Tag Archive: Jonathan Banks


Quarterback Rankings:

1-      Matt Barkley, QB, Southern Cal

2-      Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee*

3-      Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas

4-      Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech*

5-      Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

6-      Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia*

7-      E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State

8-      Mike Glennon, QB, North Carolina State

9-      Casey Pachall, QB, TCU*

10-   Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma

Running Back Rankings:

1-      Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina*

2-      Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin

3-      Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas*

4-      Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State*

5-      Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina*

6-      Ray Graham, RB, Pittsburgh

7-      Christine Michael, RB, Texas A&M*

8-      Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama*

9-      Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson

10-   Dennis Johnson, RB, Arkansas

Wide Receiver Rankings:

1-      Robert Woods, WR, Southern Cal*

2-      Keenan Allen, WR, California*

3-      Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee*

4-      Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State*

5-      Da’Rick Rogers, WR, Tennessee*

6-      Cobi Hamilton, WR, Arkansas

7-      Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor

8-      Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia

9-      Aaron Mellette, WR, Elon

10-   Ryan Swope, WR, Texas A&M
Tight End Rankings:

1-      Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame*

2-      Jake Stoneburner, TE, Ohio State

3-      Joseph Fauria, TE, UCLA

4-      Philip Lutzenkirchen, TE, Auburn

5-      Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford*

6-      Michael Williams, TE, Alabama

7-      Jordan Reed, TE, Florida*

8-      Ryan Griffin, TE, Connecticut

9-      Colter Phillips, TE, Virginia

10-   Ben Cotton, TE, Nebraska
Offensive Tackle Rankings:

1-      Chris Faulk, OT, LSU*

2-      Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M*

3-      Ricky Wagner, OT, Wisconsin

4-      D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama*

5-      Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan*

6-      Oday Aboushi, OT, Virginia

7-      Alex Hurst, OT, LSU

8-      Justin Pugh, OT, Syracuse

9-      Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M*

10-   James Hurst, OT, North Carolina*
Offensive Guard Rankings:

1-      Barrett Jones, OG, Alabama

2-      Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina

3-      Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama

4-      Travis Frederick, OG, Wisconsin*

5-      Alvin Bailey, OG, Arkansas*

6-      Larry Warford, OG, Kentucky

7-      Omoregie Uzzi, OG, Georgia Tech

8-      Braden Hansen, OG, BYU

9-      Blaize Foltz, OG, TCU

10-   Lane Taylor, OG, Oklahoma State
Center Rankings:

1-      Khaled Holmes, C, Southern Cal

2-      Graham Pocic, C, Illinois

3-      Travis Swanson, C, Arkansas*

4-      James Ferentz, C, Iowa

5-      Mario Benavides, C, Louisville

6-      Dalton Freeman, C, Clemson

7-      Matt Stankiewitch, C, Penn State

8-      Joe Madsen, C, West Virginia

9-      Braxton Cave, C, Notre Dame

10-   Ivory Wade, C, Baylor
Defensive End Rankings:

1-      Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU*

2-      Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas*

3-      Alex Okafor, DE, Texas

4-      Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State*

5-      Margus Hunt, DE, SMU

6-      Michael Buchanan, DE, Illinois

7-      Devin Taylor, DE, South Carolina

8-      Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon

9-      James Gayle, DE, Virginia Tech*

10-   William Gholston, DE, Michigan State*
Defensive Tackle Rankings:

1-      Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah

2-      Johnathon Hankins, DT, Ohio State*

3-      Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama

4-      Bennie Logan, DT, LSU*

5-      Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina

6-      Kawann Short, DT, Purdue

7-      Johnathan Jenkins, DT, Georgia

8-      Akeem Spence, DT, Illinois*

9-      Shariff Floyd, DT, Florida*

10-   Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Middle Linebacker Rankings:

