Tag Archive: Janzen Jackson


Les Miles confirmed today that dynamic LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu has been dismissed from the football team “permanently” according to his press conference. According to Ben Allbright (@NFLDraftMonster) Mathieu has failed 3 drug tests at LSU, including one this past week. That is apparently what prompted this stern action from Les Miles and LSU as a whole. If it is true that he has failed 3 drug tests it is my understanding that he will not be eligible to simply transfer down to a FCS level team, play for a season, and then enter the NFL Draft. The handling of this situation from the school will be very important to keep an eye on, because if they do not level disciplinary action on him (in the form of a suspension, etc) then according to John Infante (@John_Infante) he would be eligible to use a one time transfer exception to transfer to a FCS school. So we have to wait to see what the school does, and then we will have a better idea of how this will play out.

This is certainly a stunning development, I myself am a big fan of Mathieu and have been touting him as a dynamic player since I watched him during his true freshman season two years ago. He became a well known star as a sophomore, but he tested positive for synthetic marijuana which resulted in a suspension from LSU during the season last year. That didn’t dissuade Mathieu from continuing to use marijuana and now he has been dismissed from the team. Regardless of your stance on marijuana use, there is no doubt that it is sad to see a young man with a bright future in front of him see it go off the rails because of positive drug tests. He’s still a talented player that should be drafted in the 4th round range because of his on-field ability, but if he doesn’t turn it around and stay clean at whatever school he goes to (or if he doesn’t stay out of trouble if he isn’t allowed to play anywhere at all) then NFL teams are going to be even more wary of taking a chance on him even if he is supremely talented.

I’m wishing him the best in his future endeavors, and I hope he has a chance to play at a FCS school this year, but more than that I hope he can find a way to stay clean to avoid further jeopardizing his chance at a successful NFL career.

I will update this article as more information comes out and more details of this story are confirmed. At this time, we know that Mathieu will not be back at LSU and will have to hope for a FCS transfer.

–Tom

**Update**

Reports are coming out that Tyrann Mathieu is transferring to McNeese State. I haven’t seen it confirmed by a major network like ESPN yet, but a photo came out of Mathieu allegedly from the McNeese State football facilities. I can’t say 100% that Mathieu will be at McNeese State, but that is what it looks like is going to happen. It makes sense because it is only 2 hours from LSU and only 3 hours from New Orleans where Mathieu is from. I’m glad Mathieu will be able to play this season (at least as far as we know right now) and attempt to rehabilitate his draft stock. Hopefully that goes better for Mathieu than it did for Janzen Jackson, who left after a year at McNeese State and went undrafted before signing with the Giants this offseason.

I will update this further as more information becomes available.

