Tag Archive: LSU


– LSU-Mississippi State:

Breakdown:

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

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

Key Players- LSU:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key Players- Mississippi State:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Tom

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Oklahoma finally managed to win a big game, even though it was against a significantly less talented UCONN team. Will they be able to win a National Title?

1. Oklahoma- It’s hard to put anyone but Oklahoma at the top. Obviously the quarterback position is integral in college football, and while they lost talent at running back in Demarco Murray they are returning Landry Jones, Ryan Broyles and 15 other starters. The way Jones and Broyles were playing last year, you have to think they are going to be pretty lethal again this year. Jones has tons of starting experience and while his decision making is questionable at times, he knows how to win and should give Oklahoma a good shot to get to the National Championship in what may be his final college season.

2. LSU- I really like LSU’s chances this year. They might not be returning a ton of talent (I think a lot of people underrate Terrance Tolliver, plus they lost star corner/return man Patrick Peterson) but Jordan Jefferson may be ready to take the next step in his progression, and their defense should be fierce as usual. If Jefferson can improve as a passer he has already proven he can win without consistently passing accurately, which could make LSU very dangerous. He has a lot of starting experience too, which I don’t think he gets enough credit for. I also have to give both LSU and Oregon a ton of credit for opening the season playing each other, even though a loss will dash the respective teams’ hopes at a National Title (most likely). A lot of teams will be playing schools like Apple Valley State Technical College of the Arts and other pathetic teams for a free win and tune-up, so it is absolutely imperative that we give LSU and Oregon the credit they deserve for “manning up” so to speak and playing a legitimate out of conference opponent, especially one ranked so high.

Darron Thomas led Oregon to the National Championship last year, but it will be harder to get out of the Pac-12 with Stanford and USC both returning a lot of talent.

3. Oregon- Oregon gets props for scheduling LSU as well, though it is funny that both Oregon and LSU are being investigated by the NCAA currently. Regardless, Oregon is returning a lot of talent including Quarterback Darron Thomas, LaMichael James, and a talented secondary (especially if Cliff Harris stays out of any more trouble) and should make a run at a Pac-12 title. Their main opposition, Stanford, will be right on their heels however.

4. Stanford- Stanford fans everywhere were finally able to exhale when Andrew Luck announced he would return for his redshirt junior season at Stanford and if they are REALLY lucky he may even stay for his senior year, but that is obviously getting ahead of ourselves. After his fantastic season last year when he helped resurrect Stanford from a downtrodden program to a Pac-10 title contender the expectations will be high for him individually and for the team. I expect him to meet expectations with another very impressive season, but it won’t be as easy with the bulls-eye on their back this time around.

5. Arkansas- I am very high on Arkansas and I think they are going to be a dynamic team this year, especially on offense. Tyler Wilson showed flashes of greatness leading a comeback against the future National Champion Auburn Tigers, and will have a bevy of talent to work with as a first year starter. Knile Davis, one of the best running backs in the country, should continue to be very effective, and the Razorbacks return their four best wide receivers from last season (Greg Childs, Jarius Wright, Joe Adams and Cobi Hamilton. Hamilton is the youngest and he is a junior this year) who should form a very dynamic passing game. Arkansas can usually sling the ball around the field, but what made their offense truly dominant last season was their ability to run the ball effectively to set up play-action, and that was largely thanks to Knile Davis. With him back, and Wilson ready to step in and sling the ball around like he did against Auburn after Mallett left the game, Arkansas’ offense shouldn’t miss a beat. They also have some talent on defense, especially at defensive end. They should have a pretty good pass rush, but it remains to be seen how good their secondary will be. It could very well be a weakness for their team, but their offense will be loaded enough to win them games even if they get in the occasional shootout.

Thanks for reading the last of my preseason ranking installments! Hopefully you enjoyed them. In the coming days I will be getting back to scouting and writing up preseason scouting reports, etc. So look out for those!

–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

Scouting Report:

Terrence Toliver is a clutch receiver and he makes big plays when his team needs them.

