Tag Archive: Jeff Fuller


Senior Bowl Preview:

Quarterbacks:

-Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State: Weeden is my top quarterback because he has what the scouts are looking for in terms of size and arm strength. It will be interesting to see how he does with a batch of new receivers, but I like him as a prospect. Do I think he’s a 1st rounder? No, but I think he may end up in the 2nd round or at least the 3rd round barring a very problematic week for him here. His age will limit his stock, and it will definitely make him a polarizing candidate because I believe he will need a year of development before he can have significant success as a starter (meaning he would be about 30 years old by the time he was a starter). He’s got potential though and should have 6-8 years of quality quarterbacking in him if he is developed correctly, and that’s more than enough to spend a 2nd or 3rd round pick on if you need a quarterback.

-Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin: I am high on Russell Wilson, I’ll say it right now. Is he the prototypical quarterback? No, I don’t think he is. He’s going to measure in at 5’11” if not slightly under that in my opinion, and that will turn off a lot of scouts and a lot of draftniks if I had to guess. But I’ve watched this kid a lot over the last two years and I am convinced that he absolutely has a NFL arm and more than that I am convinced that he has a NFL head on his shoulders. There probably weren’t 10 quarterbacks in the entire nation this year that could have come into a completely foreign situation in Wisconsin and do anything like he did this season. Again, that’s my opinion, but I think people tend to forget just how skeptical some were before the season that he would be successful as a starter for the Badgers. I am really hoping I will be able to interview Russell to get a sense for his personality and his intellect on a one on one level, but I refuse to write him off because of his height. Plenty of people will, but I think that is a mistake. I wouldn’t bet against this kid based on what I know about him.

-Ryan Lindley, QB, San Diego State: I like Lindley and I think he has a chance to really impress this week. I was disappointed I didn’t get to see him at the East-West Shrine Game this week, but I am glad he has a chance to show what he can do on an even bigger stage. He has a live arm and NFL size, but his accuracy has been an issue and he can be a little erratic at times based on the tape I’ve seen of him. This week will be big for him, and while I think he will show his faults I think he will demonstrate his upside as well. He might not be this high on others’ rankings coming into the week, but hopefully he has a strong enough week to turn some heads.

-Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State: Cousins is a player that people have slept on his entire career. He’s never been big enough or fast enough or talented enough to be the outright favorite, but he has fought through it and been successful despite that. I think that speaks to some intangibles on his part, and I think he has a toughness and gutsiness to him that isn’t especially easy to find in a quarterback. However, his lack of arm strength will be a limitation at the next level and he isn’t especially poised in the face of pressure in the pocket. That doesn’t project him to be a great starter at the next level, but I think he has a long NFL career ahead of him as a back-up and a possible spot-starter.

-Nick Foles, QB, Arizona: Foles is an interesting player to me. He has the physical tools to be a NFL quarterback, but I am just not a fan. There’s obviously a lot more to playing quarterback than just your physical ability and God-given tools, but I don’t know much about Foles other than what I’ve been able to see on tape. I am not high on his intangibles at this point and haven’t been overly impressed with him in the 4th quarter when I have watched him. He has a chance to change my mind this week and I have to study a lot more of his 2011 tape, but at this point I think he is an overrated prospect as a possible 1st or 2nd round pick. The 3rd or 4th round range would be more realistic because at that point you are talking about a bit of a project and at least a year or two of development, but coming into the season I had a late round grade on him.

-Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State: This isn’t meant to be a slight against Moore, but when you’re a shorter player teams are ready to write you off as a potential starter anyways, but his lack of arm strength makes it even easier. He’s got average arm strength to be fair, but his ball velocity is lacking on throws beyond 10 or 15 yards. Measuring in at 6’0” or taller is critical for his draft stock, as silly as that might sound, because unlike Russell Wilson he doesn’t have the arm strength to make up for his lack of size. He’s got the intangibles and the smarts to be a NFL quarterback based on what I have seen on film and been able to find out about him, but being smart with limited size and arm strength doesn’t exactly qualify you to be a NFL starter. It means he will stick in the NFL, which I expect him to do, but it will be in a back-up role for the most part in my opinion.

Running Backs:

-Doug Martin, RB, Boise State: I love Doug Martin. I think people mentioning him as a possible 1st rounder are a little ambitious only because the demand for RB’s usually drives running backs down in the draft not up. Martin is absolutely a complete back though and he reminds me a bit of Ray Rice (I have to credit one of my Twitter followers for making the comparison to Rice before I did). He’s going to be a productive NFL back barring injury, and I expect him to demonstrate all of his ability throughout the week. I’m excited to see him in person.

-Chris Polk, RB, Washignton: Polk is a guy that has been underrated for about two years up until a couple of months ago. A lot of people felt comfortable saying that Jake Locker had “zero” talent around him at Washington. He may not have a had an abundance of talent around him, but Polk is a very legitimate 2nd or 3rd round running back prospect and he really helped make Locker’s life easier and he certainly helped Keith Price out in his first season as a starter this year. He’s the 1B to Martin’s 1A in my book, so I expect him to have a good week as well.

-Isiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati: Pead doesn’t strike me as an every down/feature back in the NFL but I definitely think he can contribute to an offense. He’s more of a complementary back in my opinion but he has impressive burst and speed as well as pretty good hands out of the backfield. I haven’t seen him much in pass protection, but he definitely warrants 3rd round pick conversation at the RB position. Again, I don’t see feature back potential from him but he could be a helluva complementary guy if used correctly.

-Vick Ballard, RB, Mississippi State: Ballard is a solid back who runs with good power and is a bit underrated at this point. Is he a top back? Not in my opinion, but I don’t think there’s much doubt he has the potential to contribute at the next level. I’m not sure if he is a guy who can be the feature back at this point, but he should show the ability to carry the ball effectively early on his career.

-Chris Rainey, RB, Florida: Rainey is a speed demon that has not shown the ability to consistently run through tackles and gain yards after contact. His value is in the open field and when he can find some space to run and really show off his great burst and speed. He’s not a feature back in my opinion, but he has plenty of upside as a complementary back, as a receiver out of the backfield (or possibly split out) and as a return man. He should show that off this week.