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1- Janzen Jackson, FS, Tennessee
Analysis:
Jackson played one season with Eric Berry and I think that Berry passed the torch as the best safety in the country to Jackson, however there is a lot of uncertainty of whether or not he will actually be on the field this year. He left the program in February according to what I have read to deal with personal reasons, and Tennessee’s Head Coach Derek Dooley has repeatedly said he left on his own accord to deal with personal issues and that he was not suspended or kicked off the team. Hopefully Jackson will be able to get his head right and his life in order in time for him to come back to play this season because he really is an incredible talent. So even though there is no guarantee that he will be back I am obligated to rank him as my top safety because if he comes back that is exactly what he will be: the best safety in the country.
2- Robert Lester, FS, Alabama
Analysis: I watched Lester play quite a bit last year when I was scouting Alabama and I have to say I was pretty impressed. He is a ball-hawk in the secondary and definitely has a lot of potential as such, but he is not a very good tackler at all if I remember. He has his upside but also has things he needs to work on. But he is definitely one of the best safeties in the country. Last season he produced 52 tackles (29 solo), 1.5 TFL, 1.0 sacks, 8 INT’s (102 return yards), 1 FR and 4 pass deflections. I am looking forward to see him play in one of the best secondaries in the country next year as I believe Alabama returns all four of their starting DB’s.
3- T.J. McDonald, FS, Southern Cal
Analysis: McDonald won’t be playing in a bowl game this year and while I wish they would have taken the bowl ban off of USC’s program there is little to do about it now. However, McDonald should emerge as a very good player this year and I think he will live up to my #3 safety in the country ranking. He has good size at 6’2″, 205 pounds and has a listed 40 time of 4.54, plus last year he produced 89 total tackles (54 solo), 3.0 TFL, 1.0 sack, 3 INT’s, 4 pass break-ups and 1 kick/punt block. He was productive last year but I am anxious to see him in coverage this season as I didn’t get to see him a  lot in that capacity last year. I have heard one of his weaknesses may be long speed but if he has a good burst to close as well as quality ball skills and hopefully good tackling fundamentals that won’t be much of an issue, at least not in my opinion.
4- Markelle Martin, SS, Oklahoma State
Analysis: Martin is a quality safety on Oklahoma State, a team and program I am liking more and more every year. I actually just visited their stadium when I was in Oklahoma for the weekend and my Facebook profile picture is me striking a pose in their end zone. They have a great stadium and I really like their team, so I am glad I have an excuse to watch their defense so I can see Martin play this year. He has pretty solid size for a safety at 6’1, 195 pounds and he has a 4.47 40 yard dash time. Last year he had 55 total tackles and a remarkable 49 solo tackles, I’ve never seen a tackle total quite like that. He also had 2.0 TFL, 3 INT’s (1 TD), and 10 pass break-ups. He was very productive last year but I want to see how he plays in coverage and I’d like to see if he is as good of a tackler as his stat sheet would seem to indicate. I can’t wait to watch him and Go Cowboys!
5- Trenton Robinson, FS, Michigan State
Analysis: Robinson is going to be the anchor of Michigan State’s secondary and even though he is the size of a corner he is quite the effective safety. He stands at 5’10”, 195 pounds and has a 4.46 40 yard dash time, but he played safety and recorded 76 total tackles (35 solo), 4 INT’s, and 8 pass break-ups last season. I am looking forward to evaluating him because I have not seen him play much and I didn’t pay much attention to him when I watched Michigan State this past season. Between Jerell Worthy and Robinson the Spartans definitely have some talent on defense.
6- George Iloka, FS, Boise State
Analysis: Iloka is big for a safety as he stands at 6’3″, 215 pounds and has a listed 4.50 40 yard dash time. He was productive last year for Boise State as a junior when he totaled 63 total tackles (49 solo), 3.0 TFL, 2 INT’s, 5 pass break-ups and 1 FF. I have no idea as far as what his tendencies are and I haven’t seen him play much, so I will definitely be looking into Boise State this year so I can evaluate him.
7- Aaron Henry, FS, Wisconsin
Analysis: Henry is easily the best player in Wisconsin’s secondary and is probably one of the best players on Wisconsin’s defense now that Watt has left for the NFL. He has solid size at 6’0″, 210 pounds and has a listed 4.52 40 yard dash time. Last season he produced 57 total tackles (46 solo), 0.5 TFL, 2 INT’s (2 TD’s), 7 pass break-ups, 2 FR’s (1 TD). It will be interesting to see how he does this year since I am not sure how good Wisconsin’s pass rush is going to be, and their pass defense wasn’t exactly elite last year even with J.J. Watt living in the backfield.
8- Tony Dye, SS, UCLA
Analysis: Dye has solid safety size at 5’11”, 206 pounds and has a listed 40 yard dash time of 4.52. He played opposite Rahim Moore last year and it will be interesting to see how he does this season without Moore ballhawking in the backfield. Last year he produced 96 total tackles (59 solo), 3.5 TFL, 1 INT, and 9 pass deflections. This year he will be the man in the secondary as a Senior and he will have to step up in pass coverage. It will be interesting to see how he does.
9- Antonio Allen, SS, South Carolina
Analysis: Allen is part of a pretty talented secondary for South Carolina. They have a few potential starting safeties but I think Allen might be the best of the bunch. He is 6’1″, 208 pounds and has a listed 4.57 40 yard dash time. Last year he produced 69 total tackles (38 solo), 10.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 1 INT (1 TD), 4 pass break-ups, and 2 FF. I can’t believe he had 10.5 tackles for loss as a safety, but he seems to be a quality tackler. I can’t wait to evaluate him and the other talented players on South Carolina’s defense next year. They could have quite a defense in 2011.
10- Rashard Hall, FS, Clemson
Analysis: Hall has an intriguing combination of size and speed for the safety position. He is 6’2″, 200 pounds and has a listed 4.52 40 yard dash time. He totaled 62 total tackles (35 solo), 1.0 TFL, 2 INT’s (1 TD), and 2 pass deflections last season. He will be playing safety without DeAndre McDaniel this year so it will be interesting to see how he does. He seems like a pretty cerebral player contrary to a lot of Clemson players I have scouted in years past, so it will be interesting to see if that proves to be true and if he can step up to lead Clemson’s secondary this season.

