Tag Archive: Josh Gordon


NFL Weekly Picks: Week 3

Hey guys, sorry I didn’t have time to get my weekly picks post up last week. I just moved back to Minnesota so now that I am settling in hopefully I will be able to get into a groove with all of these weekly posts that I want to do. So, without further ado, here are my NFL Weekly Picks!

Eagles over Chiefs- I think the Eagles’ offense will be too much for the Chiefs to slow down, but it may come down to whether or not the Eagles defense can stop anyone. Thus far the answer to that question is no. Still, I’m going with Chip Kelly and the home team Eagles in this match-up, especially since the Chiefs have Dunta Robinson on their roster.

Packers over Bengals- The Bengals got a solid win against the Steelers last week but the Packers offense looked borderline unstoppable last week against the Redskins. The Bengals defense is a significantly better unit, but I think the Packers will be able to put up enough points to win this one. If Andy Dalton plays well he could make things interesting though, and I’m not sold on the Packers defense yet. Still, it’s tough to bet against Aaron Rodgers in this match-up even on the road.

Rams over Cowboys- This might surprise some people, but the Rams are a good football team and they gave my Falcons a run for their money last week. The Cowboys couldn’t quite figure out the Kansas City Chiefs, and while the ‘Boys have a lot of talent on offense the Rams are a talented defensive football team that I think has a chance to match-up with the Cowboys on offense. Of course, if Dez Bryant goes off for 180 yards and a touchdown like Julio Jones did last week then I would be completely wrong on that. Still, I have a feeling the Rams will play well in this game and I think they can beat Tony Romo and the Cowboys on the road.

Chargers over Titans- I’m realizing I’m picking a lot of road teams here so far, but I think the Chargers are the better football team in this match-up and it’s tough not to go with Philip Rivers over Jake Locker here. If Locker can pass accurately and use his legs effectively they could give the Chargers defense some problems, but most of us know the likelihood of both of those things happening consistently for four quarters is not likely.

Vikings over Browns- This would have been a more interesting game prior to the Trent Richardson trade, and there is something funny about the Browns making this trade with the Colts just days before they travel up to Minnesota to play the Vikings given that the Vikings are the team that traded down with Cleveland to allow them to move up to number three overall and select Richardson in the first place. The Browns offense has been struggling even with Richardson in the lineup, and it’s hard to imagine them being better without him even with Josh Gordon returning from suspension. The Browns do have a good defense though, so I expect both teams to score less than 20 points. The Vikings have the offensive advantage in this match-up though thanks to Adrian Peterson and a solid game from Christian Ponder, Greg Jennings, Kyle Rudolph and Jerome Simpson should be enough to win this one for the purple. However, it is worth mentioning that this is the kind of game the Vikings traditionally find a way to inexplicably lose.

Patriots over Buccaneers- The Buccaneers aren’t in great shape right now and while the Patriots have barely managed to defeat two rookie quarterbacks in consecutive weeks I don’t think Tom Brady and that offense are going to stay out of synch for more than a couple weeks. That should play to the Bucs advantage this week, but I don’t think it will be enough to get them a victory.

Saints over Cardinals- Originally I had the Cardinals winning this game, but it’s tough to travel into the Superdome and get a victory, particularly since the Saints defense looks significantly better through two weeks than it ever did last season. Carson Palmer has reinvigorated the Cardinals offense, and their defense is still respectable despite the loss of defensive coordinator Ray Horton, but I don’t think it will be enough to go into the Saints’ house and beat Drew Brees on his home turf.

Redskins over Lions- The Lions have shown plenty of flashes through the first two weeks, but I think they are going to come up short against a Redskins team that will likely be very motivated and focused after starting 0-2. It remains to be seen if the ‘Skins defense can get on track, but going up against the Eagles and the Packers in the first two weeks isn’t exactly a fair barometer for a defense, especially since they were essentially the NFL’s guinea pigs against Chip Kelly and his up-tempo offensive scheme. I think the Redskins will be motivated and hungry this week, so I’m giving them the edge over the Lions.

Giants over Panthers- I definitely didn’t expect the Giants to start the season out 0-2, but if Eli Manning can’t stop throwing interceptions they may be in for a long year. However, I am well aware that not all of those turnovers are his fault and I expect he and the Giants to get back on track against the Panthers. It would be really nice if David Wilson would get his act together and stop fumbling the ball, but the addition of Brandon Jacobs back into the fold should help provide at least a little stability in the running game. Maybe Cam Newton and the Panthers will surprise me, but I think the Giants are going to be motivated after starting 0-2 just like the Redskins are. I’m not sure if I can say the same thing about the Panthers yet or not.

Texans over Ravens- The Ravens offense has been ineffective thus far this season and I don’t anticipate them getting back on track against the talented Texans defense. If Andre Johnson can play the Ravens will get to see the Texans explosive combination of Arian Foster, Ben Tate, Andre Johnson AND DeAndre Hopkins who was one of my favorite wide receivers in last year’s loaded draft class. He caught the game-winning touchdown last week against the Titans, so I think the Texans are ready to beat the Ravens on the road this week.

Dolphins over Falcons- It pains me to do this, but the Falcons got way too banged up last week to go on the road and beat the Dolphins in my opinion. I think Ryan Tannehill is about to go off, and Lamar Miller may have a big day as well. Not only that, but Brent Grimes is a sure bet to pick off Matt Ryan in this game and I just don’t think the Falcons will be able to overcome Roddy White not being at 100%, Steven Jackson being out (though Jason Snelling will hopefully get a lot of touches), Kroy Biermann being out for the year, Bradie Ewing being out for the year, AND Sean Weatherspoon being out until Week 11. That’s a lot to replace and account for in one week, and while I think they will be able to survive those set-backs long term I’m not sure they can get away with it this week, so I give the advantage to the Dolphins at home.

