Tag Archive: Jacory Harris


Saturday Games to Watch:

Saturday:
-West Virginia-Maryland:
I am excited to watch this game because there are a couple intriguing prospects (notably Bruce Irvin for West Virginia) that I’d like to get a look at, plus I think Danny O’Brien has it in him to potentially pull an upset. I haven’t watched West Virginia at all to get a sense for how they are doing this year, but I was incredibly impressed with O’Brien against Miami. He’s got a lot of upside and I expect him to play well today if his OL can keep him upright. Geno Smith is a quality QB too though, he just doesn’t project to the NFL as well as I think O’Brien does. I’m excited to see how this game plays out, and if my hunch is correct it could go down to the wire.

-Tennessee-Florida:
I am very excited to see this game because I think Tennessee can pull off the upset. It’s easy to look at this game and say “Oh, the 16th best team in the country against an unranked team? I’ll take Florida” but Tennessee is no slouch and if they can protect Tyler Bray he can carve up very talented defenses (see the Tennessee-UNC bowl game from last year. Might not be an “SEC” caliber defense, but still very talent laden). I want to see how John Brantley does as well, plus Florida always has talented players on defense that I’d like to see. Malik Jackson, a DE on Tennessee, was a player on my list of potential break-out players so I would like to see how he plays.

-Michigan State-Notre Dame:
I still can’t stop laughing at people who keeps saying “Notre Dame is a good team and I really like their squad” when they have started 0-2 and proved that their preseason top 25 ranking was completely unjustified, at least in my opinion. While they played a good game against Michigan, the Wolverines are not on the same level as the Spartans are. I have a hard time believing Notre Dame will be able to slow down their running game and Kirk Cousins is one of the best senior quarterbacks in the country. I think Notre Dame has a chance to give them a run for their money, but I don’t think they have it in them to pull off the upset.

-Virginia-North Carolina
Both are 2-0 this season and North Carolina passed their first test beating Rutgers in a close game last weekend. I don’t have very high hopes for them with the loss of Butch Davis and a new, young QB in Bryn Rynner (though I do like him). This is a big game for them though and if they can pull it off it would be huge for them to start out 3-0 in spite of all the turmoil the program has been through the last two years.

-Arizona State-Illinois
Arizona State dazzled everyone who watched the Thursday Night game about a week or so ago when they upset Missouri on national television in an overtime game. Brock Osweiler stole the show as far as I’m concerned as he was incredibly impressive and played an extremely efficient and effective game for ASU. He demonstrated a very strong arm, was placing the ball very well, and made only two throws that I identified as poor decisions or bad throws. Illinois is on the upswing in my opinion with Nathan Scheelhaase returning for his second season as a starter. I think Arizona State has the upper hand in this one, but it should be a pretty good game since Illinois is at home.

-Ohio State-Miami
This is a tough game for me to call. I actually trust Jacory Harris more than I trust any of Ohio State’s QB’s, but that isn’t saying much considering the fact that I think Stephen Morris should start for the ‘Canes. Regardless, Miami has an insane level of talent (especially on defense) even with some of their suspensions that have rocked the program. Ohio State is very talented as well, but I think they have demonstrated that they are not an elite or even a very good team by any means in their first two games. Miami can win this game, it’s just a question of who wins the turnover battle in my opinion. If Harris avoids interceptions and moves Miami down the field methodically with a few big plays, Miami has a great shot at winning. If Ohio State can get a few downfield plays and avoid turnovers, plus create them on the defensive side of the ball, they could win this game. It will be interesting to see which way it goes, but there’s a part of me that wants to pick Miami…

-Oklahoma-Florida State
This game is an extremely tough one for me to call. It’s almost impossible to bet against Oklahoma but Florida State is a very talented team. I like what E.J. Manuel brings to the table a lot, and while I like Landry Jones I don’t think he is a 1st round QB because of his issues dealing with interior pressure and because of his propensity for interceptions last season. This is going to be a critical litmus test for both programs as Oklahoma has been taking flak lately for not being able to win big games and Florida State is trying to prove that the “old” Florida State that used to battle for conference supremacy with Miami is back. It’s hard to bet against Oklahoma, but I am hoping for a great game unlike the match up last year in Norman where Oklahoma blew the doors off FSU.