And that concludes my safety rankings but also all of my pre-season rankings for this season. It feels good to be done, and hopefully you all enjoyed reading them. I’ll update them throughout the year, but for now I need a break from them to be honest. They can be a grind. I am going to start watching film now and get to work on putting up some early pre-season scouting reports based off of the film I watch. Ryan Lindley will be the first one I post as I have already watched all the film I have on him, so expect that either later today or tonight. Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Jenkins has a lot of potential and athletic ability so I am excited to see how he progresses as a sophomore.

Jelani Jenkins, LB, Florida:

Measurables: 6’1”, 223 pounds, #43

Year in 2011: Sophomore

Stats: 76 tackles (41 solo), 4.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks, 1 pass break up

Analysis: Jenkins was one of the most productive freshman linebackers in the country last year as he managed 75+ tackles, 4.5 TFL and 2.0 sacks. I expect him to improve on those statistics as a sophomore, and I think he is on the fast track to leaving as a junior if he continues to improve and get bigger and stronger. I am very much looking forward to seeing how much he improves as a sophomore because he has a lot of upside.

Robinson really impressed me when I saw him get limited playing time behind Dent last year, and I think he will emerge as a consistnt playmaker this year.

Christian Robinson, LB, Georgia:

Measurables: 6’2”, 226 pounds, #45

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 45 tackles (27 solo), 5.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks

Analysis: Robinson should be one of the starting ILB’s in Georgia’s 3-4 defense this year. He will be replacing Akeem Dent and I think he has the instincts and tackling ability to do so. He strikes me as a potentially impressive linebacker and I think he has the mentality to be a very good player for Georgia. He’s fearless and I watched him dive over an offensive lineman’s cut block to tackle a running back. It was pretty epic, so I expect him to be an impact player the next two years for Georgia.

Banks has rare size for a cornerback and if he shows ability in man coverage he will be a hot commodity when he leaves for the draft.

Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State:

Measurables: 6’2”, 180 pounds, #13

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 54 tackles (34 solo), 1.5 TFL, 1.0 sacks, 3 INTs, 7 pass break ups, 1 FF

Analysis: Banks showed me some ability to turn and run and an ability to locate the ball in the air and make a play on it when I was watching him. He had 3 INT’s and 7 pass break ups last year which is pretty good for a sophomore corner. His size is going to be very intriguing, especially for a corner, but if he has good hips and speed then he’s going to shoot up draft boards. It’ll be interesting to see how he plays this year as a junior, I think he has a lot of potential.

Buchanan has a lot of potential because of his size and speed so I am looking for a serious bump in production as a junior.

