has certainly showed improvement, and that’s all you want to see with a QB moving from a spread/shotgun offense.

Halfbacks:

Graig Cooper, RB, Miami:

I was a big Cooper fan before his injury so it’s good to see him playing again and getting his quickness back. There were a few times today that you could notice his quickness and burst coming back when his offensive line allowed penetration and he was able to quickly change direction and find room to run. He seems to have good vision, he definitely has some of his burst and quickness back which is great to see. His injury was a pretty bad one. He looked good catching passes out of the backfield as well. So with his speed coming back (his 40 time will be important for him as well as other times at the combine), him running well, catching the ball out of the backfield and potentially adding value on kick returns (if he is truly coming back healthy he can be a very valuable returner) he definitely warrants a mid-round pick if he checks out medically. Good to see him back! Hopefully I’ll be able to talk to him tomorrow.

Delone Carter, RB, Syracuse:

Carter has been the most impressive back this week in my opinion. I think he is probably the best feature back prospect here. He’s short but well built and he has huge legs, especially for only being about 5’9”. He generates  a lot of power, has shown good speed, quickness and soft hands out of the backfield. He has definitely helped himself this week and continued his strong play after his huge game against Kansas State in Syracuse’s bowl game. I’d love to interview him as well.

Anthony Sherman, FB, Connecticut:

I love Sherman as a FB prospect. He runs hard, keeps his pads low and has good hands out of the backfield. He has impressed me this week, and I think he definitely deserves mid-round consideration as a fullback in the NFL.

Wide Receivers:

Terrence Toliver, WR, LSU:

Toliver has had a good week of practice and continues to show his good hands, flash good route running and showed a little ability to catch the ball in traffic today. Largely I think he is a finesse receiver, which isn’t a bad thing, but it limits his potential when going over the middle. However, he has officially been invited to the Senior Bowl next week to replace Jerrel Jernigan, who was injured while training apparently. It’s too bad for Jernigan, but it’s a great opportunity to show what he can do against even better competition in the Senior Bowl.

Perry Baker, WR, Fairmont State:

I really like what I have seen from Baker this week. He’s extremely skinny and while he doesn’t have a huge frame he definitely needs to add weight and get stronger overall, especially in the arms and legs. However, he does have strong hands and he showed that on the field and when he gave me a firm handshake when I introduced myself. He looks like a totally different player than he did at the beginning of the first practice and I am glad that he progressed so much this week. He even had a nice block on a safety today with a lot of pop! I never would have expected him to hit like that. He is definitely a draftable player and I think he has a NFL future in the slot. His route running has definitely progressed this week, he has been creating consistent separation on the corners on the East this week.

Offensive Linemen:

Chris Hairston, OT, Clemson:

Hairston is a huge guy and has long arms (34.75 inches when measured) and I think he has some potential at RT. He has a solid punch and shows the ability to use his long arms to keep the defender at bay, and did a good job of forcing Trattou wide during one on one drills. He struggles with speed and I don’t think he has very good feet, but he has potential value at RT.

David Arkin, OG, Missouri State:

Arkin started off well but has struggled a bit the last couple days. I think he could stand to get stronger in the lower body which would help him anchor as a pass blocker and get more drive as a run blocker. He’s a small school guy and he has shown some ability against better competition, but Martin Parker has beaten him a number of times this week. I think he has some ability, but is probably a mid-late round pick after what I’ve seen this week. Maybe 5th round?

Defensive Linemen:

Martin Parker, DT, Richmond:

Parker continued to impress today and he did a good job getting off the ball and showed a nice swim move in one on one drills. It is clearly his go-to move, but it is apparent that he needs to develop other moves to use because he went to the swim move well a couple times too many and became a bit predictable with that move right off the snap. It works, but he needs to develop other moves to help keep the blockers off balance. But he has good size, arm length, quickness off the ball and he has a good swim move already. He has definitely helped himself this week, and I think he’d be a good fit in a scheme that asks their defensive linemen to penetrate and get into the backfield.

Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina:

Austin continues to impress, but I think it is fair to say he is not quite in football shape yet. I don’t know if he will garner a late invitation to the Senior Bowl, but I would love to see him there if he did get an invitation. He has looked good this week, shown some violent hands, has drawn a number of double teams, but seems to have worn down as practice goes on. He isn’t carrying too much weight, I just don’t think he is used to playing football like this yet because of his time off from the game. He has definitely helped himself this week, but we all know he had ability. I just want to see consistency from him which we haven’t exactly seen yet. I have seen him get blocked one on one in pass protection a number of times this week which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but he has the ability to dominate some of these guys and I was left wanting a little more in that regard.