-Stanford-Arizona
This might not seem like that big of a game, but Arizona has a tendency to pull off upsets and while I don’t think Nick Foles is anything more than a mid-round NFL QB prospect he can definitely sling it, especially in Arizona’s offense. He has been very efficient to start the season and while Stanford is clearly the better team they should try to avoid getting into a shootout with Arizona, because that’s the kind of game they want to play. I expect Stanford to win, but I also expect Arizona to give them a bit of a scare during the course of this game.

Thanks for reading and enjoy all the games today! There should be some exciting ones as usual.

–Tom

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Logan Thomas will be filling Tyrod Taylor's shoes at quarterback, and I have high expectations for him. He has a ton of upside.

11. Virginia Tech- A lot of people might be surprised to see VT this high, but even though they don’t often come away victorious against the best teams they are incredibly consistent and they are definitely a program that finds a way to reload versus rebuild, and that is exactly what they will be doing in lieu of losing Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Williams, Darren Evans and Rashad Carmichael to the NFL draft. David Wilson is ready to be the man at RB now that Williams and Evans have departed, and the word explosive might be an understatement for him. He compiled 619 rushing yards (5 TD’s), 234 receiving yards (4 TD’s) and 584 kickoff return yards (2 TD’s) on only 150 touches! That’s over 1,300 total yards on exactly 150 touches, which is pretty impressive especially in a rotational role. He will be the man now though, and Logan Thomas looked very impressive in spring ball from what I heard, and I am excited to watch him play. He looked good to me when I saw him sling the ball a couple times last year, but this will be his first season as a starter. At a listed height and weight of 6’6”, 242 pounds plus mobility he is going to be one to watch I’m sure. VT always has a fast defense and they have a few guys ready to emerge as quality pass rushers this year. J.R. Collins (a sophomore in 2011) had 5 sacks last year and apparently looked very good this spring, and I expect him to emerge as the best pass rusher on the team. Additionally, Chris Drager has shown some ability but I’m not sure whether or not he will start as a senior. And finally, James Gayle (a sophomore in 2011) had 4 sacks in limited playing time last year and should get more snaps as a part of VT’s rotation. VT also has a talented secondary, led by Jayron Hosley, a cornerback with 1st round NFL draft potential. VT is a team to watch this year, as they should contend with Florida State, Miami and hopefully North Carolina to be the top dog in the ACC.

12. Miami- I have been saying for months that I think Miami is going to be very tough this year and now it’s time for me to put my money where my mouth is. They just have so much talent! It all comes down to quarterback though. I realize this might feel high, especially considering my very low opinion of Jacory Harris, but I can’t imagine that Al Golden will leave him in there too long unless he plays well. So either he plays bad for a few games, gets yanked, and Morris steps in or Harris recovers his sophomore year form and Miami immediately becomes a contender for the ACC title. But outside of QB they have a load of talent. Headlining that group are guys like Lamar Miller, Travis Benjamin, LaRon Byrd, Blake Ayles (a transfer from USC), Olivier Vernon, Marcus Forston, Adewale Ojomo, Sam Spence, Vaughn Telemaque and Ray Ray Armstrong, among others. Their defensive line is going to be incredibly scary if they can all mesh together, because I had three or four of their defensive linemen on my list of potential breakout players this year. Vernon, Forston and Ojomo alone should guarantee a good run defense and a FIERCE pass rush, so I am very excited to see how this team does this year. They have a ton of potential, I just hope they live up to it.

I have been a Kirk Cousins fan since he was splitting time with Keith Nichol as a sophomore. Now it seems everyone is realizing what kind of a QB he is. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