Fullbacks:

-Bradie Ewing, FB, Wisconsin: Ewing was the starting fullback in Wisconsin’s run heavy offense and definitely has enough blocking ability to contribute in the NFL. Fullback isn’t a position with a ton of demand though, so I don’t know where his stock is at this point. He should have a strong week blocking, but I’m not sure he’s a very good receiver out of the backfield.

Wide Receivers:

-Dwight Jones, WR, North Carolina: This receiver class looked extremely deep a few days ago, but after the Senior Bowl lost Michael Floyd, Nick Toon and now Kendall Wright three of the top five receivers who were supposed to be here won’t be. That means that, almost by default Dwight Jones moves up and I think he has 2nd/3rd round potential, which might make him the #1 receiver here. He’s got a lot of upside thanks to his size and athleticism but his hands are too inconsistent for my liking. Some have him in round 1, but I don’t like him enough for that.

-DeVier Posey, WR Ohio State: Posey has a lot to gain this week. He’s got NFL size and athleticism to be sure. His hands were always incredibly inconsistent at Ohio State and he figures to have a number of drops this week, but if he has the work ethic to improve his hands a bit he could really shoot up boards. He may do it anyways considering where his stock might be after serving a nearly year-long suspension.

-Jeff Fuller, WR, Texas A&M: Fuller hurt his stock this year as he fell from a possible 1st or 2nd rounder to a 3rd or 4th rounder as of right now. He looked slow this year and that hurt his stock considerably, but if he can show better speed and consistent route running this week he could really breathe some life into his stock. I have a feeling he will look faster than most are expecting him to, so I think he could definitely help himself if he shows up with his A game this week.

-Marquis Maze, WR, Alabama: Maze is an underrated receiver in my opinion and I anticipate him turning some heads this week. He’s a bit undersized and the weigh-in will be important for him, but I think he has the hands and route running ability to create separation and stick in the NFL as a slot receiver.

-Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas: Joe Adams is a tricky player for me to project. He’s so explosive thanks to his fantastic speed and burst, and once he gets the ball in his hands he is so fun to watch because of his combination of balance, strength and physicality. He’s undersized but he doesn’t play like it, and that’s always fun to watch. But I’m not sold on him as a route runner and he has had drop issues in the past, he just doesn’t have great hands. It will be interesting to see what he weighs in at, but more than that I will be interested to see how well he catches the ball away from his body this week. He’s had trouble with that when I’ve watched him on film.

-Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State: Quick is a guy I haven’t had a chance to see play yet and I’m very excited to get that chance this week. He’s got impressive size and should have a positive experience at the weigh-in, but I honestly can’t say too much about him as a prospect at this point. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on him this week.

-T.J. Graham, WR, North Carolina State: T.J. Graham is a guy that really caught my eye as a sleeper after I saw him play in NC State’s bowl game. He had a huge game, but he was productive this season, has great speed and flashed the ability to run through arm tackles despite his size. He’s a good receiver and a good return man, and if he has a consistent week catching the ball and running routes I think he will definitely start to open some eyes and move up draft boards.

-Juron Criner, WR, Arizona: Criner is a player that a lot of people were high on coming into the year but his draft stock really dropped over the course of the season. He’s not the best receiver in the draft by any means, but he is still draftable and has some value as a prospect. I’m very anxious to see him going up against some quality competition at corner this week.

-Gerell Robinson, WR, Arizona State: Robinson is a nice addition to this game and he easily had the best season of his career as a senior this year with Brock Osweiler throwing him the ball. Robinson is the definition of a possession receiver and consistently came up with big catches over the middle or on curl routes to extend drives for Arizona State this year. I like that about him, but I question his speed and I’m not 100% sold on his route running either. He’s got upside and value though, and considering he was a possible (or maybe even probable) undrafted free agent before the season started he has really helped his draft stock this year.

-Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa: I like McNutt but from what I’ve heard he is dropping on draft boards around the league, and it’s not super tough to see why. He’s solid in all aspects, but doesn’t do anything spectacularly well. Not only that, but he showed a lack of speed and physicality this year and that has to concern scouts. He’s a late round pick right now as far as I can tell, so this week is huge for him because he may be able to breathe a little life into his stock if he plays well. But if he doesn’t he might drive himself close to the 7th round/undrafted free agent conversation. I hope that doesn’t happen, but I can’t rule it out if he struggles.

Tight Ends:

-Michael Egnew, TE, Missouri: I really like Egnew and he is definitely the top tight end here in my opinion. He’s got great size and he has drawn comparisons to Jimmy Graham which I think are fairly legitimate due to their combination of size, athleticism and potential, but Egnew is obviously more polished as a receiver than Graham was when he came out. Egnew doesn’t have much experience blocking though which might hold him back at times this week, but if he is drafted in the 2nd or 3rd round range whatever team picks him will end up being very happy with him once he gets to camp.

-Ladarius Green, TE, Louisiana Lafayette: Green is a talented tight end that looks very skinny on film and due to his athleticism honestly looks a little like a very tall, skinny receiver when you watch him. I haven’t seen much from him as a blocker at all, so this week could expose that for him a little bit, but he’s a natural receiver with significant upside. He should be in the 3rd round conversation this year, and I think that is very deserving.

-Deangelo Peterson, TE, LSU: Peterson is someone I thought could really improve his stock as a sleeper this season but thanks to Jordan Jefferson and LSU’s pathetic excuse for a passing game that never materialized. He’s got the size and athleticism as well as solid hands to be a productive receiving tight end but he never really got a chance to at LSU. This week could be HUGE for him for that exact reason because he will finally be able to show what he can do when he is consistently involved during this week of practices.

-Brad Smelley, TE, Alabama: Smelley is a fun guy to watch because he doesn’t look like he’d be a very good tight end but he makes plays despite that. He might offer more as a blocker than any of the three players I have mentioned previously, and he’s one of those glue guys that I think every roster needs. He’s not flashy, but he’s versatile and strikes me as a hard-working guy that will find a way to stick on a NFL roster whether he is drafted in the late rounds or not.