Terrell McClain, DT, South Florida:

I haven’t had a lot of notes on McClain up until this point because he never really stuck out to me. He’d get into the backfield here or there, but I don’t think he is good enough off the snap to consistently penetrate into the backfield in the NFL. I think he might have some value as a space eater as he has a wide build, long arms and stocky size at 6’1.5” and 305 pounds. That should net him mid-late round consideration, but I haven’t seen a ton from him as a pass rusher. He had a nice spin move on Ryan Bartholomew today in one on one’s, but like I said I have only seen a flash every once in a while of him penetrating or collapsing the pocket this week.

Justin Trattou, DE, Florida:

I haven’t had a lot of notes on Trattou this week either, but he has solid size, arm length and good hand usage. He doesn’t have much speed off the edge, so weighing in at only 254 pounds will really hurt him. He has struggled to get the edge in one on one drills this week with speed, so I don’t think he will be much of a speed rusher in the NFL. I think he will have to dedicate to filling out his frame to be a rotational DE in a 4-3 or maybe really bulk up his 6’3” frame and try to get to 275+ to try playing 3-4 DE. That’s a lot of weight to put on and while I definitely think he has room to add weight I don’t know if he has room to put on 30 pounds or more. He seems to be a hard worker though, and like I said I like his hand usage and strength, but right now he is not fast enough off the ball to consistently rush the passer at 4-3 DE and he is way too small to hold up at 3-4 DE.

Linebackers:

Akeem Dent, ILB, Georgia:

Dent continues to fill well, get in position to make tackles and generally be around the ball (especially against the run). I don’t think he is a perfect fit for a 4-3 because he has some struggles in coverage, doesn’t have very good hips and I’m not sure how well he runs, but I think he is a perfect fit for a 3-4 ILB. He plays so well downhill, has such a great knowledge and understanding of gap responsibility, and even though he hasn’t been able to show it this week I think he has good value as a blitzer. I will hopefully have an interview with him as well as a number of other guys, but I am really high on Dent (especially as a 3-4 ILB).

Greg Lloyd II, ILB, Connecticut:

Greg has had a good week, continues to flow to the ball well, show good instincts and get in position to make tackles. I don’t know where his stock is at right now, but I really like him as a 3-4 ILB prospect. I’d say Dent is a better inside linebacker prospect at this point but I have seen more of him than I have of Greg. I will definitely have an interview of Greg this week and just in talking to him a bit after practice he seems to be a great guy, very smart and easy going. I have a feeling he will impress in interviews, and he seemed to take control of the defensive unit he has played with this week each day which I love to see.

Bruce Miller, LB, UCF:

Miller has a great motor, he is a heads up player and he has solid speed, but he just doesn’t have the get-off or the edge speed to stick at DE in a 4-3. His arm length has hurt him this week as he has struggled to get off blocks from guys with longer arms like Jah Reid and Chris Hairston, both of whom have struggled with speed this week. I have heard he will have to move to linebacker, but I think his only hope there is to move to inside linebacker, probably in a 3-4. I don’t know how he is in coverage at all, but even if he doesn’t have an ideal position as a starter on a defense I think he definitely warrants late round consideration or priority free agent value because of what he could bring as a special teamer. His motor, effort, heads up play and tackling will be valuable there even if he doesn’t fit in perfectly in any scheme at the next level.

Defensive Backs:

Justin Rogers, CB, Richmond:

Rogers continues to have a good week. I like him the best out of the four corners on the East, and I like him about as well as I like Lindsey on the West. He has pretty good footwork, closes well, has long arms for his size and has generally just been good in coverage this week. He has definitely helped himself. However, he doesn’t have very good hands for the interception despite his ability to make plays on the ball to deflect it away, and he has small hands. I don’t think he will ever get a lot of interceptions at the NFL, but a guy with his closing speed and vertical could definitely get his hands on some passes.

Thanks for reading! There is still more to come.

–Tom

I thought I would put together a list of overrated and underrated players and give my thoughts on them. Hopefully you enjoy the list and feel free to comment if you agree or disagree! Enjoy!

Overrated:

Locker has had a slow start to the season, and I don't think he is going to be able to live up to the pre-season hype and the comparisons to John Elway and Steve Young.

