Tag Archive: Louisville


Top Seniors:

1-      Tajh Boyd, Clemson- Boyd really impressed me with his growth as a junior and had one of his best games in the bowl game against LSU. DeAndre Hopkins helped take over that game, but Boyd’s progression makes me think he will continue to improve as a senior. I’ve made this mistake before on Jake Locker, but I have high hopes for Boyd.

2-      David Fales, San Jose State- Thanks to Ben Allbright, Fales became a very popular name amongst NFL Draft analysts, particularly on Twitter. The hashtag #EpicFales may be one of the greatest hashtags of all time. Regardless, Fales has a NFL arm and really impressed me in the limited time I was able to watch him. He is not without flaws, but he’s definitely one of my top 5 QB’s even considering juniors.

3-      Jeff Matthews, Cornell- My good friend Emory Hunt turned me on to Matthews months ago and I have to say I was very impressed with what I saw. He’s got a strong arm, he’s accurate, and he’s definitely going to become more and more popular as the process goes on. Emory pointed out that he reminds him of Matt Ryan and I definitely see the similarities.

4-      Derek Carr, Fresno State- Carr has a very talented arm, not unlike his older brother David, but he worried me with how he handled pressure and he obviously struggled a lot while Margus Hunt terrorized him in Fresno State’s bowl game. He’s got another full year to show he can improve, and his natural talent means he’s in my top 5 QB’s, but I want to see him handle pressure better.

5-      Bryn Renner, North Carolina- This might be me showing my UNC fandom, but I really think Renner is a quality quarterback prospect. He certainly isn’t perfect, and he had a great season in a wide open offense last year, but he has experience in different styles of offense, a strong arm, and I think he’s an effective leader. I think he will open some eyes as a senior.

6-      Aaron Murray, Georgia- If I expect McCarron to be the most scrutinized quarterback in this class, I think Murray is going to be a close second. He has been deemed as a player who can’t win the big game, and he’s going to have a tough time changing everyone’s minds as a senior. I’m glad he came back because I still think he has room to improve, but there’s a stigma about him that is going to be hard to shake. I do think he is a NFL caliber starter though, but he’s definitely not a franchise caliber guy in my opinion.

7-      A.J. McCarron, Alabama- I can already tell McCarron is going to be a divisive prospect. Some are going to see a “winner” that has been a key cog to Alabama’s title runs and others are going to cite his terrific supporting cast (skill position players, offensive line, and defense) and claim he is not much more than a game manager. I certainly don’t think he’s an elite prospect and his arm strength leaves something to be desired, but I don’t think he’s been coasting on the talent of Alabama’s roster either. I think he has some starter upside, but I am excited to see how his 2013 tape looks. He will certainly be one of the most highly scrutinized quarterbacks in this class.

8-      Tyler Russell, Mississippi State- I thought Russell flashed upside when he was still splitting time as a sophomore and in his last full season as a starter he flashed a lot of upside but showed that he still had a lot of room left to grow. He had a pretty horrendous bowl game and clearly needs to work on some things, but he has all the size and arm strength you could want in a quarterback. He may never live up to the expectations I have for him, but I’m willing to be patient and see if he can progress like I believe he is capable of.

9-      Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech- Thomas is another guy I really thought would progress last year but unfortunately he regressed and was essentially a massive disappointment considering some of the hype he was getting in the pre-season. He has all the size and arm strength you could ever dream of, but he was maddeningly inconsistent with his accuracy and decision making and clearly has a ton of growing left to do. I continue to hear great things about his work ethic so I believe he can still improve, I just don’t know if he will ever put it all together.

10-   Zach Mettenberger, LSU- Mettenberger was getting a lot of hype coming into the season but he was underwhelming during his first season as a starter. He’s got an intriguing combination of size and arm strength but he has to put it all together this year. He has starter upside, but he isn’t there yet.

11-   Drew Allen, Syracuse- I might be one of the few people that prefers Drew Allen to the Belldozer, but I do. I think Allen is going to win the Syracuse starting job and show that he has NFL talent at the quarterback position. This is probably higher than anyone else will have him ranked, but I am convinced Allen has starter upside at the next level.

12-   Stephen Morris, Miami- I was one of the people advocating for Morris to start over Jacory Harris during Harris’ senior year and I still think he’s the better quarterback. He’s a quality athlete with a strong arm, but his accuracy wasn’t as consistent as I would have liked to see as a junior. Miami has been through a lot the last couple of years, so I’m excited to see if Morris can end his career on a high note this season.

13-   James Franklin, Missouri- Franklin is an intriguing guy thanks to his size, arm strength and athleticism, but like many of these quarterbacks he has to put it all together and show a mastery of the position as a senior. I personally don’t foresee him being a NFL starter, but he definitely has that upside if he can show more progression as a senior.

14-   Keith Price, Washington- At this time last year Price was coming off of a masterful performance in Washington’s bowl game against Baylor’s hapless defense. This year? He is coming off of a disappointing junior year that left a lot of people underwhelmed. He doesn’t have the arm strength I thought he had, his decision making was inconsistent, and he left a lot to be desired as a junior. I’m hoping he can reverse field as a senior, but I’m not holding my breath.

15-   Corey Robinson, Troy- I don’t think Robinson is going to be in very many top 15 quarterback rankings coming into the season, but I saw a talented quarterback when I watched him as a freshman and I still believe he can play at the next level. He may be undersized, but he has a NFL arm and I am excited to see if he can prove that as a senior.

Top Juniors:

1-      Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville- Bridgewater put on a show as a sophomore last year and made a believer out of me. I think he has all the arm talent, athleticism, toughness and intangibles to be a stud quarterback in the NFL. It remains to be seen how he will do this upcoming season, but I definitely have high expectations for him.

2-      Brett Smith, Wyoming- Smith is another player Allbright pointed out to me last year. I haven’t seen as much of him as I’d like, but what I have seen was very intriguing.

3-      Blake Bortles, Central Florida- I haven’t watched much of Bortles, but what I have seen was intriguing. It was his first full season as a starter so I look forward to reviewing some of those games but also to seeing how he does as a junior and as a starter with more experience.

4-      Braxton Miller, Ohio State- I am not sold on Miller as a NFL QB yet, but he made some strides as a sophomore and he’s too intriguing of a playmaker to leave him off this list entirely. He’s got a lot of upside, it’s just a question of whether he can ever become as good of a pure passer as he is as a runner.

5-      Garrett Grayson, Colorado State- Grayson is a player I think has a lot of upside. He’s definitely flying under the radar, but I expect that he will be the starter for Colorado State and prior to his collarbone injury last year he really showed me something. He looks like he has a NFL arm, it’s just a question of whether he can keep the starting job, stay healthy, and put together some good film.