-Brian Linthicum, TE, Michigan State: Linthicum’s value is as a blocker and I’m not sure he has starting tight end upside in the NFL. I just don’t see the route running and athleticism to threaten down the seam, and the tight end position has increasingly become an integral part of the passing game. Think about it: A significant number of teams that ended up making the playoffs this year had an impressive target at tight end, and even though he might be underrated Jake Ballard has been huge for the Giants this year and we don’t need to talk about how good Gronkowski and Hernandez are for the Patriots. Linthicum should get drafted late, but I don’t think it will be for his receiving ability.

Offensive Line:

-Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State: I am high on Sanders and I have been since he was a junior. When I was scouting Christian Ponder I openly wondered if he had what it took to slide to left tackle but didn’t think he’d ever get a chance to show it in college. Little did I know that Datko would get injured and Sanders would take full advantage by doing a good job as E.J. Manuel’s blind-side protector. He’s improved his stock a lot this year and with one more good week he could lock himself up as a 1st rounder, and I expect that to happen.

-Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin: Zeitler has been underrated for over a year and he is finally starting to get the love that he deserves as a guard. I think he might be the top offensive guard prospect even though he’s not a behemoth like Osemele or Cordy Glenn. He’s very fundamentally sound and has starting experience in a great rushing attack at Wisconsin. He should be a riser this week and should end up in the 2nd/3rd round range come draft day. He has a 10-12 year career as a starting guard ahead of him, and will be a good value in that range.

-Kelechi Osemele, OG, Iowa State: Osemele is a guy I really like. He is dominant once he gets his hands on you and I love watching that type of play from offensive linemen. He’s extremely large and strong, but he won’t be able to stick at left tackle in my opinion. It will be interesting to see if he gets a shot to play right tackle at all this week because I think he has a chance to stick there in the NFL, but even if he doesn’t look good there I think he will be a high draft pick as a guard.

-Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State: Adams is one of the well-known participants in Ohio State’s tattoo scandal from this past season but he is a legitimate pro prospect at offensive tackle. I’m not sure I love him at either tackle position because I think he struggles with speed a little too much to stick at left tackle at the next level but he’s not exactly a force in the running game either and might struggle to get a good enough push to be a quality run-blocking right tackle. Regardless, he clearly has talent and should impress at the weigh-in as long as he is in shape. He’s got upside and should be an early 2nd round pick, but may sneak into the late 1st round if there is a team that really needs a tackle picking late.

-Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia: Glenn could try and stick at right tackle much like Osemele this week but I don’t know if that his ideal fit. He’s tough for me to project right now, but he should be fine inside at guard. He’s a HUGE guy but he worries me with his waist bending and isn’t nearly as dominant in the run game as his size would make you think he would be. This week will be big for him because he will need to show up in shape and hopefully ease some concerns that I and others have about him.

-Jeff Allen, OT, Illinois: Jeff Allen is an underrated offensive tackle prospect that I am really glad got an invitation to this game. Every time I’ve watched him he has looked solid and I can’t recall a time off the top of my head that I saw him get beat badly. Obviously that isn’t exact, but my point is that Allen looked good consistently this year for the Illini and warranted an East-West Shrine Game invite but apparently didn’t get one, so I’m glad he is here. He can play left tackle in the NFL in my opinion and guys with that ability don’t stay under the radar for too long, so I don’t expect Allen to last long under the radar this week and he could end up being the talk of the Senior Bowl if he plays like I think he could.

-Mike Brewster, C, Ohio State: I’m actually not a big fan of Brewster, but I think he warrants consideration in the 3rd or 4th round. He has a chance to show me something this week though. But at this point I wouldn’t pick him in the 2nd round, I just don’t see top center ability from him despite his starting experience at an elite program at Ohio State.

-Ben Jones, C, Georgia: I’m not hugely high on Ben Jones either, but I think I like him a bit more than I like Brewster right now. It will be interesting to compare and contrast the two this week because I think Brewster is the better athlete, but Jones has always impressed me a bit more when I watch Georgia.

Sorry for the long wait! The defense is on the way!

–Tom

1- Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State: Grade: Top 10
2- Alshon Jeffrey, WR, South Carolina: Grade: 1st Round
3- Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame: Grade: 1st round
4- Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor: Grade: Late 1st/Early 2nd
5- Jarius Wright, WR, Arkansas: Grade: Late 1st/Early 2nd
6- Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers: Grade: Early/Mid 2nd
7- Rueben Randle, WR, LSU: Grade: Early/Mid 2nd
8- Nick Toon, WR, Wisconsin: Grade: 2nd/3rd
9- Dwight Jones, WR, North Carolina: Grade: 2nd/3rd
10- Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa: Grade: Grade: 3rd
11- A.J. Jenkins, WR, Illinois: Grade: 3rd
12- Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State: Grade: 3rd
13- T.Y. Hilton, WR, Florida International: Grade: 3rd/4th
14- Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas: Grade: 4th
15- Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma: Grade: 4th
16- Marquis Maze, WR, Alabama: Grade: 4th
17- Greg Childs, WR, Arkansas: Grade: 4th/5th
18- Jarrett Boykin, WR, Virginia Tech: Grade: 4th/5th
19- DeVier Posey, WR, Ohio State: Grade: 5th
20- Jeff Fuller, WR, Texas A&M: Grade: 5th
21- Juron Criner, WR, Arizona: Grade: 5th
22- Rishard Matthews, WR, Nevada: Grade: 5th
23- Jermaine Kearse, WR, Washington: Grade: 5th/6th
24- B.J. Cunningham, WR, Michigan State: Grade: 5th/6th
25- Gerell Robinson, WR, Arizona State: Grade: 5th/6th
26- Lance Lewis, WR, East Carolina: Grade: 6th
27- Jordan White, WR, Western Michigan: Grade: 6th
28- Marvin Jones, WR, California: Grade: 6th
29- Chris Owusu, WR, Stanford: Grade: 6th
30- Derek Moye, WR, Penn State: Grade: 6th
31- Travis Benjamin, WR, Miami: Grade: 6th/7th
32- Devon Wylie, WR, Fresno State: Grade: 7th
33- T.J. Graham, WR, North Carolina State: Grade: 7th
34- Keshawn Martin, WR, Michigan State: Grade: 7th
35- Mike Willie, WR, Arizona State: Grade: 7th
36- Junior Hemingway, WR, Michigan: Grade: 7th/UDFA
37- James Rodgers, WR, Oregon State: Grade: 7th/UDFA
38- Da’Jon McKnight, WR, Minnesota: Grade: 7th/UDFA
39- Thomas Mayo, WR, California (PA): Grade: 7th/UDFA
40- Darius Reynolds, WR, Iowa State: Grade: 7th/UDFA