Positives: Great size, good deep speed and impressive leaping ability. One word to describe Toliver is “clutch.” He consistently makes big catches on 3rd downs or other critical situations late in games. He makes big catches when his team needs them the most and that is something that I really admire in any position; the ability to make plays when it really counts. He has reliable hands overall and shows some ability to create separation when running routes. He has deceptive deep speed because he is a long strider and can get behind the secondary to make plays downfield. He was clearly the most talented receiver in Orlando and it showed. He shows some effort as a blocker also. Demonstrates pretty good body control as a receiver also. He is surprisingly good after the catch despite not having great quickness, has a good feel for catching the ball and making a move to get into the open field.

Negatives: Might struggle to create separation in the NFL because he doesn’t have great burst or change of direction speed to get in and out of his breaks. Doesn’t have elite speed, and will at times struggle with the occasional drop. Sometimes he will try to turn and run before securing the ball because he loves to catch the ball and turn to run but at times it will result in a drop. He is a pretty finesse player and he isn’t comfortable going over the middle and doesn’t deal with contact well when trying to make catches. I think he will struggle to make catches when getting hit at times once he makes it to the NFL. He isn’t a very good blocker either.

Overall: I really like Toliver as a prospect because he has pretty reliable hands, good speed to threaten deep and he gets good yards after the catch thanks to a good feel for running with the ball. He is also clutch and shows up when his team needs him most, and that is something I respect in receivers and any other position that I scout. I think Toliver will be able to be a solid receiver in the NFL. I think his ceiling is a solid #2 wide receiver but I don’t think he will ever be elite.

Projection: 3rd/4th round. Because Toliver doesn’t have a very high ceiling it hurts his value a bit and unless he improves as a blocker he won’t be a complete receiver. But I definitely think he can contribute as a NFL receiver, potentially as a rookie because he is pretty fundamentally sound.

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

Speed: 3.0
Hands: 3.5
After Catch: 3.5
Body Control: 3.5
Range: 3.0

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Scouting Report

Sheppard has the potential to be a reliable ILB or WLB in the NFL.

Positives: Good combination of size and athletic ability. Reads plays quickly and flows to the ball very well. Avoids blocks well with his speed and burst and moves through the trash well. Has good straight line speed and should be able to play in the middle as I think he has enough sideline to sideline speed to stick there in the NFL. Shows ability on blitzes and has good instincts for timing them up. Is a very reliable tackler and makes a lot of plays around the line of scrimmage due to his read and react ability as well as his closing speed. Has a good motor and will chase plays down from the back side and will run plays down to the outside and make a play at the line of scrimmage due to his hustle. Shows some ability in coverage and seems to understand his assignments. He flashes the ability to get off of blocks, but none of the blocks I have seen him get off or shed have been very fundamentally sound.

Negatives: Doesn’t seem to turn and run well in coverage, struggles to change direction at times and will over-run plays because of it. Takes good angles, but struggles to break down when pursuing a play laterally at full speed unless he runs right into the ball-carrier. Doesn’t show much ability to shed blocks though he does flash some hand usage at times. Can fall victim to play action at times because he looks to support the run so consistently. Can get washed out by offensive linemen or good blocking fullbacks because he isn’t that aggressive or physical of a player. He is more finesse, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but he prefers to avoid the block and make a play than to stack, shed and wrap up the ball-carrier which can be a problem when defending the run in the NFL. He could also stand to get stronger because that would help him shed blocks more consistently at the line of scrimmage and at the second level.

Overall: I like Sheppard. He has his flaws but I think he will be a solid starter in the NFL. He has good athleticism, he is a reliable tackler, he shows some ability to play well in space when in zone coverage and he flashes potential as a blitzer. I don’t think he will walk into training camp and win a starting spot, but he should be able to contribute some as a rookie and second year player if necessary, plus on special teams. I think he can stick at MLB or WLB in the NFL because he has the athleticism to play both, and the scheme he is drafted to will likely determine which spots he plays. I would like to see Sheppard work harder to improve his upper body strength and to work on his hand usage to stack and shed because that would really help him out as a run defender, and if he can improve his awareness so he doesn’t fly down every time he reads run (which leads to him getting sucked in against play action) he could be more effective in coverage as well.