13. Michigan State- Michigan State is coming off of an embarrassing loss to the Crimson Tide in their bowl game and I think they will be hungry after barely missing out on the Big-10 Championship (even though they beat the eventual winner, Wisconsin, handing them their only loss before they lost to TCU in the Rose Bowl). They return a ton of talent such as Kirk Cousins at quarterback, and three quality running backs led by Edwin Baker with Le’Veon Bell and Larry Caper providing quality touches when Baker is rotated out. They also have a game breaker in Keshawn Martin, a dangerous slot receiver and kick return man, plus B.J. Cunningham is returning. That means they will have two experienced receivers for Cousins to throw to. If their offensive line holds up they should have another very balanced attack that runs the ball effectively which opens up the play action pass, which makes them very tough to stop. On defense they will have a lot of talent up front as they started three sophomores and a freshman last year (headlined by Jerel Worthy and Tyler Hoover), and they have a huge sophomore William Gholston who is ready to step up for some playing time as well. They all have a lot of experience up front and they are young, and I think they will have no problem stuffing the run like they did last year and they should get after the passer as well. Their DL is the strength of their defensive unit, and it should make things easier for their LB’s (I believe they lost all three of their starting LB’s) and their defensive backs. Michigan State is definitely one of my favorites to win the Big-10, right up there with Wisconsin and Nebraska.

14. Nebraska- Nebraska has officially joined the Big-10 (which now has 12 teams) after leaving the Big-12 (which now has 11 teams… I think. Sometimes I can’t keep up). However, their playing style meshes perfectly with the Big-10 as they play great defense, they are physical and they love to run the ball. They are immediately contenders for the Big-10 title, but they aren’t as familiar with the conference as other teams are, so it’s hard for me to anoint them the front-runners for the conference title over teams like Wisconsin and Michigan State, who are both returning a lot of significant talent. Nebraska will be dangerous though, even without Roy Helu and Niles Paul on offense. They also have a good deal of talent on defense, headlined by Jared Crick, Lavonte David and Alfonso Dennard. They will be a fun team to watch this year, especially if Taylor Martinez can figure out how to throw the ball accurately.

Kellen Moore has one last chance to lead Boise State to a National Title or elite bowl game, but it won't be as easy as in past years.

15. Boise State- I have Boise State lower then some people do, but I have my reasons. First, they start out their season with a tough game against Georgia. Georgia may not be a powerhouse, but they are consistently competitive and even without a lot of RB help they still have a good quarterback in Aaron Murray, the best TE in the country in Orson Charles, and like all good SEC teams do they recruit well and have some nice incoming talent. With Boise State losing some of their best weapons on offense (Titus Young and Austin Pettis in particular) along with their offensive coordinator (who went to Texas) it isn’t unrealistic to expect them to be in a dog fight (pun intended) with Georgia in week one. But major props to Boise State for scheduling a legitimate out of conference opponent, because most teams don’t have the cojones to do that, especially teams from non-AQ conferences that are out of the title and elite bowl game race with just one loss. If they can get past Georgia, though, they have a shot to make it to the title game if they win out. But every year there is a scare or two, even for teams with as much experience as Boise, but Boise has the talent and they have done this enough times with Kellen Moore at the helm that I think they have a good shot at ending the season with one or no losses. I can’t wait to see the game against Georgia, I really have no idea what way that will go.

Thanks for reading my third installment of the top 25! The top 10 will be unveiled over the next two days, so check in soon!

–Tom

Here are my predictions for the upcoming bowl games. My final installment will have the last handful of games to make sure that this post isn’t unbearably long to read. Enjoy the bowl games! I know I will.

Meineke Car Care Bowl- South Florida (7-5) vs Clemson (6-6)

Predicted Winner: Clemson

Why: Clemson has the better, more efficient quarterback (though not by a huge margin) in Kyle Parker plus they have a very nice tandem of running backs with Jamie Harper and Andre Ellington. Clemson’s offense is better and I don’t trust B.J. Daniels to not turn the ball over like he has been prone to do.

Key to the game: Clemson’s running game. If they can work the clock, have some methodical drives and maybe rip off a couple of big runs they should win the game.

Score: Clemson: 27 – South Florida: 17

Sun Bowl- Notre Dame (7-5) vs Miami (7-5)

Predicted Winner: Miami

Why: Though I often focus on offenses I think the difference in this game will be Miami’s defense. They have a lot of talent on their defensive unit and they have enough talent on their front four to put pressure on freshman QB Tommy Rees of Notre Dame which could force some turnovers.

Key to the game: Miami’s defense. If Miami can fluster Notre Dame’s freshman QB and create turnovers then Miami will have a significant advantage. But if Miami lets him get into a rhythm and gives up big plays then Notre Dame will have a good chance.