-Jake Locker, QB, Washington- Like I said at the beginning of the season, I don’t think Locker will be able to live up to the crazy hype that has involved him being compared to John Elway and Steve Young. He has had a relatively slow start to the year and he had an absolutely horrible game against a very good Nebraska defense. Needless to say, if Mallett has a good game against Alabama he will probably move up ahead of Locker on most QB rankings. I like Locker, but he has things to improve on like every other QB and it will be hard for him to take the same leaps and bounds that he did during the season last year. I think he will be the second or third QB drafted depending on whether Luck comes out or not and on how Ponder does this season.

-Dion Lewis, RB, Pittsburgh- He has had a very slow start to the season, and though he has been running against teams playing 8 and 9 men at the box at times he still hasn’t looked like the same runner as last year to me. He hasn’t shown me much patience as a runner, and doesn’t seem to have much of a burst to hit the hole right now. His back-up, Graham, looked much more effective against Miami and really showed the burst to hit the hole and gain good yardage. I’m not saying Lewis isn’t a good running back, far from it, but he had one of the great seasons ever as a freshman last year and expectations were unbelievably high this year, and I think he has really underwhelmed so far.

Julio Jones has a lot of potential, but he hasn't shown the consistency that is more characteristic of high first round picks, especially those with his skill set.

-Julio Jones, WR, Alabama- Julio Jones is an incredible athlete and has a ton of potential, but I think he is only scratching the surface of his potential at this point. I think he is one of those players who could be much better in the NFL than he was in college, but that is just my opinion. He hasn’t shown a lot of consistency in his time at Alabama, and though he can make some great catches and plays I would like to see him make plays more regularly. Part of this has to do with Alabama’s rather average QB play during his time here, but he should still be making plays despite that. Calvin Johnson always managed to. It will be interesting to see if he makes me a believer this year and shows a lot more consistency, but as of right now I think he is overrated by a lot of people because he was so highly recruited out of high school. He absolutely has NFL potential though. I just worry that he may be one of those boom/bust types because he will either get it in the NFL and be a very good receiver or he will remain a great physical specimen that doesn’t play up to his potential.

-Greg Romeus, DE, Pittsburgh- I know Romeus is hurt right now, so his stock will probably come down a bit, but I don’t get all the love for this guy. Yes he puts up some nice sack numbers and he has good potential as a pass rusher, but I literally watched him get effectively blocked in 1 on 1 match-ups with TE’s against BUFFALO last year. I’m sure he has developed since then, but I haven’t had a chance to see him play this year so I have to assume that he hasn’t developed considerably better hand usage and block shedding ability. So under that assumption I have to say he is very overrated. If he can’t play the run and get off blocks from college TE’s then how is he going to be a NFL starter at RE and stand up to starting caliber LT’s in the NFL that are at least solid at run blocking? There isn’t any way. Until I see him play the run better, shed blocks better and also flash some serious pass rush ability (essentially more than just a good speed rush/edge rush) then he will be very overrated in my opinion.

Allen Bailey has a lot of potential, but I don't think he is an impact player and I personally think he is one of the more overrated prospects in the country.

-Allen Bailey, DE/DT, Miami- I’m not sure there is a player in the country more overrated than Allen Bailey in my opinion. He looks awful every time I watch him play. He is a physical freak, he has great weight room numbers, and he looks like a good football player when you see him standing somewhere, but he doesn’t play well. Yes, he can get the occasional sack on a pass rush and yes he will make the occasional tackle versus the run, but I have watched him get blocked 1 on 1 by Lance Kendricks, Garrett Graham and other offensive lineman (Kendricks and Graham are both TE’s by the way) and I have seen them take him out of the play completely versus the run. Now, Bailey’s body type and skill set makes me think his best fit will be at 3-4 DE on the next level. I don’t think he has the edge speed or the quick-twitch pass rush ability to play DE in a 4-3, and I think that 4-3 DT would be his second best position behind 3-4 DE. However, he can’t shed a block to save his life. He has very bad hand usage, he is routinely the last player off the line and doesn’t have good burst off of the line of scrimmage, he doesn’t have a very good motor from what I have seen, and he doesn’t make impact plays versus the run. Not to mention every time he gets double-teamed he gets completely washed out of the play despite his great strength (which is a serious issue for a 3-4 DE prospect and a 4-3 DT prospect even if the guy is going to play under tackle in that scheme). I watched Pittsburgh’s offensive line double him and by the end of the play he was so far downfield that he when the offensive lineman still blocking him shoved him as he was giving up on the play he was no longer in the camera shot when the tackle was made. Bailey is so overrated it is ridiculous, and I wouldn’t pick him before the 4th or 5th round if I was a GM.

