Tag Archive: QB


1-      Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama

2-      Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M

3-      Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

4-      Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State

5-      Tank Carradine, DE, Florida State

6-      Arthur Brown, MLB, Kansas State

7-      Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina

8-      Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri

9-      Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame

10-   Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU

11-   Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon

12-   Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State

13-   Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah

14-   Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

15-   Keenan Allen, WR, California

16-   Robert Woods, WR, USC

17-   Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia

18-   Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

19-   Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU

20-   Kenny Vacarro, S, Texas

21-   DJ Fluker, OT, Alabama

22-   Jonathan Cyprien, S, FIU

23-   Deandre Hopkins, WR, Clemson

24-   Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas

25-   Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma

26-   Datone Jones, DE, UCLA

27-   Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State

28-   Eric Reid, S, LSU

29-   Cordarelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee

30-   Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama

31-   Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina

32-   Corey Lemonier, DE, Auburn

33-   DJ Hayden, CB, Houston

34-   Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State

35-   Shariff Floyd, DT, Florida

36-   Larry Warford, OG, Kentucky

37-   Manti Te’o, MLB, Notre Dame

38-   Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State

39-   Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State

40-   Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech

41-   Stedman Bailey, WR, West Virginia

42-   Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor

43-   Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama

44-   Johnathan Franklin, UCLA

45-   Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse

46-   Travis Frederick, C, Wisconsin

47-   Justin Pugh, OG, Syracuse

48-   Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M

49-   Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina

50-   Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia

51-   Kevin Minter, MLB, LSU

52-   Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State

53-   Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford

54-   Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee

55-   Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington

56-   Jamie Collins, OLB, Southern Miss

57-   Terron Armstead, OT, Arkansas-Pine Bluff

58-   Gavin Escobar, TE, San Diego State

59-   Da’Rick Rogers, WR, Tennessee Tech

60-   Kyle Long, OG, Oregon

61-   Quanterus Smith, DE, Western Kentucky

62-   Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State

63-   Travis Kelce, TE, Cincinnati

64-   Kawann Short, DT, Purdue

65-   Alec Ogletree, OLB, Georgia

66-   Darius Slay, CB, Mississippi State

67-   Dwayne Gratz, CB, Connecticut

68-   DJ Swearinger, S, South Carolina

69-   Zac Dysert, QB, Miami (OH)

70-   Le’Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State

71-   Khaseem Greene, OLB, Rutgers

72-   Kiko Alonso, MLB, Oregon

73-   Brandon Williams, Missouri Southern State

74-   Dallas Thomas, OT, Tennessee

75-   Jordan Reed, TE, Florida

76-   Chris Harper, WR, Kansas State

77-   Ryan Swope, WR, Texas A&M

78-   Dennis Johnson, RB, Arkansas

79-   Hugh Thornton, OG, Illinois

80-   Brian Schwenke, C, California

81-   Alex Okafor, DE, Texas

82-   Sio Moore, LB, Connecticut

83-   Logan Ryan, CB, Rutgers

84-   David Amerson, CB, NC State

85-   Leon McFadden, CB, San Diego State

86-   Bacarri Rambo, S, Georgia

87-   John Jenkins, DT, Georgia

88-   Bennie Logan, DT, LSU

89-   Margus Hunt, DE, SMU

90-   Barrett Jones, C, Alabama

91-   EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State

92-   Cobi Hamilton, WR, Arkansas

93-   Jelani Jenkins, OLB, Florida

94-   DeVonte Holloman, OLB, South Carolina

95-   Nickell Robey, CB, USC

96-   Phillip Thomas, S, Fresno State

97-   Matt Elam, S, Florida

98-   Sean Porter, OLB, Texas A&M

99-   Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin

100- David Bakhtiari, OG, Colorado

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1-      Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia- Smith may not be a perfect prospect, and he isn’t on the same level as Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III from a year ago, but he’s got the most upside of any QB in this class in my opinion. He’s got room to improve, but he has the size, arm strength, accuracy and work ethic to improve. He’s not ready to start Day 1, but I say that about a lot of rookies. However, despite the number of rare QB’s in last year’s draft (Luck, RGIII and Russell Wilson especially) Smith is not prepared to start Day 1 in my estimation. I don’t have a scouting report on him yet, but I’ll have one up after the bowl season is over most likely. For a brief summation of his season his season, click here.

2-      Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas- Wilson had a very disappointing season this year and he isn’t a perfect prospect, but he has a NFL arm and is one of the best leaders at the quarterback position in this class. He’s extremely tough, and he’s going to be easy to play for because he’s willing to take a hit to deliver a throw. He played behind a terrible offensive line this year and it showed in the win/loss column and in his stat line. I still think he’s going to go in the first round, most likely in the top 15 picks. I don’t know if he’s going to be a franchise quarterback, but I think he can be a quality NFL starter

3-      Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse- This might seem strange, especially since I haven’t talked about Nassib much this year, but I really liked what I saw when I caught up on my Syracuse film this past week. He isn’t a 1st round pick in my opinion, but I think he will end up a Day 2 pick and I could see him going in the 2nd round. He has a live arm, good accuracy, he plays under center, has pretty good footwork, he’s athletic and can buy time in the pocket and can extend the play as well as gain yardage with his legs. He is supposed to be a very tough and competitive kid (according to @dpbrugler) and you can see his toughness as he hangs in to make throws in the face of pressure even when he knows he’s going to take a big shot. There’s a lot to like here, and even though I’m late to the party I have to admit I like what I am seeing. Coming into the season I definitely didn’t expect to project him as a Day 2 pick, but he looks like a NFL starter to me. I’ll have a report on him up shortly.

4-      Mike Glennon, QB, North Carolina State- I’m not a huge Glennon fan but there is plenty to like with him. He has the size and arm strength you want, but he needs functional space which limits him as a passer. He’s not at his best in a muddied pocket, but he has experience in a pro-style offense, and has FLASHED the ability to make throws with a defender in his face. I don’t think he’s going to be a great quarterback, but I think he can be an effective NFL starter behind a quality offensive line with talent around him. He’s not going to carry your team, but he’s not going to be the reason you lose either.

5-      Zac Dysert, QB, Miami (OH)- I’m not as big a fan of Dysert as some are, but I haven’t watched enough of him to have a great feel for his game yet so I am trying to withhold judgement. He does have a NFL arm however and he throws a surprisingly good deep ball which I did not expect before I started watching the tape that I do have on him. He figures to be a near lock to be at either the Senior Bowl or the East West Shrine Game so I am really looking forward to being able to see him in person.

6-      Matt Barkley, QB, Southern California- I never thought I’d have Barkley outside of my top 5, nor did I think I’d have Ryan Nassib above him on my rankings, but here we are. Barkley’s arm strength, questionable reads and decision making have a lot to do with why he has dropped this far down my rankings, and unfortunately I feel that his unbelievable finish to the season last year was about as good as it gets for Barkley as a quarterback, and the rest of his career is what we can expect from him at the next level. He does a great job of anticipating throws, he’s very smart, but at times he seems to make a pre-snap read and make his throw based entirely off what he saw pre-snap and not off of what transpires after the ball is snapped. That leads to some head-scratching decisions, and that is something that has been pretty consistent through his entire four year career at USC. Beyond that, his arm strength is still a serious question mark and I highlighted that before the season and not much has changed in my opinion. He doesn’t have good arm strength, he is elevated by the talent around him, and his questionable decision making concerns me as well. I hate to seemingly jump off the bandwagon, but it’s hard for me to rationalize picking him in the 1st round when I just don’t see a game-changing quarterback when I watch him.

7-      Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia*- I personally think Murray should come back for his senior season, but if he chooses to declare I think he could go Day 2. I personally wouldn’t pick him until round 3 because as much as I want to like him there are parts of his game that just bothers me. Part of that is the stigma that he “can’t win the big game” but I think he could prove that false if he came back for his senior season which is part of the reason why I want him to come back. We’ll see what he chooses to do, but I hope to see him back at UGA in 2013.

8-      Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee*- Bray has officially declared which isn’t surprising since his head coach got fired and both of his talented junior wide receivers had either declared or were leaning towards going pro. Bray is an extremely talented kid with a Jay Cutler-esque arm but he also has terrible mechanics, makes questionable reads and decisions frequently, and reportedly has some attitude and character red flags. I can’t confirm anything right now, but don’t be surprised if you hear some problematic things about Bray’s work ethic and demeanor in the coming months. He has 1st round talent, but I think he will likely end up on Day 2. I want to like Bray because of his unreal arm talent, but there are too many on and off field question marks for me to advocate a franchise tying their future to him with a high draft pick. He needs to land in an ideal situation where he can develop and mature behind a quality NFL QB much like Ryan Mallett is doing in New England now for him to have any chance at living up to his potential.

9-      Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma- I am not a Landry Jones fan and am on record as projecting him to go in the 4th round. With a good performance against Texas A&M in Oklahoma’s bowl game and a good showing at either the Senior Bowl or the Shrine Game Jones could elevate his stock a bit, but on film I haven’t been impressed with him for the past two years at least. He’s not a NFL starter in my opinion, and picking him on Day 2 makes no sense to me.

10-   Matt Scott, QB, Arizona- Scott only has one year of tape to watch, and playing in Rich Rod’s system certainly doesn’t do a lot to prepare QB’s for the NFL from a schematic perspective. However, he has adequate arm strength, solid (but a little inconsistent) accuracy, legitimate athleticism and a knack for making plays when his team needs him. I think his game reminds me a little bit of Colin Kaepernick in terms of style and elevating the play of his teammates. They both played in a system that doesn’t (or didn’t used to) project very well to the NFL, but Matt Scott’s upset of USC, amazing comeback in the New Mexico Bowl, and near upset of Stanford earlier in the season reminded me of Kaepernick’s senior season at Nevada that included a classic upset of Boise State. Their games aren’t identical and this isn’t an attempt to say Scott will be the next Kaepernick at all, but I think he has developmental potential and in that way he is similar to Kaepernick even if he doesn’t have the rocket arm that Kaepernick possesses.

11-   EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State- I don’t see any reason Manuel should go in the top 100 selections. He’s very overrated and if you’ve paid attention to FSU the last two years you would know that even though he has all the upside you could want thanks to his size and athleticism he is maddeningly inconsistent and just doesn’t get it from a mental standpoint. He’s not a NFL starter and will just be a tease because of his size and athletic ability much like Terrelle Pryor. He’s more advanced than Pryor, but neither is fit to be a NFL starter.

12-   Brad Sorensen, QB, Southern Utah- I haven’t gotten to watch Sorensen much this year, but I didn’t understand the hoopla around him in pre-season which is when I wrote this pre-season report based off of the coaches film I was able to watch of him. He’s a draftable kid with some tools, but he’s a developmental project.

13-   Sean Renfree, QB, Duke- I haven’t caught up on Duke footage yet, but he helped lead them to their first bowl game in over a decade and I think he has enough tools to warrant Day 3 consideration. He will be at the East-West Shrine Game and I look forward to being able to scout him in person.

14-   Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State- Klein isn’t a popular prospect and there is reason for that, but I think he is going to get Day 3 consideration even though he isn’t your prototypical quarterback. He may not be a NFL starter, but he’s going to stick in the NFL as a QB. He’s got too much leadership capability and toughness not to in my estimation.

15-   Ryan Aplin, QB, Arkansas State- Aplin is a favorite of Ben Allbright (@NFLDraftMonster) and he’s a good kid with a pretty good arm despite being undersized. He’s not going to be a high draft pick, but I think he’s got draftable talent and I prefer him to plenty of the late round options here.

16-   Nick Florence, QB, Baylor- Florence stepped in and played quite well in his one year as a starter after RGIII left, but he had a bevy of talent at wide receiver to throw to including Terrence Williams and Tevin Reese. He has above-average arm strength, accuracy and he isn’t much taller than 6’1″ but he may have a chance to make it as a 7th round pick or as an undrafted free agent.