Michael Buchanan, DE, Illinois:

Measurables: 6’6”, 225 pounds, #99

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 40 tackles (18 solo), 5.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks, 2 pass break ups

Analysis: Buchanan has great size and speed off the edge and I think he has a bunch of potential. He might not have filled out his frame yet but I think that if he can get stronger and continue to develop he could easily hit 8 sacks this season. I am very interested to see how he plays this year because I think he has a high ceiling based off of what I saw of him as a sophomore. He was reportedly arrested for underage consumption of alcohol and for driving under the influence last September, so it will be interesting to see if he learned from that incident or if he struggles with off field issues in the future. Hopefully he stays out of trouble from here on out.

Tress Way is definitely going to get drafted if he maintains his impressive production as a punter before he leaves.

Tress Way, P, Oklahoma:

Measurables: 6’1”, 200 pounds, #36

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 73 punts, 3,212 yards (44 yard average), 70 kick offs, 4,400 yards (62.99 average), 9 touchbacks

Analysis: I know having a punter on this list might seem strange, but Tress Way is a pretty insane punter. Every time I see him punt it’s a great punt, so I am interested to see if he can have an even better year than last year punting. Plus he has a very strong leg for kick offs, so once he enters the draft he is going to be a draftable prospect because of his ability to impact games punting and kicking off.

Fleming (pictured as #14) seems to have impressive ball skills and I’m excited to see him play as a Senior.

Jamell Fleming, DB, Oklahoma:

Measurables: 5’11”, 191 pounds, #32

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 71 tackles (49 solo), 8.5 TFL, 5 INT (1 TD), 1.0 sacks, 14 pass break ups

Analysis: Fleming impressed me when I was watching Oklahoma’s defense this season and I checked out his stat line and it was also impressive. 70+ tackles, 8.5 TFL, 5 INT’s with a touchdown plus 14 pass break ups? That’s very impressive production for a defensive back. I am looking forward to seeing where he lines up this year (probably corner) and if he continues to play well there he could be a top 100 pick without a doubt, especially if he turns and runs well. It’s pretty evident he has good ball skills by his 14 pass break ups and 5 INT’s. I’m excited to see him play this year.

Benjamin might not be the biggest receiver, but I love his potential as a slot receiver. I’d just like to see him improve his hands.

Travis Benjamin, WR, Miami:

Measurables: 5’10”, 176 pounds, #3

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 43 receptions, 743 yards, 3 TD’s. 3 rushes, 44 yards. PR: 23 returns, 106 yards, 1 TD.

Analysis: Benjamin was a guy that I thought might break out last year but Hankerson drew most of the attention. I think Benjamin has a lot of potential as a slot receiver in the NFL and I think he’s going to surpass all of the stats he had last year with 50+ receptions, 800+ yards, 5+ TD’s and potentially more effectiveness as a punt returner. He doesn’t have impressive size but he is fast and I think he has pretty reliable hands. I think he has a lot of explosiveness and if Stephen Morris can spread the ball around amongst all of his talent (LaRon Byrd, Travis Benjamin, Aldarius Johnson…) then Benjamin could have a very big year. I worry a bit about him body catching so I will be looking to see how well he catches the ball away from his body with his hands this year.

Jefferson was quite impressive as a freshman, but his offseason arrest is a bit concerning.

Tony Jefferson, DB, Oklahoma:

Measurables: 5’11”, 198 pounds, #1

Year in 2011: Sophomore

Stats: 65 tackles (44 solo), 7.0 TFL, 2 INT (1 TD), 1 FR, 2.0 sacks, 7 pass break ups

Analysis: Jefferson had an impressive freshman year and I imagine he will be opposite Jamell Fleming at corner. I will definitely be tuning in to see how he progresses as a sophomore. If he has another year like he did as a freshman he could be on the fast track to leaving as a junior for the NFL draft. However, he was arrested on interference with the official process of Kenny Stills being arrested for suspicion of misdemeanor driving under the influence. These charges don’t seem particularly serious to me, but hopefully it doesn’t become a pattern.