1-      Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame

2-      Shayne Skov, ILB, Stanford

3-      Kevin Reddick, ILB, North Carolina

4-      Michael Mauti, ILB, Penn State

5-      Nico Johnson, ILB, Alabama

6-      Arthur Brown, ILB, Kansas State

7-      Jonathan Brown, ILB, Illinois*

8-      Bruce Taylor, ILB, Virginia Tech

9-      Jonathan Bostic, ILB, Florida

10-   Christian Robinson, ILB, Georgia
Outside Linebacker Rankings:

1-      Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia*

2-      Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU*

3-      Sean Porter, OLB, Texas A&M

4-      Brandon Jenkins, OLB, Florida State

5-      C.J. Mosley, OLB, Alabama*

6-      Gerald Hodges, OLB, Penn State

7-      Jelani Jenkins, OLB, Florida*

8-      Chase Thomas, OLB, Stanford

9-      Khaseem Green, OLB, Rutgers

10-   Kenny Tate, OLB, Maryland
Cornerback Rankings:

1-      David Amerson, CB, North Carolina State*

2-      Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State*

3-      Jonathan Banks, CB, Mississippi State

4-      Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU*

5-      Jonny Adams, CB, Michigan State

6-      Nickell Robey, CB, Southern Cal*

7-      Carrington Byndom, CB, Texas*

8-      Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State

9-      Micah Hyde, CB, Iowa

10-   Tharold Simon, CB, LSU*
Safety Rankings:

1-      Eric Reid, FS, LSU*

2-      T.J. McDonald, FS, Southern Cal

3-      Kenny Vaccaro, SS, Texas

4-      Robert Lester, FS, Alabama

5-      Tony Jefferson, FS, Oklahoma*

6-      Bacarri Rambo, SS, Georgia

7-      Ray Ray Armstrong, SS, Miami

8-      John Boyett, SS, Oregon

9-      Matt Elam, SS, Florida*

10-   Vaughn Telemaque, FS, Miami

Arkansas-Mississippi State:

Jonathan Banks had a solid game with a sack, forced fumble and solid coverage. He’s a bigger corner and I thought he struggled with faster/quicker receivers and that was evidenced today by Jarius Wright creating consistent separation against him. He didn’t seem to close well when Wright made his breaks on underneath routes, and that allowed him to generate separation and make receptions against Banks. I am a Banks fan, but I think he matches up better with bigger, more physical receivers.

Tyler Wilson was very good today against Mississippi State. He’s putting himself squarely in the 1st round conversation for the 2013 draft. Is he a perfect prospect? No, but he has a live arm, he’s flashed some very impressive ball placement into tight windows, and he has shown me that he’s a bit of a gunslinger. He needs some mechanical work especially when he is outside of the pocket because his mechanics break down and he throws with uncharacteristic throwing motions with varying release points which makes it hard for him to be consistently accurate. Inside the pocket he dips the ball a bit during his motion so I think it could be tweaked to speed up his release. However I was very impressed with the zip he had on his throws today and he made some very impressive stick throws into tight windows. Like I mentioned before, he has a gunslinger mentality to him as a passer and it makes him fun to watch because he makes some incredible throws but with that come some mistakes that aren’t characteristic of more consistent passers. He’s got plenty of upside, but has some flaws as well. He has a HUGE test coming up against LSU’s fantastic secondary next week, and it will be very interesting to see how he does. My personal guess is that he has a productive day but two interceptions. LSU forces a ton of turnovers, and Wilson makes some throws that better defenses could have a shot at. You heard it here first!