Top Sophomores:

1-      Kevin Hogan, Stanford- Hogan has future 1st round pick written all over him. He’s got the size, the arm strength (though his deep ball could use some work), athleticism and high football IQ I look for in a QB. He really impressed me when he took over for Josh Nunes, and he is embracing his role as a leader on Stanford and from what I’ve read seems to have a strong hold on Stanford’s complex offense. I think he’s going to be great this year and while he is eligible I expect him to come out after his junior season, not after his redshirt sophomore year.

2-      Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M- I know a lot of people will be surprised that I have anyone ranked over Manziel, but as far as the NFL is concerned I think Hogan is the superior prospect at this point. There’s no denying Manziel’s uncanny feel for the game, shocking athleticism and knack for game-changing plays, but he still has a long way to go before he is a “surgeon” rather than a butcher as a quarterback as Trent Dilfer would say. The upside is there, but he’s still learning.

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Conference Predictions:

SEC:

West:

1-      LSU

2-      Alabama

3-      Arkansas

4-      Mississippi State

5-      Auburn

6-      Texas A&M

7-      Ole Miss

East:

1-      South Carolina

2-      Georgia

3-      Tennessee

4-      Florida

5-      Vanderbilt

6-      Missouri

7-      Kentucky

SEC Title Game: LSU and South Carolina: LSU is SEC Champion

Analysis: The SEC is loaded as usual, particularly the West. LSU loses Tyrann Mathieu which is unfortunate for every college football fan, but if Zach Mettenberger can establish a consistent passing game then the LSU offense is going to absolutely take off. Alabama is extremely talented as usual, but they are replacing so much on defense and at their skill positions on offense that there’s no way that they replicate their 2011 season. They are my early 2013 favorites however. Arkansas lost Bobby Petrino and their top three receivers, but unless their defense improves they won’t bump LSU or Alabama out of the top of the West. I went back and forth on South Carolina and Georgia a lot because both teams don’t have a great track record of delivering when the pressure is on. South Carolina’s defense could end up better than Georgia’s though, and even though I like Aaron Murray I have some questions about Georgia’s offense. Tennesse has talent and should be solid, but Florida’s ridiculous handling of their quarterback competition means I can’t project them any higher than 4th in the East. Vanderbilt is a bit of a dark horse with a strong core on offense and a bright coach in James Franklin, but just getting to a bowl game would be a successful season for them.

Big 10:

Legends:

1-      Michigan

2-      Michigan State

3-      Nebraska

4-      Iowa

5-      Northwestern

6-      Minnesota

Leaders:

1-      Wisconsin

2-      Ohio State

3-      Illinois

4-      Purdue

5-      Penn State

6-      Indiana

Big-10 Title Game: Wisconsin and Michigan: Wisconsin is Big-10 Champion

Analysis: If Wisconsin doesn’t come out of the Leaders division to compete for the Big-10 title again this year then Bret Bielema should just quit, because outside of Illinois there is no eligible team that has a slightly realistic chance of keeping them out of the title game. Michigan and Michigan State will be a terrific battle down to the end of the season in my opinion, and ultimately it will come down to how well Denard Robinson can deliver the ball and avoid turnovers in big games in my opinion. If he carries the Wolverine offense on his back he could be a finalist for the Heisman as well. Nebraska has some talent, but they will never be a legitimate Big-10 title contender until they get a real quarterback to replace Taylor Martinez, who is one of the worst passing quarterbacks of all the teams that don’t run an option offense.

ACC:

Atlantic:

1-      Florida State

2-      Clemson

3-      NC State

4-      Wake Forest

5-      Boston College

6-      Maryland

Coastal:

1-      Virginia Tech

2-      Georgia Tech

3-      North Carolina

4-      Miami

5-      Virginia

6-      Duke

ACC Title Game: Virginia Tech and Florida State: Virginia Tech is ACC Champion.

Analysis: Florida State is incredibly loaded, particularly on defense. Their defensive line is the best in football in my opinion, even better than LSU’s, and they return enough talent on offense to be a dark horse contender for the National Championship game. I don’t think they’ll make it because I’m not a big believer in EJ Manuel, but if he can improve enough to put up points this team could end up in the top 5 by season’s end. And yet, I have a gut feeling that this is Virginia Tech’s year and I think they will go toe to toe with Florida State in the ACC Championship game and win. I trust Logan Thomas more than Manuel in critical situations even if he is younger with less experience, and Virginia Tech returns plenty of talent on defense as well. Clemson will be nipping at Florida State’s heels as well but I don’t think Clemson’s offensive line has enough talent and experience to keep Florida State’s relentlessly deep and talented front four from terrorizing Boyd when he drops back to pass.

Big 12:

1-      West Virginia

2-      Kansas State

3-      Oklahoma

4-      Texas

5-      TCU

6-      Oklahoma State

7-      Texas Tech

8-      Baylor

9-      Kansas

10-   Iowa State

West Virginia is Big-12 Champion.

Analysis: I’m sure plenty of people will be surprised that I have West Virginia and Kansas State ranked ahead of Oklahoma and Texas, but I have plenty of faith in West Virginia’s offense to pass their way to the top of the Big-12 and if their defense improves at all they could very well win this conference. Kansas State shocked everyone last year by not only being good but by being good enough to get to the Cotton Bowl. And yet, everyone is writing them off again this year even though they return plenty of talent across their roster, and even their losses on defense aren’t irreplaceable. Collin Klein is the Tim Tebow of the Big-12 and he will keep Kansas State competitive even if it isn’t always pretty, and those writing KSU off will look foolish again this year. Oklahoma continues to be ranked in the top 5 year after year regardless of how many times they fail to live up to their talent level. Landry Jones plays a big role in that, and there aren’t many quarterbacks I wouldn’t want leading my team more than Jones. He’s not reliable under pressure, he panics in big time situations and collapsed when his best receiver Ryan Broyles went down last season. Oklahoma has plenty of talent on defense, but that has never stopped them from failing to live up to expectations, and even though Mike Stoops is back in the fold I don’t think it will be enough to win the Big-12 or a National Championship. Texas seemed to be on the right track naming a starting quarterback, but now the competition is back on and when you have two quarterbacks you really have none. So as good as that defense is it won’t matter if they don’t have any continuity at quarterback.

Pac-12:

North:

1-      Oregon

2-      Washington

3-      Stanford

4-      California

5-      Oregon State

6-      Washington State

South:

1-      Southern Cal

2-      Utah

3-      UCLA

4-      Arizona State

5-      Arizona

6-      Colorado

Pac-12 Title Game: USC and Oregon: USC is Pac-12 Champion.

Analysis: The Pac-12 is honestly one of the worst conferences top to bottom in the country, I was shocked by how little overall depth both divisions had. The North has three, maybe four bowl game caliber teams and the South has TWO. Look at that 3-6 list, only UCLA has an chance at a bowl game out of those four teams, and ASU, Arizona and Colorado should be awful this season. Oregon and USC both have a pretty easy road to the Pac-12 title game if you ask me, though Washington and Stanford won’t be pushovers even in spite of all the talent they lost.