Projection: 3rd-4th round. Sheppard should go somewhere in this range. He has the ability to be a solid and dependable starter, but he won’t be able to start right away and he doesn’t have a very high ceiling. While he may get stronger and improve his hand usage in the NFL I don’t think he will ever be an elite run defender, nor will he be an elite blitzer or pass defender. Therefore his ceiling isn’t as high as a couple other linebackers in this class. But, to his credit, his floor isn’t as terrifying as some of the other prospects that are graded above him.

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

Speed: 3.5
Tackling: 4.0
Coverage: 3.0
Point of Attack: 3.0
Instincts: 3.5
Pass Rush: 2.0

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Scouting Report: 

Drake Nevis has the potential to be a quality starter, but some of his physical and fundamental limitations concern me.

Positives: Nevis shows a good burst off the ball to penetrate upfield and can beat his man off the snap with his burst and hand usage. Shows good hand usage to disengage from blocks and has demonstrated a good swim, club and rip move. He also flashes a less effective/explosive spin move. Nevis shows a consistent motor and gives pretty good effort pursuing plays from the back side, and shows pretty good tackling. He has strong hands and arms and he shows that he can shock a blocker with his hand usage. He can also make arm tackles and trip guys up in the trenches, plus he shows that he is a pretty good wrap up tackler. He offers ability as a pass rusher and because of his good motor, hand usage and burst he should offer ability as a pass rusher in the NFL. He shows the ability to hold up at the point of attack versus one on one blocks in the running game. Seems to locate the ball fairly quickly. Has regularly demonstrated the ability to split double teams as a pass rusher and also as a run blocker. Despite having short arms Nevis uses his athletic ability and arms well to defeat cut blocks effectively. He also shows the ability to get his hands up in passing lanes.

Negatives: Nevis’ height and bulk are concerning considering he is slightly under 6’1” and under 300 pounds. Perhaps most concerning is his arm length, which was measured at 31.5 inches at the combine. That will make it hard for him to keep offensive linemen off of him in the NFL and may make it harder for him to shed blocks. He also struggles with leverage at times despite his height. He will stand up out of his stance, negating his natural leverage, and making it harder for him to hold up at the point of attack and harder for him to bull rush his man into the pocket. He is inconsistent off the snap because at times he will shoot off the ball and make it very hard for opposing linemen to block him but other times he will be one of the last (if not the last) defensive linemen off the ball. That inconsistency is a little worrisome to me. Nevis also plays a little out of control at times and will collapse the pocket but get pushed past the quarterback or end up on the ground. His lack of balance is a bit concerning in these instances. Nevis has pretty good hand usage and shows some moves as a pass rusher but his spin move is not consistently effective. Because of his lack of size and arm length he can be engulfed by bigger offensive linemen.

Overall: Nevis should be a good fit in a one gap scheme that is predicated on defensive tackles penetrating up-field to disrupt plays in the back-field. Nevis has potential in the NFL and I think he can be an effective defensive tackle but I don’t ever think he will be dominant because of his size and arm length limitations. That, plus his inconsistent get-off, leverage and balance issues make me a bit wary of him as a prospect. But on the plus side he has 24 TFL and 10 sacks over the past two years at LSU and he seems to have pretty good instincts and read and react ability. He has a good burst, good hand usage and seems to have strong hands. There is some bust potential with him because his size and arm length might hinder him to a point where his effectiveness is significantly limited, but I like to think that he’s a good enough athlete that he can overcome that and still be effective. It will be interesting to see how he adjusts to the NFL because I think he will have a tough transition at first, but if he can be coached up to not stand up out of his stance as often to help him with leverage I think he has the potential to be a quality starter. He may take a couple of years to work up to that level, but in the mean time I think he could start to contribute to a DT rotation.