Dennis Johnson was incredibly impressive today. He reminded me of Michael Turner “The Burner” back when he was on San Diego and in his first season as the feature back in Atlanta. He’s a smaller back at only 5’9″ but he is very well built at 213 pounds. He only has 91 attempts on the season, but he has produced 606 yards (6.65 ypc) and 3 touchdowns as well as 20 receptions for 258 yards and 2 more touchdowns. As if that wasn’t enough for only 9 games of production without being the established feature back in each game, he also has returned 18 kickoffs for 461 yards (25.61 avg) and 1 touchdown this season. He’s a very talented back, and he displayed great burst, footwork and acceleration into the hole against Mississippi State. He seems to have impressive vision, runs fairly patiently, and does a good job of consistently making one cut and getting North/South instead of wasting steps in the backfield and going East/West trying to generate a big play. He runs with good natural pad level because of his height, runs through arm tackles easily because of his compact body type, lower body strength, impressive leg drive and does a great job of pushing piles and getting yards after contact because of his natural leverage and leg drive. He is a natural receiver out of the backfield and has soft hands and is dangerous after the catch for the same reasons he is dangerous when running the ball out of the backfield. On top of that, he has demonstrated some serious potential as a pass protector. Specifically in this game he was lined up next to Wilson in a shotgun formation, the ball was snapped and as per his assignment he moved to the right of Wilson to see if he needed to pick up a blitzer, there was no one, but he quickly recognized that there was a blitzing defender coming off of the left edge that was not going to be picked up. He then alertly flew towards him and took him out just in time for Wilson to deliver a nice throw to Cobi Hamilton for an Arkansas touchdown. Had Johnson not made that terrific play it would have changed the game entirely. Johnson is one of the most underrated running backs in the country if not the most underrated as Ben Allbright of NFL Draft Monsters has been saying for weeks now. He’s a very talented running back that has an injury history, but now that he is healthy he is demonstrating exactly why he was the starter ahead of Knile Davis on the depth chart. He is a different back from Knile Davis but he is very talented in his own right.

-It was great to see Greg Childs get in on the action in this game. He didn’t have a huge role, but he definitely looked the best that I have seen him since he injured his patella tendon last year. I don’t think there is any doubt that he isn’t 100% yet, but he is definitely vastly closer to 100% than he was earlier in the season. He has very reliable hands, quality size at 6’3″, 217 pounds and while he doesn’t have elite speed he has the ability to make plays on 50/50 balls that gives him value when healthy. His hands are very dependable and he displayed that on each of his three catches for 32 yards in this game, and even displayed some of his patented shiftiness on one play when he made a great snag, made a guy miss with a move to the inside and gained first down yardage. Childs isn’t healthy and hasn’t been healthy yet this year which is why he only has 13 catches for 152 yards and no touchdowns so far, but he is getting healthier each week and that is encouraging. Hopefully, should Arkansas end up in a BCS game, Childs will be healthy enough to make a comparable impact to what he was able to do before getting injured last season.

Jarius Wright was relatively quiet in this game. He had 8 catches for 96 yards but didn’t score a touchdown and his long on the day was 26, which isn’t really anything special for Wright considering his explosiveness. Jonathan Banks was able to take away some of the deep stuff, but gave up underneath passes to Wright and Wilson was wise to exploit that for significant chunks of yardage the way he did. Wright has definitely had better games, but the fact still remains that he is as explosive as any receiver in the country right now and is forcing teams to consider putting an early 2nd round or potentially even late 1st round grade on him the way he has been playing all year.

Joe Adams is an interesting prospect. I say interesting because he’s not necessarily intriguing. You know what you’re getting with Joe Adams. He’s listed at 5’11”, 190 pounds (though I would not be surprised if he was 5’10”) and has produced 46 receptions, 595 yards and 3 TD’s, 9 carries for a mind-boggling 138 yards and 1 TD, plus a phenomenal 16 punt returns for 259 yards (16.19 avg) and THREE touchdowns on the season. To put it simply: Joe Adams is explosive. When he has the ball in his hands he is one of the most dangerous playmakers in the country, potentially as dangerous as Jarius Wright who is making a solid case for himself to be drafted in the top 40 picks in the 2012 NFL Draft. So why doesn’t he grade out as high? He has inconsistent hands because he body catches too much and has had issues with drops, he makes mental mistakes on the field and he is a hot head. By that I mean he lets his emotions get away from him at times which lead to dumb personal foul penalties. Last year as a junior he had an avoidable personal foul penalty in what may have been every single game I watched of Ryan Mallett after the season was over which was very telling. He’s got a ton of athletic ability and potential, I just don’t know how much of that he will reach because of some of his less stellar attributes as a prospect. He could be a huge steal in the 4th round range, or he could be limited to a gimmick fourth wide receiver and a good/very good punt returner.