Bills over Jets- In the battle of rookie quarterbacks EJ Manuel and Geno Smith I’ve got to give Manuel and the Bills the edge in this one. The Jets defense is still a quality unit despite the departure of Darrelle Revis, but Geno Smith made some questionable decisions and poorly executed throws in the elements against New England last week, and I have been shocked by how well EJ Manuel has been playing thus far. The Bills coaching staff has done a great job managing him thus far, and I trust Nathaniel Hackett to gameplan well more than I trust Marty Mornhinweg to do the same, so I am going with the Bills in this one. May the best rookie QB win. I must say, I was shocked and critical of the Manuel pick at 16 overall, but defeating Geno Smith (who I expected to come off the board first of all the quarterbacks) would be a pretty big vindication for EJ Manuel and the entire Bills organization. It would also make me look stupid, so that’s probably why it will happen.

49ers over Colts- This is an interesting one and it will be worth monitoring just how involved Trent Richardson will be in this game given that he is unfamiliar with the system and has no chemistry with the team at all, but the 49ers are the better squad and are likely very pissed off after the way they lost that game to division rival and offseason Cold War opponent Seattle on Sunday Night. The 49ers should come out firing and it will take a terrific performance from Andrew Luck to leave Candlestick with a victory.

Seahawks over Jaguars- #BecauseJaguars and #AllRussellWilsonEverything

Bears over Steelers- I thought Marc Trestman might give the Bears offense a tune-up and he appears to have done just that, and it makes me happy to see Jay Cutler playing well. The Steelers offense is completely devoid of playmaking at this point and I don’t anticipate they will be able to take advantage of the Bears defense enough to come away with a victory even at home.

Broncos over Raiders- The Broncos are playing some terrific football right now and they are looking especially sharp on the offensive side of the ball so far. They simply have more talent than the Raiders do at this point, though I think Terrelle Pryor and Darren McFadden may give the Broncos defense a few headaches. It would be a truly fantastic upset if the Raiders were able to come away with a victory against the Broncos on the road, I just don’t see it happening.

Thanks for reading, hopefully I do better this week than I did during the openers. Enjoy the games this weekend!

–Tom

Current 2013 Pick Record: 9-6

I had a few question marks surrounding Williams’ game coming into the season, but he has answered them emphatically with his fantastic play this year.

Intro: Terrance Williams is a player I’ve been watching since he was a sophomore at Baylor. That was back when Josh Gordon looked like the top WR prospect on the team, and Kendall Wright played a supporting role along with Williams. After Gordon’s dismissal Wright stepped into the spotlight and Williams was the second option, albeit a good one. This year, Williams was expected to be the man but he had never been a #1 option during his college career. I was unsure how he would do, and actually expected him to finish with similar production that he had as a junior- about 60 receptions, 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. Well, I was completely wrong. Williams has completely gone off this year, totaling 89 receptions, 1,693 yards and 12 touchdowns through just 11 games. He has totaled under 100 receiving yards just three times, producing 84, 87 and 91 yards in those contests. He has also only played three games where he hasn’t had a touchdown this year. Needless to say he has been incredibly impressive, and I have seen improvement from him in more than just his stat line. Here are my updated thoughts on Terrance Williams as he projects to the NFL.

Size: Terrance Williams is listed at 6’3”, 205 pounds. He looks like he could add a little bit of weight, but he isn’t skinny by any means. He has been learning how to use his size to shield defenders from the ball and it gives him an advantage on jump balls down the field.

Speed: Williams has legitimate sub 4.5 speed and I think he will run around 4.45 at the NFL combine. His straight line speed is definitely an asset and it allows him to beat athletic defenders using nothing but pure speed. He has shown that he can pull away from defenders when running vertical routes and when running after the catch, and that’s something that will appeal to a lot of evaluators. A kid with his size and athleticism doesn’t come around very often.

Quickness: Williams’ quickness isn’t as good as you might think considering his straight line speed. I wouldn’t say he has “build-up” speed, but I don’t think he has great quickness either. He isn’t stiff or anything, but I don’t think he’s a “quick-twitch” athlete either. Some players are quicker than fast, and I personally believe Williams is faster than he is quick. I don’t think this will hold him back much, but based on what I’ve watched I don’t think his 10 yard split at the combine will be particularly impressive.

Release: This is one of the areas where I think his quickness shows up. He doesn’t “explode” off of the ball, and part of that may involve his stance. I haven’t seen him jammed a single time so far since I have been watching him, so I have no idea how he deals with physical press man coverage. I don’t think he’s especially tough when he’s contacted when running routes though, so I’d definitely like to see him pressed to see how he handles it.

Route Running: This is one area where Williams still needs some work. I went back and watched a couple of his games from 2011 and his route running was a serious question mark. He was running curl routes by simply running and then stopping without sinking his hips or chopping his feet. He got away with that with RGIII at quarterback, but someone must have taken him aside and told him he needs to run better routes because he has improved significantly this year. He can still get better, but he runs better routes on curls and slants than he did last year. Like I said, he can improve, but the fact that he has already shown improvement is very encouraging. He’s not great at this yet, and I’m not quite convinced he has a complete route tree since he runs a LOT of curls and 9 routes, but despite my questions about his quickness I think he could develop into a good route runner at the next level if he continues to work and gets good coaching.

Hands: This was another question mark for me the past couple years with Terrance Williams, but I am comfortable giving him a good grade in this category right now. He has consistently shown that he can make catches with his hands outside of his frame, tough catches in traffic and that when he’s concentrating he can make very tough catches whether they are diving receptions on low throws or catches that require good footwork on the sideline. His concentration is the only question mark for me because he still drops routine catches more than he should, but he has improved on this from 2011 and that is good to see. If he has a mentor at the position or a good position coach I think he will continue to work on and hopefully eliminate this problem. His hands aren’t the issue, it’s his concentration. But like I said with his route running, it is encouraging to see him improving in this area.

Body Control: Williams’ body control is one of his best assets in my opinion. He adjusts very well to deep passes, attacks the ball in the air at its highest point and I think he may have the best footwork and feel for making receptions along the sideline of any receiver in this draft. He consistently gets not one but two feet in-bounds, doing a great job contorting his body to make the reception and get his feet in. This was something I definitely didn’t identify until I watched him more extensively in 2012, but his body control is definitely impressive.