Projection: Late 2nd/Early-mid 3rd. This is a very deep DT class and while I like Nevis’ production and penetration ability he definitely has question marks as a prospect that make him less ideal than some of the other prospects that will be available outside of round one. I have a feeling that he will not be very high on some teams’ boards for that reason.

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

Strength: 3.5
Point of Attack: 3.0
Quickness: 3.5
Pass Rush: 3.0
Motor: 3.5

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Top 32 Big Board

Here is my top 32 Big Board for the 2011 NFL Draft. These, in my opinion, are the top 32 prospects in the NFL Draft. Many of them are hot-linked so that you can read my scouting reports on them. Enjoy!

1-      A.J. Green, WR, Georgia

2-      Marcel Dareus, DT, Alabama

3-    Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

4-    Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri

5-     Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama

6-     Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M

7-      Julio Jones, WR, Alabama

8-      Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn

9-      J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin

10-   Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

11-   Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State

12-   Cameron Jordan, DE, California

13-   Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson

14-   Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri

15-   Tyron Smith, OT, Southern Cal

16-   Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin

17-  Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA

18-  Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina

19-   Brandon Harris, CB, Miami

20-  Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State

21-   Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue

22-   Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor

23- Justin Houston, DE, Georgia

24-   Randall Cobb, WR, Kentucky

25-   Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech

26-   Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

27-  Jake Locker, QB, Washington

28-  Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois

29-   Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

30-   Mike Pouncey, OG, Florida

31- Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple

32- Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Scouting Report:

Patrick Peterson is a dynamic corner and return man that should be a lock for the top 10 on draft day.

Positives: Peterson is an incredible athlete. He has an amazing combination of size, speed and athletic ability for a cornerback. He is a very fluid athlete and has not problem flipping his hips to turn and run. He has good burst to close on routes nearby him and he has pretty good instincts and isn’t afraid to use them which can lead to big interceptions or a nice break on the ball. He does a nice job of breaking on the ball and has impressive ball skills to knock down passes or come down with the interception. Once he makes the interception he is a very dangerous return man, and he is also a very dangerous kickoff and punt returner. He has the potential to be an elite man coverage corner thanks to his great straight line speed, fluid hips and good recovery speed. He also projects well to zone coverage because of his instincts and ability to bait QB’s into making poor throws.

Negatives: Peterson might be an elite coverage corner prospect but he is not much of a run support corner. He is slow to support the run even when he recognizes it, he doesn’t fight hard to get off of blocks, he isn’t a very good tackler and he isn’t great in pursuit from the backside of the play. He isn’t a very polished player either because he isn’t a fundamentally sound tackler and his footwork needs work. It doesn’t hinder him when he is transitioning from a back-pedal (which also isn’t very well developed) to running downfield with a receiver but at times he seems to waste steps when clicking and closing which could explain why he doesn’t close on some routes when in zone coverage as well as you might expect for someone with his athletic ability. He also has a tendency to gamble and bite on double-moves, and seems to be very confident in his athletic ability and instincts and will sometimes seem to be playing without great concentration.

Overall: I have heard Peterson referred to as the Calvin Johnson of cornerback prospects. I don’t think I’d agree with that, but there is no question he is an elite corner prospect. He is extraordinarily talented as he is extremely fast, has great ball skills, is a very fluid athlete and is a dynamic returner whether it is on special teams or after an interception. He has all the flashy ability you could want in a shut down corner, but he isn’t that fundamentally sound and that makes me wonder about him. Will he work really hard to tighten up his back-pedal, to improve his footwork which would allow him to close on routes faster when he is in zone coverage? I’m not sure. I don’t think he will ever be very good in run support and he probably won’t ever be much of a wrap-up tackler but if he doesn’t continue to work and develop his fundamentals I wonder if he will ever be the elite cornerback that so many people expect him to be.

Projection: Top 10. He is a top 10 lock in my opinion because of his fantastic athletic ability and potential and I would be very surprised to see him slide out of the top 10.

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

Speed: 5.0
Man Coverage: 4.5
Zone Coverage: 4.0
Tackling: 3.0
Ball Skills: 4.5

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Jordan Cameron has made some impressive catches this week while displaying impressive athleticism.