Cobi Hamilton is a receiver that I have gone on record as saying has the most potential of any of Arkansas’ talented receivers. I still believe this even though he has not been featured in their offense if only because they have so many other viable weapons to utilize. Hamilton is 6’3″, 209 pounds and has produced 29 receptions, 441 yards and 3 touchdowns on the season. Those numbers don’t properly reflect how much ability he has because he is sharing the spotlight with Wright, Adams, Johnson and occasionally Childs and Chris Gragg. While Hamilton hasn’t displayed his full potential yet this season if he does come back next year he will be Wilson’s go-to guy and should make it very clear to the rest of the country just how talented he is. Hopefully he comes back because it would be extremely fun to watch Wilson and Hamilton play pitch and catch as seniors with significant playing experience under both of their belts.

Chris Gragg is a player that I was not even aware of for Arkansas because they just have so many other weapons. He is a 6’3″, 239 pound tight end who has replaced D.J. Williams in the starting lineup for Arkansas this season. He is a junior, but this is his first significant playing time and he has had a quality season as a result. He has produced 38 receptions, 457 yards and 2 TD’s this year, and he had his best game against Mississippi State totaling 8 receptions for 119 yards and a touchdown. He has reportedly improved significantly as a blocker over the course of the year which has led to Arkansas trusting him more and allowing him to evolve further as a receiver, and that seems to be the trend considering his break-out game so late in the season. He’s a talented tight end with very reliable hands and pretty legitimate NFL size, so definitely watch out for him the rest of the season and next year as a senior. He’s going to make teams pay if they forget about him in favor of slowing down Cobi Hamilton.

Chris Smith is an underrated junior receiver on Mississippi State. He has quality hands (even though he had a bad drop on an easy curl route today) but he just doesn’t get to display his ability because of Mississippi State’s terrible passing offense. He only has 30 receptions, 283 yards and 2 TD’s on the season. If you looked at those numbers objectively along with his solid but not spectacular listed size of 6’2″, 205 pounds you wouldn’t think he is anything special. I still believe that he is though. I saw flashes of impressive ability last year and I have seen it at times this year, he just needs a legitimate quarterback who can get him the ball so he can demonstrate it. So keep an eye out for Chris Smith because even if his statistics aren’t impressive there is talent there, he just hasn’t had a chance to show it.

Jake Bequette is a very impressive athlete. He reportedly ran a 4.59 40 yard dash at 270 pounds before the season which is incredibly impressive even though he might be a bit of a workout warrior. Regardless, he has legitimate edge speed and has been very productive for Arkansas in his career. This year the senior 6’4″, 270 pound defensive end missed a couple games due to injury, but has had a solid year with 21 total tackles (8 solo), 6.5 TFL, 6.0 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and one pass deflection. I have a round three or four grade on him right now because while I love his athleticism and his fantastic motor I’m not sure he has enough upside as a starting 4-3 defensive end to warrant top 50-60 consideration in the upcoming draft.

Jerry Franklin always stuck out to me when I watched Arkansas since the beginning of last season when I was scouting them to watch Ryan Mallett initially. He’s a converted safety if I remember correctly and is currently listed at 6’1″, 245 pounds and is one of the leaders of Arkansas’ defense. Coming into the game against Mississippi State he had produced 82 total tackles (38 solo), 10.0 TFL, 0.5 sacks, three pass break ups and one fumble recovery that he returned 94 yards for a touchdown. He is a reliable linebacker and always struck me as a quality coverage linebacker, perhaps because of his experience at safety. I like his potential upside and while he isn’t a 1st or 2nd round pick I think he has a legitimate NFL future.