Wilber has a very intriguing combination of size and athletic ability. If he can get stronger then he could produce 10 sacks next year.

Kyle Wilber, DE, Wake Forest:

Measurables: 6’5”, 235 pounds, #97

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 65 tackles (33 solo), 14.5 TFL, 6.0 sacks, 4 pass break ups, 3 FF’s, 1 kick/punt blocked

Analysis: Wilber strikes me as a major sleeper because he has great size, has already showed the ability to be productive, plus he has impressive speed off the edge from what I have seen. He just needs to get stronger to fill out his frame. I don’t know a ton about his game yet, but he showed up whenever I was watching Wake Forest’s defense, so I have high expectations for him as a senior. He could very well hit 15.0 TFL and 10.0 sacks next year, he has that upside.


Okoro has an intriguing combination of size, athletic ability and ball skills.

Kenny Okoro, CB, Wake Forest:

Measurables: 6’0”, 195 pounds, #6

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 39 tackles (32 solo), 1.0 TFL, 2 INT, 5 pass break ups

Analysis: Okoro impressed me almost as much as Wilber did when I watched Wake Forest. I think he is probably the best corner they’ve had since Alphonso Smith. He has good size for a corner as well and seems to have good ball skills. I am very much looking forward to see how he progresses as a junior. I want to see how he does in man coverage because if he plays man well then he will be in serious demand because he has good size for a corner and seems to have reliable hands. I don’t know how well he supports the run, but if he has a good year this year he might consider leaving for the NFL Draft after this season.

Elliot has a lot of speed off the edge and I think he should be a very effective pass rusher when he cracks the starting line-up.

Tevin Elliot, DE/LB, Baylor:

Measurables: 6’2”, 245 pounds, #18

Year in 2011: Sophomore

Stats: 36 tackles (24), 9.0 TFL, 5.0 sacks, 2 pass break ups, 2 FF’s

Analysis: Tevin Elliot was a freshman last year and in a rotational role he managed 9.0 TFL and 5.0 sacks. He has a lot of speed off the edge and while he doesn’t have ideal size I think he is going to be a fierce 4-3 RE or 3-4 OLB prospect in two years. I think with more consistent playing time he will improve on all of these stats because with his edge speed he has the potential to get 8.0 sacks a year.

Adams has a ton of potential and I love him as a slot receiver, but he is kind of a hot head and he body catches too much for my liking.

Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas:

Measurables: 5’11”, 190 pounds, #3

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 50 receptions, 813 yards, 6 TD’s. 6 rushes, 32 yards. 16 PR, 249 yards (15.56 avg) 1 TD

Analysis: I think that Adams is going to have another very good year this year, but I think he has the potential to break 1,000 yards because I think he will be one of the go-to guys on Arkansas. He has a ton of potential as he has solid size, he plays hard and he is very dangerous after the catch. He body-catches more than I would like to see though, and he also tends to be a hot-head which can get him in trouble and draw unnecessary penalties. So he is a bit of a risky player, but I love how he plays the game and if he can improve his hands to catch passes away from his body then he could be an extremely dangerous slot receiver in the NFL.

I don’t think Wilson will have any problems stepping in to replace Mallett at QB next year.

Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas:

Measurables: 6’3”, 215 pounds, #8

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 34/51, 66.7% comp, 453 yards, 4 TD’s/3 INT’s

Analysis: I think Wilson is going to surprise everyone that is expecting Arkansas to have a drop-off at quarterback with Mallett leaving. Wilson came in after Mallett got hurt against Auburn and almost won that game. Obviously his inexperience plagued him as he made a couple of costly turnovers, but that’s bound to happen in your first meaningful playing time when you aren’t expected to be the starter (plus they were playing from behind). However, he has good arm strength, accuracy and solid size. I expect him to take over the starting job and have an incredible year because he is stepping into an ideal situation with Knile Davis, a very dynamic running back, returning for his junior season, plus he will have three seniors and a junior to throw the ball to in Greg Childs, Joe Adams, Jarius Wright and Cobi Hamilton. That’s a plethora of weapons to spread the ball around to, so I think that Arkansas’ offense could be just as potent as it was last year, if not more potent. Wilson will have everything to do with that.