-Marvin Austin, DT, UNC- He might not be overrated for long, but when people talk about him as a 1st round pick I think they are talking about his potential more than his actual performance. He has the potential to be an absolute dominant DT, but I have been waiting for well over three years to see that player and I haven’t seen it yet, and I may never see it at North Carolina because he might not even play this year. He has so much ability and so much potential, but he just hasn’t lived up to it as a Tar Heel. To me he is a boom/bust guy, and I would definitely think he is more likely to be a bust than a boom player if he doesn’t get to play all year. But that is just me. Guys like Austin really scare me as NFL prospects because they have a lot of ability, so you pick them earlier than you probably should, and more times than not (in my opinion) they end up being a waste of a high NFL Draft selection.

Harris has potential, but I'm not sure he will ever live up to it, especially not in the NFL.

-Jacory Harris, QB, Miami- Harris is a guy that I have higher expectations for, but I don’t think he will ever live up to them. To do that he would have to put more zip on his passes and cut out his bad habit of putting so much touch on his throws, but he has continued to do it this year and I think the glitz surrounding his game and being the Miami QB has started to fade, and people are seeing him for who he really is. He’s a good college QB, but he’s not going to be a good NFL QB in my opinion. He is rail thin, he doesn’t seem very tough to me, he doesn’t look like a good leader, he doesn’t make good decisions under pressure, he forces throws into coverage and continues to make bad decisions, plus his passes have too much touch on them regardless of where he is throwing them on the field. So to me, Harris is overrated and has been for a while, but maybe he won’t be for long if he keeps throwing interceptions.

Underrated:

Greg Jones is one of my favorite linebacker prospects in the country, if not my favorite.

-Greg Jones, ILB, Michigan State- Jones is a fantastic linebacker and whether he plays inside or outside on the next level I would be absolutely shocked if he doesn’t become a very good player. He is a great tackler, he has great instincts and even though he isn’t the biggest guy he supports the run well and is good in coverage. He is as good a linebacker as there is in the entire country in my opinion, yet he gets almost no press. He should get a lot more of the spotlight as the season comes to a close and the post-season activities start. I have a feeling he will show up big in the senior bowl barring an unfortunate injury.

-Brandon Saine, RB, Ohio State- I have really liked Saine since last year when he was competing for PT with Herron in Ohio State’s backfield, but I think he has an opportunity to break out this year. He had a very pedestrian stat-line against Miami, but I haven’t watched that game yet to see how he managed only 7 yards on 12 carries. Regardless, I like him as a running back and I am excited to see how he does the rest of the season. Hopefully he shows up big for the Buckeyes since he is one of my sleepers for this senior class.

-Ronald Johnson, WR, Southern Cal- Johnson isn’t the biggest receiver, but I like him as a potential sleeper this year. He might be too well known for that, but considering his past production I don’t think it is too far out of the question. Regardless, he has already surpassed his total for touchdowns from last season (he had 3 last year and already has 4 this year) and he has looked good in the time that I have seen him this year. He is definitely underrated in my opinion, and I am really excited to see how he does against better Pac-10 competition.

Derrick Locke is a great sleeper prospect, and I am really excited to see how he fares in the SEC this year.

-Derrick Locke, RB, Kentucky- Locke is one of my favorite sleepers and he seems to be having a good season this year. He already has 372 yards (including a 6.1 ypc average) and 5 td’s, plus 8 catches for    60 yards. He already has 69 touches on offense in three games for over 430 yards and 5 scores, so he is definitely a key cog in Kentucky’s offense. He is similar to Dexter McCluster in that way to me, because McCluster was the engine that made Mississippi’s offense go last year, and Locke is that same guy for Kentucky. I really like Locke, and I think he has the ability to be drafted in the 3rd or 4th round in the draft this year.

-Randall Cobb, WR, Kentucky- Cobb has superstar written all over him in my opinion. He might not be the biggest, the fastest or the strongest, but the guy is a straight-up playmaker. He has 160 yards receiving (2 TD’s), 108 yards rushing (1 TD), 65 yards on punt returns (on 10 returns, 50 of which came on one touchdown return), plus 5 KR’s for 103 yards… he even has 2 completions as a passer (2/2 actually) for 34 yards and a score. He has a touchdown as a receiver, a passer, a rusher and as a return man… He is so versatile. I can’t wait to see him play against some SEC competition, because if he can make a couple big plays against those defenses then he can make a play against anybody.