-There might not have been a more impressive player on Mississippi State than Fletcher Cox in this game. The junior defensive tackle was everywhere, especially in the first half. He recovered a fumble and rumbled deep into Arkansas territory, he made stops at the line of scrimmage after fighting off blocks and he blocked an Arkansas field goal attempt with a vicious move to penetrate into the backfield and get his hands on the kick. Coming into the game the 6’4, 295 pound defensive tackle had produced 40 total tackles (20 solo), 9.5 TFL and 4.0 sacks. He padded those numbers against Arkansas today and really impressed me as this was the first time I had ever paid close attention to him. He’s got very legitimate NFL talent and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him declare early even though there is some defensive tackle talent in this draft if additional juniors declare.

Thanks for reading! Hopefully you enjoyed my notes on this game. There are definitely more to come.

–Tom

– LSU-Mississippi State:

Breakdown:

This game will be a game pitting strength versus strength, as Mississippi State’s run game will be facing a very tough LSU run defense. They are fast enough to take away a speed rushing attack like Oregon, but they are big enough and strong enough to match-up relatively effectively with a more powerful attack like Mississippi State’s. This match-up will be important, but because LSU will be so worried about stopping the run it may be just as critical for Chris Relf to demonstrate the ability to threaten the defense with the pass, especially downfield in the 10-15+ yard range. If they can’t do that, I think that Mississippi State will struggle to run the ball consistently throughout the game.

On the offensive side of the ball for LSU, running the ball will be key as well, but the deciding factor of the game may reside on Jarrett Lee’s ability to stretch the field, move the ball through the air, and keep running lanes open for Spencer Ware and the rest of LSU’s rushing attack. If they can run the ball effectively play action will be a key weapon for Lee and the rest of the offense, but if the burden falls on Lee to loosen up running lanes with downfield passing then LSU could struggle. Lee is an accurate passer but doesn’t have a rocket arm and I would compare him to Matt Flynn, a very successful former LSU Tiger quarterback. If Lee steps up and can carry the offense (this would be significantly easier if his receivers caught passes once they hit them in the hands) then LSU should be fine either way, but if Lee isn’t up to the challenge then LSU could be in trouble in their conference opener.

Key Players- LSU:

Jarrett Lee will be making his third start of the season and he has looked solid thus far, though his statistics have been hurt by some dropped passes in their opening games. This will be my second opportunity to watch him, the first being in the opening week against Oregon. I will be interested to see how he plays and how he has progressed since the opening weekend of the season. I think he has potential, and while he won’t be a first round pick by any means, I do think he warrants mid-late round consideration. He would fit into a West Coast offense very nicely, perhaps similar to Colt McCoy in Cleveland.

I’m a big fan of Tyrann Mathieu, and watching him play is always a treat. I think he has first round potential and I’ve thought that since he was playing at an All-American level early on in his freshman year last year. He is very good in coverage, he blitzes extremely well, he’s a great tackler, and he has a great knack for forcing fumbles and just being around the ball. He is the definition of a ball-hawk. I would be surprised if he didn’t force a turnover in this game.

Spencer Ware will be an important component of this game. He has had a relatively slow start to the season relative to his great cap to his freshman year with a 10 carry, 102 yard performance against Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl, but I think he will get stronger as the season goes on. He’s definitely a power back as he is relatively compact at 5’11”, 225 pounds and he shows it. I like his running style and I think he will be a key cog in LSU’s offense because if the run game is slowed or ineffective Jarrett Lee won’t be able to utilize play action effectively and the offense may become one dimensional. Considering Lee’s relatively limited amount of starting experience I don’t think that is a path LSU should go down in their conference opener, especially on a national stage. But I think a lot of people underestimate what Lee brings to the table, and I think he is ready to step up should the running game not pace the offense in this game.

Deangelo Peterson, the tight end on LSU, is another key guy to watch. His stat line may not blow you away (5 receptions, 71 yards and 1 TD in 2 games so far) but he has great size at 6’4″, 235 pounds and he is very athletic. I imagine as Lee becomes more comfortable in the starting role that Peterson will become one of his frequent targets, and I don’t think it is out of the ordinary for them to split him out in the slot. He is a very dangerous red zone threat, and because of his size he is an easy target for Lee to throw to. I predict that he will have a touchdown in this game, and I hope that his skills will be on full display tonight.