Score: Miami: 31 – Notre Dame: 20

Liberty Bowl- Georgia (6-6) vs UCF (10-3)

Predicted Winner: Georgia

Why: I think Georgia is the better overall team despite their record. They started very slow but once they got A.J. Green back they have been much better. They started 1-4 without him and finished the season 5-2 including an overtime loss to Florida and a loss to #1 overall Auburn. They have been tested against quality teams and I think Mark Richt will have them ready to play.

Key to the game: Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia. He’s a redshirt freshman but he has played very well this year, especially since he got A.J. Green back in the fold. Green had nine touchdowns in only seven games this year. If he keeps playing well then Georgia has a great chance to win this game.

Score: Georgia: 38 – UCF: 20

Chick-fil-A Bowl- South Carolina (9-4) vs Florida State (9-4)

Predicted Winner: South Carolina

Why: South Carolina has a good passing game led by Stephen Garcia featuring one of the best receivers in the country in Alshon Jeffrey and Tori Gurley. Both of them are big, physical receivers who create mismatches for even the most physical defenses. In addition they have a stud true freshman running back in Marcus Lattimore who is one of the best running backs in the country even though he is only a year removed from high school. Their offense has a lot of talent, and their defense can rush the passer and create turnovers.

Key to the game: Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State. If Christian Ponder plays at all he could give the Seminoles a lift, and if he plays and plays well like he has in the past then he could give the Seminoles a chance at victory. He has a lot of talent on his offense, and they have the ability to be very explosive, but his elbow injury has hindered him. It will be interesting to see if he plays and if he plays well.

Score: South Carolina: 41 – Florida State: 24

TicketCity Bowl- Northwestern (7-5) vs Texas Tech (7-5)

Predicted Winner: Texas Tech

Why: Northwestern would have a good chance at winning their first bowl game since 1949 if they had Dan Persa playing at QB, but unfortunately he won’t be available due to his Achilles injury that he suffered during the regular season. That makes me think that Texas Tech should be able to beat them with a very good passing offense and a somewhat underrated rushing attack.

Key to the game: Northwestern’s defense. If Northwestern can slow down Texas Tech’s offense then they stand a chance to win. They will need to create some turnovers and get some short fields for their offense so they can overcome the loss of Persa.

Score: Texas Tech: 45 – Northwestern: 27

Outback Bowl- Florida (7-5) vs Penn State (7-5)

Predicted Winner: Florida

Why: In a game with two decent offenses I think the defense that plays best will lead their team to victory. Whichever unit can force turnovers and slow down the opposing offense will give their offense a huge boost. Florida’s offense isn’t very explosive with John Brantley under center and they don’t have a very consistent running game either. Penn State looked better with Matt McGloin under center, and have a consistent running game led by Evan Royster, but Florida has a good enough defense to stop their offense in my opinion. In a game of defenses I give Florida the edge. Plus I think they have the speed and playmaking ability to change a game on special teams if they get a chance.

Key to the game: Florida’s defensive line. If the Gators can get pressure on McGloin without blitzing and if they can slow down Royster with good gap responsibility then Penn State will be in trouble.

Score: Florida: 27 – Penn State: 17

Capital One Bowl- Alabama (9-3) vs Michigan State (11-1)

Predicted Winner: Alabama

Why: As much as I might like to pick Michigan State I think Alabama is far too talented to not pick here. Michigan State will be without one of their better receivers in B.J. Cunningham and they have a tough enough task trying to beat Alabama without that. Alabama’s offense should be able to move the ball effectively on Michigan State’s defense and Alabama should be able to rattle Kirk Cousins and probably force a couple of turnovers.

Key to the game: Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State. If Cousins plays one of the better games of his career Michigan State could win this game. But if Alabama pressures him and he makes mistakes and mental errors then they could be in for a long day. Michigan State has a balanced offense, so it’s not all on Cousins’ shoulders, but if the run game isn’t there then Cousins has to step up big.

Score: Alabama: 31 – Michigan State: 20

Gator Bowl- Mississippi State (8-4) vs Michigan (7-5)

Predicted Winner: Mississippi State

Why: I think Mississippi State has the team speed to slow down Denard Robinson and if they can bottle him up then Michigan’s offense will sputter. Mississippi State has a very good running game as well so being able to control the clock and keep Robinson off the field will be important.