I think that about does it for my list of overrated/underrated players. I think this is definitely a solid list, let me know if what you would have done differently or what you agree or disagree with!

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Here are my notes from the Miami-Pittsburgh game. Hopefully you guys find them interesting.

Jacory Harris does not look good tonight. He has made some nice throws and completed some passes, but he threw a bad interception when trying to take a deep shot to Benjamin and the ball had a lot of air under it and was thrown to the inside and underthrown instead of to his outside shoulder and over the top, so it got intercepted. Not a good play. He has forced a few throws into coverage, he is throwing off his back foot at times, and he is taking hits occasionally. I am not impressed with him at all thus far. All of his passes, even his routine completions, continue to hang in the air too long. His passes just have too much touch on them. Jacory is playing a bit better in the 2nd half, but he has been disappointing overall in my opinion, but that is because I don’t like some of his fundamental habits.

Berry has looked good thus far, they need to stay with him during the duration of a drive. They go away from him a lot even when he is getting effective yardage. He has gotten good yardage when they run with him. No gain on this run by Berry, Sheard made a nice play moving down the line here.

Travis Benjamin continues to look dangerous, especially as a return man. He had a punt return touchdown called back because of a block in the back, which wasn’t even necessary as he was already half-way by him and wouldn’t have gotten tackled by the player who got blocked. It will be interesting to see if he breaks another big play in this game. He had a nice over the shoulder catch on the sideline earlier in the game too that I must not have seen but I just saw it on replay. Couldn’t tell if he caught it with his hands or not but I couldn’t tell since I only saw it once. Benjamin is beating Pitt up on this drive, already 2 catches in the first 3 minutes of the 2nd half. He is creating a lot of separation. He has 5 catches for 86 yards thus far. Benjamin just punched in a touchdown. He made a nice catch with blanket coverage from Gary for the first time today and he made a nice catch in the end zone for his 8th catch and now has 95 yards I believe.

LaRon Byrd has made some nice grabs today. He is catching the ball with his hands, and he is creating enough separation that even as he waits for the ball to get there from Harris. He made a great catch where he had to extend as far as he could and he fell down after getting his hands on it. I like what I see from him as a possession receiver, he has reliable hands.

Orlando Franklin is getting beat off the edge regularly by Brandon Lindsey #35, the replacement for Greg Romeus tonight. He looks very bad against the speed rush. I think he is a guard on the next level.

Olivier Vernon is very fast off the edge. He has a nice motor too, and he is coming so fast off the edge they are chipping and doubling him with the TE, but he has flashed the football IQ to go inside when he recognizes the double and he just keeps coming until he gets to the QB. I liked what I saw from him last year against Wisconsin and I am definitely keeping an eye on him this year. Vernon is flashing some serious ability, he split a double team nicely and got in Sanseri’s face as he delivered a short throw to Baldwin, but on the next play he got upfield on a speed rush and spun back into the offensive tackle. Vernon just made a great play versus the run. Beat two players and wrapped up the back for a TFL. Very nice block shedding and penetration upfield.

Sam Spence has made some nice plays today, though I haven’t heard much from him in the 2nd quarter. Great job of keeping contain on the reverse, he played the blocker perfectly and was a key cog in forcing an 18 yard loss. Spence with the sack on this play, looks like he may have come free on this play but he still got a sack, nice play by Spence.

Alan Bailey was involved in a play earlier but since then he hasn’t done anything that I have seen. I am not sold on him and this isn’t changing my mind. Bailey is so slow off the line, he is so bad at shedding blocks and on this particular play when Vernon blew up the run he got blocked so far down field he was out of the camera shot with a last shove by the offensive lineman by the time he quit on the play. What a pathetic level of effort and he got driven right downfield by the Pitt double team. Shameful.

Brandon Harris made a solid stop against the run. I haven’t seen him at all tonight because Miami has been stacking the box so the run game has been very ineffective. He missed a tackle on Graham but he didn’t have a good angle to get to him as he was outside and he was in the slot, ran a quick in and he did his best to close but couldn’t get there.

Sanseri, Pitt’s new QB, has looked awful tonight. He hasn’t been able to challenge downfield and he has looked uncomfortable from the start. He has missed some routine throws and he has panicked regularly in the pocket and missed throws he should make while scrambling. He has very little pocket poise.