Morris Claiborne is going to be an interesting guy to watch in this game because if Mississippi State has any success throwing the ball it will probably be going after someone other than him. He is replacing Patrick Peterson as “the” corner on LSU’s defense, and he’s got the size and athletic ability to do it. He had 6 pass break-ups and 5 INT’s last year when defenses targeted him instead of throwing at Peterson consistently, but now this year teams will certainly be avoiding him if they can help it. I don’t know if they will match him up against Mississippi State’s perceived best receiver (I’m a fan of Chris Smith), or if they will just let him attempt to shut down one side of the field, but if Relf decides to test him he had better make sure it’s a good ball because if he makes a mistake Claiborne knows how to make him pay.

Sleeper: Barkevious Mingo, on top of having an absolutely fantastic name, has a boatload of potential as a defensive end. He’s only a sophomore and he is about 6’5”, 240 pounds, but as a freshman last year he had 35 total tackles (18 solo), 5.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 6 pass break-ups, which is pretty great for a freshman at a position that generally has a long development period. He is very athletic and has chased down some pretty athletic running backs in his day, and seems to have a very good motor as evidenced by his backside pursuit. I’m excited to see how he will do against a Mississippi State offensive line that likes to run the ball, but is missing their best pass protector from a year ago in Derek Sherrod. Mingo could have a big game, though he is pretty raw, but I am excited about his potential so I want to see how he does.

Key Players- Mississippi State:

Chris Relf is a guy who is better known for his running than his passing, but his size definitely helps him in both aspects. He stands at 6’4”, 245 pounds and could probably convert to RB or FB at the next level, but I haven’t watched him enough to specifically project him to any one position yet. I don’t think he will be a QB at the next level, but he has shown some signs of improvement since last season. He threw for 1,776 yards in 13 games (an average of only 136.6 yards per game), completing 59% of his passes (128/217, a low number of passes attempted) for 12 TD’s and 6 INT’s. He was an efficient QB, but he wasn’t throwing the ball very much. This year it seems to be a bit different having already attempted 54 passes in just two games (33/55 for a 61.1% completion) for 397 yards, 3 touchdowns and only one interception. LSU will be a big test for him one week after he had a solid but relatively unspectacular game with 195 yards (60.6% completion with a 5.9 YPA, well below his average from last season) and 1 touchdown and interception against Auburn. LSU has a very tough defense that frequently creates turnovers, so ball security and making smart decisions will be critical for him in this game. I have to say that if Relf ends up throwing 25+ or even 30+ times in this game I think Mississippi State will lose. That will mean their running game is being slowed by LSU’s tough front seven, and the onus will be placed on Relf to move the ball through the air to open up running lanes. Against Memphis (obviously a totally different class of opponent) he threw 21 times, was very efficient and they won easily. Against Auburn in a close game (final score of 41-34) he threw 33 times, was less efficient with one interception and only a 5.9 YPA (which is in stark contrast to his 2010 season average of 8.2 and his 9.6 YPA against Memphis). To drill this point home a bit, when Relf threw 25 times or more last year Mississippi lost both games which accounted for two of their four losses on the season. The other losses were against LSU when he threw the ball only 8 times for 35 yards and 2 interceptions and against Alabama when he threw the ball 16 times for 70 yards and an interception. In the two other losses he threw the ball 25 times or more and lost in a close game (17-14 to Auburn and 38-31 to Arkansas, though he had a good game against them). So that is a trend of three losses in a row when Relf throws the ball 25 times or more, and it will be interesting to see if he is forced to surpass that number of attempts against LSU’s defense.