Demontre Moore: Moore has plenty of upside. He’s got great size at 6’4″, 245 pounds and has good speed off the edge. Not sure he’s an elite athlete, but he has been very productive this season as a sophomore with 51 total tackles (31 solo), 14.0 TFL, 6.5 sacks, 3 FF’s and 1 pass break up. He and Sean Porter are a fearsome tandem and will be even scarier next year as he will be a junior and Porter will be a senior. He has flashed the ability to shed, keep contain and is a reliable tackler. Showed good burst/explosiveness off the edge.
-Moore made a great play to chase down Diggs on his terrific punt return to save a touchdown. A&M then forced a field goal. Could be a critical play if A&M can get going on offense.

Sean Porter: Porter reminds me a lot of what Von Miller used to be as a junior. He’s 6’2″, 230 pounds and very explosive as an athlete. He has 67 total tackles (44 solo), 13.5 TFL, 8.5 sacks and 1 forced fumble so far this year. He relies almost entirely on his athleticism as a pass rusher and a defender much like Miller used to, but he is still a fearsome player with only that in his arsenal. Like Miller he has plenty of upside and should be back in school next year as a senior, and if he comes back stronger and with better hand usage he could be a very scary prospect much like Miller developed into. It will be interesting to see if he is able to take that next step, but right now he avoids blocks versus shedding them with his speed and burst, but he has to be able to shed and use physical moves to get off blocks once he is engaged. Once he’s engaged he’s not nearly as effective, so he needs to get stronger and work on his hand usage.

Tony Jerod-Eddie: TJE has impressive size at 6’5″, 301 pounds. He has 40 total tackles (20 solo), 6.0 TFL, 4.0 sacks and has shown a solid motor and flashed a swim move. He’s got some potential as a 3-4 DE or a 4-3 DT. Not sure he’s a great pass rusher or run defender, but he has NFL size and that warrants some checking out. He hasn’t flashed a whole lot tonight, but he’s been solid. I’m going to keep an eye on him and see how he looks the rest of the game.

Eddie Brown Jr.: Brown Jr. has been impressive today. He’s tough to move off the line of scrimmage because of his size (6’0″, 310 pounds) and he has a very good burst off the line of scrimmage. He’s regularly one of the first defensive linemen off the ball and moves surprisingly well for a big man. He’s made some nice stops at the line of scrimmage tonight, and definitely has some potential as a rotational defensive lineman. Not sure he’s a starter yet, I just haven’t seen enough of him. But he has some value in my opinion.

Ryan Tannehill: Tannehill is a guy I like, but he has been very off so far tonight. Texas has a talented defense and they churn out talented defensive backs like it’s their job. Tannehill has struggled tonight for reasons I’m not sure of, but there have been drops, bad throws by him, deflections at the line of scrimmage, and he’s gotten hit a bit as well (a few times by Keenan Robinson). We’ll have to see how he does in the second half, but he has much more potential than this. He displayed it a bit on the first drive Texas A&M had when they marched down and scored, but Texas settled in on defense and has thwarted him for the majority of the half since. Tannehill has been very accurate on roll-outs and passes outside the pocket, but he hasn’t been very good inside the pocket yet. He needs to remedy that situation in the second half, because Texas has too much athleticism to continue to rely entirely on passes from outside of the pocket. Corner blitzes will come if they keep doing roll-outs off of play action and he will take more hits, get sacked or turn the ball over. He needs to pass better from the pocket.
-Tannehill has been terrible in this game. Texas has been great on defense since early in this game and their defensive backs have been especially good. Byndom has been in Fuller’s hip pocket all game and has a pick 6, Diggs has nearly made multiple interceptions, Vacarro has an interception, and Christian Scott nearly had his first interception of the season early on with a great break on the ball. Tannehill hasn’t had a lot of open receivers to throw to but he has been inaccurate, he’s stared down his receivers which has led to interceptions and he hasn’t handled his lack of success well as his issues have continued to snow ball. That is worth noting as a prospect, and because this is his 2nd to last game (assuming their 6 wins get them a bowl game which it should) this is definitely going to leave a sour taste in the mouth of evaluators. His only hope is to lead a comeback in the 4th quarter and win a game ugly.

Ben Malena: Malena has been very impressive in this game. He’s been running through arm tackles, churning his legs effectively, displaying impressive burst and speed as well as reliable hands. I’m really enjoying watching him, and should have a lot of touches the rest of the year and next year in a shared backfield.

Jeff Fuller: Fuller has been having a down year and it has something to do with his struggles to create separation. He’s been nicked up, but he struggled to create separation before. He has very impressive hands and can make tough catches even when covered, but you’d like to see him run better routes to generate more separation. A couple times he pushed off of the cornerback defending him to try to get free, but for the most part he was blanketed in the first half. Carrington Byndom has done a great job on him. He’s only a sophomore but he has played great and been in Fuller’s back pocket the entire game. Fuller has the size to beat him (6’4″, 220 pounds versus 6’0″, 180 pounds) but Byndom is more athletic than Fuller is and it has been evident. Fuller has been relatively productive this year, but he has possession receiver numbers with 56 receptions, 602 yards and 4 TD’s on the year. He’s got a 3rd or 4th round grade from me right now, but unless he gets healthy and starts showing he can generate consistent separation he probably won’t move up much more than that

Carrington Byndom: Byndom has been terrific tonight. According to the announcers he matches up with the best receiver on every opposing team and he is only a sophomore. He has been blanketing Jeff Fuller all night and has clearly been frustrating him as he has resorted to pushing off and trash talking, but Byndom has barked back and continues to stick with him in coverage. Byndom has tons of upside as a man coverage corner thanks to his size, speed and he seems to have pretty long arms. He needs to get bigger and stronger, but he’s got tons of upside. Keep an eye on him, he’s #23.
-Byndom had a great play to get a pick 6. He’s a very impressive corner.