In Traffic: Williams may not be the toughest receiver in the country, but he consistently makes tough receptions in traffic and has shown that he can go over the middle (though I have rarely, if ever, seen him make a catch and take a huge hit). I do think there are times when a defender gets a little handsy or grabby and he throttles down and looks for the flag, and I would prefer to see him fight through it and force the refs to throw the flag rather than expect them to. He shows that he will fight through contact to make the catch, but I think there are times he looks for flags when he should attempt to keep running his route.

YAC: Williams is definitely dangerous after the catch, particularly if he can get up to speed and outrun some angles. He’s not particularly shifty and I haven’t seen him break many tackles so I wouldn’t expect him to do so at the next level either. But if he catches a crossing route with space in front of him he will pick up plenty of yardage, and if he catches a deep pass in stride he can run away from the defense. He won’t have many electric runs where he makes a lot of guys miss with his short area burst and shiftiness, but he can pick up yards after the catch.

Blocking: I have seen a solid but not spectacular effort blocking when I watch Williams. He isn’t a dominant blocker by any means, but he has shown some ability to sustain and help the ball-carrier gain additional yardage as a result of his block. He can stand to improve here, but in an offense like Baylor’s I wouldn’t expect him to be a dominant blocker.

Overall: Williams was a guy who I characterized as a size/speed guy coming into the season, but I wasn’t sold on him from a hands/concentration aspect or from a route running perspective when I previewed Baylor this summer. However, Williams has answered a number of questions I posed before the season- Can he match his production without Kendall Wright? Obvious yes, he has vastly exceeded it. Can he be the go-to receiver or is he more of a complementary guy? This year he has proven that he can be extremely productive as the go-to guy and he has shown he can thrive in a complementary role in the past. Not only that, he has shown that he can be a go-to guy without a Heisman winner at quarterback. I’m not sure if he’s a NFL #1 yet, but thanks to his size and speed he has that upside. Can he improve his route running and work to eliminate his concentration lapses? He hasn’t completely fixed these issues, but he has definitely improved on them from what I saw from him in 2011. That’s a very good sign and it makes me think he’s going to end up in the first round. This is one reason I like to watch players before they are draft eligible, not just after they are seniors or likely to declare juniors. Being able to see their progression and improvement with your own eyes, not just on a stat sheet, is really beneficial in my opinion.

Projection: 1st round. I think Williams looks like a top 40 pick right now and he still has a couple games left (the regular season finale against Oklahoma State and then a bowl game) to attempt to boost his stock. I expect him to be at the Senior Bowl as well where I look forward to getting a chance to talk to him more in depth. Guys that are 6’3” with 4.45 speed don’t grow on trees, and Williams has really improved his overall game since his junior season. He’s becoming a more complete receiver, and even though he has things to work on I am really intrigued by his upside. He’s not all the way there yet, but the improvement he has shown is more than encouraging enough for me to give him a 1st round grade at this point.

I believed Josh Gordon had 1st round upside back in 2010, and still believe he has that upside now. Unfortunately, he comes with more questions than answers thanks to his dismissal from Baylor and his decision to leave Utah before playing a snap.

The Supplemental Draft always seems to generate a lot of buzz, mostly likely because of how little there is to talk about football-wise in July. Everyone is chomping at the bit waiting for football season to start, meaning they will talk about anything to make it get here sooner. As has been the case the past couple years, the Supplemental Draft is falling under that “anything” category.

This year we have eight eligible players for the Supplemental Draft. I believe there is one player that will be selected, Josh Gordon, the former Baylor and Utah wide receiver. The only other player with a chance is Ed Wesley, the former TCU running back.

Josh Gordon’s supplemental draft candidacy has become the stuff of legend the past couple of days. I have seen him compared to Terrell Owens, Calvin Johnson and AJ Green. Truth be told, the Owens comparison holds the most water, but those would have been far more apt had he been playing football the past year, not sitting out due to transfer rules before playing for Utah this upcoming season.

Based on the comments I’ve heard, it’s fair to say that the Josh Gordon hype train has gone off the rails as so many things seem to these days. As the saying goes “Where facts are few, experts are many” and because Gordon hasn’t played a snap of football since his 2010 season in Baylor, there is certainly a shortage of facts when it comes to Josh Gordon. What we do know is that he’s listed at 6’3″, 220 pounds, has a projected 40 yard dash time in the 4.4 range and hasn’t played football for a year. Optimum Scouting’s Eric Galko did a great job trying to track down some facts regarding Gordon’s dismissal from Baylor. Here is what he found. According to Galko’s source in the Baylor football program Gordon is a good kid who made a mistake. From what Galko has reported, Gordon’s character concerns are less significant than originally believed. Not much has gotten out about his decision to leave Utah before playing a single down, but according to Galko and others it was due to financial issues, not another incident. We will see, perhaps in the coming days, if that holds true.

Given what we know about Gordon, which isn’t a whole lot, he seems to be a risk, but not a huge one. It will be interesting to see if he is in shape at his pro day on July 10th, which has been moved from Rice to the Texans facilities I just found out today. If he is, and if he runs in the 4.4’s, I fully expect him to go in the first three rounds of the supplemental draft. Back in 2010 I thought he had first round upside, and there are reports coming out that some scouts had similar grades on him. It’s not hard to imagine why. He has the size the NFL craves for a #1 WR at 6’3″, 220 pounds, he looks like a 4.5 guy on film, he can get behind defenders with his long strides but also shows the ability to change direction quickly. He catches the ball well with his hands outside of his frame and has shown he can track the ball deep. He has also shown a willingness to block and because of his size and strength he could be a very good blocking receiver once he receives more coaching. However he is obviously a raw route runner and doesn’t have a well developed route tree as far as we know from his time at Baylor. The reason Gordon’s name is heating up so much is that he has the size, the speed, the athleticism and the hands that NFL teams covet. Like many receivers, he needs to improve his route running. But I thought he had 1st round upside two years ago and there’s no reason to think he has forgotten how to catch or run despite a year out of football.

Overall, Gordon is going to be a risk. He hasn’t played in a year, he showed 1st round potential in 2010, but you don’t know exactly what you’re getting. However, getting a 1st round caliber receiver in round 2 or 3 of the draft will appeal to the teams that are able to do their homework and clear him from a character standpoint. The talent is there, it’s just a question of which teams check him out off the field and how much of a gamble they are willing to take.