Key to the game: Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan. He is the best player in this game and if he plays well both as a runner and especially as a passer to keep Mississippi State from stacking the box then Michigan could very well win this game. But if he plays poorly, doesn’t make big plays and turns the ball over then Michigan has very little chance.

Score: Mississippi State: 28 – Michigan: 17

Rose Bowl- Wisconsin (11-1) vs TCU (12-0)

Predicted Winner: Wisconsin

Why: First and foremost I think TCU is overrated. I’ve been pretty outspoken about my opinion of teams like Boise State, Utah and TCU, and the way they have played recently hasn’t changed my mind. I don’t think TCU will be able to stop Wisconsin’s dominant running game. They have three quality running backs in John Clay, Montee Ball and James White, the exciting freshman who actually led their team in rushing yards. Wisconsin has a dominant offensive line, and their quarterback Scott Tolzien rarely makes mental errors that lead to interceptions. Wisconsin has been tested by many good teams this year, but TCU has barely played anybody as usual. Andy Dalton is a good QB, and they have a good offense, but I think that Wisconsin has the potential to get some pressure on him and slow down their run game.

Key to the game: TCU’s run defense. If they step up and slow down Wisconsin’s rushing attack and force them into 3rd and longs then it will test Tolzien’s ability to convert on downfield throws. He has shown that he can do that this year, but if you go into a game against Wisconsin you would rather slow down their running game and make Tolzien beat you than get beat up on the ground.

Score: Wisconsin: 45 – TCU: 34

Fiesta Bowl- Connecticut (8-4) vs Oklahoma (11-2)

Predicted Winner: Oklahoma

Why: This game doesn’t seem like a very even match-up, and that makes me wary of it. Oklahoma is the better team in my opinion, but Oklahoma has struggled mightily in BCS bowls as of late and a hungry team like Connecticut could very well pose them a threat. However, Oklahoma has a very dynamic offense led by Landry Jones, DeMarco Murray and Ryan Broyles plus a very impressive defense that has made a lot of talented offenses look average. So as much as I don’t trust Oklahoma in big games I am trusting that Stoops has finally righted the ship this year. Eventually they will break this streak right?

Key to the game: Jordan Todman, RB, Connecticut. If Toddman can get going somehow and break some big runs to take pressure off of UCONN’s passing game then the Huskies will have a chance. But if Oklahoma stacks the box to take Todman away I am afraid UCONN could really struggle.

Score: Oklahoma: 38 – Connecticut: 20

Orange Bowl- Stanford (11-1) vs Virginia Tech (11-2)

Predicted Winner: Virginia Tech

Why: First off I have to say I am very excited to see how this game plays out. I honestly think this could go either way. It’s natural to give the advantage to the better quarterback, which in my opinion would be Andrew Luck, but Tyrod Taylor has been fantastic this year as a passer and as a runner. More than that, he has been extremely efficient. And Taylor is no stranger to late game heroics, watch the Nebraska-Virginia Tech game from last season if you need evidence of that. So it’s hard to say that Luck would have an advantage if it came down to a key fourth quarter drive. Both teams are balanced, they run the ball effectively, they have good defenses… they are just very evenly matched in my opinion. But Virginia Tech has the more athletic defense, the better secondary and I think they will be better on special teams which is why I have to give them the edge.

Key to the game: The quarterback battle. Whoever outplays the other should give their team a significant advantage. If Luck can find a way to carve up Virginia Tech’s defense, which few teams have done this year without turning the ball over, then he could win the game for Stanford. But if Stanford can’t stop Taylor from making big plays outside of the pocket, especially on broken passing plays, then Virginia Tech could easily win. I just have no idea which way it’s going to go.

Score: Virginia Tech: 34 – Stanford: 31
Hopefully that wasn’t too long to read. I can’t wait to watch this next batch of bowl games. What better way to ring in the new year than watching football for the majority of the day? I can’t think of one. Thanks for reading!