Big East:

1-      Cincinnati

2-      Louisville

3-      South Florida

4-      Pittsburgh

5-      Rutgers

6-      Syracuse

7-      Connecticut

8-      Temple

Cincinnati is Big East Champion.

Analysis: The Big East is probably the worst big time conference in college football and they are clinging on for dear life and relevance right now. Cincinnati is the best by default this year now that West Virginia bolted for the Big-12, and after Louisville there isn’t a lot to write home about in the Big East. There’s the potential for some bowl eligible teams, but there isn’t a legit title contender in this whole conference and whoever the winner is will likely play a better conference champion in a BCS bowl game and get the tar beat out of them like Connecticut did two years ago at the hands of Oklahoma.

 

Thanks for reading, and happy college football season to each and every one of you!

–Tom

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

Bridgewater has plenty of athletic ability and upside so it will be interesting to see how he develops over the next 2-3 years.

Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville: Bridgewater has a live arm, has flashed solid accuracy and pretty good mobility. He has a long way to go as far as the craft of playing quarterback, but has plenty of upside and potential thanks to his physical ability. All depends on how hard he works and how much film he watches. He has the size and athletic ability to be a very effective college quarterback and like many athletic quarterbacks he has a great ability to improvise and make special plays outside the pocket as Bridgewater displayed in this game. However, he also turned the ball over too much in this game because of an opportunistic NC State defense. He has a bright future in college and this experience will really help him next year in my opinion, but it’s up to him whether or not he develops into a great passer with great athletic ability or whether he continues to be a great athlete than can also throw the ball. Right now he is the latter.

Victor Anderson, RB, Louisville: Anderson is an athletic player but because of his lack of size and his problems with injuries I would be surprised if he was drafted. I think he will get signed as an undrafted free agent, but I think teams will want him to prove that he can stay healthy and will want him to earn his spot on their roster. He’s fast but I don’t think he has feature back potential, rather he will be more of a 3rd down back that also offers some value as a return man. He’s fast and versatile, but ultimately his potential in the NFL is tied to whether or not he can stay healthy.

Michaelee Harris, WR, Louisville: Harris is a freshman receiver that will likely be developing along with Bridgewater. Considering his production of 35 receptions, 438 yards and 2 TD’s as a 6’2”, 198 pound freshman it seems that Charlie Strong and Louisville have a pretty bright future ahead of them. I didn’t see much of him in this game, but Louisville has a lot of young talent that has gotten playing time this year so watch out for these guys as they continue to develop. Charlie Strong sure is a good recruiter.

Eli Rogers, WR, Louisville: Rogers is another talented freshman receiver for Louisville. He is shorter as he stands at 5’10”, 185 pounds but he still produced 34 receptions, 400 yards and 1 touchdown on the season. Harris, Rogers and DeVante Parker figure to give Bridgewater an impressive trio of receiving options for the entire duration of his career, so watch out for these four guys as they all grow up with one another through the years. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of so many freshman playing year one like these guys have for Louisville and producing!

DeVante Parker produced the most touchdowns of anyone on Louisville this year as a freshman. I really like his upside.

DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville:  Parker had the lowest production total in terms of receptions and yards of the three freshman but at 6’3”, 196 pounds he may be the best red zone target. He managed 17 receptions, 276 yards and 6 touchdowns on the season. His 6 touchdowns led the team this season, which is quite impressive for a freshman receiver. He flashed both his upside and some things he has to work on in this game as he dropped a pass that hit his hands over the middle of the field but also demonstrated his red zone viability by climbing the ladder, high pointing a pass and hauling it in just out of bounds. Had he gotten a foot down it would have been a score. He’s got a lot of upside, so I’m excited to watch him for the next few years.

Josh Chichester, TE, Louisville: Chichester is the 6’8”, 240 pound monster tight end for Louisville. You’d think he’d be more dominant than he actually is at that size, as he struggles as a blocker because of his issues with pad level and leverage. He’s a viable receiver, but doesn’t have much speed to threaten teams down the seam. He’s very much a possession tight end and some team will be intrigued by his size and his pretty reliable hands and draft him in the 6th or 7th round in my opinion.

Mario Benavides, C, Louisville: Benavides had a good game for Louisville and figures to be one of the top centers in the 2013 draft class. He will be a senior next year and at 6’4”, 300 pounds he absolutely has NFL size as a center. I am excited to scout him next year because I was very high on a former Louisville center that ended up going in the 1st round in Eric Wood. I won’t say Benavides will do the same, but I liked what I saw in this game and I think he has the potential to go in the first three rounds next year.

Marcus Smith, DE, Louisville: Marcus Smith will be a junior next year but during his sophomore season he was a 6’3”, 251 pound pass rush specialist. Five of his 10 tackles on the season were for loss, but all of them were sacks! He also had a forced fumble and a pass break-up and he demonstrated ability to get pressure with his burst and edge speed. He worried me by not showing much bend or hip flexibility though, so I will need to see more of him next year.

Greg Scruggs, DT, Louisville: Scruggs was a guy that I identified last year as a possible mid-late round 2012 draft pick but he was a possible late round prospect all year before this bowl game. The 6’4”, 285 pound senior didn’t end up playing in this bowl game as a result of a suspension stemming from a DUI. That really is too bad, but it was his own decision to drink and drive between the end of season and his bowl game. It’s never a good time to drink and drive, but this DUI will likely mean he will go the entire draft process without hearing his name called barring unforeseen changes. That’s too bad, but it was his decision to drink and drive.

William Savoy, OLB, Louisville: Savoy is an undersized defensive end that is going to have to attempt a transition to outside linebacker. I’m not sure he has the athleticism to make the move, but he has pretty good burst and edge speed as a pass rusher and more importantly displayed the ability to bend to beat blockers with an outside rush. He had 7.5 TFL and 5.0 sacks this year, but I think a postseason all star game could be very important for him as he attempts to transition to outside linebacker.

Dexter Heyman, OLB, Louisville: Heyman was probably Louisville’s best defensive player this year as he totaled 83 total tackles (52 solo), 15.5 TFL, 4.0 sacks, 3 INT’s, 1 forced fumble and 1 pass break-up on the season. He has solid NFL size for a linebacker at 6’3”, 238 pounds and has a listed 40 yard dash time of 4.57. I need to watch him more, but he certainly flies around for Louisville’s defense.

Mike Glennon flashed some significant potential in this game. It's not easy to follow a quarterback as successful as Russell Wilson, so I look forward to evaluating him as a senior next year.