Ryan Swope: Swope doesn’t have the same upside Fuller does because he doesn’t have the same size/athletic ability but he has good hands. He has dropped a pass or two in this game though, and hasn’t been able to beat Texas vertically like he has against other teams. He’s been good against zone coverage though, and needs to get more involved in the second half if Texas A&M is going to move the ball. Fuller is being taken out of the game by one on one coverage which leaves a lot of defenders to keep an eye on Swope.

Keenan Robinson: Robinson is a very talented linebacker. He’s clearly very athletic, is a very reliable tackler and has laid the wood on Tannehill a couple times in the first half. He really packs a punch and has a knack for finding his way to the ball carrier and the quarterback. He doesn’t have elite size, but he’s a quality linebacker that is fun to watch.

Quandre Diggs: Diggs is the “other” corner opposite Byndom. He is only a FRESHMAN but he is starting for Texas. He’s 5’10”, 200 but he has 39 total tackles (24 solo), 3.0 TFL, 2 interceptions (a 3rd in this game) and TEN pass deflections. That is incredibly impressive, and he seems likely to be the next stud corner at Texas after Byndom of course. I’ve been impressed with Diggs so far, he had a great recovery to pick Tannehill off. I almost forgot to mention that Diggs is a great punt returner. He flashed a lot of potential in his limited touches in the 1st half, but he really ripped off a great return after A&M’s first punt to set Texas up with the ball on A&M’s 9 yard line.

Kenny Vacarro: Vacarro is a guy that has been tabbed as a potentially underrated safety. It’s tough to watch him play, but he has looked solid in coverage when I could see him. He strikes me as a leader on Texas’ defense and wore Fozzy Whitaker’s #2 jersey because he is injured and unable to play which you love to see. #6 flashed an impressive close to nearly get an interception, but Vacarro is the better prospect at this point.
-Fantastic interception high pointing the ball on the sideline and getting his feet down. Looked like a wide receiver. He’s got a lot of upside.

Kheeston Randall: Randall has demonstrated some ability but he hasn’t been the dominant, disruptive force that I was expecting. He has NFL size and athletic ability, but I think he needs work on his hand usage and pass rush moves. He’s strong and not very easy to move off of the line of scrimmage, but he has left something to be desired thus far.

Randy Bullock:  Bullock is the Texas A&M kicker. He has made 3 FGs in this game, 24 this season. He is a  Lou Groza award finalist. 2 of his 3 field goals in this game have been 50+ yard attempts that he has made convincingly. I want to see him in clutch situations, but two 50 yard field goals is definitely impressive.

Jackson Jeffcoat: Jeffcoat has started to emerge this season along with Okafor. He hasn’t had a lot of pressure on Tannehill as a passer (or at least I haven’t noticed it, hard to see everything at once) but he has made some TFL’s in the backfield against a RB who has been running through unimpressive tackles all game. He’s done a good job versus the run so far.

Alex Okafor: Okafor has emerged as a pass rusher this year. I think they will be really fun to watch next year because they have a lot of athletic ability and upside as pass rushers, but beyond that they have a fantastic secondary that will help them get coverage sacks.

Emmanuel Acho: Acho is a great tackler along with Robinson. He has made some impressive open field stops against Malena who has been making some Texas defenders look silly as the slide off of him. He and Robinson have shown ability in coverage and close very, very fast. Plus they know how to get after the passer when they come on a blitz.

Will West Virginia's coaching drama distract the team? Or will it provide motivation to keep everyone together?

16. West Virginia- I have West Virginia pretty high even in spite of all the problems they have been having. Sometimes those can be distractions, but other times they can provide you with a chance to escape from the off field circus and focus on football. I think it is easier to do this when you have an established coach who has weathered the storm before instead of a new guy (whose hiring started the whole fiasco in the first place), but I won’t write them off yet. They have a lot of talent, headlined by Geno Smith at quarterback (who some have mentioned as a Heisman candidate) and they have a lot of pass rushing potential on their defensive line, which makes every defense better. They might not win the Big East, but you have to remember… it’s the Big East. Anyone can win the Big East.

17. USC- Southern Cal is loaded with talent as usual, and even if they can’t go to a bowl game this year (which I think is stupid, for the record. Punishing kids who didn’t do anything wrong, at least for what they are being punished for, is wrong. And upholding it for two years instead of letting these guys play in a bowl game if they earn it… I can’t get behind that) they should be dangerous. I don’t think they have it in them to win the Pac-12 because Oregon and Stanford are both great teams, but they will definitely make it interesting. Matt Barkley is ready for a break-out season I believe and he has so much talent around him. I am one of the biggest Robert Woods fans in the world I think, because it just baffles me how he can be so good at running routes, have such great hands and just overall be so polished and impressive at receiver as a freshman. It blows my mind. Their defense was a problem for them last year, so it will be interesting to see if their pass rush gets ramped up (it should, Nick Perry has been ready to blow up for two years now) because without a pass rush their defense just doesn’t function correctly. I like USC’s chances this year, and that just makes it all the more unfortunate that they can’t play in a bowl game.

Bryn Renner is in charge of running the Tar Heels offense now, but he shouldn't have a ton of pressure on him thanks to the Tar Heels' talented defense.

18. North Carolina- North Carolina is one of the most talented teams in the country, especially on the defensive side of the ball, but between suspensions and poor coaching (at times in my opinion) they don’t seem to live up to their potential. Now they have a new QB in Bryn Rynner, a guy who almost took the starting job from T.J. Yates last spring as a freshman, but he should have some talent to work with. Not a lot of dynamic talent at RB, but he has quality receivers to throw to plus an extremely talented defense that should help keep points off the board. Quentin Coples, Donte Paige-Moss and Zach Brown are all very good players with lots of upside, and I’m sure more will emerge over the course of the year.