–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

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

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

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

QB Rankings- 8.18.2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Tom

First of all, I apologize profusely for the huge gap between this post and my last post, which was close to three weeks ago. My computer had a bunch of viruses on it and apparently the hard drive was about to break (which Geek Squad said was probably caused by bumping or dropping it, woops!) so I got it fixed, it took about a week, and I now have Windows 7 instead of Vista and I just installed Microsoft Office 2007 about an hour ago before I finished writing this up (since I couldn’t read any of my notes before that because I didn’t have Microsoft Word on my laptop. It was a pretty serious issue. I also couldn’t watch tape all that time!) Anyways, between my laptop breaking and not having Microsoft Office I had a long unintentional break between my posts, so thank you for bearing with me and occasionally checking my blog out to see if I had gotten my act together and written anything! Here, at long last, is my post about the Wisconsin-Miami Champs Bowl game from last season!

Harris is talented both as a runner and as a passer, but he needs to learn to put more zip on his throws if he is going to legitimize himself as a NFL prospect.

When you watch Miami games Jacory Harris is a guy you just have to take notes on. He’s a very talented guy, he’s a good quarterback and he’s a threat to run, and those players are always intriguing and they always warrant a lot of discussion and projection, especially if they mature throughout their careers, learn to make better decisions, read defenses, and generally just become more efficient. An efficient QB who can run when all else fails and pick up quality yards is scary, which is why Mike Vick was the #1 overall pick in 2001. Little did we all know that you can’t just learn to throw accurately, make good decisions and read defenses from the pocket once you get to the NFL, but he was picked that high because if he became as good at throwing as he was at running he would have been one of the best players in the NFL. Anyways, Harris warrants discussion for a number of reasons. He has pretty good accuracy, and does a respectable job of reading defenses for a young quarterback and showed the ability to recognize a blitz and find his hot read quickly to avoid a sack and to pick up quality yards. That’s good to see.

However, Harris really seemed to struggle in this game. He does not strike me as a tough quarterback at all, and at times he would run timidly and does not seem at all willing to take a hit even if it means picking up the first down. I know you don’t want your quarterback running around initializing contact, but when he’s scrambling and he can either run out of bounds two yards short of the first down marker or put his head down and get as many yards as possible, I want my QB to put his head down and go for it, not run out of bounds with his tail between his legs. Maybe that’s just me, but that’s how I feel about it. Harris seems to prefer jogging out of bounds, and I don’t really like to see that. He also seemed bothered by the cold, but that wasn’t just a problem for him, the whole Miami team was huddled around the heaters and it was only 50 or 55 degrees outside. The Wisconsin players all had short sleeves on, mostly because in the Winter it gets real cold up north, so 50+ is t-shirt weather to those of us from Minnesota and Wisconsin. So between his timid running style and the fact that he seemed to be bothered by the “cold” I was not very happy with how Harris did in this game from a toughness aspect. He did take some shots and he popped right back up from all of them, but that just confused me more because you’d think that if he could absorb the hits he was taking when he was dropping back to pass that he could “suck it up” (so to speak) and run harder when he does scramble.

Harris never got comfortable against Wisconsin. Whether it was his ankle injury, the regular pressure from Wisconsin or the "cold" weather, he never settled in and got into a rhythm.

One thing that is a little alarming about Harris’ game is the amount of touch and air he puts under the majority of his throws. He throws an accurate ball and does great when touch is required, but sometimes you need to throw the ball with some zip and he does not seem to understand when that is necessary. He floats a LOT of passes, whether he is on the run, whether he has his feet set in the pocket, or whether he is throwing into a quickly closing window over the middle. I don’t know if that is something he will ever be able to stop doing since he has probably been getting away with it for his entire playing career, but if it is indeed correctable then he should already be working on it as we speak. Hopefully he shows me some progression in this area because it is really concerning how much air and touch he has on the majority of his passes.

Harris also never really looked comfortable in this game. He had his moments when he completed a few passes in a row, but Wisconsin got enough pressure on him (which, along with his injured ankle, had to contribute to him never getting into a rhythm) to keep him from ever getting into a groove and it definitely showed. He didn’t go through his progressions as well as I would have liked, he stared down his receivers regularly, he didn’t do a good job of buying time in the pocket without scrambling outside of the tackle box, and he looked sloppy throwing on the run when he couldn’t set his feet. He needs to do a better job of keeping his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage even when rolling to his left. That is when you will see right-handed QB’s get a little less accurate if they don’t keep their shoulders square. In my experience it is because their throwing motion will be slightly elongated and their mechanics will therefore be different, meaning the throw won’t be as accurate and won’t have as much zip on it as it would have regularly had if he had set his feet or kept his shoulders square while rolling out.