**Update: Josh Gordon ran a 4.52 40 yard dash at his pro day, measured in at 6031 (6’3″, 1/8 inch), 224 pounds, had a 36″ vertical, 10’1″ broad jump as well as 13 reps on the bench press. According to Tony Pauline he hurt his quad during the 40 yard dash run, but he was going to attempt to run routes.**

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys, 3rd round. The Cowboys aren’t afraid to gamble and the team that gambles on this is going to need some stones, especially if they are surrendering a 3rd round pick or higher. The way I see it, he was a 1st round talent that gets docked for not playing last year and for his off field issues that helped lead him to the supplemental draft. That makes the 3rd round a realistic expectation for where he will be drafted on top of reports from Evan Silva of Rotoworld saying a NFC East team won’t let Gordon out of the 3rd round.

The less heralded player who has a chance to get drafted is Ed Wesley, the former TCU running back. Wesley never blew me away when I watched him, but he has some quickness to him and offers some versatility, but overall I think he is a complementary back in the NFL, not a starter. That limits his upside and doesn’t exactly make him a rare commodity when it comes to the NFL. Unfortunately for Wesley I don’t think he has a great chance at being selected. He certainly has a chance, but not a great one. There is always a gluttony of talent at running back and not a lot of teams have a dire need at #2 or #3 running back, and even if they did Wesley isn’t dynamic enough to warrant a pick to ensure they get him in my estimation. That makes me think he will go undrafted and probably get signed as a priority free agent so a team can see what he can do in training camp.

**Update** Wesley reportedly measured in at 5083 (5’8″ and 3/8), 196 and ran 4.68 and 4.72 in the 40 yard dash at his pro day July 9th, 2012.

Prediction: Undrafted.

My predictions for the rest of the supplemental draft entrants are for them to go undrafted. The others eligible are: LB Larry Lumpkin (formerly of Alabama A&M, Carson-Newman), CB Quaylon Ewing-Burton (formerly of Boise State), G/RT Adrian Haughton (formerly of Iowa State), DE/OLB Montez Robinson (formerly of Georgia), FB Adam Harris (formerly of Cornell, Syracuse), and WR Houston Tuminello (formerly of Lousiana Tech, Stephen F. Austin and McMurray). Here is what I know about each of them:

Larry Lumpkin- Listed at 6’0″, 234 pounds in 2009. Played in 11 games for A&M in 2010 finishing with 43 tackles, 4.5 TFL, two pass break-ups and two quarterback hurries. Returned to A&M in 2010, finishing with 39 tackles, 12 TFL, four sacks, one fumble recovery and two forced fumbles. However, according to this article Lumpkin had some off field issues. This included being “constantly late for meetings” and “missing practice at least once per week” and eventually led to him transferring to Carson-Newman, a Division II school. He led the team with 94 tackles, 62 solo, and 10 tackles for loss, but entered the Supplemental Draft after being ruled ineligble for the upcoming season.

Quaylon Ewing-Burton- Boise State released a statement saying Ewing “Did not live up to the standards of the program” when they announced he was no longer on the team. He was not a regular starter, and was not expected to be a starter for Boise State this upcoming season. Ewing-Burton is listed at 6’0″, 182 pounds and reportedly ran a  4.53 40, 7.46 L cone, 4.39 short shuttle, and registered 12 bench reps and a 10’2″ broad jump at his pro day on July 9th.

Adrian Haughton- Haughton was dismissed from Iowa State on May 19, 2012 for a violation of team rules. I have not been able to find any details about why he was dismissed. He most recently played for the Orlando Predators in the AFL. He is listed at 6’3″, 338 pounds.

Montez Robinson- Robinson seems to have the most significant off-field issues of this group, at least that we know of. He was arrested 3 times in a 6 month span at Georgia, all reportedly pertaining to domestic violence disputes with a female student at Georgia. From what I can gather, he was initially suspended in 2009 and was going to serve a 2 game suspension to start the 2010 season before his 3rd arrest violated the probationary period Georgia had put him on. That led to his dismissal and from what I can understand, jail time. I have not been able to find a record of him playing football since then.

Houston Tuminello- I don’t know much about Tuminello beyond the fact that he is listed at 6’0″ 190, originally played for Louisiana Tech for two seasons, quit the team in October 2009 for personal reasons, and then transferred to Stephen F. Austin and then subsequently to McMurray, a D-III school.

Adam Harris- Harris has the best chance of the remaining 6 entrants to make a team in my opinion. He’s listed at 6’2″, 232 pounds and has been medically cleared to return to football activities despite sustaining three concussions in his career. He is a tough fullback and seems to be dedicated to making a NFL roster, and hopefully he will get a chance to do so after the supplemental draft. But with his concussion history I don’t think any NFL team will surrender a pick for him. From what I have been able to find, he does not have any off field issues.
Thanks for reading, and I will update this post with more information as it becomes available as some of the prospects hold pro days. The most notable one left is Josh Gordon’s on July 10th, 2012.

–Tom

Here’s a quick breakdown of a view games that I think will be interesting over the next few days. Part two will be coming soon, but I didn’t want it to be too long of a post considering they are just previews for the games. This covers Thursday, Friday and some of Saturday. Saturday through Monday will be covered in Part Two. Obviously there aren’t a lot of competitive match-ups in week one of the season since most teams are essentially buying wins to start off the season instead of scheduling potentially challening out of conference opponents, but that’s out of my control. So enjoy some of the match-ups that might just end up being interesting!

Thursday:

-Wisconsin-UNLV:

There are plenty of prospects to look at in this game. Russell Wilson (QB), Montee Ball and James White (RB), Nick Toon (WR), Ricky Wagner (LT), Kevin Zeitler (OG), Peter Konz (OC), Louis Nzegwu (DE), Antonio Fenelus (CB), Aaron Henry (FS) and their former nickel corner Devin Smith. On the UNLV side they have a young QB in Caleb Herring who will be trying to improve on an average season as a freshman where he saw action in 8 games but didn’t do anything spectacular. He has an ok running game and a solid receiver in Phillip Payne who has 127 career receptions coming into his senior year as well as 1,786 total receiving yards and 19 touchdowns. He should be the main target for Herring in this game, and I imagine Fenelus will be up to the challenge of defending him. That could be the most intriguing match-up in the game outside of Wilson playing his first game on the Badgers, which certainly will get lots of media attention throughout the season as he becomes acclimated to the team, the coaching staff and obviously his teammates on offense. I’m excited to see how they all do in this game, but Ricky Wagner is the best prospect in this game in my opinion. It will be interesting to see how he holds up as a starter at Left Tackle. I have high expectations for him.