17-   Seth Doege, QB, Texas Tech- Doege is the next in the line of Texas Tech quarterbacks to put up gaudy numbers, lead a noteworthy upset, and be projected as a 7th round pick or an undrafted free agent because of a lack of size and arm strength. Doege has overcome those criticisms for a long time, but it’s going to be tough to overcome them at the next level. He’s going to be at the Shrine Game as well, so seeing how he throws live will be good for my evaluation of him.

18-   Colby Cameron, QB, Louisiana Tech- I’m not a big Cameron fan but he has helped elevate Louisiana Tech into top-25 consideration the past two years and while I personally think he’s going to be an undrafted free agent he has the chance to prove me wrong at the East-West Shrine Game.

19-   Matt McGloin, QB, Penn State- I’m not a Matt McGloin fan either but even though he doesn’t have a special arm or much athleticism the leadership and resolve he showed as one of the leaders on Penn State’s roster is worth noting and while it likely won’t lead to him being selected in the NFL Draft it might help him get a spot on a training camp roster next summer.

20-   Jordan Rodgers, QB, Vanderbilt- I thought Rodgers might have the potential to be a NFL Draft pick but if he wasn’t related to Aaron I don’t think he would have gotten as much attention as he did for his play. I don’t really see anything special and I don’t think he’s going to be drafted at this point. I still have to watch more tape on him to finish my evaluation, but I’d be surprised if I saw anything that completely changed my mind on him at this point.

Florence has a near impossible task he will try to accomplish- replacing Robert Griffin III. He’s not a great prospect, but I am looking forward to seeing what he can do with a surprising number of weapons at his disposal this season.

Nick Florence, QB- Nick Florence has the unenviable job of attempting to replace a living Baylor legend in Robert Griffin III who won Baylor’s first Heisman trophy in the program’s history during his remarkable junior campaign last year. But because RGIII left for the NFL Draft Florence will have a year to show NFL scouts what he can do at the helm of Baylor’s still potent offensive attack. It will look different with Florence at the helm, the 6’1”, 205 pound quarterback isn’t the athletic marvel that Griffin is, but Florence got some playing time as a freshman when RGIII went down with a knee injury so he isn’t completely new to the starting role. The results weren’t exactly pretty; he threw for 1,841 yards, 6 touchdowns and 9 interceptions in 7 starts that year. He was efficient in his mop-up duty last year, but the team will have a LOT of offense to replace now that the lethal combination of RGIII and Kendall Wright has left for the NFL. Luckily for Florence they return some talent along the offensive line, Lache Seastrunk will get a chance to show what he can do after sitting out a year due to transfer rules, and he has four or five wide receivers capable of picking up big chunks of yardage to throw to in addition to a 6’6″, 260 pound tight end. I’m not that familiar with Florence’s game yet, but when I saw him as a freshman I wasn’t particularly impressed with his arm strength. A lot can and does change in a player’s growth from his freshman to senior season though, so I’ll withhold judgment until I see him the whole year this year barring injury. However, as of right now I would say Florence is a fringe draftable prospect.

Jarred Salubi, RB- Salubi is entering the season as the projected starter with the talented Seastrunk as his back-up, though I imagine they will both get quite a few touches. Salubi has been productive when given the opportunity to be, but he was stuck behind Terrance Ganaway last year. That is no longer the case as Ganaway has moved on to the NFL, and Salubi has a chance to show was he can do as the feature back. Salubi is a much different back than Ganaway as he is listed at 5’9”, 210 pounds versus Ganaway’s listed 6’0”, 240 pounds. Salubi doesn’t look like he has elite straight line speed to me, he’s probably a 4.5 guy when it comes to that, but according to my notes from the Alamo bowl (where he had 101 yards, 2 touchdowns and nearly a 3rd on only 5 carries) he has plenty of burst, quickness and shiftiness as a runner. Packing 210 pounds onto a 5’9” frame is impressive, and I am certainly intrigued by his skill set. I expect him to get a lot of touches this season, and it will be interesting to see if he can be productive in an offense in which he is not the least of the defense’s concerns. With RGIII and Kendall Wright gone the headliners of the program will be absent, but the offense should still be productive. Salubi will play a big role in replacing all of Ganaway’s rushing production.

Lache Seastrunk, RB**- Seastrunk is a redshirt sophomore thanks to the season he was forced to sit out due to transfer rules. I wish he hadn’t been required to sit out, because seeing Seastrunk’s speed in the backfield with RGIII while Kendall Wright, Terrance Williams and Tevin Reese were split out wide would have been a sight to behold. Regardless, it is my understanding that Seastrunk is eligible for the draft after this season and even if he was only a true sophomore I would probably have him on this list anyways. He’s a truly dynamic athlete even if he is only 5’9”, 190 pounds. Obviously we haven’t seen him play an actual game in college yet, but his speed is undeniable even if you watch his highlights from high school. He may have true 4.4 flat speed, has very impressive acceleration, burst and change of direction speed as well as the ability to run through sloppy arm tackles and shows impressive balance to keep himself upright despite being a small, speedy running back. He should be lethal if the Bears continue to run a lot of zone read plays like they did with RGIII and Ganaway because Seastrunk has the speed to get the edge even against defenders taking solid angles. What I will want to see from Seastrunk is vision and patience. He has the gamebreaking speed to score a touchdown every time he touches the ball and to rip off a big run every time he gets a carry, but that won’t happen as often in college as it did in high school and keep in mind, that was the last time he played in a game that counted (aka, Spring Games don’t technically count). He’s going to be so amped up for his first game and probably for his entire first season in college that he will probably try to make plays right off the bat. That’s good, but he can’t try to bounce everything outside and turn everything into a sprint down the sideline. He needs to take what the defense gives him sometimes and let his blocks set up in front of him. I think he can do it, it’s just going to be interesting to see how quickly he adapts to the college game this year. My guess? It won’t take very long.

Terrance Williams has 1st round upside, but NFL teams will be looking to see how he handles being the “go-to guy” for Nick Florence this season. Is he up to being a #1 in the NFL? Or is he better as a complementary guy? We will have to see, but I’m hoping that he will clean up his route running and improve his concentration on some routine receptions.

Terrance Williams, WR- Williams is Baylor’s top NFL prospect and for good reason, he is listed at 6’3”, 205 pounds and has legitimate sub 4.5 speed. Last season he did what many assumed Josh Gordon, now a Cleveland Brown, would do for Baylor’s football program: provide vertical speed on the outside as well as the height and leaping ability to win jump balls, not to mention a lot of production. Williams had a career year last year with 59 receptions, 957 yards and 11 touchdowns. I’m not sure he will be able to best those numbers without Kendall Wright opposite him and without RGIII throwing him the ball deep, but he should still be productive despite increased attention from defenses. My problem with Williams previously was his hands. After watching him as a sophomore I had questions about his hands as I saw him drop catchable balls, but when I recently watched him his hands seemed to have improved a bit. I saw him make catches in traffic, catch the ball with his hands a bit, adjust to the ball well on deep balls, and catch the ball well along the sideline with full awareness of where he was on the field. He still drops some catchable balls and has concentration lapses at times, and I will be watching for that during his senior season. He seems to catch the more difficult passes, but let a few of the easy ones get away from him. He also has shown that he is willing to block and block downfield which is good to see, and his long arms are certainly an asset when doing so.

My biggest concern aside from his hands is his route running, which needs considerable work. Frequently when I’ve watched him I have seen him round off breaks and at times just slow down and turn around when running curl routes instead of sinking his hips, chopping his feet and exploding back out of his cut to create separation. Because Baylor spreads defenses out so much with all of their speed and talent on offense this wasn’t often an issue, particularly with RGIII holding zone coverages thanks to his ability to scramble and pick up big chunks of yardage. He doesn’t run crisp routes, and he doesn’t have a well developed route tree at this point and that will add to his learning curve when he heads to the NFL Draft after this season. He’s definitely got 1st round upside and I will certainly be writing a scouting report on him before the season starts, but his route running has to improve if he wants to contribute to a NFL team. He’s got NFL size, athleticism and he has the tools to be a good route runner thanks to his speed and burst, but he just hasn’t needed to run great routes to get open yet. That will change at the NFL level, but if his hands and route running continue to improve it will be hard not to like Williams as a NFL prospect. It will be very telling how he does when faced against quality cover men in the Big-12 (Texas, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma should provide good tests for that) and it will be interesting to see if anyone ever jams him. They likely won’t thanks to the threat of getting beaten deep, but that’s something that I’ve never really seen anyone try against Williams. He isn’t the most physical guy even though he catches the ball well in traffic, and his long arms and quickness should help him beat the jam, but it’s a part of his game that is certainly unproven at this point.

Lanear Sampson, WR- Sampson isn’t the same dynamic prospect that Williams is, but he has a shot to get drafted in his own right. Sampson is listed at 5’11”, 200 pounds (just a few pounds less than Williams despite being 3 inches shorter) and looks like he has legitimate sub 4.5 speed as well. I haven’t seen as much of Sampson since I was always more focused on Kendall Wright and RGIII when I was watching the Bears, but Sampson has quietly been a 4 year starter in Waco and that won’t slip past the scouts who are evaluating him. He may not be an elite athlete, he may not be the biggest or the fastest, but he is consistent and reliable. Baylor’s wide receiver depth chart will be crowded again this year thanks to Williams, Sampson, Reese, Levi Norwood and the addition of senior Daryl Stonum from Michigan, but Sampson still has the inside track to being the #2 receiver on Baylor’s offense this year.

Tevin Reese, WR*- Reese is a bit of an enigma for me. He’s got all the speed you could ever want despite only being 5’10”, 160 pounds and I think he could be a sub 4.4 guy in the 40 yard dash. He’s got very impressive acceleration, burst and obviously is tough to catch once you let him get going. He’s one of the best vertical threats in the Big-12, yet his hands are SO inconsistent and it’s very frustrating. I’ve seen him drop some potential BIG plays, especially down the field, and it’s infuriating. They run a lot of bubble screens to get him the ball on easy receptions to let him use his speed, and run him on reverses to try to get him in space, but the reason they have to do as much of that as they do is because he just can’t be expected to come down with fairly routine deep passes even when he is open. He certainly does make the play sometimes, you don’t produce 51 catches, 877 yards and 7 touchdowns if you can’t catch at all, but if he wants to be taken seriously as a NFL prospect he is going to need to work his ass off to improve his hands. His speed will get him noticed, but teams will roll their eyes if they see him drop some of the passes I’ve seen him drop during his first two seasons in Waco.

Daryl Stonum, WR- I’ll admit, I’m not overly familiar with Stonum despite him spending his career with Michigan until recently. He was never a huge stat guy at Michigan, but not many of their receivers are due to Denard Robinson’s relatively erratic passing. Stonum is listed at 6’1”, 195 pounds and is also listed as having 4.5 speed. Baylor’s depth at receiver is pretty surprising given that they lost their top target in Kendall Wright, but with the addition of Stonum they have five legitimate targets now, assuming Levi Norwood gets more playing time as a sophomore. Stonum has made some mistakes in his past that led to his dismissal at Michigan. In 2008 he was put in jail for violating probation for charges of operating a vehicle while intoxicated and driving with a suspended license. In June, 2011 he was sentenced to two years of probation for operating a vehicle while visibly impaired, and violated that probation in January, 2012 when he was found to be driving with a revoked license. That led to 10 days of jail time and his ultimate dismissal from Michigan. It’s tough to argue that his decision making has improved despite this string of incidents, and given the sheer volume of drunk driving incidents the NFL had this summer NFL teams are going to be slow to pull the trigger on a guy like Stonum in the draft, but if he can stay out of trouble for the rest of the year until the draft he will greatly improve his chances of being drafted.