19. Texas A&M- With Ryan Tannehill, Cyrus Gray and Jeff Fuller on offense the Aggies are going to be potent on that side of the ball, especially if Tannehill can continue to progress at the same rate he did when he took over for Jerrod Johnson last year when he led the Aggies on a late season tear culminating in a bowl game loss to LSU. It will be interesting to see who, if anyone, steps up to try to replace Von Miller’s substantial impact as a pass rusher for the Aggies.

Aaron Murray (left) and Orson Charles (right) were lethal last year, and with one more year of experience together they should be even more lethal this year.

20. Georgia- Georgia is a bit of a sleeper this year, though they were a bit more formidable before they lost both Washaun Ealey AND Caleb King (Ealey transferred to Jacksonville State and Caleb King declared for the NFL Supplemental Draft after being declared academically ineligible for the 2011 season). Now their rushing attack relies on a freshman. He might be an incredibly talented freshman, but he is a freshman none-the-less so you never know exactly how he will transition, plus that is a lot of pressure to put on an 18 or 19 year old kid. However, Aaron Murray, Orson Charles and Tavarres King should help take some of the pressure off of him, and if he can give the running game a boost Georgia’s offense could be relatively formidable. Their defense is a question mark after losing sack artist Justin Houston and middle linebacker Akeem Dent but I am very high on Christian Robinson (his replacement at MLB), I like Brandon Boykin and they have a fierce SS in Bacarri Rambo. Cornelius Washington will probably be the one expected to step up and replace Justin Houston at 3-4 OLB and nickel defensive end, and while he had limited production last year he is only a junior this year and he has some edge speed, so I am looking forward to seeing how he develops.

Hopefully you are enjoying my rankings so far! I’ll have the top 15 teams coming right up in the next couple of days, so keep an eye out! Thanks for reading!

–Tom

1- Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Analysis: A lot of people might have Jeffrey here, but Blackmon is the most dominant receiver in the country in my opinion. I can’t wait to see him play this season because I was blown away by his performance all season long last year. If he has a season in the same zip code as his off the charts performance a year ago then he should be a lock for the top 10 unless he murders Commissioner Goodell on live television.
2- Alshon Jeffrey, WR, South Carolina
Analysis: Jeffrey is a very physically imposing receiver and he is the definition of a possession receiver. His size alone is enough to get him to the NFL along with his terrific hands. He attacks jump balls and uses his body very well to shield smaller defenders from the ball. He has been the go-to guy for the Gamecocks since he arrived on campus and for good reason, and hopefully this year he will have some consistent QB play so he can really shine.
3- Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers
Analysis: Sanu might be the most versatile player in the country and that gives him incredible value in my eyes. If you haven’t seen him play you really should make an effort to watch him. He had 44 catches, 418 yards and 2 TD’s receiving, 309 yards and 4 TD’s rushing (5.24 ypc average), he was 6/9 for 160 yards and 3 TD’s passing, and he even recorded an interception on the season somehow (don’t ask me how he did it, I don’t know). Now that Randall Cobb has moved on to the NFL I think Sanu is hands down the most versatile player in the nation at this level, and that will intrigue a lot of talent evaluators as the season progresses.
4- Jeff Fuller, WR, Texas A&M
Analysis: Fuller shocked me with his performance against Patrick Peterson in the bowl game. He routinely worked him on come-backs and underneath passes and had over 100 yards against him while being matched up with him quite often from what I remember. Fuller is an imposing receiver because of his size and leaping ability, plus he has great hands. He will be a very dangerous red zone threat in the NFL, and he strikes me as a very effective possession receiver.
5- Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma
Analysis: Broyles could be higher on this list if I was not as worried about his hands as I am currently. He is very productive for Oklahoma but he body catches more than I might like, but he has the potential to be one of the best slot receivers in this entire class. I really like watching him play, I just want to see him catch the ball better away from his body more consistently this season.
6- Juron Criner, WR, Arizona
Analysis: I am high on Criner and I love his potential as a possession/red zone receiver. He has good size and leaping ability and really attacks the ball in the air and from what I have seen he has good hands. I am really looking forward to watching him more this season. I actually like him much better than I like Nick Foles, the guy throwing Criner the ball.
7- Greg Childs, WR, Arkansas
Analysis: Childs wasn’t healthy for the entire season last year so his numbers were down, but I think a strong senior campaign can help improve his draft stock again. He’s not a flashy guy and he won’t fly by you on a streak pattern very often, but he has long arms, good leaping ability and reliable hands, plus he makes plays when you need them from what I have seen and for those of you who read my blog consistently you know that I value that quite a bit when evaluating prospects.
8- Dwight Jones, WR, North Carolina
Analysis: Jones had a very impressive sophomore campaign last year and while Yates is gone I am hoping that he will still play well this year as a junior. I’m not sure if he will end up declaring or not, but if he has another year like he did last year in spite of Yates leaving I could see it happening. He has a great combination of size and speed and is a very legitimate deep threat, I just need to watch him as a talent evaluator, not as a North Carolina fan (which I am) because I don’t want to overrate him because I have seen him play enough. I also am not always paying attention to how good his hands are, etc. when I am watching the Heels for fun.
9- Marquis Maze, WR, Alabama
Analysis: Maze has made some impressive catches for ‘Bama in the time that I have watched him and I love his potential in the slot, so I put him in my top 10 even though I may be in the minority in thinking he is one of the top 10 receivers in the country at this point. He has shown me enough when catching the ball away from his body when I have seen him to have confidence in him even with McElroy, Ingram and Julio leaving. I don’t know if he will blow up for a 60+ catch, 1,000 yard, 8+ TD season, but I expect him to blow his numbers out of the water from last season.
10- Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Analysis: Floyd has a lot of ability and he attacks the ball in the air which I love, but he does not run good routes and is definitely not a burner. I have also heard that he is very much a prima donna and doesn’t have a very good attitude, and that makes me question his ability to improve when he gets to the NFL. He has the talent, I’ve known that since he terrorized Minnesota high schools back in the day, but if the rumors I’ve heard about his attitude and mindset are true then he is going to scare off a lot of teams between that and his off-field issues this past offseason.