Mike Glennon, QB, NC State: Glennon had a tough job this year replacing Russell Wilson at quarterback for NC State. Wilson isn’t an easy guy to replace as Wisconsin will find out next year, but I think most Wolfpack fans expected to have him back for a final run at an ACC title. That didn’t pan out, but Glennon stepped up and really finished this season strong. He’s listed at 6’4”, 225 pounds and was very effective this year in his first season as a starter. He’s got a live arm and showed that he can make all the throws in this game and his ball placement was pretty good, especially on short and intermediate passes. His long passes weren’t quite as accurate, but obviously those are some of the most difficult throws to make. There were a number of wide receivers that were pretty open thanks to Louisville’s less than spectacular zone but he made some stick throws that were impressive. He didn’t have as much success in the 2nd half as he did in the 1st half by any means, but he still has some upside to build off of for next season. I didn’t watch him much this year, but I was a little troubled by his issues to move the ball through the air in the 2nd half, especially since NC State’s running game was fairly insignificant as usual. He will be a senior next year so I am interested to see how he will develop and improve on his first season as a starter.

T.J. Graham, WR, NC State: Graham definitely surprised me with his ability in this game, I didn’t expect him to have the finish to his career that he did. He demonstrated all of his upside in this game by showing burst, speed and vision as a kick returner as well as great speed to threaten defenses vertically and pretty reliable hands. He is only listed at 6’0”, 180 pounds but his fantastic speed both on the field and in the 40 yard dash (he has a listed 40 time of 4.36) should push him up some teams’ boards, especially after he participates in an All-Star game and the combine. He also showed the ability to make guys miss with his elusiveness and even broke a couple of arm tackles in this game. He’s definitely a sleeper, so it will be interesting to see where he ends up going.

George Bryan, TE, NC State: Bryan is a late round TE prospect with NFL size (6’5”, 265 pounds) but he’s quite slow and has a listed 40 yard dash time of 5.14. He uses his body well to shield defenders and offers some value as a blocker but his hands aren’t as reliable as you would want them to be given some of his struggles to create separation. He’s got the frame to shield defenders away from the ball to make catches in traffic and I think his hands are above average but I wouldn’t call them good or great. That makes me wonder how effective he will be if he struggles to create separation and has to make a lot of contested catches in traffic, and that hurts his stock in my opinion.

R.J. Mattes, OT, NC State: Mattes is a quality left tackle prospect for the 2013 draft. I don’t think he should declare this year but he’s got mid-round or higher potential for next year’s draft. He’s 6’6”, 306 pounds and seemed to have pretty long arms and solid athleticism. He looked like he may have been NC State’s top offensive lineman so he is one guy I will be keeping an eye on.

Camden Wentz, C, NC State: I was looking forward to evaluating Wentz but he got injured early in the game and never got back in from what I could tell. He will be a senior next year and seems like he has draftable ability as a center in addition to his 6’3”, 301 pound frame. The injury wasn’t serious if I remember correctly, so he should be 100% well before spring practice.

Daryl Cato-Bishop, DE, NC State: Cato-Bishop is a 6’4”, 281 pound defensive end who was a sophomore this season. He didn’t have a lot of tackles but he did have 7.0 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 1 FF, 1 INT and a pass break-up. He’s got impressive size for a defensive end, so it will be interesting to see how he develops next season. He was around the ball consistently in this game, so I think he has some upside.

Art Norman, DE, NC State: Norman was a freshman defensive end this year and is undersized at 6’1”, 242 pounds but as a situational pass rusher he produced 7.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 1 FF and a pass break-up this year. I didn’t have much opportunity to evaluate his edge speed or his burst off the line of scrimmage, but he got some playing time as a freshman so I will be keeping an eye on him the next couple of seasons. He’s another talented freshman on Charlie Strong’s roster.

J.R. Sweezy, DT, NC State: Sweezy didn’t have a great statistical season but he does have one of the best names in this entire draft class. I kind of hope he gets picked by a team in California so he can become close friends with Snoop Dogg. Random thoughts aside, he has NFL size at 6’5”, 293 pounds but I honestly haven’t seen him play much at all. He had 19 total tackles (10 solo), 4.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks and 1 FF this season but remains a mid-late round pick right now. It will be interesting to see if he distinguishes himself in an all-star game, but right now I don’t know much about his game.

Audie Cole, LB, NC State: Cole is a senior linebacker on NC State and I really love watching him play. He had a great season with 98 total tackles (52 solo), 8.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 4 FF, 1 FR and 4 pass break-ups. He’s got a fantastic motor, gives 100% on every play and he is a good tackler which I love to see. So many players I’ve watched this year don’t tackle with good fundamentals, so it is always refreshing to see a player who wraps up. Cole is a 6’5”, 239 pound linebacker who moved inside this year but I think he could play outside as well. His versatility will help his stock though, and while he doesn’t have elite timed athleticism he does seem to have good range and instincts. His effort will be the big difference for him though, and that will help him get the most out of his ability.

Terrell Manning is a quality linebacker prospect that caught me off guard by declaring early for the NFL Draft.

Terrell Manning, OLB, NC State: Manning is another talented linebacker on NC State but to my surprise he has declared for the NFL Draft. He’s only a junior and I hadn’t heard much about him leaving, so it definitely caught me off guard a bit. He was productive at outside linebacker this year as he produced 70 total tackles (42 solo), 13.0 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 4 FF, 1 FR, 5 PBU’s and 2 interceptions. He looked like a beast to me and seemed to have impressive instincts, athleticism and looked like a very good tackler. I didn’t evaluate him much when he was dropping into coverage, but for a 6’3”, 233 pound linebacker he seemed to defend the run awfully well. I don’t know how well he will be able to stack and shed blocks to make plays at the line of scrimmage. I like his upside, but I was anticipating having another year to evaluate him. I’ll have to go back and watch more NC State film to get a better look at him.

David Amerson, CB, NC State: Amerson was probably the best NFL prospect in this game even if he isn’t eligible for the draft as far as I am aware. He is a 6’3”, 194 pound sophomore cornerback who had an astounding 13 interceptions this season. That’s more than some football teams got all year, but he managed to do it individually. He wasn’t often challenged, and one of his two interceptions in this game came on a hail mary late in the game, but he did have a second touchdown off of an interception on the season which helped change the game in favor of NC State. I always look for players who make critical plays that change the game in their teams favor and Amerson definitely did that against Louisville. If he has a season even remotely as impressive as this one was I would expect him to declare next year, but even if he doesn’t produce the same statistics next year I think he may declare. I wouldn’t be surprised if more teams threw away from him more often next year now that he has proven himself. Keep an eye on this kid, he has top 15 written all over him.

Thanks for reading! I’ve had this done for a couple days but my trip to the Rose Bowl interfered with posting it until now. Look out for my Florida State-Notre Dame post and a Rose Bowl recap, all coming soon!

–Tom

Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville:
6’3”, 205 lb Fr. 167/253 (66% comp), 1,855 yards (7.3 YPA), 12:9 TD:INT, 95 rush yards, 3 TD’s.