Wright has definite potential as a slot receiver and I think he will have a great senior season with Wilson at QB.

Jarius Wright, WR, Arkansas:

Measurables: 5’10”, 180 pounds, #4

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 42 receptions, 788 yards, 5 TD’s.

Analysis: Jarius Wright is going to be a part of one of the best group of college receivers in my recent memory next year with Greg Childs, Joe Adams and Cobi Hamilton. They are all very experienced, they all have the ability to stretch defenses vertically and they all have ability after the catch. Wright should be a slot receiver with Joe Adams, and I look for him to improve on his numbers from a year ago because I think Tyler Wilson will be slinging the ball around a lot this year.

I think Cobi Hamilton has the upside to be one of the best receivers in the SEC.

Cobi Hamilton, WR, Arkansas:

Measurables: 6’3”, 209, #11

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 32 catches, 630 yards, 6 TD’s.

Analysis: I have been high on Cobi Hamilton since I saw him play as a freshman and nothing he did as a sophomore could have dissuaded me from thinking this way. He has impressive size, he has great leaping ability, he attacks the ball in the air, and he has a knack for big plays. I am very excited to see how he progresses as a junior with Tyler Wilson throwing him the ball. If he gets the ball enough he could very well leave for the NFL draft and join the rest of Arkansas’ receivers in this receiver class. I think it would be great if he came back for Wilson’s senior season because I think they could be one of the best QB-WR tandems in the country, but obviously that is looking a bit too far forward. Hamilton has the potential to be one of the best WR’s in the SEC, he just needs opportunities to prove it.

Malik Jackson has a lot of potential and I think his senior season may be the year he puts it all together.

Malik Jackson, DE, Tennessee:

Measurables: 6’5”, 265 pounds, #97

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 48 tackles (29 solo), 11.0 TFL, 5.0 Sacks, 1 INT, 1 FF, 4 pass break ups

Analysis: Jackson transferred from USC to Tennessee after their problems with the NCAA and he hasn’t done a ton thus far but he showed some definite potential as a junior with 11.0 TFL and 5.0 sacks. He has great size and he is an impressive athlete though I haven’t been able to properly assess his burst and edge speed yet. However, I am looking for a pretty big boost in production as a senior and I am definitely going to be checking in to see how he does this year.

Janzen Jackson is an incredible player and he may be the best safety in the country.

Janzen Jackson, S, Tennessee:

Measurables: 6’0”, 187 pounds, #15

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 69 tackles (40 solo), 4.0 TFL, 1.0 sacks, 5 INT’s, 6 pass break ups

Analysis: Janzen Jackson may be the best DB in the SEC right now and that is saying a hell of a lot because the SEC has as much talent in the secondary as I have ever seen right now. Jackson is incredibly athletic and I think he is going to have an insane junior season and leave for the draft. He is one of my favorite players in the country right now even though he definitely had off-field issues as a freshman when Kiffin was still around. He had the chance to learn from Eric Berry so it will be interesting to see how he does this year with all the focus on him. I imagine teams will be throwing away from him, but he will probably still get his numbers like Berry did because he is one of the best, if not the best, safeties in the entire country.

Bray is one of the best young NFL quarterbacks in the country and the best part is he runs a pro-style so he will be easier to project to the NFL.

Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee:

Measurables: 6’5”, 210 pounds, #8

Year in 2011: Sophomore

Stats: 125/224, 55.8% comp, 1,849, 18 TD’s/10 INT’s

Analysis: Bray really impressed me last year when he stepped in as a true freshman and rallied Tennessee’s season as it seemed to be circling the drain and led them to a bowl game. It was an epic game against UNC and while it was controversial I was still very impressed with how Bray handled himself and how he played. He seems to be very poised and he has a strong arm, good accuracy and impressive size. I am very excited to see how he progresses over the next two years because I think he could be one of the best quarterbacks in the 2013 NFL Draft class if he continues to develop and work hard to improve. I am very high on him.

Hunter is one of my favorite young wide receivers in the country and I think he is going to step up in a big way for Tennessee this year.


Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee:

Measurables: 6’4”, 183 pounds, #87

Year in 2011: Sophomore

Stats: 16 receptions, 415 yards, 7 TD’s

Analysis: Hunter is a guy that I have been high on since his freshman year and I am looking for him to absolutely blow up this year. Tennessee’s top two receivers both graduated this year and now it will be up to him to step up to help them replace him. He has impressive size, leaping ability and I really like his hands. I am excited to see how he deveopls this season.

Martin has a lot of speed and playmaking ability and he should have an increased role in Michigan State’s offense this year.

Keshawn Martin, WR, Michigan State:

Measurables: 5’11”, 185 pounds, #82

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 32 receptions, 394 yards, 1 TD. 18 rushes, 157 yards (8.72 ypc). 16 PR, 228 yards (14.25 avg), 1 TD

Analysis: Martin should be targeted a lot more as a senior now that Mark Dell graduated and he has great speed and quickness which should allow him to get over the top of defenses. I think he has the potential to get 50+ catches, 750+ yards and 5 TD’s, plus still have an impact on the running game and as a punt returner. He brings a lot of value and I am excited to see how he steps up to replace Dell and how explosive he is this year.

Thanks for reading!! There is more to come!

–Tom

Obviously I took a lot of notes on Virginia Tech’s players, but I also took note of what some Tennessee players were doing. I took notes on their two best WR’s Gerald Jones and Denarius Moore, brief notes on their TE Luke Stocker, their MLB Herman Lathers, their OLB LaMarcus Thompson and their freshman safety Janzen Jackson. I liked what I saw from all of them, but they had their ups and downs.

Jones has pretty good size and hands, and emerged as a reliable target for Crompton during his junior season.

Gerald Jones had a pretty good game and only had one drop plus two good catches he made with his hands from what I saw. He was pretty consistent in this game, but he also let a pass or two get into his pads which is something I did not like. He was routinely open on curl routes near the sideline and did a good job of making catches with his hands there. He seemed to do a good job of finding a hole in the zone and making a catch there. His biggest challenge coming into his senior season will be to clean up his hands, continue to improve his route running and he needs to just be more consistent. He had something of a breakout year last year as a junior as he matched and exceeded his career totals from his previous two seasons in catches and yards and almost matched his career total in touchdowns (he had four last year and his previous career total was 5). It will be interesting to see how he does this year, because I honestly like him in the mid-late round range right now, especially if he can knock this bad habit of letting passes get into his pads.

Moore has great speed and has shown some impressive route running, but he needs to be more consistent catching the ball with his hands.

Denarius Moore had more ups but also more downs in this game. He had a couple of nice catches that he made with his hands away from his body, and really showed some nice route running ability when he burned Kam Chancellor deep in the 2nd half and when he set up a play action pass well when he faked a block and then darted into the end zone for a touchdown. He had three good catches, but he also had two huge drops. The biggest drop could have been a game-changer for Tennessee as it was on the same play when he burned Chancellor deep. He faked a post to the outside and then darted back down the seam and he completely turned Chancellor around and got at least four yards of separation. The ball was on target and it got to him more or less in stride but he tried to catch it up against his pads and it fell to the turf. If he makes that catch or tries to secure it with his hands first and then cradles it against his body it is almost certainly a touchdown that would have brought Tennessee within six points. Instead it was a drop and Tennessee would later punt the ball away on that drive.