Friday:

-TCU-Baylor:

This is an intriguing matchup at the QB position with Casey Pachall replacing Andy Dalton at QB and with Robert Griffin III returning as the starter for Baylor. TCU is overrated as the #14 overall team in my opinion, but they are returning a strong defense led by Tank Carder who terrorized Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. I also think Stansly Maponga has some upside as a defensive end for TCU. Griffin is very athletically talented, but needs significant improvement with his mechanics and accuracy to be a serious or even dominant threat at QB. It will be interesting to see what Pachall has to offer, but Ed Wesley and a strong stable of RB’s are returning to help support him while he adjusts to the starting role. Kendall Wright is going to get a lot of looks from Griffin especially because of the loss of Josh Gordon, a receiver who had legitimate 1st round ability. TCU is obviously the favorite in this one, but Baylor has enough firepower to potentially hang around with them.

Saturday:

-Northwestern-Boston College:

This game could go either way, and has a couple intriguing prospects at QB. The superior prospect is obviously Dan Persa, the QB for Northwestern. He should give the Wildcats a serious boost on offense, and they’ve got a lot of talent on that offense for him to utilize. Boston College has a younger QB in Chase Rettig who should be a sophomore this year. He showed some ability as a freshman last year, so it will be interesting to see how he deals with the Northwestern defense. Montel Harris should help keep some pressure off of him even if he is an average NFL prospect. I think Northwestern is the favorite, but Boston College has a legitimate shot in this one.

-Notre Dame-South Florida:

Notre Dame is a heavy favorite in this game but I don’t buy the hype of them being a potential top 15 team. South Florida doesn’t have a great shot at winning this game but they have a QB in B.J. Daniels who can be very streaky, and can be dangerous when he’s hot thanks to his strong arm and legitimate athleticism so he can threaten with his legs as well as his arm. I’m not sold on Notre Dame’s defense at this point, but their offense shouldn’t have much trouble scoring on South Florida’s defense. Dayne Crist will be starting a game for the first time in a very long time so expect some significant rust, but they’ll make it easy for him to get into a rhythm, especially with Michael Floyd still intact.

-BYU-Ole Miss:

I actually think this could be an interesting game. I know nothing about either QB that Ole Miss was considering starting (except that the original starter Randall Mackey was arrested for disorderly conduct after a fight at a bar) so now Barry Brunetti is starting. I know a significant bit more about Jake Heaps, BYU’s QB, and I am excited to see how he progresses. He was incredibly impressive for a true freshman QB last year, and was quite impressive in their bowl win to cap off their season last year. This will be a huge test for him going against a SEC caliber defense, but I think he might be up to it. Ole Miss will rely a lot on Brandon Bolden, their quality RB, who put up 976 rushing yards (14 TD’s and 6.0 ypc) plus 344 receiving yards and 3 more TD’s on 32 receptions. It’ll be interesting to see how well they move the ball because I have no expectations for their QB. They have some talent on defense, but it will be interesting to see how they match up with BYU. Cody Hoffman, BYU’s very large WR, might create some match-up problems because of his size.

It’ll be interesting to see how these match-ups play out, but regardless I am excited to see some college football finally. Enjoy it, I know I will!

–Tom

I have put together a top 25 list that I will post over the next few days in incriments of five teams. Tomorrow will be #16-20 and so on. Enjoy!

Bray is one of the best young NFL quarterbacks in the country and should help keep Tennessee relevant this year.

21. Tennessee- I am a huge Tyler Bray fan and that alone makes me think that Tennessee is ready to surprise some people. They may not be returning an abundance of elite SEC talent but I think they have enough talent on offense and on defense to compete in the SEC. They might not end up in the top 25 by the end of the season, but no one thought they would end up in a bowl game after their awful start last year either, and Bray was having none of that. A good or great QB can reverse the fortunes of even the worst teams, and Bray is living proof of that for Tennessee. This is his first full season as a starter, so it will be interesting to see if he can maintain the success he had late in the year last year, but if I had to pick I would anticipate him to continue to play well, even if he has a bit of a sophomore slump.

22. Baylor- I may not be a fan of Robert Griffin’s NFL prospects, but he has the upside to be a very good college quarterback and he has a chance to lead a Baylor team that is returning most of their talent (if not almost all of it). They have a lot of quality players on offense, led by Josh Gordon, a big, physical receiver with a listed 40 time of 4.42 (who I am very high on). They should have a very productive offense if Griffin can pass more accurately than he did at times last year, but he should be 100% healthy by now and won’t be as rusty as he was at the beginning of last season which should help the Baylor Bears prospects. Additionally, Baylor has some talent on defense worth noting and could have a pretty nice pass rush this season.

23. Mississippi State- The Bulldogs took the SEC by surprise last year and walloped Michigan in their bowl game last year thanks to a brutally effective rushing attack predicated on power. They lose some talent to the draft but they return talent on both sides of the ball, so it will be interesting to see if they can string two good seasons together in a row, or whether they won’t live up to expectations now that they have been raised. If they can get the ball out to Chris Smith (who I think is poised for a break-out season) they could have a more significant passing attack than they did at times last year.

Gilbert had his struggles last year, but we all saw flashes of potential in him against Alabama two years ago. If he can recapture that then Texas could be a dark-horse in the Big-12.

24. Texas- Texas is always good with recruiting and they have a lot of returning talent, but like so many teams their quarterback will make or break their season. Garrett Gilbert didn’t have a very good season last year (260/441, 59% completion, 2744 yards and 10 TD’s with an out of control 17 interceptions, plus 380 yards and 5 rushing TD’s) and if Texas is going to legitimize themselves as a contender they are going to need him to step it up. The flashes of greatness he showed against Alabama were nowhere to be found last year, and if he doesn’t recapture the poise and accuracy he flashed in that game two years ago then Texas is going to be in trouble, regardless of how much talent they are bringing in.