Not many people are familiar with Najvar, but his combination of size, athleticism and soft hands are going to make him very popular in scouting circles once he starts to get more targets. I think he has 1st round upside.

Jordan Najvar, TE*- Najvar is an intriguing prospect that I think could become very popular over the next two years in scouting circles. He’s a huge tight end that is listed at 6’6”, 260 pounds and has a listed sub 4.8 40 yard dash time. He’s an athletic kid and even though he only had 15 receptions, 146 yards and 2 touchdowns last season as a sophomore I think he is ready to break out. To give you some perspective, he is a Stanford transfer, and we all know how unbelievable their tight end depth chart was. He has shown that he is a willing blocker, though I haven’t seen him much as an in-line blocker, but his size and athleticism is going to make him a hot commodity, particularly if Florence figures out that it’s a lot easier to throw to a 6’6”, 260 pound tight end in the middle of the field than it is to try to hit a 5’10” WR. He’s flashed the ability to make nice seal blocks even on defensive ends, and seems to block down effectively. The true test will be seeing how he can do 1 on 1 when he isn’t blocking down. He’s got the size, athleticism, and effort level to be a stud. Keep an eye on him, I LOVE Najvar’s upside.

Cyril Richardson, OG*- Richardson is a large man, listed at 6’5”, 335 pounds. He played 12 games and started 4 of them at left guard as a freshman before moving outside to left tackle as a sophomore to protect RGIII’s blind side. Now he is shifting back inside to guard where he is probably a better fit due to his natural size and power, but lack of ideal lateral agility to stay at tackle. He could be a solid tackle in my opinion, perhaps more if he was played at right tackle, but I think his highest upside is inside at guard due to his size and arm length. He isn’t overly explosive out of his stance, but he has shown the ability to pancake defenders in the run game and generate some push. I’ve seen him make a few mistakes mentally in pass protection, particularly on stunts or strange blitz packages, so that will be something to keep an eye on this season at guard.

Cameron Kaufhold, OG- Kaufhold is Baylor’s “worst” starting interior offensive lineman, but that’s only because Cyril Richardson is a potential 1st or 2nd round pick depending on his development and Ivory Wade was a quality starting right tackle last season and now moves inside to center. The surprising thing is that Kaufhold is the second most experience offensive lineman with 26 career starts, second only to Wade. He is listed at 6’4”, 300 pounds and has shown the ability to generate some push off the ball, to anchor in pass protection and overall appears to be a solid guard. Will he be a top pick? Probably not, but now that he is moving from left guard to right guard his versatility could make him an attractive commodity to talent evaluators. It will be interesting to see how he does at that new spot.

Ivory Wade, C- It will be interesting to see Wade inside at center this season. He was very effective blocking down on defensive tackles last season and showed the ability to consistently shock his defender with his initial punch and drive him off his spot. He’s listed at 6’4”, 310 pounds and he has shown that he can generate push in the run game and also shows the ability to get to the second level and get his hat on a linebacker. He didn’t look that comfortable outside at tackle, but an interior of Wade, Richardson and Kaufhold returns a whopping 73 career starts, and all are listed at 6’4”, 300+ pounds. That interior offensive line should be impressive, and if the two new, young tackles can hold their own this could be an even better offensive line than they had last season. Keep in mind, Baylor has a knack for churning out quality centers. The coaching staff has shown no hesitation to move quality offensive linemen inside to Center and Wade is just the latest to do so. Don’t overlook that.

Terrance Lloyd, DE*- I am not that familiar with Lloyd since I didn’t focus on him much during his sophomore season with Baylor, but at 6’3”, 235 pounds he managed 36 tackles, 4.5 TFL and 2.5 sacks while starting 13 games. He enters the season with 17 career starts, and is a kid I am going to keep an eye on. He needs to add weight and get stronger at the POA, but I’m intrigued to see how he continues to develop from a pass rushing standpoint.

Gary Mason, DE- Mason is a guy I’ve had my eye on for over 2 years now, and it’s a little unbelievable to me that he is now a senior. He’s listed at 6’4”, 275 pounds and has 19 career starts at defensive end. He managed 26 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks and 2 pass break-ups in his 8 starts last season, and while I have had my eye on him for a while he’s never really lived up to the expectations I had for him. He has the size and athleticism, but until he takes that next step and really starts to produce consistently I don’t think he’s much more than a fringe draftable prospect. He has his chance to step up this year though, as his main competition, junior Tevin Elliott, was charged with sexual assault on April 15th and is still suspended indefinitely from what I have been able to find. That means if there was ever a time to step up and make plays, it’s now for Mason.

Tevin Elliott, DE*- Until the charges are cleared up, Elliott likely doesn’t have a football future, but if he ever does play a down of football for Baylor again he certainly has a NFL skill set. He’s listed at 6’3”, 250 pounds and has a lot of speed and burst off the ball to beat offensive tackles off the edge. He’s never really put it all together, much like Mason, and even though he had 27 tackles, 5 TFL, 3 sacks, 1 pass deflection and an interception last year, none of it matters if he is guilty of sexual assault. I can’t speculate at all as to whether he is guilty or innocent obviously, but if he does play for Baylor again he has the potential to be an impact player. Now we have to let the legal system play out.

Ahmad Dixon, LB/S*- Dixon is a difficult player to project because he is safety sized but loves to play in the box like a linebacker. He’s listed at 6’0”, 205 pounds, so he is undersized for the linebacker position, but Baylor likes to keep him on the field as a nickel corner to keep him closer to the action and allow him to make plays near or behind the line of scrimmage. He’s a playmaker and is one of the best players on Baylor’s defense, and managed 89 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 3 pass break-ups and an interception last year. His 5.5 TFL were tied for the most on the team with Gary Mason, and while I haven’t watched Dixon much I am very interested to see if he is a good tackler. Baylor had a TON of problems tackling against Washington in the bowl game, and their secondary in particular had a lot of issues. I’m interested to see more of Dixon to see if he is part of the tackling problem or not.

Joe Williams, CB*- Williams is an undersized corner, listed at 5’9”, 185 pounds, but he was very productive as a sophomore. Because he was a younger kid I didn’t pay much attention to him last season, but he had 43 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 12 pass deflections and an interception in 9 starts. I haven’t been able to see much of him, but if he continues to demonstrate quality ball skills he will give himself a shot to get drafted in spite of his size. Keep an eye on him this year.

KJ Morton, CB*- Morton is another junior corner opposite Williams, and like Williams he had a productive sophomore year as well. He had 75 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 6 pass deflections and 4 interceptions on the season. It would be HUGE for Baylor if Morton and Williams were able to step their game up to help stop some of the big plays that they gave up last season, because RGIII isn’t on the other side of the ball anymore to mask some of the defense’s issues. Morton and Williams will be under plenty of pressure in the pass-happy Big-12, but it will be interesting to see how they stack up. If Baylor’s defense is going to be any better, the secondary will have to step up, though the safety play was arguably more of a problem than the play of the corners.

Doege is fighting an uphill battle to get drafted, but he has a shot if he can show some progression during his second season as a starter.

Seth Doege, QB- Doege is the next in a long line of extremely productive Texas Tech quarterbacks who managed to produce on the college level despite less than ideal measurables or arm strength. Doege is listed at 6’1”, 205 pounds and may only be 6’0” tall in reality. He doesn’t have elite arm strength, but he might have enough to play at the next level. His statistics are obviously inflated due to the offense he runs (he passed for 4,004 yards, 28 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while completing 68.5% of his passes, but threw the ball 581 times and completed 398 passes to do so). His yards per attempt was a relatively pedestrian 6.89 and that is largely due to the large number of quick passes the Red Raiders use. They run a lot of bubble and tunnel screens and the offense is predicated on getting the ball out of Doege’s hands quickly and accurately, which has enabled quarterbacks with relatively weak but accurate arms to put up gaudy numbers in this system that dwarfs the production of quarterbacks at other schools, even those with superior natural ability. This is the type of offense that turned me off from the spread because it covers up so many of the quarterback’s flaws. It’s a very smart coaching move that allows the staff to pluck smart, accurate passers up in their recruiting classes, some of which wouldn’t get offers from power schools in the same region, and develop them into 4,000+ yard passers. However, it makes it difficult to evaluate prospects in the system because it doesn’t translate well to the NFL (though some of the concepts translate more than they did a few years ago, particularly the love affair with spreading the defense out and throwing high percentage passes such as quick screens). The quarterback’s deficiencies are masked by the quick passing that doesn’t force him to make many NFL throws, go through difficult progressions and it makes it difficult to evaluate how the quarterback executes when throwing in a muddied pocket or with pressure bearing down on him. Running backs are often only getting carries out of the shotgun, offensive linemen don’t have to pass protect as long because of the sheer multitude of quick passes, and wide receivers rack up tons of yardage thanks to the quick-hitting offense that spreads out the defense.

I’m sure I’m coming off like an asshole right now, but this offense really does complicate things for talent evaluators and it’s one reason that quarterbacks that play in this specific kind of spread offense get drafted later than most think if they get drafted at all. I can’t tell you how many Houston fans were mad at me for saying Case Keenum wouldn’t get drafted two years ago, but when he got his chance, did he? Doege is fighting an uphill battle playing in this offense, and if he wants to get drafted he will have to show the arm strength to make NFL throws, particularly throws outside the hashes. He will need to show the ability to go through his progressions and not lock on to one receiver or one half of the field, and he will need to show that he knows how to manipulate the pocket, throw under duress and do so accurately and efficiently. That’s a lot to ask of him, but quarterback is the most demanding position in sports for a reason. But that’s just the issue with projecting quarterbacks from this offense into the NFL- they are often protected so much by the brilliance of this offensive scheme that by the end of their college career they aren’t prepared for the transition to the pros. Whether it is spending almost their entire college career in shotgun, making simple reads or throwing a multitude of short, high percentage passes and benefiting from yardage gained after the catch, these quarterbacks tend to struggle when forced to transition. Even Graham Harrell, one of the success stories of this Texas Tech program for making it to the NFL and competing to be Aaron Rodgers’ back-up in Green Bay, had to go to the CFL before he got his chance to really stick on a NFL roster. I’m not saying Doege will have to do the same thing, but I’m also not ready to say he will stick yet either. I’m looking forward to seeing what he has to offer in his second full season as a starter this year.

Ward is only a junior this year but he really emerged as a sophomore last year. As Doege’s go-to guy he should be in line for an even bigger year this season.

Eric Ward, WR*- Now that I got that spread offense rant out of the way, I can continue on down the list of prospects that Texas Tech has to offer. The top returning wide receiver is Eric Ward, who is listed at 6’0”, 203 pounds. He totaled 84 receptions, 800 yards and 11 touchdowns as a sophomore this year and as Doege’s go-to guy he has a very realistic chance at 100 catches, 1,000 yards and 10+ touchdowns this season in my opinion. Ward isn’t going to run a 4.4 flat in my estimation, but he has enough speed and burst to be a NFL receiver and proved that his hands were reliable last season. When I’ve seen him I’ve seen him catch with his hands, and that is critical for any receiver attempting to get to the next level. I’m excited to see what Ward can do this season, because I still don’t have a great feel for his route running and his ability to create yardage after the catch.

Darrin Moore, WR- Moore is the big, physical target that projects as a nice red-zone target at the next level. He is listed at 6’4”, 220 pounds and caught 47 passes for 571 yards and 8 touchdowns as a junior last year. I haven’t seen much of him at all, but if he is really 6’4” he may have the potential for a transition to tight end if he doesn’t stick as a receiver, though I’m sure he has very little experience as a blocker. Still, his size and red zone potential intrigued me enough to keep an eye on him this year.