Dominique Brown, RB, Louisville:
6’2”, 221 lb Soph. 131 attempts, 482 yards (3.68 average), 4 TD’s. 14 rec, 95 yards, 1 TD.

Victor Anderson, RB, Louisville:
5’9”, 188 lb Sr. 99 att, 478 yards (4.83 avg) 3 TD’s. 25 rec, 184 yards, 1 TD. 152 KR yards (25.33 avg)

Michaelee Harris, WR, Louisville:
6’2”, 198 lb Fr. 35 receptions, 438 yards (12.51 average), 2 TD’s.

Eli Rogers, WR, Louisville:
5’10”, 185 lb Fr. 34 receptions, 400 yards (11.76 average), 1 TD. 54 PR yards.

DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville:
6’3”, 196 lb Fr. 17 receptions, 276 yards (16.24 average), 6 TD’s.

Josh Chichester, TE, Louisville:
6’8”, 240 lb Sr. 27 receptions, 365 yards (13.52 average), 2 TD’s.

Mario Benavides, C, Louisville:
6’4”, 300 lb Jr.

Marcus Smith, DE, Louisville:
6’3”, 251 lb Soph. 10 total tackles (8 solo), 5.0 TFL, 5.0 Sacks, 1 FF, 1 Pass break-up.

Greg Scruggs, DT, Louisville:
6’4”, 285 lb Sr. 19 total tackles (12 solo), 6.0 TFL, 4.0 sacks, 1 FF.

William Savoy, OLB, Louisville:
6’1”, 246 lb Sr. 24 total tackles (12 solo), 7.5 TFL, 5.0 sacks, 1 kick blocked.

Dexter Heyman, OLB, Louisville:
6’3”, 238 lb Sr. 83 total tackles (52 solo), 15.5 TFL, 4.0 sacks, 3 INT, 1 FF, 1 PBU.

Mike Glennon, QB, NC State:
6’4”, 225 lb Jr. 262/420 (62.4% comp), 2,790 yards (6.6 YPA), 28:11 TD:INT ratio, -125 rush yards, 1 TD.

James Washington, RB, NC State:
6’0”, 180 lb Jr. 212 att, 852 yards (4.02 avg), 7 TD’s. 39 rec, 300 yards.
-Good receiver out of backfield

T.J. Graham, WR, NC State:
6’0”, 180 lb Sr. 39 rec, 641 yards (16.44 avg), 5 TD’s. 193 PR yards (12.06), 1 TD. 923 KR yards (22.51 avg)

Tobias Palmer, WR, NC State:
5’11”, 175 lb Jr. 35 receptions, 448 yards (12.80 avg), 4 TD’s.

George Bryan, TE, NC State:
6’5”, 265 lb Sr. 30 receptions, 302 yards (10.07 avg), 4 TD’s.
-Good receiver, solid blocker, but slow

Zach Allen, OG, NC State:
6’3”, 322 lb Jr.

Camden Wentz, C, NC State:
6’3”, 301 lb Jr.

Daryl Cato-Bishop, DE, NC State:
6’4”, 281 lb Soph. 21 total tackles (11 solo), 7.0 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 1 FF, 1 INT, 1 pass break-up.

Art Norman, DE, NC State:
6’1”, 242 lb Fr. 26 total tackles (18 solo), 7.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 1 FF, 1 PBU

Markus Kuhn, DT, NC State:
6’4”, 303 lb Sr. 42 total tackles (22 solo), 8.0 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 3 PBU’s, 1 Kick Blocked.

J.R. Sweezy, DT, NC State:
6’5”, 293 lb Sr. 19 total tackles (10 solo), 4.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks, 1 FF.

Audie Cole, OLB, NC State:
6’5”, 239 lb Sr. 98 total tackles (52 solo), 8.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 4 FF, 1 FR, 4 PBU’s.

Terrell Manning, ILB, NC State:
6’3”, 233 lb Jr. 70 total tackles (42 solo), 13.0 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 4 FF, 1 FR, 5 PBU’s, 2 INT’s.

David Amerson, CB, NC State:
6’3”, 194 lb Soph. 54 total tackles (37 solo), 1.0 TFL, 5 PBU’s, 11 INT’s (1 TD).

Brandon Bishop, S, NC State:
6’2”, 210 lb Jr. 77 total tackles (37 solo), 2.5 TFL, 5 INT’s, 1 FF, 1 PBU.

1- Orson Charles, TE, Georgia: Grade: 1st round
2- Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson: Grade: 1st round
3- Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame: Grade: 1st round
4- Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford: Grade: 2nd round
5- Michael Egnew, TE, Missouri: Grade: 2nd round
6- Ladarius Green, TE, Louisiana Lafayette: Grade: 3rd round
7- David Paulson, TE, Oregon: Grade: 3rd round
8- Deangelo Peterson, TE, LSU: Grade: 3rd/4th round
9- Brian Linthicum, TE, Michigan State: Grade: 4th round
10- Kevin Koger, TE, Michigan: Grade: 4th round
11- George Bryan, TE, North Carolina State: Grade: 4th/5th round
12- Tyler Urban, TE, West Virginia: Grade: 4th/5th round
13- Rhett Ellison, TE, Southern Cal: Grade: 5th round
14- Josh Chichester, TE, Louisville: Grade: 5th round
15- Aron White, TE, Georgia: Grade: 5th round
16- Anthony Miller, TE, California: Grade: 5th/6th round
17- Beau Reliford, TE, Florida State: Grade: 5th/6th round
18- Kavario Middleton, TE, Montana: Grade: 5th/6th round
19- Brad Herman, TE, Iowa: Grade: 6th round
20- Nick Provo, TE, Syracuse: Grade: 6th round
21- James Hanna, TE, Oklahoma: Grade: 6th/7th round
22- Brandon Barden, TE, Vanderbilt: Grade: 6th/7th round
23- Adrien Robinson, TE, Cincinnati: Grade: 7th round
24- Alex Gottlieb, TE, William & Mary: Grade: 7th round
25- Jake Byrne, TE, Wisconsin: Grade: UDFA

1- Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama*: Grade: Top 15 Overall
2- Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin*: Grade: Early 2nd Round
3- Lamar Miller, RB, Miami*: Grade: Early 2nd Round
4- David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech*: Grade: Early 2nd Round
5- LaMichael James, RB, Oregon*: Grade: Early/Mid 2nd round
6- Bernard Pierce, RB, Temple*: Grade: 3rd round
7- Dennis Johnson, RB, Arkansas*: Grade: 3rd round
8- Doug Martin, RB, Boise State: Grade: 3rd/4th round
9- Robert Turbin, RB, Utah State*: Grade: 3rd/4th round
10- Dan Herron, RB, Ohio State: Grade: 4th round
11- Tauren Poole, RB, Tennessee: Grade: 4th round
12- Isaiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati: Grade: 4th/5th round
13- Brandon Bolden, RB, Mississippi: Grade: 5th round
14- Chris Rainey, RB, Florida: Grade: 5th round
15- Vick Ballard, RB, Mississippi State: Grade: 5th/6th round
16- Jeff Demps, RB, Florida: Grade: 6th round
17- Davin Meggett, RB, Maryland: Grade: 6th round
18- Bobby Rainey, RB, Western Kentucky: Grade: 6th/7th round
19- Marc Tyler, RB, Southern Cal: Grade: 7th round
20- Lennon Creer, RB, Louisiana Tech: Grade: 7th round
21- Terrance Ganaway, RB, Baylor: Grade: 7th round/UDFA
22- Antwon Bailey, RB, Syracuse: Grade: 7th round/UDFA
23- Adonis Thomas, RB, Toledo: Grade: 7th round/UDFA
24- Victor Anderson, RB, Louisville: Grade: 7th round/UDFA
25- Ryan Houston, RB, North Carolina: Grade: UDFA

Scouting Report:

Powell doesn't have a huge upside as a running back but I would be surprised if he didn't end up having a productive career.