25. BYU- BYU has definite upside because even though they may not be a powerhouse they have a quality quarterback in Jake Heaps, who as a true freshman managed to complete 219 of 384 passes (57% completion) for 2,316 yards, and 15 TD’s with only 9 interceptions. Those are impressive numbers for a freshman, and he really stepped up against UTEP in their bowl game when he had his best game of the season with his 2nd highest career total in completions and he tied his career high for touchdowns with four. Heaps may not be a big guy, but even though he’s about 6’0” 195 he can sling the pigskin and he will give BYU a chance to remain competitive for the next three years if he stays healthy.

Look out for more rankings in the coming days! Thanks for reading!

–Tom

This post was so long even after I split up the break-out players and the potential sleepers that I had to split it up again. So here is part one, and I’ll post part two later today. Enjoy!

Vernon has as much upside as any DE in the country in my opinion, and I can't wait to see how his junior season turns out.

Olivier Vernon, DE, Miami:

Measurables: 6’4”, 250 pounds, #35

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 39 tackles (25 solo), 10.5 TFL, 6.0 sacks

Analysis: Vernon is an explosive athlete. He has a great combination of size and athletic ability. He has an impressive burst off the line, very impressive strength and he flashes the ability to stand up at the point of attack against the run. He showed some explosive ability last year as a pass rusher and I think he has the potential to get 10 sacks this year as a starting RE on the Hurricanes. He has a very high ceiling and I can’t wait to see how he produces as a junior this year.

Mathieu was incredibly impressive to me as a freshman and I think he will be a game-changing defensive back whether he is at corner or safety.

Tyrann Mathieu, DB, LSU:

Measurables: 5’9”, 180 pounds, #14

Year in 2011: Sophomore

Stats: 57 tackles (34 solo), 8.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 2 INT’s, 5 FF’s, 2 FR’s, 7 pass break ups.

Analysis: Mathieu made himself known every single time I watched LSU last year. Seeing a defensive back impact games like this, especially as a freshman, is something that I have rarely (if ever) seen. He’s got great instincts, a lot of athletic ability and he was incredibly productive. I honestly don’t see him lasting past his junior season. He may be undersized, but I think he can be a great corner or safety for LSU. Hell, he may already be.

Kendricks really caught my attention when I was scouting Cameron Jordan and I think he will be on a lot of NFL Draft radars by the end of his Senior year.

Mychal Kendricks, OLB, California:

Measurables: 6’0”, 241 pounds, #30

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 65 tackles (39 solo), 14.5 TFL, 7.0 sacks, 1 INT

Analysis: Kendricks was very productive as a junior as he flashed a lot of potential. He showed good speed off the edge, good bend/flexibility and also good instincts. I think he has the potential to match or exceed the production he had as a junior. He might not have elite height for the 3-4 OLB position but too many people get wrapped up in the height of players at times, and I think it would be a grave mistake to underestimate Kendricks because he isn’t 6’3″. He has a lot of ability and I expect him to demonstrate that all season.

Allen has as much upside as any receiver in the Pac-10 and it won't be long before he is considered one of the best receivers in the country.

Keenan Allen, WR, California:

Measurables: 6’3”, 195 pounds, #21

Year in 2011: Sophomore

Stats: 47 receptions, 496 yards, 5 TD’s. 18 attempts, 136 yards, 1 TD. 18 KR, 406 yards (22.56 avg)

Analysis: Allen really impressed me when I watched tape of him and I think he is going to be the next superstar receiver in the Pac-10. He has good size, impressive speed, very reliable hands and even as a freshman he was one of Cal’s go-to-guys on offense. I think he will break out even more as a true sophomore, and if he has a good sophomore year I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he left after his junior year.

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

Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia:

Measurables: 6’0”, 185 pounds, #13

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 48 tackles (34 solo), 3.0 TFL, 0.5 sacks, 6 INT’s, 4 pass break ups. 13 PR, 84 yards (6.46 avg)

Analysis: Minnifield impressed me in the limited time I was able to watch him play. He has pretty solid stats for a corner along with good size and seemingly good hips and speed. He seems to have good ball skills and I think that makes him an intriguing candidate to watch. I don’t think a lot of people know him, but I readily expect him to become more popular as the season progresses. If he turns and runs well with receivers and plays good man coverage (which I have the impression that he does) then he will be a hot commodity come draft day due to his size and ball skills. He has top 50 pick potential at corner in my opinion, and I think a lot of people will be tuning in to watch Virginia just to see him play.


Jenkins has a lot of upside and his game reminds me of Mike Williams, the former Syracuse WR.

A.J. Jenkins, WR, Illinois:

Measurables: 6’0”, 185 pounds, #8

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 56 receptions, 746 yards, 7 TD’s

Analysis: Jenkins impressed me when I was watching him because he is a fluid athlete with good speed, good hands and he seems to run pretty good routes. He creates good separation and was easily the go-to guy in Illinois’ passing game. Now that he won’t be dealing with a raw freshman quarterback I think Jenkins has the chance to hit 70 receptions, 1,000 yards and 8-10 touchdowns as a senior. He may not be as tall and I don’t know what he runs in the 40 yard dash, but his playing style reminds me of Mike Williams, the controversial former Syracuse receiver. I was very high on Williams, so I am excited to see if Jenkins lives up to this comparison.

Nick Perry has a ton of upside and from what I am hearing it sounds like he is ready to live up to all of his potential this year.

Nick Perry, DE, Southern Cal:

Measurables: 6’3”, 250 pounds, #8

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 25 tackles (15 solo), 7.5 TFL, 4.0 sacks, 2 FF’s, 1 FR and 3 pass break ups

Analysis: I thought Perry might break out as a sophomore but he didn’t end up doing that as he was still a rotational end. This year is the year for him to break out though, and I honestly think he has 8-10 sack potential this year. He is very fast off the ball, has a lot of athleticism and he has good size and strength. I am excited to see if he lives up to some of the potential that he has this year. He has apparently looked great in spring ball, so I am looking forward to a great year from him.