LaAdrian Waddle, OT- Waddle is the only Texas Tech offensive lineman I was impressed with when I watched them, and he sticks out at 6’6”, 318 pounds. He’s got the measurables that evaluators will like, but as I mentioned earlier he is protected in this scheme by all of the quick passing. I’m not convinced that he can stick at left tackle in the NFL and I have yet to evaluate him much as a run blocker, but if he can generate any movement off the ball in that area he could be a solid fit at right tackle in the NFL.

Dartwan Bush, DE*- Bush is an undersized pass rusher listed at 6’1”, 255 pounds and managed 28 tackles, 3 TFL and 2 sacks in 7 starts as a sophomore. He was impressive in the spring game based on what I was able to read about it and he recorded 2 sacks in that game alone. Bush is likely to be the Red Raiders best pass rusher this season and while I haven’t evaluated him much because he was only a sophomore last season I am interested to see if he can provide a pass rush off the edge that Texas Tech could really use on defense.

Terrance Bullitt, OLB*- Bullitt is a former safety who transitioned to the linebacker spot in Texas Tech’s new 4-3 defense this year. He started all 12 games at safety last year and managed 56 tackles, 9.5 TFL and 4 pass break-ups. Now he will be a strong side linebacker in their 4-3 defense, and at 6’3”, 215 pounds he has the frame to add weight and potentially hold up there. He’s got a nose for the ball-carrier and I am excited to see how he transitions to this new linebacker position full time, since he played in the box quite a bit as a safety last season.

Cody Davis, FS- I didn’t know much about Davis but the 6’2”, 203 pound safety was the Red Raiders’ leading tackler last season with 93 tackles, 3 TFL and 5 pass break-ups. He has moved back to more traditional safety position after spending a lot of time in the box in the 4-2-5 defense Texas Tech employed previously. Davis is a reliable tackler, though I don’t know much about his coverage abilities. From what I’ve seen of him, he looks like a primarily in the box type of safety, and is likely a fringe draftable prospect who should get a shot to contribute as a special teamer if nothing else.

From now until the season starts I will be previewing the prospects from Big-12, ACC and Big East teams for the upcoming season. My colleague at NFL Draft Monsters Justin Higdon (follow him on Twitter @afc2nfc) will be covering the SEC, Pac-12 and Big-10 and you will be able to read those posts on NFL Draft Monsters. Check them all out to get ready for the 2013 NFL Draft by identifying the prospects you need to learn about!

Today I am previewing Kansas State. I actually like Kansas State as a dark-horse to win the Big-12 this year (my favorite is West Virginia) but I think Kansas State is still flying under the radar. They return a lot of talent on offense, particularly at wide receiver where they are fairly deep. With Collin Klein and John Hubert in the backfield they should continue to run the ball effectively, and if Klein can continue to progress and open up as a passer the Wildcat’s offense should be dangerous. Klein accounted for 40 touchdowns last season (13 passing, 27 rushing) and while it will be difficult to match that lofty total again, I think he is in line for an increase in passing efficiency and production. He isn’t a prototypical quarterback, but he is a fearless leader and he improves the play of those around him much like Tim Tebow did at Florida. That is an incredibly rare and valuable trait for a quarterback to have, and Klein has it in spades. With Chris Harper, Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson all returning at receiver Klein will certainly have players to throw to whether he wants to move the chains, threaten defenses horizontally or if he wants to stretch the field vertically. It will be interesting to see if or how he progresses as a passer this year. One important note about Kansas State’s offense is that Manase Foketi **DOUBLE CHECK THIS** was attempting to transfer out of the program after the completion of his junior season but as far as I know Kansas State has continued to block his request to transfer. I don’t have an update at this time, but Foketi is Klein’s blind-side protector and losing him would be a significant blow to their offense.

On defense, Kansas State was surprisingly good last year and they return a number of important starters. They have a couple of intriguing pass rushers at defensive end in Adam Davis and Meshak Williams, a stud middle linebacker in Arthur Brown, and a couple impressive defensive backs in Nigel Malone and Ty Zimmerman. Those core players should keep Kansas State’s defense competent, and if other guys can step up I think Kansas State’s defense will surprise. They return a number of key starters across their entire team, but having a pair of pass rushers like Davis and Williams will only help the secondary headlined by Malone and Zimmerman who are both instinctual defenders with quality ball skills. Kansas State may not have a player who will end up being drafted in the 1st round come April, but they have a well stocked team full of reliable players who may not be as flashy or freakish as some of the talent stocked by other programs, but they are effective and worthy of serious draft consideration. With that, here are the prospects to look out for on Kansas State:

Collin Klein may not be a typical quarterback, but I think he is going to get a chance to play QB in the NFL. Tebow did, why shouldn’t Klein?

Collin Klein, QB- Ah, Collin Klein, the Big-12’s Tim Tebow. The comparison isn’t perfect, but they sure do have their similarities. They have NFL size (Klein is listed at 6’5”, 226 pounds), strong arms, a hitch in their throwing motions, the ability to bowl over defenders when gaining yardage with their legs, inconsistent accuracy and fantastic toughness and leadership capability. Klein may not be at the top of many team’s quarterback wish lists, and he likely won’t be drafted in the 1st round like Tim Tebow was, but I think he will get a shot to play QB in the NFL. He needs some mechanical work on his throwing motion, but he actually flashed the ability to go through progressions and scan the field a bit despite being relied upon to run the ball so much. Klein is the type of guy that many will find fault with, and many draftniks will probably grade him pretty low, but he will likely impress teams in interviews due to his reported football IQ and obvious leadership capability as well as his willingness to take a beating and play hurt. I don’t know if he will ever be a starting QB in the NFL, but if Tebow has managed to do it, hell, maybe Klein can do it too. I expect to see Klein at the East-West Shrine Game, or perhaps more likely, the Senior Bowl and I look forward to seeing him up close and speaking with him.

John Hubert, RB*- Hubert’s production suffered more than anyone else’s thanks to Klein’s ability to gain tough yards in short yardage situations which led to his 27 rushing touchdowns last season. Hubert is a quality back though despite his somewhat diminutive listed size of 5’7”, 185 pounds. Packing that much weight onto that small of a frame isn’t as easy as you might think, and I think he is eager to prove he is more than just a scat-back. He produced 970 yards on 200 carries last season (4.8 ypc average) as well as 3 touchdowns. He also demonstrated that he can catch passes out of the backfield by tallying 24 receptions for 188 yards and 1 more touchdown. Hubert is only a junior and I would be surprised if he declared early, so as a senior he should have a chance to show what he can do as the main feature of Kansas State’s running game. As a junior, though, he will likely remain in Klein’s considerable shadow.

Tyler Lockett, WR**- Lockett is a gamebreaker and even though he is only a true sophomore I had to include him in this list. Unfortunately he suffered a lacerated kidney against Oklahoma State and missed the final four games, but he said he is feeling “fantastic” and he was able to participate in spring practices before being held out because of a hamstring injury. Here’s hoping he gets over the injury bug for the rest of his career, but at 5’11”, 170 pounds he will likely continue to get nicked up. However, despite missing the final four games last year Lockett managed to catch 18 passes for 246 yards and 3 touchdowns, carry the ball 10 times for 110 yards (11.0 ypc) and return 16 kickoffs for 563 yards (35.2 average per return) including 2 for touchdowns. And that was all in just nine games! He looks like he has legitimate sub 4.45 speed to me and will likely be Kansas State’s primary deep threat on offense as well as their most dynamic kickoff return man this year. So while he may not be eligible for the draft this year, there is no way I could have left a playmaker as dynamic as Lockett off of this list.

Harper is flying a little under the radar thanks to Kansas State’s less than flashy passing game, but he is Klein’s go-to guy and projects to the NFL as a reliable possession type receiver.

Chris Harper, WR- Harper is widely considered Kansas State’s top wide receiver, and that was reflected in his statistics last season. He had 40 receptions (#2 WR had 21), 547 yards (#2 WR had 338) and 5 touchdowns (Lockett was #2 with 3, 5 were tied for #3 with 1 TD reception each). By catching 40 passes that meant that Harper caught almost 25% of Klein’s completions (40 of 161), accounted for 28.52% of the yards that Klein threw for (547 of 1,918) and accounted for 38.5% of the touchdowns that Klein threw (5 of 13). It may seem like I’m trying to skew the numbers to make Harper’s look more impressive, but the fact of the matter is Klein ran the ball 36 more times than he threw the ball last year and only threw for 470 more yards than he ran, yet had 14 more touchdowns rushing than he did passing. There just weren’t a ton of passes to go around, and it didn’t help that Klein only completed 57.3% of the 281 passes he attempted. Regardless, the 6’1”, 225 pound Harper figures to be the go-to guy for Klein again this season, and I think he has a shot at 50-60 receptions for 800 yards and 8 touchdowns if Klein continues to target him and if his accuracy improves at all. I don’t think Harper is going to be a top WR prospect even in a relatively weak WR class, but he has reliable hands to catch the ball outside his frame and while he isn’t a burner I think as he continues to improve his route running he will project pretty nicely as a possession receiver at the next level. Will he be a star? Probably not, but I think he will be a reliable WR who will be a pleasant surprise for whoever drafts him.

Tramaine Thompson, WR*- Tramaine Thompson is listed as a probable starter, but I think he will likely be Klein’s #3 option this season behind Harper and Lockett. Thompson was the 2nd on the team in receptions (21) and yardage (338) but that is largely due to the fact that Lockett missed the final 4 games and only finished with 3 fewer receptions and 88 fewer yards while scoring two more touchdowns. Thompson led the team in average per reception and certainly has the speed to threaten teams vertically, but at 5’7” 165 he is an even smaller target than Lockett and I’m not sure how reliable his hands are at this point. Kansas State is undeniably a run-first team so even though Kansas State has three legitimate pass catchers at receiver don’t expect Bill Snyder to demand that Kleinn throws for at least 3,000 yards. That means fewer targets for all of the receivers, and that includes Thompson.

Adam Davis, DE- Adam Davis teamed up with Meshak Williams to form a surprisingly formidable pass rushing duo last year, combining for 11 sacks (Davis had 4) and additional tackles for loss (Davis also had 4). There were a lot of questions surrounding Davis’ health at this time last year because of a severe back injury he suffered. Davis had a slipped disk and a pinched nerve in his back and after surgery he said he “couldn’t bend over because if I turned the wrong way it hit my nerve and sent pain down to my legs.” He worked hard and rehabbed from the injury and was still limited on August 18th when that interview was published, but despite all of that the 6’0”, 255 pound defensive end produced 34 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 4 sacks and 2 pass break-ups while starting all 13 games for the Wildcats. Now a senior and a year removed from the injury everything appears to be fine but that is something that NFL teams will certainly want to check out when they scout him after this upcoming season. Davis has quality burst off of the ball, flashed some impressive hand usage to keep linemen from locking him up and can blow by slow-footed offensive linemen if he can keep their hands off of him. He’s obviously very undersized and may need to move to outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, but Davis is one man I would not bet against. He worked very hard to come back from that back injury and he is all effort and hustle. He’s a player and I think he has a shot to double his production from his junior season, his first game action with the Wildcats after transferring from junior college. Don’t sleep on him because of his height!

Meshak Williams, DE- Williams is the defensive end with superior height at 6’3” but actually weighs less than his defensive end counterpart Adam Davis, tipping the scales at only 245 pounds. Williams has burst off the ball as well and he converted that into 28 tackles, 3 tackles for loss and a team-leading 7 sacks last season. He too was a junior college transfer and thanks to his height he will be considered more favorably as a possible 4-3 defensive end. Both Williams and Davis have things to improve as pass rushers, but they have the burst to intrigue evaluators as pass rushers and together the tandem has a legitimate chance to combine for 15-20 sacks next year. They should be fun to watch if they remain healthy.

Arthur Brown is one of the top senior linebacker prospects in the country and reminds me quite a bit of former Nebraska standout Lavonte David.