Moore has great speed (4.42 timed speed) and he has great quickness to get in and out of his breaks, and really showed some dedication to his route running in this game. But he has to clean up those drops because you can’t drop a pass like that in the NFL if you want to stick on a roster. He also dropped another touchdown pass later in the game, but he was diving for it as it was a little low and he got hit as the ball got there. It hit his hands and it would have been a nice catch, but regardless of the circumstances it was still a drop. So like I said, Moore had an up and down game, but those dropped touchdowns will probably haunt him for a long time. That is, before he makes up for them by improving his hands and making more big plays as a senior than he did as a junior. Like his teammate Gerald Jones he matched and exceeded his career totals in receptions and yards but he also exceeded his career totals in touchdowns as a junior. If he improves his catching ability he could move up boards quickly with his speed and route running ability, so I am excited to see him play this year.

Luke Stocker was not overly involved in this game and I didn’t take any notes on him as a blocker, but he had a decent game receiving. He had a couple catches, both of which he made with his hands away from his body, and showed some toughness making a catch in traffic and dragging a defender for some tough yards after the catch. I don’t know why Tennessee doesn’t involve him in the passing game more as he seems to have reliable hands. Hopefully next year he will have a more significant role in the passing game.

Lathers has decent size, pretty good instincts and plays well when he can play downhill versus the run.

Herman Lathers looked pretty good to me in this game. He is a little undersized for the MLB spot as he is only 6’1”, 213 pounds right now, but he should put on more weight before his sophomore year. Despite being a little light, he did a good job versus the run. I am not sure how good his change of direction ability is, but when he can play downhill versus the run and shoot a gap he is very effective. He is a pretty good tackler but he missed a tackle or two on Ryan Williams (but so do a lot of people) over the course of the game. Overall I was impressed with him versus the run, but didn’t see much one way or another versus the pass since VT didn’t involve Greg Boone in the passing game at all. He had a pretty good season starting as a freshman, so I am interested to see how he does as a sophomore now that he has some experience.

Thompson is undersized but he packs a punch as a hitter.

LaMarcus Thompson had a pretty solid game, especially versus the run, and made me check on his measurables and his production from the past season. He had 35 tackles, seven tackles for loss, one sack, one QB hurry and one forced fumble. He isn’t very big at 6’1”, 221 pounds, but he looked good supporting the run in this game. He will be a senior this year, so it will be interesting to see if he can put on a little weight. I don’t know how good he is in coverage, but even if he doesn’t do that well he should get a shot as a late round pick or a UDFA because he is a good tackler who really packs a punch as a hitter. He strikes me as a late round pick who will make a team because he will be able to contribute positively on special teams. How he performs as a Senior will determine whether he ever improves his stock beyond that.

Janzen Jackson had a pretty good game. He seems to be a good tackler and he may be the next great playmaking safety for the Volunteers. He got into some trouble earlier in the year as he was potentially involved with an armed robbery and back in August he was held out of practice and forced to run for the duration of that practice because he missed curfew. He seems to have some issues with maturity, but he sure is talented. He had a very nice play when he picked off Tyrod Taylor to end a drive late in the 1st half when VT seemed to be on the move to pick up either a touchdown or a field goal. He is athletically gifted and has a lot of potential, but you have to wonder if the light will come on for him and he will keep himself out of trouble or if he will let off-field issues derail his career. NFL teams will not pick guys with serious character concerns early in the draft anymore, so if he keeps this up he will plunge his stock when he finally declares for the draft later in his career. However, I liked how he looked on the field, especially when he made that nice leaping grab to pick off Tyrod Taylor.

So that is all I have to say about Virginia Tech-Tennessee. If you actually read all of this I commend you for it because it was at least six to seven pages on Microsoft Word prior to the addition of photos. Hopefully you liked what I had to say, and feel free to comment if you agree or disagree with anything I wrote in here.

Thanks for reading!

–Tom Melton