Robert Woods is probably the most impressive freshman receiver I've ever seen, and I am extremely excited to see how he progresses.

Robert Woods, WR, Southern Cal:

Measurables: 6’1”, 185 pounds, #13

Year in 2011: Sophomore

Stats: 64 receptions, 786 yards, 6 TD’s. 7 attempts, 56 yards (8.0 ypc). 38 KR, 971 yards (25.55 avg), 1 TD

Analysis: Woods is one of the most gifted freshmen WR’s I have ever seen. He runs great routes, he has very reliable hands, he makes great catches in traffic, he is dangerous after the catch, and he is a very reliable return man. You can’t really say enough about the things he was doing last year, and I honestly hope USC’s bowl game ban is lifted for this year just so I can see this kid for an extra game. That’s how good he is. He has a ton of potential and I think he is going to be the next superstar receiver at USC.

Gordon is a big, physical receiver with deceptive deep speed and good hands. He has a lot of upside.

Josh Gordon, WR, Baylor:

Measurables: 6’3”, 220 pounds, #12

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 42 receptions, 714 yards, 7 TD’s. 3 KR, 74 yards (24.67 avg)

Analysis: Gordon is a big possession receiver. He is a long strider so he has deceptive deep speed, but I’d be surprised if he ran much faster than a 4.5 in the 40. He has reliable hands and makes catches well away from his body and was pretty productive as a junior. With Griffin III healthy for a second year in a row I think Gordon will have much better chemistry with him, so 60+ catches, 900+ yards and 8-10 TD’s is definitely a realistic expectation for his junior season.

Wright is definitely the big play guy for Baylor and he projects very nicely to the slot in the NFL.

Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor:

Measurables: 5’10”, 190 pounds, #1

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 78 receptions, 952 yards, 7 TD’s. 8 rushes, 53 yards (6.63 avg).

Analysis: Wright is the big play guy on Baylor and I think he projects nicely as a slot receiver in the NFL. He has less than ideal size for the position but he impressive speed, probably 4.45 if not a bit faster, and he has very reliable hands and catches the ball well in traffic. He is tougher than his size would indicate too, and I think he has a great shot at being picked in the top 75-90 picks if he has another good senior season. 80 catches, 1,000 yards and 8 TD’s is definitely a realistic expectation.

Shackelford was everywhere when I was watching Ole Miss and I like his instincts and quality tackling a whole lot.

D.T. Shackelford, LB, Mississippi:

Measurables: 6’1”, 235 pounds, #42

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 48 tackles (27 solo), 9.0 TFL, 5.0 sacks, 1 FF, 1 FR

Analysis: Shackelford seems to have impressive instincts and he fills run versus the run. I like his potential and upside and if he is healthy when the season starts I expect him to surpass all of the numbers he put up as a sophomore last season. That is a bit of a question mark, but hopefully he will be healthy because I think he has a lot of potential. He might be the best linebacker that Ole Miss has had since Patrick Willis. Hopefully I’m not anointing him or hyping him up too much, but that is what I thought when I was watching him last year.


Devin Taylor has Julius Peppers upside, that is how impressive he was to me when I saw him last year.

Devin Taylor, DE, South Carolina:

Measurables: 6’7”, 249 pounds, #98

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 46 tackles (33 solo), 13.0 TFL, 7.5 sacks, 1 INT (1 TD), 1 FR, 8 Pass break ups

Analysis: Devin Taylor has incredible potential and he actually reminds me of Julius Peppers. His combination of size, athleticism and his ability to impact games from the defensive end position is rare, and he did this all as a sophomore in the SEC. I think he has the potential to get 55 tackles, 15+ TFL and 10+ sacks, plus a consistent number of pass break ups and forced fumbles as a junior. If he has a season anything like what he had as a sophomore I expect him to be long gone for the NFL because he has such great size, speed and length that he will be an ideal 4-3 DE in the NFL. This kid has the potential to be a top five pick in the NFL with a good season next year, he is that good. I just want to see how well he bends and how good his hand usage is, but the size and athletic ability is all there.

I think Nickoe Whitley has ball-hawk written all over him, and I can't wait to see how he progresses.

Nickoe Whitley, S, Mississippi State:

Measurables: 6’0”, 200 pounds, #31

Year in 2011: Sophomore

Stats: 52 tackles (34 solo), 1.5 TFL, 3 INTs, 1.5 sacks, 3 pass break ups, 1 FF

Analysis: Whitley has a lot of potential because as a freshman in the SEC he managed 50+ tackles, 3 INT’s, 3 pass break-ups and a forced fumble. That’s not easy to come by in such a talented conference, and I am very much looking forward to seeing what he does as a sophomore. I see no reason why he shouldn’t improve on all of the numbers he put up as a freshman.

Marcus Forston has a lot of disruptive potential and I think he will have a great season on a talented Miami defense.

Marcus Forston, DT, Miami:

Measurables: 6’3”, 305 pounds, #99

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 37 tackles (16 solo), 12.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks

Analysis: I was honestly surprised to see Forston’s stat line when I looked at it because I expected it to be more filled out than it was. That’s not a knock on him, I am only saying that whenever I watched Miami he was a disruptive force at DT, and I didn’t feel that the stats did that justice despite his impressive 12.0 TFL’s as a sophomore. I expect more of that as a junior as I think he could very well get 50 tackles, 15 TFL’s and 5+ sacks as a junior. He will be on an incredibly talented Miami team, but the front seven he will be playing on is going to be incredibly talented so I would be surprised if he didn’t improve on these statistics unless they go down just because there are only so many TFL’s and sacks to go around.


Ojomo could be a dominant force at LE for Miami this year especially considering the talent on that defensive line.