Positives: Has good size and strength. Runs hard. Has pretty good burst to hit the hole. Shows pretty good vision as a runner and has good feet. He runs with good pad level and balance which makes him hard to tackle at times as he has strong legs and consistently drives them for extra yardage after contact. He shows that he can catch the ball out of the flat and likes to initiate contact when he gets outside or when he gets to the second level. He can run you over and attack you in the open field or he can use some of his shiftiness to make you miss in the flat.

Negatives: Powell isn’t a very explosive back and he won’t be ripping off huge runs consistently in the NFL because of his lack of shiftiness as a runner and he doesn’t have great straight line speed. He doesn’t run well when he is forced outside of the tackles and doesn’t have the speed to get the corner consistently in the NFL. Doesn’t offer much as a pass blocker in the backfield.

Overall: Powell can be a quality feature back in the right offense. He runs with good power and shows pretty good burst and vision which makes him a pretty good running back prospect. He won’t ever be an elite runner because of his lack of great straight line speed and he isn’t that well rounded yet but I would be surprised if he didn’t end up being a pretty productive NFL running back.

Projection: 4th round. I think this is where Powell will start to get some consideration, especially for teams that run offenses that need more powerful runners.

SKILLS:
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite

Speed: 3.0
Power: 3.5
Agility: 3.0
Vision: 3.0
Hands: 3.0
Blocking: 2.0

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Scouting Report:

Burke may not have a lot of playing experience, but I think I saw enough from him that I think he can stick in the NFL as a back-up.

Positives: Has solid size, arm strength and accuracy and displayed this in limited time this season when Adam Froman was not in the line-up. He also displayed pretty good mobility to extend plays and occasionally pick up yardage with his legs. In the games I saw him in he started slow but improved over the course of the game, and I think he could stand to get more experience obviously. His mechanics are solid as is his footwork and he played in an offense with some pro-style ties at Louisville, and the offense has a strong focus on the running game because of Bilal Powell’s emergence. In the small sample of time that I got to see him I was impressed, especially since I expected to see Froman in Louisville’s bowl game and instead Burke was the starter.

Negatives: He definitely doesn’t have a lot of starting experience and the tape that he has accumulated isn’t very substantial, I didn’t have a lot of chances to watch him because Froman was the starter and he only filled in for him some this season. He doesn’t have any elite tools and obviously wasn’t good enough in the eyes of the coaching staff to be the starter outright at the beginning of the year, so I was kind of surprised to see how well he played considering the circumstances. He doesn’t have a very high ceiling despite his lack of experience, so his limited experience doesn’t make him a very intriguing talent in spite of the detriment it has on a player’s draft stock.

Overall: I think Burke has the potential to be picked very late or signed as an undrafted free agent where he would compete to be a practice squad player and perhaps a #3 eventually. He’s a bit raw because of his limited experience but I think with coaching he could stick on a NFL roster, I saw enough from him in the limited snaps I was able to watch him in. I was particularly impressed with how he played in the bowl game, especially because I don’t think he was projected to be the starter. At least I wasn’t aware that he was going to play. So theoretically he played on late notice and still played well, and that indicates some mental toughness if that is the case. I just have a feeling that he will be able to stick in the NFL as a back-up. Maybe I’m wrong, and I don’t think he will be a starter, but that is what my gut is telling me. So hopefully he gets his shot.

Projection: 7th round/Undrafted. I would consider him late in the draft in the 7th round range but I would not be surprised if he went undrafted, especially because he is about as under the radar as you can be at a school in a major conference.

SKILLS
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite

Arm Strength: 3.0
Accuracy: 3.0
Mobility: 3.0
Decision Making: 2.5
Mechanics: 3.0
Pocket Awareness: 2.5
Intangibles: 3.0

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Hi everyone, sorry my posts have been a bit infrequent lately. I am currently in Mexico on vacation with my family and I don’t have internet in the house I am staying at. I didn’t bring my phone with me either, so in a way it is nice to get away from it all for a while. However, I watched the Sugar Bowl at a restaurant that had a TV and paid attention to some specific players and also noticed some who performed well. So despite not having internet where I am staying here are my notes on Arkansas and Ohio State from the Sugar Bowl!

Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas– Mallett had a bit of a tough night. He had his ups and downs and his receivers dropped at least five catchable balls, some of them which would have been big plays, but he had his share of very inaccurate throws himself. He was routinely pressured, so credit Ohio State’s defensive line and blitz packages for that, but he did not do a good job of finding hot reads and getting the ball out quickly in this game. He held onto the ball too long and eventually had to take a sack or throw an off balance pass that was either somewhat catchable or in the dirt. He has a pretty good sense of when to move up in the pocket when the pressure is getting there, but once the pressure forces him out of the pocket he was not accurate in this game. He had no interceptions all season when throwing outside of the pocket until this game when he threw his only interception of the night late in the fourth quarter after being forced outside the pocket yet again. He had a number of impressive throws in this game though, particularly on fade routes. He showed nice touch, good arm strength and impressive accuracy to put the ball on the right shoulder and where only his receiver could make a play on it a number of times on fade routes. However, he had a few bad decisions too like he always does. He isn’t afraid to throw into double coverage and even without his feet set he is sure he can throw the ball pretty much wherever he wants, which isn’t always the case. His footwork still leaves a lot to be desired for this reason, because when he sets his feet he can put the ball wherever he wants it thanks to his terrific arm strength and good (but inconsistent) accuracy.