West Practice Notes: Day Three

Quarterbacks:

Nathan Enderle, QB, Idaho:

Enderle showed some of the ball placement that I knew he had today, but it was still very inconsistent. He had a few nice throws that I saw, including a nice throw right on the money to Aldrick Robinson deep. He still missed high a couple times to Armon Binns and struggled going through reads at times. I was really high on Enderle before this season, but he regressed this year for whatever reason. He is definitely still draftable, and with his size, arm strength and inconsistent accuracy he should be a 5th or 6th round draft pick. He will need some development and probably some work on his mechanics (footwork probably, he has a nice fluid throwing motion) but I think he will stick in the NFL.

Scott Tolzien, QB, Wisconsin:

Tolzien showed pretty consistent ball placement on day three and pretty solid arm strength. He won’t be able to stretch the field that well, but on short and some intermediate throws he has solid zip on his passes. I think he warrants a 7th round pick or a priority free agent pick-up, and he has done a pretty good job of making decisions this week. I think he can be a developmental #3 in the NFL.

Jerrod Johnson, QB, Texas A&M:

Johnson is probably staring down a position change when he gets to the NFL. He has some mobility and impressive size, but he doesn’t have good zip on his passes, he doesn’t read defenses well, doesn’t make good decisions consistently and struggles with ball placement. I wasn’t sold on him at the beginning of the year after watching him, and it seems that everyone else seems to be of that same opinion now.

Halfbacks:

Patrick DiMarco, FB, South Carolina:

DiMarco stuck out to me all week as a pass catcher and as a runner, and when I talked to Justin Griffith (former Falcons fullback and current halfbacks coach for the West team this week) he said that DiMarco was the guy who stuck out to him the most and that he “did well in pass protection” and “caught the ball well out of the backfield.” I agree with both assertions and I thought it was pretty cool that he was impressed with DiMarco when he had stuck out to me as well. To be fair, Griffith did say that he liked all of his guys, not just DiMarco.

Alex Green, RB, Hawaii:

I’m not sure what Green will run, but he showed more burst and speed than I expected him to show today and he also caught the ball well out of the backfield. I think he warrants late round consideration at this point, but he had a solid week of practice to be sure.

Da’Rel Scott, RB, Maryland:

I’m not sold on Scott. He has dropped some passes out of the backfield this week, though he has caught others, and he doesn’t seem to have very good vision in my opinion. He and Royster had the least impressive weeks as far as running backs go in my opinion. It will be interesting to see how he does in the game, because when he gets into a seam he can really turn it into a long play.

Vai Taua, RB, Nevada:

Previously Taua struggled a bit catching the ball out of the backfield which was a bit surprising, but he looked much better in that aspect today and that was a pleasant thing to see. I personally grade him as the 4th best RB here behind Carter, Cooper and Green right now, but he had a solid day today.

Wide Receivers:

Armon Binns, WR, Cincinnati:

Binns has good hands and probably 4.5 speed but I am not sure he will ever create a lot of separation as a route runner. He is a long strider because of his long legs and I haven’t seen him create a lot of separation when running routes this week. I think he has the ceiling of a reliable #2, perhaps not unlike Michael Jenkins of the Falcons, but with better hands in my opinion. He has deceptive deep speed because of his long strides, but he doesn’t have a lot of quickness/burst into his cuts to create separation as a route runner as a result. He does seem to have good body control, he definitely has good hands and he adjusts well to the ball after it is thrown, but I don’t think he’s much more than a 3rd rounder this year. He’s the second best receiver here only to Toliver in my opinion.

Anthony Parker, WR, Calgary:

Parker was a guy who impressed me the first day and some the second day, but his momentum slowed on the third day. He dropped three passes, the first three drops I had seen from him this week, and did not run his routes with a lot of conviction either. I have seen some of his ability, but right now he seems like a fringe 7th round guy. He doesn’t run great routes, he has solid hands and size but I am not sold on his speed and he hasn’t been overly consistent this week.