Arthur Brown, MLB- Brown is arguably the top NFL prospect on Kansas State. He will draw a lot of favorable comparisons to former Nebraska and current Tampa Bay Buccaneer linebacker Lavonte David thanks to their relative lack of size, impressive instincts, tackling and coverage skills. Because he is listed at 6’1”, 225 many will knock him for lacking size much like they did with David, but if he repeats his junior season (his first game action with Kansas State after transferring from Miami and sitting out in 2010) production with 101 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 2 pass break-ups and an interception then he could very well go in the 2nd round like Lavonte David did. Brown has the athleticism, instincts and quality fundamentals to be a quality weakside linebacker in the NFL and he is one of the top senior 4-3 linebackers in the nation.

Justin Tuggle, OLB- I saw the name Tuggle and just had to do some research to see if he was related to Jessie Tuggle and, in fact, he is. Justin is Jessie’s son and believe it or not he wasn’t a linebacker from birth. He was a quarterback (and a pretty good one) in high school and set school records in passing yards and passing touchdowns there. He started 3 games for Boston College at quarterback, throwing for 229 yards and 4 touchdowns. He left for Community College in 2010 before transferring to Kansas State for his junior season. He didn’t contribute much, only playing in 4 games on special teams and totaling one tackle against Texas A&M, but if for no other reason than because he is Jessie’s son he is someone to keep an eye on. He is listed at 6’3”, 227 pounds and apparently has transitioned very naturally to the outside linebacker position (should that surprise anyone? It flows in his blood) and is in an intense competition for the only vacant starting linebacker spot. I don’t know if he has won it for sure or not, but it sounded like he pulled ahead after the spring game where he was able to tally 4 tackles including one for loss. Arthur Brown had this to say about Tuggle’s performance: “He’s doing a great job,” Brown said. “When he’s out there running after the ball, you can tell he’s a great athlete. He definitely transferred all his offensive skills to defense. I think he has a lot more potential.” I, for one, am excited to see if Tuggle holds onto the job and if he is able to capitalize on his potential and his quality linebacking pedigree. The NFL could use another Tuggle.

Nigel Malone, CB- Malone really catches your attention when you watch him and when you look at his stat line. He may be listed at only 5’10”, 176 pounds but he isn’t afraid to come up to support the run (as evidenced by his 58 tackles) and he has some of the best ball skills of any defensive back in the conference, tallying 10 pass break-ups as well as 7 interceptions in his first season with the Wildcats. Malone isn’t a technician at cornerback quite yet, but he has pretty impressive instincts and clearly has a nose for the ball. He won’t blow people away with his measurables in my opinion, but once you watch him play you have to be impressed with how well he plays the ball. I’m very interested to see how he does now that he has a year of starting experience under his belt, and I think he is a legitimate top 100 pick coming into the season. If he’s coachable and if he works hard he can improve his technique and maybe add a little weight to his frame, but I don’t think you can teach ball skills, especially not one’s that enable you to tally 17 passes defended (including 7 interceptions) in your first season as a starter in a major football conference. Keep an eye on Malone, he’s a playmaker.

Allen Chapman, CB- Champan is the “other” senior corner returning as a starter for Kansas State. He is listed at 5’11”, 180 pounds and was another junior college transfer who had his first game action as a Wildcat last year as a junior. He started 7 games, played in all 13 and had 50 tackles, 4 pass deflections and 1 interception. He was solid, but was obviously overshadowed by Malone’s dynamic performance opposite him. I don’t know how good Champan’s prospects are, but with Malone opposite him it’s only a matter of time before teams get tired of him deflecting passes and at times intercepting them, so he will get tested this year. It will be interesting to see how he holds up.

Ty Zimmerman, SS*- Zimmerman is one of my favorite prospects on Kansas State and he really impressed me in coverage against a very good passing offense in the Cotton Bowl against Arkansas. He deflected two passes intended for their big tight end Chris Gragg thanks to his impressive instincts, athleticism and ball skills. A player with his football IQ, awareness, instincts and ability to make plays on the ball will be very popular once he is ready to leave for the NFL. He is entering his junior season this year and while I don’t expect him to leave he certainly will have the option to. He currently has 25 career starts and assuming Kansas State manages to make a bowl game, he could leave after this season with as many as 38 career starts if he stays healthy. That’s pretty amazing, and starting experience and awareness is something that talent evaluators love to see in safeties. They are the quarterbacks of the secondary and football IQ is very important for them, and Zimmerman has that in abundance in my opinion. Keep an eye on him, he may not have gaudy statistics (he only has 5 career interceptions coming into the season) but he is without a doubt a NFL safety.

From now until the season starts I will be previewing the prospects from Big-12, ACC and Big East teams for the upcoming season (and I apologize that I haven’t gotten one done in a while!). My colleague at NFL Draft Monsters Justin Higdon (follow him on Twitter @afc2nfc) will be covering the SEC, Pac-12 and Big-10 and you will be able to read those posts on NFL Draft Monsters. Check them all out to get ready for the 2013 NFL Draft by identifying the prospects you need to learn about!

Today I am previewing TCU. TCU hasn’t had the easiest of offseasons due to their drug related issues, especially pertaining to the drug bust that occurred last February. That hurt their depth and put them under the microscope when they already had plenty of eyes on them after agreeing to go to the Big-East, then changing course again when a spot in the Big-12 opened up. The step up in competition alone is intriguing enough to keep an eye on, but with the added unwanted attention from a drug scandal TCU has plenty of people watching them this year. Luckily they return plenty of talent on offense, particularly at quarterback with Casey Pachall, running back with Waymon James and Matthew Tucker, and wide receiver with Josh Boyce, Skye Dawson and Brandon Carter. Their offensive line has been gutted though, and they don’t have much returning experience outside of senior right guard Blaize Foltz. The offense should fit in pretty well with the Big-12 though, as they can run the ball effectively and air it out quite well due to their talent at the skill positions.

Contrary to what has been Patterson’s mantra at TCU, the offense is expected to be the stronger of the two units, not the defense as has been customary. The defense was gutted as well thanks to graduation and in part the drug bust, and now they have plenty of question marks throughout the defense. The lone standout remaining is defensive end Stansly Maponga, who had 9 sacks last year and is TCU’s best bet to put any pressure on Big-12 offenses that, traditionally, love to pass the ball. TCU’s defense won’t be awful, especially since Patterson is a very good coach and a bright defensive mind, but there will likely be some significant growing pains in the first 4-6 weeks of the season. That means it is all the more imperative that Pachall and the offense get off to a strong start right off the bat, so the defense can get their feet under them. There are some speculating that TCU could have a 10+ win season this year, but I think 8 or maybe 9 is more realistic. I think they will drop a couple Big-12 games thanks to their defense, and while their offense has plenty of talent at the skill positions I think Pachall will be under considerably more pressure this year than he was as a sophomore thanks to the turnover on the offensive line. With that said, here are TCU’s prospects to keep an eye on:

Pachall has plenty of arm talent, but his inconsistent mechanics (such as his release, which dips to his waist) and varying release angles can hurt his accuracy.

Casey Pachall, QB*- Pachall is entering his junior season and his second full season as a starter with pretty lofty expectations considering what he was able to accomplish as a first year starter, replacing the revered Andy Dalton no less. He threw for a TCU record 2,921 yards (and completed 67% of his passes while doing so) as well as 25 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. Not bad for your first 13 games as a starter. But he will have an even bigger test this year as he returns to a team with plenty of skill position talent on offense, but a lot of question marks along his offensive line and throughout his defense. That means there will be more pressure on Pachall, both to be a leader and to be even more productive, but also literally when he drops back to pass. Pachall has the size, the arm strength and the athleticism that you want in a quarterback standing at 6’5”, 216 pounds and having the mobility to extend plays when flushed from the pocket, threaten defenses if they don’t respect him on zone-read plays, and pick up yardage if the defense gets too far upfield and doesn’t keep an eye on him in man coverage. His accuracy is good, not great, but when I’ve watched him there haven’t been many throws that have been way off target despite his inconsistent mechanics.

Pachall has plenty of raw talent, the question is will he be able to master the mental part of the game as well as the mechanical aspect. His throwing motion could use tweaking, and he doesn’t consistently throw with the same mechanics. There are times when he stands tall in the pocket and delivers a throw and takes a hit as a result, and there are other times when he fades away from the pressure, rushes his throwing motion and throws an inaccurate pass in the face of the pass rush. He definitely has a live arm and can make all the throws from an arm strength standpoint, but I haven’t been impressed with his ability to identify pressure pre-snap, or to make adjustments at the line of scrimmage. This likely has a lot to do with him being a sophomore in his first season as a starter, but it’s still something I took notice of and want to see him improve now that he has a year of starting experience under his belt. Pachall has shown that he can make big throws when his team needs them, whether it’s on 3rd down or late in a game (see 2011 game against Boise State) but his gunslinger mentality also opens him up to errant throws and mistakes. He clearly trusts his arm and also his receivers (most notably Josh Boyce) and it will be interesting to see if that mentality and trust gets him in any more trouble against improved Big-12 competition this season.

Overall, Pachall impressed me with his tools, but playing quarterback is about a lot more than just having the size and arm talent to make the throws. As Trent Dilfer would say during the Elite 11 camp: “Right now, you’re a butcher, and you’re good enough to get away with just being a butcher. But I want you to be a surgeon, and that part comes from the mental aspect of the game.” That’s not a direct quote, but it’s the gist of what he told a college-bound QB from last year’s Elite 11 and it applies quite well to Pachall. Pachall is talented enough to not make great pre-snap reads, not work to improve his mechanics, not identify blitzes or his hot reads that well, and make throws without much anticipation and get away with it. But if he wants to take the next step and eventually be a NFL quarterback he needs to become a master of his offense, make checks at the line of scrimmage and make better pre-snap reads. He’s flashed the ability to come off of his primary receiver and scan the field which was encouraging, but I’d like to see more of that. Pachall and TCU will be under a microscope not only because they are moving into the Big-12, but because of all the drug issues TCU has been having recently (which resulted in Pachall admitting that he had used in marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy, though Patterson noted that Pachall “has passed 24 other drug tests that had been administered, including six since the failed test in February). Pachall isn’t the clean-cut choir boy that Andy Dalton was, but that’s not something you love to hear about the face of your football program. That news created quite a buzz on Twitter, but it shouldn’t result in a suspension of any kind for Pachall unless he continues to use them and fails a drug test, which to this point he hasn’t.

Waymon James, RB*- I have to say I’m a fan of Waymon James, but not just because of his on-field talent, but because his first name really cracks me up. That said, thanks to Ed Wesley’s departure for the Supplemental Draft earlier this summer, James and Matthew Tucker figure to get a lot more carries this season. Last year the carry load was distributed remarkably evenly (James with 121 attempts, Wesley with 120 attempts, and Tucker with 123 attempts). With Wesley and the 120 carries he accounted for last year now gone, James and Tucker figure to account for the majority of those touches. James is another shorter back, listed at only 5’8” but tipping the scales at an impressive 203 pounds. He clearly has a lot of lower leg strength, he catches the ball well out of the backfield and he has plenty of burst and straight line speed as well. He runs through arm tackles easily thanks to his lower body strength and ability to churn his legs and has the shiftiness to make guys miss and break off longer runs. I really like James and I think he should be featured heavily in TCU’s offense this year. He’s a smaller back, yes, but he can run between the tackles, break tackles, get tough yards in addition to providing burst, speed, and pass catching out of the backfield.

Matthew Tucker, RB- Tucker is the relative “thunder” to James’ lightning as he stands at 6’1”, 227 pounds and runs with some authority. He doesn’t go down to arm tackles and while I doubt he has much more than 4.5 speed he can rumble for big gains once he gets past the 2nd level. He is a senior this year and perhaps due to his size as well as his experience TCU likes to use him to pass block on 3rd down situations and seems to do a solid job. I’m not sure how great Tucker’s NFL prospects are at this point, but he is no slouch out of that TCU backfield. With Wesley gone, I imagine TCU will feature James and Tucker quite frequently with a couple of younger backs mixed in as well.