Like Jay Cutler, when he is on he is really on, and can sling the ball all over the field. But he was noticeably frustrated against Ohio State because his receivers dropped some passes they really should have caught, and it culminated with Mallett forcing a pass into coverage and getting picked off by a defensive end dropping into coverage. Suffice it to say, I’m still not a Ryan Mallett fan. I think his ceiling in the NFL is a Jay Cutler type of QB who can really sling it when he is having a good day, but unless he improves his footwork he will always be inconsistent from game to game and season to season. However, Mallett’s floor is also a low one in my opinion, because I have no idea what kind of character he possesses and I have heard there are a number of scouts and GM’s who have significant enough problems with his character to not have him on their draft board at all. If these rumors are true and Mallett turns out to have character issues (not because of off-field incidents, but more like Jimmy Clausen’s character issues about being too cocky/arrogant, etc.) then I think it will hurt him on draft day like it did Clausen.

I’m still unimpressed with Mallett as a leader and as a “clutch” player late in games because I still don’t think I have seen him get the ball late in a game and methodically drive his team down the field for a late touchdown or field goal to take the lead. The announcers mentioned a three play, 73 yard touchdown drive before the punt block occurred, but that is a misleading statistic. The first two throws on that drive were pretty easy throws to open receivers, and the third throw, while impressively placed between the cornerback and the safety down the sideline, was caught by Greg Childs who made the safety miss and then was clear to jog into the end zone for the final 30+ yards of the drive to take the lead. Not exactly a magical drive from Mallett I wouldn’t say. Anyways, I was wondering if he had it in him to make a couple of good decisions and throws in this game to win it late (even though they got really lucky with the short field from the punt block) but a dropped pass and then an off balance throw that was easily intercepted by a defensive end took care of that threat. Because Mallett is not a proven “winner” in my opinion I don’t see him developing into one once he gets to the NFL. There are too many things going against him: Poor footwork, inconsistent accuracy/ball placement, inconsistent decision making, potential character concerns, little experience leading come-backs late in the 4th quarter and significant evidence to say that he is a “System Quarterback” given the fact that none of the QB’s Petrino has coached in his system have gone on to have NFL success. I said earlier this year that I thought Knile Davis was the best prospect on Arkansas’ offense and I still feel that way. It will be interesting to see how the draft process unfolds for Mallett, and even though I’m not a fan I would feel like a jerk if I didn’t wish him good luck the rest of the way. Honestly, he may need it.

Terrelle Pryor, QB, Ohio State– I have probably not hidden the fact that I am not a Terrelle Pryor fan either, so I have to start this post off by saying that even though he had a great statistical performance in this game I am still not a fan at all. He had a ton of production in this game, and like he usually does he converted some huge first downs for Ohio State with his legs and I believe he ended up with well over 100 yards rushing, which is impressive considering Arkansas’ ability to create sacks and negative plays (for those who don’t know, in college when the quarterback is sacked the yards lost are considered a negative rushing play and taken out of their rushing total. That is why some pocket passers will end games with negative yards rushing even though they rarely, if ever, crossed the line of scrimmage). He even looked pretty good as a passer in the first half. I was surprised how well he handled some of Arkansas’ pressure, but I can’t say I have a lot of faith in their secondary so it’s not a surprise that some of his receivers were getting separation. I’m still not sold on him as a passer, but he got the ball out under duress better than I thought he would. Like last year in the Rose Bowl he impressed me by saving his best performances for big games, so you have to give him credit for that. I may not be sold on him as a NFL QB, but I will always like players who despite all the things that may happen leading up to a game (such as getting suspended for the first five games of your senior season for selling old memorabilia from your career) can still put on a show when it counts.

That’s not to say he locked this game up with his arm, he was really ineffective in the second half, probably because Arkansas started to mix in more zone instead of pressuring him. Scrambling QB’s are tricky to prepare for because sometimes if you blitz them and you get to them you can force turnovers, but if they can escape pressure (like Pryor was able to for the entire first half and even in the second half) then there will usually be a lot of room to run or a wide open receiver as a result of a broken play. Mike Vick was great at escaping from pressure (especially against average or worse defenses), as is Pryor, and at picking up first downs because of his legs. Despite some of the impressive throws Pryor had in this game I am still not sold on him as a passer. When it was crunch time he converted with his legs, not his arm, and he didn’t seem comfortable reading zone coverage and had to exit the pocket and scramble to buy more time so one of his receivers could come open. I’m not sure how good his anticipation is as a QB, and because I watched this live I won’t be able to evaluate it until I re-watch it later, but it seems to me he wouldn’t have struggled to find receivers to throw to against Arkansas’ more zone-heavy scheme in the 2nd half if he could anticipate where his receiver would be and throw him open in the hole in the zone. Because he wasn’t able to do that he had to extend plays with his legs and I can think of probably three or four horrible throws that were off his back foot with tons of air under them that he had to thank God that they went out of bounds. He had a couple of potential interceptions dropped by the Arkansas’ secondary additionally, and at least one of them was an absolute “gimme” where two defenders went for it and neither came away with it.

So, while Pryor played well overall and had a very productive game with what was probably about 350 yards of total offense by himself I am still not sold on him as a NFL QB. He is a great athlete and he has good arm strength but very inconsistent accuracy. He just isn’t a very good passer from the pocket when it comes down to it. His pocket presence is not very good because his tendency is always to run or scramble when pressure comes instead of stepping up into the pocket, keeping his feet set and throwing his receiver open. He seemed to struggle reading zone coverage, I’m not sure how well he does finding his hot reads and I still don’t trust his decision making. So while he had a great game and got Ohio State (and the Big 10) a much needed BCS win against an SEC team he still hasn’t impressed me as a passer. For his sake I hope he comes back next year and serves his suspension just on the off chance he develops some more.

Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas– I am a huge fan of Knile Davis. He had a good game against Ohio State even though he had a costly fumble in the 2nd half. He was fighting for extra yards and even though he had the ball tucked away safely in one arm he should have covered it up with two to make sure it didn’t get stripped. I believe Arkansas recovered it anyway, but still it was a mistake on his part. Other than that I thought he played great. He showed impressive burst, acceleration and pretty good vision all game. He tried to bounce one or two runs outside (that I can remember from just watching it live) that I didn’t think he should have but mostly he was good at getting North and South from what I remember. He had another 100 yard game, his sixth of the season even though I believe he only started nine games all year. He really helped take Arkansas from a dangerous passing offense to a juggernaut balanced offense this year with his emergence, and though Mallett had a huge hand in making big plays in the passing game a lot of it was set up by Davis forcing teams to creep up and respect the run.

If Mallett leaves as I expect him to I am really excited to see if Davis can have a huge season next year even though Tyler Wilson will be stepping in at QB. Wilson showed some flashes of what he can do in Petrino’s offense against Auburn with a 400 yard, four touchdown performance in a loss but I think it’s clear that even though Mallett is extremely physically talented a player with less physical gifts like Wilson (who actually showed some pretty nice zip on his passes in that game from what I remember) can still operate the offense and make it explosive. So congratulations to Knile Davis on a fantastic season and I really hope he has a great junior season and that he stays healthy so he can end up being picked in the 1st round next year. The SEC should have a ton of talented RB’s to watch next year by the way: Knile Davis at Arkansas, Marcus Lattimore and Kenny Miles at South Carolina, Trent Richardson at Alabama (assuming Ingram leaves), Brandon Bolden at Mississippi, Vick Ballard at Mississippi State, Tauren Poole at Tennessee, and Washaun Ealey at Georgia. It should be fun to watch as some of those programs start to feature those running backs a lot, especially now that the conference has some young, promising talent at QB.

Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas– Adams had a huge game statistically but it could have been even bigger if he didn’t drop three catchable passes. I love his speed in the slot so that he can turn a short drag route into a twenty yard gain and his speed to challenge down the seam or down the sideline vertically. Plus he is elusive after the catch and plays with a feisty attitude which I like. However, his hands just aren’t quite what you want in a wide receiver yet. The first deep shot of the game was to Adams and it bounced right off his hands which really set the tone for Arkansas in the first half. The whole time the announcers talked about how Ohio State has been good at preventing the big play all season which is why they don’t give up a lot of yards but they had an early opportunity to make a big play and get some momentum but Adams let it bounce right off his hands. He dropped two other passes that I can remember, one that would have been for a touchdown, and that really hurts his grade for his overall performance in this game. If he didn’t have those three costly drops I would have said he is exactly what the Falcons needed at wide receiver because of his ability to stretch the field, make guys miss for yards after the catch and because of his tendency for explosive plays.

However, I think he should go back to school, work on his hands all summer and hopefully he will come back with Tyler Wilson to form a new big three of Wilson, Davis and Adams now that Mallett and Childs should both be gone. This kid has a ton of potential but as stupid as it sounds for a wide receiver, he just has to improve his hands. He has the speed and burst to improve as a route runner (I’m not sure how good he is at this point) and that can be coached up, but if he wants to improve his hands that is on him. There are plenty of examples of receivers who didn’t have great hands who came into the NFL and improved them over their first three seasons, and if Adams wants to be one of those guys all he needs is the work ethic. However, there are even more guys who had tons of potential because of their speed and play-making ability in college who never capitalized on it in the NFL because their hands held them back. I really hope Adams doesn’t end up being the latter.

DeMarcus Love, OT, Arkansas– Love had a tough game. I can honestly say I didn’t pay too much attention to him because I was trying to see how Mallett, Davis, Adams and D.J. Williams were doing but when I did notice him it was usually bad news. He had a lot of trouble with Cameron Heyward and that isn’t surprising, I think Heyward is a top 20 lock, and probably the #2 3-4 DE prospect after Marcell Dareus in this entire draft. His strength and power gave Love a lot of issues, and routinely Love got beaten by Heyward which led to pressure on Mallett before the play could really develop. That’s not good for Love’s draft prospects because I’m not sure he has the lateral agility and athletic ability to stick at left tackle, but at right tackle teams are going to be looking for a guy who can be a road-grader in the running game and take away whatever pass rushers they are up against, unless of course they have to face a guy with good/great speed off the edge. I will have to re-watch this game closely to see how Love does, but depending on his athletic ability and how well he gets to the second level I have a feeling his NFL future may be inside at guard. But like I said, I need to re-watch this game before I come to any conclusions about Love as a prospect. I just noticed that he struggled mightily at times in this game.

D.J. Williams, TE, Arkansas– I like D.J. Williams as a prospect, and I think he has developed into a solid blocker. I don’t know that he will ever be a great blocker but being able to be solid blocker will really help his value as a prospect, because without that ability he would be a horrible fit in an offense that asks their TE’s to block a lot like Atlanta’s. Now he is a potential fit because of that ability, and he seems to have a good work ethic so there is reason to hope that he could improve with coaching. His real value comes as a receiver though. I have heard him be compared to Tony Gonzalez which is a comparison I don’t like at all, but he is a good receiver. His hands are pretty good even though it was his drop that preceded Ryan Mallett’s game ending interception for Arkansas. I see him let passes into his pads at times though which is a bad habit, but he has good hands overall in my opinion. I’m not sure how much he will be able to challenge down the seam in the NFL because I don’t really buy that he has 4.6 timed speed, but he is good at finding holes in the zone and he catches the ball effectively in traffic. He is also very hard to bring down after the catch, and he routinely picks up extra yardage not with speed and great elusiveness but by lowering his shoulder and running through tacklers. I personally think Lance Kendricks is a better TE prospect but that probably has something to do with me seeing a lot of him over the past three years, and I think that if Rudolph declares he will still get picked before Kendricks and Williams. I would be surprised if those two were not the next TE’s off the board barring additional junior declarations.

Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State– I am a big Heyward fan and I really think he should be off the board in the top 20 selections. He is the perfect 3-4 DE in my opinion and if a team in the top 20 needs one he should be high on their wish list. He has great size, he’s really strong and he has great hand usage to shed blocks. I’m not sure he has the best motor, but he stands up well at the point of attack versus the run and is quick enough that he can penetrate into the backfield with one move and close on the ball carrier. He seems to be a pretty good tackler, though I haven’t scouted him enough to be sure of that. However, when it comes to the basics of playing DE in a 3-4, he has them down. He is strong enough at the point of attack to control two gaps, he is very good at shedding blocks because of his strong and active hands, he is at least a solid tackler and he has good quickness for his size to penetrate and make plays in the backfield when given the opportunity. And if that 3-4 team goes into a nickel defense and has four down lineman he can play LE or DT depending on whether it is a running or passing situation, potentially making him even more valuable.

I just think he is a very well-rounded player and he had a great game against Arkansas. He was pretty much a one man wrecking crew and he could not be blocked with just one guy, regardless of whether he was playing outside at DE or inside at DT. Like I said before, I like players that show up big in big games and Heyward certainly did that against Arkansas. He was constantly pressuring Mallett, penetrating versus the run and generally wreaking havoc whenever he was in. And perhaps even more impressive was the fact that it was extremely noticeable when he came out because of his elbow that was bothering him. Arkansas moved the ball much better as soon as he came out, and when he came back in his impact was immediately felt. It is rare for a defensive lineman to have that kind of impact on a game, but Heyward did and it really impressed me. If I was a big fan before I am an even bigger fan now. I’m not sure he will test all that well as far as 40 time and what not, but he has great size, good short area quickness and he is really strong, so even if he doesn’t run the fastest 40 for a guy his size he shouldn’t be docked too much for it. I look forward to seeing him at the Senior Bowl if he does indeed go. I imagine it will be more of the same of him dominating blockers one on one for the most part if he does.

Thanks for reading, hopefully you can watch and enjoy the remaining bowl games! I will do what I can to put up predictions for the Cotton Bowl and the National Championship game, but internet access is infrequent for me. That is why I wasn’t able to put a prediction post up for the Sugar Bowl. For the record I did predict their comeback in the second half, just ask my Mom (who watched the game with me and lost a 50 cent bet about Arkansas’ potential comeback).

–Tom