Aldrick Robinson, WR, SMU:

I like Robinson. He’s a smaller guy but I think he has potential as a slot receiver. I don’t think he is much more than a 4.5 guy, but he has quickness and some shiftiness, and his route running has progressed some this week and he seems open to coaching. He has good hands too and looks the ball in well. I don’t think he’s much more than a 5th rounder at this point, but I think he can stick on a NFL roster.

Ryan Whalen, WR, Stanford:

I literally didn’t see Whalen drop a pass this week. Maybe I just missed one, but he has very reliable hands. He may not ever be a starter since I’m not sure how fast he will run or how well he can create separation, but as a possession guy, perhaps as a #4 WR, he should have a long NFL career because he just doesn’t drop passes. He’s got very reliable hands.

Tight Ends:

Jordan Cameron, TE, USC:

I have to say that I think it’s really funny that there is a DE from Cal named Cameron Jordan and a TE from USC named Jordan Cameron in the same draft. I don’t know if anyone else on the internet has pointed that out, but it needed to happen at some point. Regardless, Cameron has really impressed this week. He has made some really nice catches, he has stretched the field down the seam and shown good athleticism and leaping ability. I had no idea who he was before this week but I have to say I am really impressed and he has certainly been one of the big winners this week. His stock should be soaring right now from relative anonymity to a potential 3rd-4th round prospect.

Virgil Green, TE, Nevada:

I think Green quietly had a good week. He has made some very nice catches as well, catches on low throws, diving catches, one handed catches and overall just good catches with his hands and not letting them get into his pads. He has shown some ability as a route runner, though I don’t think he has very good speed, but he has impressed me at times as a run blocker which I was happy to see. He isn’t in my top 5 TE’s as far as positional rankings go, but I definitely think he warrants 4th-5th round consideration and could be a solid sleeper with some development and coaching. I definitely like Green.

Offensive Linemen:

Joseph Barksdale, OT, LSU:

I have not been impressed with Barksdale this week. He has good size and arm length for the RT position but he has gotten beaten outside, inside and obviously struggles with speed. He has been able to stop guys like Bruce Miller who can’t get by him because of his long arms, but he is nothing more than a 5th round pick because of his size and arm length in my opinion. He has not been impressive to me this week.

Defensive Linemen:

David Carter, DT, UCLA:

I really like what I have seen from Carter this week. He has good size, arm length, is solid off the ball and has shown good hand usage. He’s gotten into the backfield and has shown signs of dominance in one on one drills. Carter has definitely helped himself this week.

Chris Carter, DE, Fresno State:

Carter had a lot of trouble in coverage this week, not unexpectedly in my opinion, and really could only take away the flats and struggled to react well in space and to close on passes this week. He was moved back to the defensive line for one on one drills and showed some speed off the ball to get the edge. He has some potential as a rotational guy but he is kind of a one trick pony at this point. He has some value but I’m not very impressed with him at this point.

Sorry about the delay on these notes. It’s been a bit of an exhausting week. Hope you enjoy them!

–Tom

East Practice Notes: Day 3

Quarterbacks:

Pat Devlin, QB, Delaware:

Devlin looked a bit better today, he had a couple nice throws that showed good ball placement and accuracy, more like you might be used to if you’ve seen him play in college. His arm strength isn’t as good as I have heard some say, it’s solid but his zip is only adequate on his throws. Because he is at Delaware people are naturally hoping for him to be the next Flacco with a rocket arm, but he is a more accurate passer with only above-average arm strength in my opinion. His progression to a QB who plays from under center will take time, but he bobbled the first two snaps he took from under center when warming up this week, so even though I think he bobbled one today he has certainly showed improvement, and that’s all you want to see with a QB moving from a spread/shotgun offense.

Halfbacks:

Graig Cooper, RB, Miami:

I was a big Cooper fan before his injury so it’s good to see him playing again and getting his quickness back. There were a few times today that you could notice his quickness and burst coming back when his offensive line allowed penetration and he was able to quickly change direction and find room to run. He seems to have good vision, he definitely has some of his burst and quickness back which is great to see. His injury was a pretty bad one. He looked good catching passes out of the backfield as well. So with his speed coming back (his 40 time will be important for him as well as other times at the combine), him running well, catching the ball out of the backfield and potentially adding value on kick returns (if he is truly coming back healthy he can be a very valuable returner) he definitely warrants a mid-round pick if he checks out medically. Good to see him back! Hopefully I’ll be able to talk to him tomorrow.