Graham, the back-up RB I believe, has sparked Pitt’s offense here. He ran a quick in and Graham caught the ball, Harris couldn’t get him from behind as he reached for his ankles, and broke a tackle very nicely and converted a 2nd and 28 pretty much by himself. He is very quick and covers a lot of ground quickly. He has looked good running the ball as well, he is a quicker back. Graham is shifty and just makes guys miss, but he has a lot to work on in pass protection. He let a linebacker who came a little late come unblocked and he nailed Sanseri and had he had a little more time he could have hit Baldwin deep for a touchdown, even still Baldwin almost made a nice catch on the sideline on a poorly thrown ball.

I haven’t seen anything out of Jonathan Baldwin yet. Sanseri isn’t pushing the ball downfield so far in this game, so it makes sense that he hasn’t been involved thus far. He had some separation on one attempted pass downfield but it was a very bad throw. I’ll try to see how he gets off the line as the game goes on and see if he gets any separation. Baldwin had his first catch for 6 yards with about 7 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. He has barely been involved in this game. Baldwin just got two catches in a row from Bostick, one on about an 8 yard curl with some contact as the ball came in, so pretty nice job to haul it in, and another over the middle for a nice chunk of yards and another first down. Let’s see if he can get a little more involved at the end of this game. Baldwin is very, very good at making adjustments to bring passes in. He nearly made an amazing catch, but barely got his finger tips on the ball even after his great adjustment near the sideline, he got his fingers on it and then caught it in after a short bobble but he was already out of bounds. What a catch that would have been. Bostick is targeting Baldwin for sure, he has thrown to him 4 times in one drive. Baldwin didn’t see the ball lobbed up to him from Bostick and it got intercepted easily since he didn’t even make a play on it. Hard to believe he didn’t expected the ball to come his way in that situation, but still it’s hard to be super hard on him since he never saw the ball in the air. I really would have liked to see him make a play on that jump ball though.

Bostick has come into the game late in the 4th quarter and he has hit three quick completions in a row, two to Baldwin, and they are moving now. Already inside the 40 of Miami which Sanseri managed only once. Now 4 completions in a row and another first down. Bostick moved the team down, even though Miami was backing off, and just threw an INT as he just threw up a prayer since the center rolled the ball back to the QB and he tried to give someone a chance to make a play. He led a nice drive though, I would consider playing him next week. He wasn’t afraid to challenge downfield, though he really had nothing to lose. I was definitely more impressed with Bostick than Sanseri. Another lob up to Baldwin but he didn’t see the ball in the air apparently so it was just a gimme interception for Van Dyke. Too bad, would have liked to see Baldwin go up for the ball and make a play.

Brandon Lindsey, #35 on Pittsburgh is Romeus’ replacement because of his injury. He has looked good tonight. He is beating Franklin off the edge regularly and Miami is so concerned about it (even though he isn’t a regular starter) that they are chipping him to try to help Franklin out. It will be interesting to see how he looks in the second half and if he gets to Harris at all. I hope he does, I like the way he plays.

Jabal Sheard, #97, just got a sack on Jacory Harris, nice sack and he beat #61 like he stole something on this play. He has made a couple nice plays tonight, but overall I haven’t noticed him a heck of a lot. I have been looking out for #35 though, so I definitely can’t say Sheard hasn’t been active. He strikes me as a solid DE prospect, but definitely not a 1st or 2nd rounder at this point. Sheard made a nice move to shed a block and get into the backfield but he slid right off of Berry on this play and he broke it for a big run. It would have been a great TFL by Sheard but he botched the tackle, I don’t think he hit him low enough.

#26 Ricky Gary has looked awful tonight. He is a senior corner on Pittsburgh and he has been getting beat on deep comeback routes often, he got beat deep for a TD by Leonard Hankerson and has generally been beaten in coverage all game. I wonder if he has given up 8 or more receptions tonight, I think he may have. He has just been giving up separation all night, I don’t know if it is because he is slow to close or if he doesn’t have a good backpedal, but he doesn’t have good size to play in the NFL and he has been getting worked tonight, so I don’t think he has much NFL ability.

#18 Holley had an absolutely dirty interception. The ball was way underthrown by Harris, but he went up for the ball with Benjamin and it was over Benjamin’s head, Holley hit it with his hand and knocked it towards himself and as he fell to the ground he brought it in for the interception. It was an awesome play, but I haven’t noticed him otherwise. I don’t think he has given up too many catches, #26 has been victimized a few times from what I have noticed. He looked like he may have been out of position/late on that touchdown to Hankerson since I believe he was over the top on that throw.

Thanks for reading, hopefully you found some of it interesting!

–Tom