I’m a big fan of Josh Boyce, and I think he is ready to have a 1,000+ yard, 12+ TD season in the Big-12.

Josh Boyce, WR*- I have to say I am a big fan of Josh Boyce and I think he is my favorite NFL Draft prospect on TCU’s entire roster. Last season as a sophomore the 5’11”, 203 pound receiver caught 61 passes for 998 yards and 9 touchdowns and was undeniably Pachall’s go-to guy when he needed a big play or a crucial conversion. Boyce has very reliable hands and they are strong enough to rip the ball away when a defender contests him for a reception. He may not be a huge receiver, but he is pretty filled out and does a good job tracking and timing his leaps on 50/50 balls. He has shown that he can high point the ball and catches the ball very well with his hands outside of his frame. I don’t think he has 4.4 flat speed, but I think he is in that 4.45-4.5 range which is more than adequate to transition into the NFL when he chooses to leave TCU (either this year after his junior year or after he graduates as a senior. It would be fun to watch him and Pachall stay for two more years). Boyce may not be the biggest or the fastest, but he is a playmaker with great hands who runs good routes and is a well-rounded receiver. Will he be a #1 WR in the NFL? Probably not, but I think he can be a good slot receiver and perhaps even a quality #2. I am really looking forward to watching him this year.

Skye Dawson, WR- Dawson may not be as good of a prospect as Boyce, but plenty of people have their eyes on him now that he is a senior. He’s only listed at 5’9, 183 pounds but he compensates for that lack of size with dynamic speed. Whether he actually has sub 4.4 speed or not, his speed and burst is clear on the field and he is certainly dangerous any time he gets the ball in his hands, particularly in space. But that is the problem with Dawson, actually getting the ball in his hands. He has very questionable hands in my opinion and I have seen a number of passes hit him right in the hands and fall to the turf, including a TERRIBLE drop vs. Louisiana Tech on a ball that, had he caught it, could have been a 90 yard touchdown. Dawson has speed to burn, but if he continues to body catch and struggle to catch passes outside of his frame it is going to limit him as a receiver and make him less attractive to NFL scouts. He has flashed some ability as a kick returner, and although he only has 7 career returns he has 182 career yards, a 26 yard average per return. Now that Greg McCoy has graduated, perhaps he will get more opportunities to show he can be a difference maker as a return man as well.

Blaize Foltz, OG- Foltz is arguably TCU’s top returning offensive lineman, and boy will they need him since they lost so much experience up front. Foltz is a big, strong offensive guard who is listed at 6’4”, 310 pounds and is well known for his absurd weight room strength. Foltz does a pretty good job of translating this to the field, as he has impressive phone-booth strength and can drive opponents off the ball when he gets his hands on them and keeps his pads low. His downfall is when he is asked to be mobile, such as pulling or getting out on screens. He looks slow and struggles to quickly change direction when a fast defender closes nearby him and may struggle to mirror faster defensive linemen that can keep him off balance. Oftentimes when he gets his hands on a defender the play is over for him, but it will be interesting to see how he does against bigger and faster defensive linemen in the Big-12. He’s a good drive blocker, but I have questions about him as a puller and as a pass blocker right now.

Maponga may not be well known thus far, but he had 9 sacks last season and may be ready for another break-out campaign as a member of the Big-12 conference this season.

Stansly Maponga, DE*- Maponga has been on my radar for a long time now, I noticed him as a freshman and he is coming into his junior season this year. He’s a little undersized at 6’2” but is listed at 265 pounds which is impressive. He’s got some burst off the ball and fairly long arms for his size, but I am very interested to see if he can replicate his production (55 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 9 sacks and an impressive 5 forced fumbles) at a higher level of competition in the Big-12. He has some speed and burst, but right now he is still a mid-round guy for me. I like him, but he isn’t an elite pass rusher yet in my eyes. If TCU is going to hang with the Big-12’s best, they are going to need Maponga to terrorize opposing backfields. The defensive end opposite him, senior Ross Forrest, isn’t a special pass rusher by any means and mostly accumulates stats as a result of his motor. The Big-12 traditionally has a lot of high-flying passing attacks, so if TCU is going to compete for a 9+ win season their defense is going to have to step up. That means Maponga will have to replicate his production from a year ago.

Kenny Cain, OLB/S- Cain isn’t an elite NFL Draft prospect, but he is TCU’s leading returning tackler as a senior with 72 tackles (he actually led the team in tackles last year, totaling 2 more than Tekerrein Cuba and Tank Carder) while also adding 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 4 pass break-ups and an interception. He’s undersized at 6’1, 210 pounds and is a bit of a linebacker/safety hybrid, but if he continues to be a productive tackler and if he can demonstrate competency on special teams he will have a shot as an undrafted free agent if nothing else.

Jason Verrett, CB*- Verrett is a 5’10”, 180 pound corner whose first season with TCU after transferring from a junior college school was pretty productive. He had 58 tackles (the most of any corner for TCU since 2001 according to Phil Steele), 1.5 TFL, 4 pass break-ups and an interception. I haven’t seen him play much, but coming into his junior season he will definitely be on my radar.

From now until the season starts I will be previewing the prospects from Big-12, ACC and Big East teams for the upcoming season. My colleague at NFL Draft Monsters Justin Higdon (follow him on Twitter @afc2nfc) will be covering the SEC, Pac-12 and Big-10 and you will be able to read those posts on NFL Draft Monsters. Check them all out to get ready for the 2013 NFL Draft by identifying the prospects you need to learn about!

Today I am previewing West Virginia. The Mountaineers had a good season last year finishing 10-3 with a huge exclamation point 70-33 win against Clemson in the Orange Bowl. Geno Smith was already a legitimate NFL QB prospect by then, but he returned for his senior season and is one of the top senior quarterback prospects in the country. He returns two of the best receivers in college football in Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, as well as sophomore running back Dustin Garrison who ran for 742 yards, 5.5 ypc and 5 touchdowns as a freshman while also catching 24 passes for 201 yards out of the backfield. WVU has plenty of skill position talent, and if their offensive line can give Smith some time he will carve up defenses again this year. The offense returns 8 starters and figures to be the strength of this team, led by their potent passing attack.

West Virginia was never really known for their defense under Rich Rodriguez, but last season they gave up the most points per game of any Mountaineer defense since at least 2005. They allowed 26.8 ppg and almost 350 offensive yards per game, though they only returned 4 starters. This year they return 6, but have lost their best pass rusher Bruce Irvin to the NFL Draft. They have one defensive player returning with more than 2 sacks, and that is linebacker/safety Terence Garvin, who comes into his senior season after 3.5 sacks as a junior. West Virginia ran a 3-3-5 last season, which is not my favorite defense, but they are switching to a 3-4 this season. That will be a transition, and while they have some talent I’m not convinced the players they have are a great scheme fit for this new 3-4 defense. Regardless, I am hoping Terence Garvin will emerge as a quality pass rush option, because without someone to fill the void vacated by Bruce Irvin as well as Julian Miller I think the secondary might have some problems. I like Brodrick Jenkins and Darwin Cook, but I’m not sold on Pat Miller and Travis Bell. The defense is a question mark for me coming into 2012, especially considering all the passing offenses that WVU will face in the Big-12. With Oklahoma and Landry Jones, TCU and Casey Pachall, Texas Tech and Seth Doege, there are some high octane pass offenses in this conference. Luckily they moved in the year after Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden were commanding offenses, and unless Nick Florence (Griffin’s replacement at Baylor) has a lot of tricks up his sleeve Baylor will not be as explosive as they were last year. Texas A&M has moved to the SEC, and Oklahoma State is replacing Weeden with a true freshman quarterback as of now. Still, the Big-12 knows how to move the ball and without a pass rush WVU will struggle in this conference. Luckily, Tavon Austin is one of the top return men in the nation thanks to his 36 returns for 938 yards (26.1 avg) and 2 touchdowns as well as 19 punt returns for 268 yards (14.1 avg). I think West Virginia has a good shot at 8+ wins, but games like an away game at Texas, Kansas State at home, TCU at home and Oklahoma at home figure to be serious tests. With that, here is my prospect preview for West Virginia:

Geno Smith is one of the top senior quarterbacks in the nation and has the potential to be drafted in the top 10 next April.

Geno Smith, QB- Geno Smith is one of the top quarterback prospects eligible for the 2013 NFL Draft. I will have a full-length scouting report up on him eventually, but as of right now the 6’3” 214 pound senior looks like a rock solid pick to be a 1st round selection in the 2013 Draft. He has the requisite arm strength, ball velocity, accuracy, poise in the pocket, football IQ and intangibles to be a top 10 selection come April. The only questions that remain about Smith are related to the offense he plays in which features a lot of quick throws such as bubble screens and swing passes and also involves playing from the shotgun on the vast majority of the plays he runs. These are legitimate concerns, but I think Smith has the talent and the work ethic to overcome them unlike other spread offense QB’s in the past. Smith is a legitimate NFL talent and I can’t wait to see what he can do in the Big-12 this season.

Tavon Austin, WR- Austin is widely regarded as one of the top senior WR’s in the 2013 Draft class and it’s not hard to see why. Despite being listed at only 5’9”, 174 pounds Austin caught 101 passes for 1,186 yards and 8 touchdowns, ran 16 times for 196 yards and 1 touchdown and also returned 36 kickoffs for 938 yards (26.1 avg) and 2 scores in addition to returning 19 punts for 268 yards and a 14.1 average per return. That’s a lot of versatility, playmaking ability, and remarkable consistency. He’s definitely got NFL speed, burst, acceleration and playmaking ability after the catch, but his lack of size and his inconsistent hands concern me. I’ve watched a number of passes bounce right off his hands, and from what I have gathered they seem to be concentration related rather than issues with his hands. Some WVU faithful (and perhaps even his Head Coach Dana Holgorsen) have questioned his effort level at times when he isn’t the primary target and that concerns me. He didn’t show any of those effort level questions in the bowl game shellacking of Clemson, but they had reportedly returned for West Virginia’s spring game. Austin has game-breaking NFL ability, but questions about his effort level and concentration definitely concern me.

Bailey may not be as widely known as Tavon Austin, but he is just as much of a big play threat and has just as much upside in my opinion.

Stedman Bailey, WR*- Bailey is the “other” explosive receiver on West Virginia. Standing at 5’10”, 194 pounds Bailey is bigger than Tavon Austin but doesn’t lack for explosiveness either. In fact, despite catching 29 fewer passes (72 for Bailey, 101 for Austin) he had more yardage (1,279 to 1,186) and touchdowns (12 to 8) despite being a redshirt sophomore. Entering his junior season he has been left off the Maxwell Award Watch list while Geno Smith and Tavon Austin were both selected, leading him to tweet “I still got a lot to prove I see… #Motivation.” I like to see that from a player, even if it is because of an individual award. Bailey is without a doubt a NFL player, and if you doubt that then go watch him against LSU. He scored a touchdown on Morris Claiborne, the #6 overall pick by the Dallas Cowboys, in that game (pictured to the right). He’s explosive and has a lot of upside, but I hope he stays out of trouble. I found an article talking about Bailey being cited for attempting to steal a bottle of Theraflu for $4.99. He wasn’t arrested, and it’s not a big deal in the whole scheme of things, but I’m sure it raises eyebrows that he didn’t just pay for the cough medicine. Regardless, no judgment here, but when I found it while researching him I thought it warranted a mention. Keep an eye out for Bailey this year, I expect another 70+ catch, 1,000+ yard 10+ TD season from him. If he manages that I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if he left early for the NFL Draft since Geno Smith and Tavon Austin will both be graduating.