Delone Carter, RB, Syracuse:

Carter has been the most impressive back this week in my opinion. I think he is probably the best feature back prospect here. He’s short but well built and he has huge legs, especially for only being about 5’9”. He generates  a lot of power, has shown good speed, quickness and soft hands out of the backfield. He has definitely helped himself this week and continued his strong play after his huge game against Kansas State in Syracuse’s bowl game. I’d love to interview him as well.

Anthony Sherman, FB, Connecticut:

I love Sherman as a FB prospect. He runs hard, keeps his pads low and has good hands out of the backfield. He has impressed me this week, and I think he definitely deserves mid-round consideration as a fullback in the NFL.

Wide Receivers:

Terrence Toliver, WR, LSU:

Toliver has had a good week of practice and continues to show his good hands, flash good route running and showed a little ability to catch the ball in traffic today. Largely I think he is a finesse receiver, which isn’t a bad thing, but it limits his potential when going over the middle. However, he has officially been invited to the Senior Bowl next week to replace Jerrel Jernigan, who was injured while training apparently. It’s too bad for Jernigan, but it’s a great opportunity to show what he can do against even better competition in the Senior Bowl.

Perry Baker, WR, Fairmont State:

I really like what I have seen from Baker this week. He’s extremely skinny and while he doesn’t have a huge frame he definitely needs to add weight and get stronger overall, especially in the arms and legs. However, he does have strong hands and he showed that on the field and when he gave me a firm handshake when I introduced myself. He looks like a totally different player than he did at the beginning of the first practice and I am glad that he progressed so much this week. He even had a nice block on a safety today with a lot of pop! I never would have expected him to hit like that. He is definitely a draftable player and I think he has a NFL future in the slot. His route running has definitely progressed this week, he has been creating consistent separation on the corners on the East this week.

Offensive Linemen:

Chris Hairston, OT, Clemson:

Hairston is a huge guy and has long arms (34.75 inches when measured) and I think he has some potential at RT. He has a solid punch and shows the ability to use his long arms to keep the defender at bay, and did a good job of forcing Trattou wide during one on one drills. He struggles with speed and I don’t think he has very good feet, but he has potential value at RT.

David Arkin, OG, Missouri State:

Arkin started off well but has struggled a bit the last couple days. I think he could stand to get stronger in the lower body which would help him anchor as a pass blocker and get more drive as a run blocker. He’s a small school guy and he has shown some ability against better competition, but Martin Parker has beaten him a number of times this week. I think he has some ability, but is probably a mid-late round pick after what I’ve seen this week. Maybe 5th round?

Defensive Linemen:

Martin Parker, DT, Richmond:

Parker continued to impress today and he did a good job getting off the ball and showed a nice swim move in one on one drills. It is clearly his go-to move, but it is apparent that he needs to develop other moves to use because he went to the swim move well a couple times too many and became a bit predictable with that move right off the snap. It works, but he needs to develop other moves to help keep the blockers off balance. But he has good size, arm length, quickness off the ball and he has a good swim move already. He has definitely helped himself this week, and I think he’d be a good fit in a scheme that asks their defensive linemen to penetrate and get into the backfield.

Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina:

Austin continues to impress, but I think it is fair to say he is not quite in football shape yet. I don’t know if he will garner a late invitation to the Senior Bowl, but I would love to see him there if he did get an invitation. He has looked good this week, shown some violent hands, has drawn a number of double teams, but seems to have worn down as practice goes on. He isn’t carrying too much weight, I just don’t think he is used to playing football like this yet because of his time off from the game. He has definitely helped himself this week, but we all know he had ability. I just want to see consistency from him which we haven’t exactly seen yet. I have seen him get blocked one on one in pass protection a number of times this week which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but he has the ability to dominate some of these guys and I was left wanting a little more in that regard.