There is plenty of talent that I left out, but I like the guys I have in this top 10 for the most part. Michael Floyd almost fell out of my top 10 but I think he has a good shot to go in the first three or four rounds if he is able to play for Notre Dame this season. If he doesn’t then he is going to drop like a rock on my rankings to be sure. Guys like Cobi Hamilton, Jheranie Boyd, Tavarres King and Russell Shephard all have the potential to be in the top 10 mix, as does Jarrett Boykin, but I would like to see more out of them before I put them in my top 10 rankings. Some might be surprised at how high I have Marquis Maze but he impressed me last year playing in Julio’s shadow and made some impressive catches with his hands, not up against his body. I really like his potential as a slot receiver in the NFL for that reason.

Hopefully you enjoyed my early 2012 WR rankings! My TE and OT rankings will be up later this week, so look out for those. Thanks for reading as I try to start churning out content a little more consistently!

–Tom

Cotton Bowl Notes:

Jordan Jefferson, QB, LSU- Jefferson had a pretty good game overall. I’m still not very impressed with him as a passer, but he had some nice throws in this game. He has good arm strength and he has good zip on his throws, but his accuracy tends to be very inconsistent. That showed at times in this game, but overall I would say he played pretty well as a passer. He still made some bad decisions throwing, but they only passed about 20 times (or called 20 pass plays, I haven’t seen the stat sheet yet) so every bad decision he makes is more significant because of the limited chances he had to make a bad throw. He did have a few nice, NFL throws though. Usually they were to Terrance Toliver, one of my favorite underrated prospects in the draft this year. Jefferson also showcased his mobility and though I knew he could pick up yards with his legs very effectively he looked really fast tonight, like in the 4.5-4.6 range. His play is usually the deciding factor in whether LSU wins or loses and his good play against Texas A&M was the main catalyst in their victory in my opinion. He did have a few bad throws though, one of which became a highlight reel interception for #5 in Texas A&M’s secondary, but there is still hope for him to develop into at least a solid passer as a senior. Will that happen? I wouldn’t bet $20 on it, but there is definitely room for progression and he looked better in this game than in the previous games I had seen of him this season.

Stevan Ridley, RB, LSU- Ridley really impressed me in this game. He looked very fast relative to his 4.55 listed 40 time, he looked explosive in and out of his cuts, he was decisive as a runner and ran hard and finished his runs which I like.  He seems to have solid vision, though I don’t think he necessarily has the speed to get the edge. He looks much better running between the tackles than he does on toss plays. A couple times on stretch plays I thought he had a cut-back lane to get North and South faster for a solid gain but instead he ran patiently behind his blockers or tried to bounce it further and got tackled for no gain or a loss. If he had cut it back then I might have thought more of his vision, but he had some nice lanes to run through in this game. I’d like to see him more involved in the passing game next year, and in blitz pick-up, but those are both things that can be developed more at the next level. Especially the pass blocking aspect. I think Ridley can be a productive NFL runner, but at this point he is probably a 4th round pick or so because he doesn’t have elite speed, he isn’t very involved in their passing game as a receiver or as a blocker, and I think he only has solid vision. There are plenty of examples of rookies or young running backs getting drafted in the middle of the draft, late in the draft or not even at all coming in and having quality careers or at least a couple big seasons. I think Ridley is a guy that people could sleep on as a draft prospect but then have that kind of a season or career because he strikes me as a quality runner.

Terrence Toliver, WR, LSU- Toliver is a guy that every time I watch I just come away impressed. Every single time. He is a skinny receiver but he is tall and is a long strider so he has deceptive deep speed but he has reliable hands and catches the ball well away from his frame which makes him Jefferson’s favorite target. In this game he definitely impressed me because when I stopped watching with about 4 minutes left in the game after Texas A&M threw the game clinching interception Toliver had 5 catches for over 100 yards and three touchdowns even though LSU only threw the ball 15 or so times. And like he always seems to whenever I watch him he showed up regularly on 3rd down with those catches. I swear the majority of his catches are either touchdowns or 3rd down conversions. You can just sense they are going to throw him the ball in those situations when they really need a play and he comes through many more times than not. I think Toliver is a really underrated receiver and I’m really high on him. I’d love to see him on the Falcons, but he probably isn’t a significant upgrade over Jenkins and he isn’t a speed demon who can help stretch the field to take some pressure off of Roddy. But I hope he has a good offseason and that he doesn’t go to a Falcons division rival because I really like him as a prospect. He is going to be at the East/West Shrine game so hopefully he has a good week there. If I had to guess I would say he will.

Spencer Ware, RB, LSU- I had never seen Ware play before but he really impressed me as a runner and as a receiver. I don’t know what his measurements are yet but he ran effectively and also caught the ball pretty effectively for a running back. He has a lot of speed and even though he appears to be relatively undersized he runs really hard. On the first play that I saw him touch the ball he broke a run out, shrugged off one tackle, stiff armed another would-be tackler away from him and ran through another tackle before finally being taken down along the sideline after a huge run. I watched that play and just said “Wow…” it was that impressive of a run. He kept showing up as the game continued too, so I will definitely be doing my due diligence on him. But watch out for him because he had a really good game.

Tyrann Mathieu, FS, LSU- Mathieu was absolutely everywhere in this game. I could not believe my eyes and ears when I heard he was a TRUE freshman and saw the graphic pop up listing that he was a true freshman who was listed at only 5’9”. It blew my mind. First of all, he does look small but he runs really well and clearly has a lot of speed, both in long and short distances. He has great burst and acceleration and he looked like a seasoned veteran out there at times. He made some truly incredible plays. My two favorites occurred in each half. The one in the first half involved him blitzing off the edge against the RT. He shot off the line and the RT was in position to slow him down a bit even though he obviously had enough speed to get the edge, but Mathieu dipped his shoulder and got the edge like he was a seasoned defensive end executing a speed rush. That shoulder dip in addition to his size led him to fly right around/under the tackle’s shoulder after which he absolutely lit up Tannehill for a sack and a forced fumble. It was an absolutely terrific play. He showed up a number of other times with tackles, etc. but he saved his best play for last when he was in coverage and Texas A&M was attempting a late comeback down two touchdowns. Tannehill dropped back to pass and threw to his receiver underneath but Mathieu saw it coming. He closed on it, dove and fully extended to make a fantastic catch with his hands right in front of the intended receiver for the game clinching interception. I could barely believe my eyes, it was one of the best interceptions I have seen all year without a doubt. All I have to say is if you don’t know who this kid is you will soon. He may not be big, but he plays big and makes huge plays and he’s only a TRUE freshman. I can’t wait to see how he develops over the next two years. Watch out for him, he’s going to be a really good one.

Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU- I was not particularly impressed with Peterson in this game. I didn’t see him a lot, but when I did it was because Jeff Fuller was catching a pass against him on a curl route on the sideline. Again, I didn’t pay specific attention to him in this game but almost every time I saw him Fuller was catching a pass in front of him, a number of them for first downs. So as a result I did not get a very good impression of him in this game.

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M- I have to start this paragraph off by saying that I like Tannehill infinitely more as a prospect than I liked Jerrod Johnson. Did he have his struggles in this game? Sure. But you have to remember that this is his 6th game as a starter. Johnson was making dumber decisions than he was and he was a senior with much more starting experience, hence the change. It speaks volumes about Tannehill that he was able to take over and finish the season with five wins and only one loss in his six games as a starter, including victories against Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas. I may have to watch those games just to see him play after seeing this. Texas A&M does run a pro style offense though so that will help him as a prospect and he throws a nice ball. He has good zip on his throws and I think he has a NFL arm from that aspect. He had pretty good ball placement overall, but this is just based off of watching him live so obviously I will have to go back over the game and check that out. He also has vastly better footwork on his drops and when he passes the ball than Johnson which was as refreshing as anything to see. He looked like a pro-style QB when he dropped back, it was great to see. He had some bad decisions in this game but both of his interceptions were pretty rare plays. The first one occurred on a pretty big miscommunication with #7 who ran a curl when Tannehill threw a fade or something and the corner just kept running and got a free interception. The second interception came when Texas A&M had become completely one dimensional and Tannehill threw the ball a bit behind his receiver and Mathieu capitalized on it by making a fantastic interception. As far as two interception games go those are pretty good ways to end up with turnovers from a decision making aspect. Overall I was impressed with Tannehill though. He still has developing to do and I really look forward to watching him play next year, but he has solid size, good arm strength, pretty good accuracy based off of what I saw in this game, good footwork, pretty impressive mobility and a little pocket poise. I couldn’t believe that a guy who hadn’t started all season or ever at Texas A&M could step in and lead that five game winning streak to finish the season the way they did, but I do now. He has NFL talent in my opinion, and clearly he has some pretty impressive intangibles if he was able to step in and immediately make his team better like he did. Clearly I liked what I saw, even though he may have struggled a bit statistically and his team lost, but I am very much looking forward to seeing him play and develop as a QB next year. Keep an eye on him obviously.

Cyrus Gray, RB, Texas A&M- I thought he looked good against a very good LSU defense. I am not very familiar with him or his offensive line, but he had a 100 yard rushing game even though they trailed for most of the game after the 1st quarter. He looked pretty quick, like he had solid size and pretty good leg drive as well. I didn’t pay close attention to him because I was trying to learn everything I could about Tannehill since I had never seen him play before, but overall Gray impressed me. I look forward to watching him play with Tannehill again next year, and with Fuller leaving he should be one of the key cogs in their offense.

Jeff Fuller, WR, Texas A&M- Fuller had a pretty good game, though it wasn’t one of his best. I didn’t see how well he blocked in the running game which is something I will have to evaluate, but he caught a number of passes against Patrick Peterson which kind of surprised me. I think Peterson might have been saying he was pushing off a bit, which also wouldn’t surprise me, but I was definitely taken aback by the amount of separation Fuller was creating against someone so athletically gifted as Peterson. He had a solid game though and caught a number of first downs on curls, etc. I didn’t pay too close attention to see how well he caught the ball with his hands though, so that will be something I look into more closely when I re-watch this game and others that he played in. He has good size, probably slower than 4.5 speed if I had to estimate, and I’m not sure how much quickness/burst he has to get in and out of his breaks as a route runner, but he had a very productive year and is really effective in the red zone.

Uzoma Nwachukwu, WR, Texas A&M- Nwachukwu has an awesome name and he had a pretty solid game too. He caught a touchdown on a half-back pass and had a few other nice catches. Again, I don’t recall how well he caught the ball with his hands or whether he let it get into his pads, which is one of the easiest way to guarantee dropping passes in the NFL. He looked like he had 4.48-4.5 speed though and since he is only a junior I imagine he will be back next year looking to replace Fuller as the go-to guy on offense. I look forward to seeing how well he adjusts to that role because he had a pretty good year as the complementary guy. It is a whole different mindset being the #1 target though, so it will be interesting to see how he handles that. Tannehill should make it easier on him than Johnson did on Fuller at times.

Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M- Von Miller is a polarizing guy in my opinion. Some people love him because of his speed and quickness off the edge and because of his great production as a pass rusher. Others can’t stand him as a prospect because they think he is too small to hold up against the run, among other things. I haven’t watched enough of him to come to a conclusion on him yet but my initial impression is that I like him as a prospect. I don’t think he will be a 10-15 sack guy like he has been in college, but I think he has the potential to be a quality pass rusher in the NFL. He has impressive speed off the edge and a couple times he showed really nice quickness and burst to beat his man inside when he opened his hips too early. That was something I had never seen him do before, but that may just have been because I haven’t seen him play very much. I think he will end up going in the first round, but I thought he had a solid game based off of how much I saw him.

Coryell Judie, CB, Texas A&M- I didn’t see him much in this game, but he warrants mention for his sick one handed interception that he made in the first half off of Jordan Jefferson. It will be on Sportscenter, it was a great catch. Other than that I didn’t see much of him.

 

Sorry about the lateness of this post. I thought they might be worth looking through, especially since Ridley has decided to leave early for the draft. He could be a steal for someone in the mid-rounds…

Thanks for reading!

–Tom