Joe Madsen, C- Madsen is West Virginia’s longest tenured offensive lineman, starting 38 games (every game he has played in he has started) over the last 3 years all at center. He is listed at 6’4”, 310 pounds and definitely has impressive size for a center. He isn’t a great NFL prospect because he doesn’t seem to anchor that well in 1 on 1 situations, he doesn’t look like he has very long arms and lets defenders get into his pads too much. He is a solid run blocker, but he isn’t a great pass blocker in my opinion. He has the potential to get drafted because of his size, experience and football IQ thanks to his vast playing experience, but he leaves something to be desired with his technique.

Jeff Braun, RG- Braun is West Virginia’s second most experienced offensive lineman but I’m not particularly impressed with him either. He has NFL size at 6’4”, 321 pounds and was playing at left guard when his more “natural” position is right guard, but I wasn’t overly impressed with his technique either and I think he is a late round prospect much like Madsen at this point. He has 38 career starts just like Madsen, and that should help the interior offensive line now that Josh Jenkins is returning from injury (Jenkins has 24 career starts as well) but I don’t think any of them will earn grades higher than late round/UDFA unless their play improves significantly as seniors.

Will Clarke, DE*- Clarke was playing a little out of position in West Virginia’s 3-3-5 as a defensive end and now that West Virginia is going to be running a 3-4 defense he is going to be playing out of position again as a down lineman in that scheme. That isn’t to say he can’t do it, but I don’t think it plays to his strengths. He doesn’t anchor that well since he is 6’6”, 269 pounds and would likely be a better fit as a DE in a 4-3 or perhaps even as an outside linebacker in a 3-4. He has some get-off and despite being outweighed by 40-60 pounds by most guards and tackles he goes up against he can drive them back with a bull-rush initially, and flashes some hand usage and the awareness to stay at home on bootlegs, etc. He doesn’t seem like an ideal fit in a 3-4 though because he drops his head and doesn’t locate the ball very well when being blocked despite his height. And while he flashes some hand usage he can be controlled by bigger, stronger tackles at times. He’s athletic and has some quickness to him, but he will likely be playing very much out of position again for West Virginia this year. If he still makes plays despite it while also maintaining gap integrity then he is going to be on a lot of NFL radars.

Garvin was a safety/linebacker hybrid in West Virginia’s 3-3-5 defense last year, but will be moving to the outside linebacker spot in their 3-4 this year. He is the returning sack leader on the Mountaineer defense, so he may be their best bet to replace some of the pass rush they lost when Bruce Irvin and Julian Miller graduated.

Terence Garvin, OLB- Garvin is a 6’3”, 223 pound senior linebacker/safety who is going to be lining up as an outside linebacker in West Virginia’s new 3-4 defense. He was playing a hybrid position last season, and now they have chosen to let him continue to play off the edge as a 3-4 outside linebacker. He’s not big enough to play that in the NFL (yet) but he certainly has plenty of speed, burst and closing speed to be an impressive NFL linebacker. He seems to have pretty good instincts and is a good tackler as well, breaking down well in the open field when I have seen him and tackling effectively while also showing the potential to be a big hitter. He has the frame to add weight and I haven’t seen him engage and shed blocks much due to his size, but he definitely has upside as a linebacker.

Brodrick Jenkins, CB*- Jenkins is West Virginia’s top returning corner as he started opposite Keith Tandy towards the end of his sophomore year last season (4 games started but he played in all 13). He was second in pass break-ups with 8 (Tandy had 9) and also had 2 interceptions in his first season with any starting experience. He has NFL speed, has showed the ability to jam, turn and run, and also closes quickly on plays he reads in front of him. He has some instincts and ball skills, and I think he warrants some attention in what figures to be his first full season as a starter.

Darwin Cook, SS*- Cook is returning for his second season as a starter and the 5’11”, 204 pound strong safety finished with 85 tackles, 4 pass break-ups and 2 interceptions in 13 starts. It’s tough to get a great feel for his game because of poor camera angles for DB’s, but he was productive as a sophomore and figures to be just as productive as a junior.

From now until the season starts I will be previewing the prospects from Big-12, ACC and Big East teams for the upcoming season. My colleague at NFL Draft Monsters Justin Higdon (follow him on Twitter @afc2nfc) will be covering the SEC, Pac-12 and Big-10 and you will be able to read those posts on NFL Draft Monsters. Check them all out to get ready for the 2013 NFL Draft by identifying the prospects you need to learn about!

Next up I am covering the Texas Longhorns. The Longhorns had an underwhelming season by their standards in 2011, finishing 8-5 with a bowl victory over Cal for their 8th win of the season. The Longhorns season was defined by their quarterback controversy, originally starting Garrett Gilbert before they started a merry-go-round between Sophomore QB Case McCoy and True Freshman David Ash. McCoy was regarded as the better passer, and put up better passing numbers, but neither was convincing enough to get Mack Brown to name them the starting quarterback outright. However, David Ash appears to be in the lead after the spring, partially due to a better performance (based on what I saw) in the Spring Game. As the saying goes “when you have two quarterbacks, you really have none” and if Texas cycles between Ash and McCoy again this season their offense will never get off the ground. They have plenty of talent at running back with Malcolm Brown, Joe Bergeron, Johnathan Gray and Jeremy Hillis all figuring to get some touches throughout the season. They return some talent at receiver as well with Jaxon Shipley, Mike Davis, Marquise Goodwin and speedster DJ Monroe. I also think their offensive line will be much better this season thanks to the addition of JUCO offensive tackle Donald Hawkins, who looks like a legitimate NFL prospect at left tackle. That caused a shuffle of returning starters on the line, leaving Trey Hopkins, a 2011 starter at right tackle, moving inside to left guard, and Josh Cochran, a 2011 starter at left tackle, moving to the right side. Dominic Espinosa and Mason Walters remain at center and right guard respectively, and outside of Hawkins Texas has four returning starters along the offensive line. That should really help their running game and their pass protection of either Ash or McCoy at quarterback.

The strength of the team figures to be the defense though, led by stars such as Alex Okafor, Jackson Jeffcoat, Jordan Hicks, Carrington Byndom, Quandre Diggs and Kenny Vaccaro. The defensive line looks to be ferocious as usual with Okafor and Jeffcoat manning the defensive end spots and another talented JUCO transfer Brandon Moore replacing Kheeston Randall at nose tackle with Ashton Dorsey emerging as the starter at the three technique. The linebacking core has the most to replace as they lost stalwarts Emmanuel Acho and Keenan Robinson, but Jordan Hicks looks to have fantastic upside there to help hold the unit together. Their secondary is as talented as ever with the star corner tandem of Carrington Byndom and Quandre Diggs at corner along with talented freshman Duke Thomas pushing for playing time. Kenny Vaccaro is the top safety on the team, and one of my favorite draft prospects at the position. Adrian Phillips will start opposite him, but sophomore Mykkele Thompson has been pushing him in the spring and had a kick return for a touchdown in the Spring Game. I’m not sure what to expect from their special teams, but they have plenty of potential return men in Jaxon Shipley, DJ Monroe and Mykkele Thompson, among others. This Longhorn squad will go as far as the offense can take them, as the defense figures to be extremely difficult to pass on thanks to their talented pass rushers and elite secondary. Here is the prospect summary for this 2012 Longhorn squad:

Ash may not be a good passer yet, but he has adequate arm strength and athleticism for the position. Not only that, he has clearly progressed since last season while Case McCoy continues to make similar mistakes.

David Ash, QB**- I didn’t want to include true sophomores in this post, but Ash, Shipley and Quandre Diggs made it impossible not to. Ash is the least talented of the three right now in my opinion, but the 6’3”, 222 pound quarterback looks like the odds on favorite to be the starter in 2012, particularly because Case McCoy did not impress me much in the Spring Game. Ash has the stronger arm and more athletic ability, but as he continues to become more comfortable in the offense I think his accuracy will start to improve. He showed much better decision making in the Spring Game and started to just take what the defense was giving him instead of forcing the issue, which is important for his development. I’m not sure he will ever be a great NFL prospect, but his success this season will be a critical factor in whether Texas is competing for the Big-12 title or whether they are a borderline bowl eligible team again.

Jaxon Shipley, WR**- I wanted to leave Shipley off this list very badly, but I just couldn’t do it. He’s too talented. He is Texas’ best returning receiver in my opinion, finishing just one catch short of the team lead with Mike Davis (Davis had 45, Shipley had 44 as a true freshman), he was 2 yards short of the team lead for receiving yardage (Davis had 609, Shipley had 607) and was tied for the team lead with 3 touchdowns. He made a lot of plays last year despite the musical chairs at the quarterback position, and with David Ash looking like the 2012 starter at quarterback Shipley should have plenty of opportunities to get on the same page with him and make even more plays. He offers a lot of versatility as a dangerous receiver, return man, and is a threat to throw the deep ball on gadget plays as he showed in the bowl game against Cal and in the 2012 Spring Game where he threw a perfect touchdown pass to Mike Davis. Shipley may only be a true sophomore, but he has NFL written all over him.

D.J. Monroe, WR- Monroe is a 5’9”, 175 pound senior and while he won’t be a starter at wide receiver I think he warrants NFL consideration because of his impressive speed and his versatility. He is learning to play receiver exclusively so that Texas can run their sweep play with him without it being a give-away every time he is on the field. If he gets opportunities in the return game I think he can prove to be an impact player there as he was in 2009 when he returned only 16 kickoffs for 537 yards (33.56 avg) and 2 touchdowns. He hasn’t been as effective since, but he has game-breaking speed and any time he gets the ball in his hands he can take it the distance. That’s exactly why I think he will catch some eyes as both a receiver, a runner and as a kick returner if he gets enough touches.

Donald Hawkins looks like he has definite left tackle potential and should help anchor a talented Longhorns offensive line this season.

Donald Hawkins, LT*- Hawkins is a JUCO transfer who stands at 6’5”, 310 pounds and based on what I have seen he has legitimate NFL potential as a left tackle prospect. He moves VERY well for a man his size, showing some burst off the snap and impressive change of direction ability for a 310 pound man. He has very impressive burst into his pass set out of the two point stance, and flashes some ability to anchor. He moves very well for such a big man, gets to the second level easily and locates defenders and blocks them effectively. Needs some work technique wise, and he’s clearly raw, but he has immense upside. At times he opens up his hips a bit too early, making him vulnerable to the inside move. Seems to mirror defenders pretty well, but has more than enough foot speed and athleticism to take away speed rush without having to open hips so early. I’d like to see him finish blocks better, but he clearly flashes left tackle athleticism and impressive mobility in the run game. I’m very excited to see how he does in his first season as a starter right out of JUCO. Keep an eye on him.

Mason Walters, RG*- Walters is a 6’6”, 315 pound guard with room for additional mass on his large frame. He comes into his junior season with an amazing 25 career starts all at right guard. Not only does he have a ton of starting experience for a junior, he also snaps at center during the spring. That versatility certainly appeals to NFL evaluators, as does his experience. He could stand to get bigger and fill out his frame, as he looks pretty skinny at only 315 pounds (it feels weird to type that). He is the most experienced starter on Texas’ offensive line, so it will be interesting to see how he does as a junior.

Trey Hopkins, LG*- Hopkins is listed at 6’4”, 298 pounds and has moved inside to left guard after starting 13 games at right tackle last season. Haven’t been able to get a great feel for his game, but he has 17 career starts coming into his junior season and should get a lot of attention as scouts flock to games to see Texas’ defense, but also their impressive left tackle Donald Hawkins.

Alex Okafor definitely has NFL potential, but I don’t think I see an elite NFL pass rusher when I watch him.