Overall, Harris has a lot of talent and ability, but he has to work harder on the little things, the fundamentals, if he is going to take big enough strides to be considered a potential NFL starter and an early NFL Draft pick. Right now I’d grade him as a 4th or 5th round selection because of his potential and ability. That alone warrants some consideration in the mid-rounds and if he can be coached up well then he could be well worth the investment. However, he does not look like a NFL starter to me yet. Of course it is very early to be predicting how he will do in the NFL and where he will be drafted because he is going to be a Junior in his second season as the full-time starter, so I realize I am jumping the gun with this. I just feel obligated to state where I think he is as far as his progression as a QB, and in my opinion he is still rather raw and needs developing. Hopefully he stays through his Senior season so he can get as much experience as possible before moving on to the NFL. I have to say, I am intrigued by some of his ability and I really hope he works on putting more zip and less touch on some of his passes this year. Hopefully he takes some significant strides in his second season as a starter.

If Cooper can come back from his serious knee injury healthy then he could still be an impact player in the NFL.

One other player I knew I had to take notes on was Graig Cooper, who was a junior running back for the ‘Canes at the time. As soon as you see him touch the ball you can tell that this kid is fast. He flies around the field, has great acceleration and great burst to hit holes, seams, anything. He definitely has potential as a game-changing running back in the NFL. The tragic part about this was that he suffered a very serious knee injury in this game in the 2nd half on a rather run of the mill kick-off return. In fact, if he hadn’t suffered the injury he could have potentially scored on the play, though that is purely my own speculation. I don’t have much of an update on his rehab obviously, but I read that he has not yet been cleared to begin running as of early April. Hopefully he has made progress since then, but the fact remains that this was a very serious injury, and I would be pretty surprised if he was 100% during his senior season, which is disappointing for him and for his fans (of which I was one) because I was really rooting for him last year. It’s a shame this had to happen to him at such a critical time in his career.

In any event, I still managed to get some notes on him from this game before his injury, and though it would be particularly impressive if he came back to pre-injury form I think he will still have value even if he isn’t just as explosive as he was before he got hurt. He seems to have pretty good vision, and on one particular play that I remember JJ Watt did not stay at home and collapsed to where the run was supposed to go, but Cooper got the ball and immediately cut to the outside to where Watt would normally be and got a nice gain on the play. If he plays next year (which I really hope he will, even if it isn’t a significant amount) I will be interested to see how much of his great quickness and explosiveness he regains as he gets closer and closer to 100%. Hopefully he comes back as strong as can be expected, and I will be carefully monitoring his progress as more information becomes available. I’ll keep you all posted naturally.

Hankerson made this incredible one-handed grab late in the game. I know he has reliable hands, but if he can show this kind of concentration even on routine catches he will be an early NFL Draft pick.

Harris’ primary receivers on the ‘Canes are Leonard Hankerson, LaRon Byrd and Travis Benjamin, which is a pretty nice trio of receiving targets. I didn’t get a lot of notes on them in this game, though I have been impressed with each of them at different times when I have seen them. Frankly, Harris didn’t give them a lot of catchable balls in this game so it was hard to find times to take notes on them, but when I saw them catch passes they all impressed me. Hankerson had a great one-handed catch late in the game and made another catch or two with his hands which was nice to see. Byrd, as far as I can tell from my notes, didn’t make a catch without catching the ball away from his body which was great to see. And Benjamin has always been good for big chunks of yardage and a lot of separation, and he nearly pulled off a terrific 3rd down catch along the sidelines on Miami’s last ditch attempt after they recovered an onside kick. I am excited to see how all three progress this season, and I think that if Harris continues to improve and if Miami’s offensive line holds up they could have a very explosive offense on their hands. I am excited to see them all play.