Vick Ballard is the other key cog to Mississippi State’s offense that focuses intently on the running game. Ballard had a fantastic season last year rushing 187 times for 981 yards (a 5.25 ypc average) and 20 touchdowns. This year, as a senior, he already has 301 yards rushing on just 31 attempts (an astounding 9.71 ypc) and 4 touchdowns. His success tonight against LSU’s tough run defense will set the tone for the game, and if he can find running room and grind out tough yards and first downs then it will make life significantly easier for Relf and the rest of Mississippi State’s passing attack. Don’t be surprised if he ends up with a game with about 20 attempts, 75-80 yards and maybe a score though, because yards are hard to come by against LSU’s defense.

Chris Smith is a receiver on Mississippi State that I came away impressed with after watching him against Michigan last year. He had a relatively mediocre statistical year last year with only 24 receptions, 264 yards and 1 touchdown as a sophomore, but I like his size and his hands impressed me last year as well as his route running. Keep in mind, his 24 receptions were about 11.1% of Relf’s total completions last year, so even though it is a low total and not overly impressive, he still accounted for 11% of Relf’s total completions and almost 15% (14.86%) of Relf’s total passing yards. So while it might not be obvious, he was a target for Mississippi State last year in the passing game. He only has two catches for 11 yards so far this year, so I am really hoping he finds a way to step up and make some plays in this game. I love players that find a way to make plays in critical games like this, especially on big stages, and I am hoping that Smith will find a way to do that tonight even against a talented LSU secondary.

Jonathan Banks is a cornerback that I came away very impressed with last year when I was actually watching the Bulldogs to get a look at Derek Sherrod. He has been very reliable and consistent for the Bulldogs ever since his freshman year. Now a junior, Banks already has an interception and two pass break-ups this year, bringing his career total to 8 interceptions (7 in his previous two seasons) and 12 pass break-ups. He is a very tall, skinny corner as he stands at a listed height and weight of 6’2”, 185 pounds. I mentioned him in a previous post listing potential break-out players for this 2011 season, and mentioned that I am going to be watching him to evaluate his hips, namely his ability to flip his hips in coverage, his ability to click and close on passes in front of him, and his ability to recover if and when he makes a mistake. He has already demonstrated his ability to use his size to his advantage, and he has shown the ability to turn and run with receivers downfield. I just want to see how well he transitions, because it’s pretty obvious when you watch him play that he can locate the ball in the air and make a play on it. He has impressive ball skills, and his size really helps him defend 50/50 balls even against very tall wide receivers. LSU has some big guys like they always do, so look for Banks to mirror them and take away some of Lee’s bigger, more physical targets.

Nickoe Whitley is a safety that I noticed around the same time I noticed Banks last year. He demonstrated impressive ball skills when I watched him last year and seemed to be a pretty good tackler which is evidenced by his 34 solo tackles (52 total). He also had 1.5 sacks, 3 pass break ups, 3 INT’s and 1 forced fumble last year. He already has an INT this year as well as one pass break up (plus a pretty impressive 6 solo tackles out of 7 total). It will be interesting to see if he is tested deep much as Jarrett Lee doesn’t have a very strong arm. I could see him playing up in the box more, so it will be interesting to see if he lets anyone get behind him in this game.

Sleeper: My sleeper for the Bulldogs is Jameon Lewis, a freshman receiver. He already has 5 receptions, 116 yards and 1 TD as well as 2 rushes for 29 yards and 1 TD. In addition, he returns kicks and punts as well though his success has been limited in that aspect so far. He is a smaller guy listed at 5’9”, 185 pounds, though packing 185 pounds onto that small of a frame is actually pretty impressive (has a similar build to Jerrel Jernigan, the WR from Troy who actually was very well built for a small receiver). The Bulldogs have shown that they like to get the ball in his hands any way they can, whether it is throwing it to him, handing it off or letting him return kicks and punts, so look for at least one big play from him in this game.

I apologize for the length of this post. It started out shorter but I got really in depth. Hopefully you enjoyed the read and it got you excited for this SEC matchup tonight. Enjoy!

–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