Terrell McClain, DT, South Florida:

I haven’t had a lot of notes on McClain up until this point because he never really stuck out to me. He’d get into the backfield here or there, but I don’t think he is good enough off the snap to consistently penetrate into the backfield in the NFL. I think he might have some value as a space eater as he has a wide build, long arms and stocky size at 6’1.5” and 305 pounds. That should net him mid-late round consideration, but I haven’t seen a ton from him as a pass rusher. He had a nice spin move on Ryan Bartholomew today in one on one’s, but like I said I have only seen a flash every once in a while of him penetrating or collapsing the pocket this week.

Justin Trattou, DE, Florida:

I haven’t had a lot of notes on Trattou this week either, but he has solid size, arm length and good hand usage. He doesn’t have much speed off the edge, so weighing in at only 254 pounds will really hurt him. He has struggled to get the edge in one on one drills this week with speed, so I don’t think he will be much of a speed rusher in the NFL. I think he will have to dedicate to filling out his frame to be a rotational DE in a 4-3 or maybe really bulk up his 6’3” frame and try to get to 275+ to try playing 3-4 DE. That’s a lot of weight to put on and while I definitely think he has room to add weight I don’t know if he has room to put on 30 pounds or more. He seems to be a hard worker though, and like I said I like his hand usage and strength, but right now he is not fast enough off the ball to consistently rush the passer at 4-3 DE and he is way too small to hold up at 3-4 DE.

Linebackers:

Akeem Dent, ILB, Georgia:

Dent continues to fill well, get in position to make tackles and generally be around the ball (especially against the run). I don’t think he is a perfect fit for a 4-3 because he has some struggles in coverage, doesn’t have very good hips and I’m not sure how well he runs, but I think he is a perfect fit for a 3-4 ILB. He plays so well downhill, has such a great knowledge and understanding of gap responsibility, and even though he hasn’t been able to show it this week I think he has good value as a blitzer. I will hopefully have an interview with him as well as a number of other guys, but I am really high on Dent (especially as a 3-4 ILB).

Greg Lloyd II, ILB, Connecticut:

Greg has had a good week, continues to flow to the ball well, show good instincts and get in position to make tackles. I don’t know where his stock is at right now, but I really like him as a 3-4 ILB prospect. I’d say Dent is a better inside linebacker prospect at this point but I have seen more of him than I have of Greg. I will definitely have an interview of Greg this week and just in talking to him a bit after practice he seems to be a great guy, very smart and easy going. I have a feeling he will impress in interviews, and he seemed to take control of the defensive unit he has played with this week each day which I love to see.

Bruce Miller, LB, UCF:

Miller has a great motor, he is a heads up player and he has solid speed, but he just doesn’t have the get-off or the edge speed to stick at DE in a 4-3. His arm length has hurt him this week as he has struggled to get off blocks from guys with longer arms like Jah Reid and Chris Hairston, both of whom have struggled with speed this week. I have heard he will have to move to linebacker, but I think his only hope there is to move to inside linebacker, probably in a 3-4. I don’t know how he is in coverage at all, but even if he doesn’t have an ideal position as a starter on a defense I think he definitely warrants late round consideration or priority free agent value because of what he could bring as a special teamer. His motor, effort, heads up play and tackling will be valuable there even if he doesn’t fit in perfectly in any scheme at the next level.

Defensive Backs:

Justin Rogers, CB, Richmond:

Rogers continues to have a good week. I like him the best out of the four corners on the East, and I like him about as well as I like Lindsey on the West. He has pretty good footwork, closes well, has long arms for his size and has generally just been good in coverage this week. He has definitely helped himself. However, he doesn’t have very good hands for the interception despite his ability to make plays on the ball to deflect it away, and he has small hands. I don’t think he will ever get a lot of interceptions at the NFL, but a guy with his closing speed and vertical could definitely get his hands on some passes.

Thanks for reading! There is still more to come.

–Tom