Orlando Franklin, Miami’s left tackle in this game, is going to receive mixed reviews from me. I heard rather frequently last year that he looked good filling in for Jason Fox, Miami’s very reliable left tackle who got hurt during his senior season before he left for the NFL. However, he looks more like a left guard to me than a left tackle, though he will have ample opportunity to prove me wrong during his senior campaign. He doesn’t look very quick out of his stance, and he seemed to struggle with Schofield and Watt versus the pass and Watt gave him some trouble with his quickness off the ball versus the run as well. Overall, he just didn’t seem athletic enough to handle Schofield, Watt or Chris Borland, a linebacker who will occasionally play with his hand in the dirt on obvious passing downs. I don’t know if he was quite prepared to play left tackle last season, so hopefully he will look more comfortable on the outside as a senior when he is preparing to play the position. I will definitely be paying attention to him this year.

Bailey has a lot of potential and natural athletic ability, but I am not a believer yet. He needs to get stronger versus the run and improve his hand usage before I buy him as a potential 1st round pick.

On the defensive side of the ball Miami naturally has some talented players, but Allen Bailey is definitely one of the more highly touted players on the roster. He has drawn comparisons to Justin Tuck because of his versatility to play defensive tackle and defensive end, though I think he mainly played defensive end in this game. However, I can’t say I was entirely impressed with him in this game. He had a sack where he got a nice bull-rush on Josh Oglesby, shed his block and wrapped Tolzien up for a sack, but he was also blocked effectively in the run game by Garrett Graham, Lance Kendricks and Oglesby multiple times. That was particularly alarming because a DE/DT ‘tweener should be strong enough with good enough hand usage to man-handle 95% of TE blocks. I can understand getting blocked effectively by Graham a time or two because he has a good reputation as a run blocker (even if I think he gets away with holding rather regularly). But he got blocked effectively by Graham multiple times one on one, by Kendricks multiple times, and got blocked one on one effectively by Josh Oglesby versus the run. That was pretty shocking, and it really made me question him as a prospect. Sure, he can get after the passer, but if he can’t defend the run or shed blocks in the trenches then his value as a prospect will be significantly lower to me. He’s getting a lot of positive pub right now, but I am definitely not a believer in Bailey as of today. He has another year to show me what he can do, but he needs to show me a lot more ability versus the run for me to think he will be the quality player everyone else seems to think he will be.

One player I saw flash some impressive ability was Olivier Vernon, a freshman defensive end on Miami. He didn’t get a lot of playing time as a freshman, but he absolutely tossed Gabe Carimi like a rag-doll on a run play and got a great TFL. He didn’t make any other plays as good as this one in the game that I noticed, but he sure did flash some ability on this play. I have high hopes for him in his career, and I think that he will show some substantial growth as a sophomore. I am very interested in seeing him play this season, he is definitely a sleeper for the DE position. Hopefully he breaks out and makes me look smart!

Harris has 1st round ability, and he is one of my favorite draft elligible corners this year. (Photo/Jeffrey M. Boan)

Finally, one player that I am a big fan of on Miami’s defense is their corner Brandon Harris. He was only a sophomore last season but he managed 15 pass deflections and two interceptions on the year. I watched the Miami-FSU game early in the year and I immediately noticed him. He just makes big plays whenever I watch him. There was one particular play against Wisconsin when Harris got beaten, I believe it was by Garrett Graham underneath, and he turned upfield and I thought it was a certain touchdown. But Harris didn’t give up on the play and he came up behind Graham and as he began to wrap him up he punched the ball out just before he crossed the goal line. Miami recovered the ball in the end zone for a touch-back and Miami stayed in the game, all because Harris didn’t give up on this play and forced the fumble. I think he is going to end up declaring after his junior season and he is going to be a high draft pick if he plays well this year in my opinion. He is definitely one of my favorite draft-eligible corners, even if he doesn’t support the run as well as I might like. Definitely keep an eye out for Harris next season, I think he is going to break out even more than he did last year.

That just about concludes the notes I have for the Miami Hurricanes. Check out my blog post below for my write-ups on the Wisconsin players I took enough notes on to get a feel for their ability as a player. Hopefully you enjoy this post and my other posts to come. Thanks for reading!

–Tom