Adewale Ojomo, DE, Miami:

Measurables: 6’4”, 260 pounds, #97

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 38 tackles (21 solo), 7.5 TFL, 5.0 sacks, 1 pass break up

Analysis: Ojomo is not very well known on Miami’s defensive line but he clearly demonstrated the potential he has given his 7.5 TFL and 5.0 sacks as a junior. I don’t know for sure, but I would be surprised if he wasn’t starting opposite Olivier Vernon on Miami’s defensive line with Marcus Robinson rotating in. Ojomo seemed to have good edge speed and he has perfect 4-3 DE size, and if he gets off the ball well and has good edge speed he’s going to be a hot commodity if he maintains or improves on his junior year production. He should do that if he gets a starting job.

Armstrong has a great combination of size and athletic ability and he should continue to be a play-maker in Miami's secondary.

Ray-Ray Armstrong, SS, Miami:

Measurables: 6’4”, 220 pounds, #26

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 79 tackles (44 solo), 4.5 TFL, 3 INT (1 TD), 3 pass break ups

Analysis: Armstrong is a physical freak for the safety position at 6’4”, 220 pounds and he was productive as a sophomore with almost 80 tackles and some plays on the ball with 3 INT’s and 3 pass break ups. I am really looking forward to how he does as a junior and I think his numbers could go way up considering the amount of talent that will be around him on defense, especially in the front four and seven. This Miami defense has so much talent that I am high on that I think they could be one of the best defenses in the country next year. They have a ton of talent along the front seven and they have two very talented defensive backs with Telemaque and Armstrong. If they can get a solid performance from Stephen Morris and replace the three corners they lost to graduation and the draft then they could run away with the ACC.

I have been high on Boykin for a year now and he really stepped up last year. I think he has another great year left in him.

Jarrett Boykin, WR, Virginia Tech:

Measurables: 6’2”, 215 pounds, #81

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 53 receptions, 847 yards, 6 TD’s

Analysis: I have been high on Boykin since last June and I identified him as the #1 WR on Virginia Tech before his Junior season and he proved me right by becoming one of the go-to guys on the offense. His production speaks for itself, but he has very reliable hands and rarely drops passes even in traffic. He hasn’t turned the corner on making the huge, crucial catch when his team needs it most yet, but he has shown the ability to make catches under pressure. I think he definitely has a NFL future even if he doesn’t have elite size, speed or hands. He is a well-rounded receiver and I see him being a nice mid-round selection in the NFL draft with another good senior season.

Davis has a lot of upside and he has looked great in Spring Ball from what I have heard, so watch out for him.


Marcus Davis, WR, Virginia Tech:

Measurables: 6’4”, 229 pounds, #7

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 19 receptions, 239 yards, 2 TD’s. 1 rush, 12 yards.

Analysis: I thought Davis was a TE he was so big but he is a WR and he moves well for his size. He gets behind coverage surprisingly well and was a couple overthrown passes from Tyrod Taylor from having 25 catches and well over 300 yards and a couple more touchdowns last year. I have heard he looked great in the spring game though I haven’t seen it myself, and I think he could really blow up this year.

Collins flashed some potential last year also and he has been fantastic in Spring Ball from what I have heard, I am very excited to see what he can do with more playing time.

J.R. Collins, DE, Virginia Tech:

Measurables: 6’2”, 254 pounds, #42

Year in 2011: Sophomore

Stats: 25 tackles (12 solo), 6.5 TFL, 5.0 sacks

Analysis: Collins is another guy that I think could blow up this year, especially on a defensive line that doesn’t have a lot of returning starters. He was disruptive in a rotational role last season as you can see from his 6.5 TFL and 5.0 sacks, but he was very disruptive in the spring game with two sacks in that game, not to mention a couple of sacks and 4 TFL in a scrimmage before that from what I am told. I think he has the potential to blow up this year with more consistent playing time, and his performance in spring ball did nothing to dissuade me from thinking this.

Bradham has definite upside and I can't wait to get a better look at him during his Senior season.

Nigel Bradham, LB, Florida State:

Measurables: 6’2”, 241 pounds, #13

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 97 tackles (53 solo), 5.5 TFL, 5.0 sacks, 5 pass break ups, 1 kick/punt blocked

Analysis: Bradham was very productive as a junior for Florida State but I think he can do even better than that as a Senior. 100 tackles, 8 TFL and 5 sacks is a realistic expectation for him. I want to see how good he is in coverage though, because it was pretty apparent that he can defend the run, but I want to assess his instincts as a run defender and in coverage to see how good of a NFL prospect he is. However, I definitely think he could blow up as a senior and improve his stock.


Rambo really packs a punch as a hitter and I think he can be an enforcer for Georgia, I just wish he had better hands.

Bacarri Rambo, SS, Georgia:

Measurables: 6’0”, 211 pounds, #18

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 82 tackles (58 solo), 5.0 TFL, 3 INTs (1 TD), 3 pass break ups

Analysis: Rambo was impressive as a sophomore but I really think he could blow up as a junior because he has good size, speed and he hits like a freight train. He really laid some people out as a sophomore, and while he does that a bit too much (going for the big hit instead of wrapping up) he still is a pretty good tackler and run defender. I want to see more from him in coverage, as I am not sold on him in coverage and his ball skills are lacking despite his 3 INT’s and pass break-ups. He could have had one or more interceptions if his hands were better just in the games I saw.

Orson Charles may very well be my favorite TE in the country right now, I can't wait to see him progress with a more seasoned Aaron Murray this year.

Orson Charles, TE, Georgia:

Measurables: 6’3”, 240 pounds, #7

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 26 receptions, 422 yards, 2 TD’s

Analysis: I am an absolutely huge fan of Orson Charles. I think he is going to double all of his statistics from last season. If he has anything less than 50+ catches, 700+ yards and 6+ touchdowns then I would be absolutely shocked. He is going to be one of Murray’s go-to guys as the Bulldogs seek to replace A.J. Green’s unreal production but Charles is definitely up to the challenge. He has good size, he has impressive speed to stretch the field form the TE position, not to mention very reliable hands and great chemistry with Murray. I think if Charles has a good enough year this year he could leave as a junior, but I think there is a pretty good chance he returns for another year with Murray as a junior when they could make a strong run at a National Title if they return enough starters. Regardless, I expect Charles to blow his sophomore year numbers out of the water this year, he is extremely talented and may very well be my favorite tight end in the country.

Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed part one of my preview! There is a lot more to come!

–Tom