Alex Okafor, DE- Okafor has 4-3 defensive end size at 6’5”, 260 pounds. He has the athleticism to drop into coverage when asked, so I think he can play OLB in a 3-4 or DE in a 4-3. I don’t think he has as much burst/explosion out of a two point stance as he does with his hand in the dirt. Unfortunately, he doesn’t look like he has a lot of edge speed to me. He looks like more of a 4-3 LE to me than a guy you want to rely on for 8-10 sacks and consistent pressure. He doesn’t have elite explosion off the ball and he seems to be more of a fundamentally sound, hard working player rather than a physical freak in my opinion. I’d like to see him dominate more blocks, particularly when he is only being blocked by tight ends in the running game. He has good awareness and a good motor, and plenty of athleticism as well as long arms, but I don’t see the bend and elite explosion to make him a top draft pick. I think his future is at left end in a 4-3 or at strong side linebacker in a 3-4 defense. I think as he gets a bit stronger he will be better versus the run, and if he improves on his flashes of hand usage I think he will be more effective. Okafor has plenty of NFL upside, I’m just not convinced it will be at the right end position in a 4-3 defense.

Jackson Jeffcoat, DE*- Jeffcoat is the more explosive, high upside half of Texas’ elite defensive end duo. Jeffcoat has more edge speed and burst than Okafor does, but outside of his speed rush I don’t see much to like about Jeffcoat’s pass rushing. The 6’5”, 250 pounder has the speed to get the edge versus most college tackles but struggled to do so versus Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M’s impressive left tackle. And when he can’t win with his speed rush he is largely rendered ineffective. He doesn’t have much else in his repertoire and gets taken out of the play once he is engaged. He was very productive last season, especially in the 2nd half of the year, where he totaled all 8 of his sacks in the last 7 games and had a sack in 6 of the last 7 games Texas played, only coming up empty versus Texas A&M on Thanksgiving (against a NFL caliber left tackle). He had 3.5 TFL and 0 sacks in Texas’ first 6 games, and that leads me to believe his best football is awaiting him in his junior season at Texas. He needs to add pass rush moves to his repertoire, get stronger and improve his hand usage for that to happen though.

Brandon Moore, DT*- Moore looks to play a little upright which negates his listed size of 6’5”, 335 pounds, though he doesn’t look like he weighs that much on film. If he does weigh that much, he looks to carry it pretty well. He shows some burst off the ball and has flashed the ability to split double teams as a pass rusher, and has reportedly shown the anchor and lower body strength to make himself very difficult to move versus the run. He flashes some awareness and change of direction ability, though I’m not sure how good his motor is. If Moore can anchor the nose tackle position vacated by Kheeston Randall and provide not only a plugger in the middle to help clog up running lanes but also demand double teams as a pass rusher life will be a lot easier for the smaller, quicker Ashton Dorsey inside.

Ashton Dorsey, DT*- Dorsey is only listed at 6’2”, 295 pounds but he makes up for his lack of ideal size with impressive athleticism. He is quick off the ball and shows that he can be disruptive, and managed 6 tackles for loss and 1 sack as a sophomore in 2011 despite only starting 4 games. He is the man at the 3 tech position now though, and could be one of the key cogs on a very talented defensive line. I don’t think he will be ready to make the jump even if he has a big season this year, but he certainly has a chance to be put on the NFL radar thanks to Texas’ duo of talented defensive ends Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat.

Jordan Hicks has superstar potential at linebacker, and figures to pick up where Keenan Robinson left off at linebacker for Texas.

Jordan Hicks, OLB*- Hicks is listed at 6’2”, 235 pounds and from all I have read he has superstar potential at outside linebacker. He has shown ability in coverage, as a blitzer, and returns with 65 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack and four pass deflections in 8 starts last season as a sophomore. He had the best game of his young career in the bowl game against Cal as he totaled 7 total tackles (5 solo), 2.5 tackles for loss (including 1.5 sacks) and a pass break-up against the Golden Bears. He has reportedly had a great spring, and seems to be ready to pick up where Keenan Robinson and Emmanuel Acho left off.

Carrington Byndom, CB*- Byndom certainly looks like he’s going to be the next quality NFL corner in a long line of quality NFL corners to come out of Texas. He stands at 6’0”, 180 pounds, has impressive speed, closing burst, instincts and ball skills. He had 58 tackles, 8 TFL (amazing for a corner), 15 pass break-ups and 2 interceptions as a sophomore. He only has 13 career starts, all coming as a sophomore, but if he has another impressive season this year he could very well be a top 40 draft pick.

Quandre Diggs, CB**- Diggs is only a sophomore, and a true sophomore at that, but I just couldn’t leave him off this list. That’s how good he is. As a true freshman the 5’10”, 200 pound corner was 2nd Team All Big-12, had 51 tackles, 4 TFL, 15 pass break-ups and 4 interceptions. Clearly quarterbacks figured out that there was no sense in challenging him to avoid passing at Byndom, as Diggs and Byndom combined to break up 30 passes and intercept 6, forming one of the top cornerback tandems in the nation. That tandem figures to only get better this season, especially since Texas has ANOTHER talented true freshman corner who has been impressive in the spring by the name of Duke Thomas. Keep an eye on all three of these corners, because they are going to make it very difficult for opposing offenses to pass on them, especially with all the talent they have on the defensive line.

Kenny Vaccaro, FS- Vaccaro is the most experienced member of the Texas secondary with 19 starts coming into his senior season. He’s a ball-hawk and a playmaker, and has demonstrated the ability to be a playmaker in coverage, versus he run and as a blitzer. He returns as Texas’ leading tackler with 82 tackles, 6 TFL, 2 sacks, 8 pass deflections and 2 interceptions. He stands at 6’1”, 215 pounds and as if it wasn’t hard enough to pass on Texas’ talented cornerbacks, Vaccaro makes it even more difficult roaming in the defensive backfield. I think Vaccaro has top 50 pick written all over him if he continues to play like he did last season.

From now until the season starts I will be previewing the prospects from Big-12, ACC and Big East teams for the upcoming season. My colleague at NFL Draft Monsters Justin Higdon (follow him on Twitter @afc2nfc) will be covering the SEC, Pac-12 and Big-10 and you will be able to read those posts on NFL Draft Monsters. Check them all out to get ready for the 2013 NFL Draft by identifying the prospects you need to learn about!

First up for me is Oklahoma. They are a popular pick to win the Big-12, but I am not so sure. I don’t trust Landry Jones at quarterback even though he accumulates attractive stats. Not only that, but the Sooners return ONE receiver with any starting experience what-so-ever in college football. They will be completely reliant on young freshman receivers to take the pressure off of him, and we all saw how Jones did when his #1 target Ryan Broyles went down at the end of the 2011 season. They have talent at RB and their offensive line is good, but they lost their top two pass rushers in Frank Alexander and Ronnell Lewis and they don’t return a single defender with 6 or more sacks (their leaders have 5.5, 4.5 and 3.5). They have a very good secondary highlighted by Tony Jefferson and Demontre Hurst, and Tom Wort anchors the defense at middle linebacker, but I am concerned that the Sooners won’t be able to generate a pass rush without blitzing. That will make things more difficult for their secondary, and I don’t know how their run defense will be. Overall, there are a lot of question marks with this Oklahoma team, but they are still being picked to win the Big-12. I can’t go out on that limb, and I think they will end up with 9 or 10 wins. So, without further adieu, here is their prospect preview:

Landry Jones has a lot of work to do if he wants to restore his name as a potential top 5 quarterback come draft time. As of right now, I have a 4th round grade on him.

Landry Jones, QB- Jones has NFL size at 6’4”, 229 pounds and has 37 career starts which is a phenomenal amount of experience for a college quarterback. Last year he was on his way to another statistically impressive season with four games remaining, having totaled 3,349 passing yards, 28 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. However, after his top target Ryan Broyles went down with an injury missing the final four games Jones’ production dropped off significantly. He only threw for 1,114 yards in the final four games (after averaging 372 passing yards per game in the first nine, he only averaged 278.5 per game in the final four). On top of that, he threw only ONE touchdown against a less talented Iowa team in Oklahoma’s bowl game and NINE interceptions over that same span. This is as good evidence as any that Jones is a product of the talent around him, not a franchise quarterback that elevates the play of those around him. That four game stretch likely played a huge role in him coming back for his senior season to try to rebuild his draft stock which had tumbled into the 3rd or 4th round. Many draft analysts had him pegged in that area before that, but that four game stretch made it popular to grade him in that mid-round area. Now that he is returning for his senior season he has a realistic chance to leave for the NFL with an incredible 50 career starts, which is just about ideal for a college quarterback prospect. He has the size, and has enough arm talent to play in the NFL. He has good arm strength, though you wouldn’t necessarily know it watching his ball velocity on intermediate throws. He has pretty good accuracy, but the offense he plays in as well as the ability of his receivers help mask some of his accuracy issues. He certainly isn’t as gifted as a pure passer as Sam Bradford was. On top of that, Jones has trouble making plays when his team needs it most, much like I believed Bradford did. He also doesn’t have a lot of pocket poise and makes mistakes when pressured, when good and great quarterbacks make defenses pay in the face of pressure and blitzes from defenses. Jones has an uphill battle to prove to draftniks and scouts alike that he is a better quarterback than he showed in the last four games last season, and to prove that he warrants legitimate top 96 consideration. Gaudy stats won’t be enough, he will need to lead his team to wins with key plays late, make decisive reads and throws under pressure, and work the pocket better and stand tall to deliver throws instead of throwing off his back foot and fading away from pressure. It remains to be seen if he can make the necessary adjustments to force his name back into top 5-10 quarterback conversations, but as of today I am very skeptical.

Dominique Whaley, RB- Whaley is a former walk-on but he burst onto the scene when he surprisingly emerged as the starter for Oklahoma last season. He produced 627 yards and 9 touchdowns in 7 games as well as 15 receptions for 153 yards before his season was cut short due to an ankle injury. He returns for his senior season as the likely starter but will split time with the undersized but explosive Roy Finch and will likely have his goal-line carries stolen by 6’6”, 245 pound quarterback Blake Bell. Whaley’s 40 yard dash time is around 4.55, so not blazing, but if he can overcome injury issues he has the potential to get drafted. He’s no stranger to hard work since he earned his way onto Oklahoma as a walk-on, and that kind of hard work always translates to the next level even if he doesn’t have ideal timed speed.

Roy Finch, RB*- Finch is only a junior and it would be surprising if he declared early, but he is the most explosive back that I am aware of on Oklahoma’s roster so I think he warrants mention. He is only listed at 5’7”, 166 pounds so he is very small and doesn’t have the size or bulk to be a feature back in college or the NFL, but he has an approximate 40 yard dash time of 4.45 and has been productive despite his size. As a sophomore he produced 605 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns on only 111 attempts, plus he totaled 34 receptions for 296 yards as a receiver. He also returned 11 kickoffs for 223 yards. He definitely offers versatility, and his ability to accelerate quickly, stop on a dime, make sharp cuts and make defenders miss in the open field reminds me of Darren Sproles. Sproles’ emergence as one of the most versatile players in the NFL despite his lack of size should only help Finch’s perception if he can demonstrate similar athleticism and versatility. If Trey Franks isn’t brought back (he was suspended indefinitely and Bob Stoops was quoted as saying “we aren’t counting on any of them” referring to Jaz Reynolds, Trey Franks, and Quentin Hayes. When asked if they could be reinstated Stoops only said “we’ll see.”) then Finch could be the primary return man for Oklahoma.

To be honest, I am not sold on Kenny Stills at this point. He has upside, but he’s skinny and I don’t think he is as explosive as advertised.

Kenny Stills, WR*- Stills is the top returning receiver for Landry Jones to throw to this season. The 6’1”, 189 pound receiver was productive last season as he totaled 61 receptions for 849 yards (13.9 ypc) and 8 touchdowns. However, he didn’t total a single touchdown in the last four games when he didn’t have Ryan Broyles opposite him, and I have some questions about his hands, his true explosiveness as a WR as well as his physicality. He has an estimated 40 yard dash time of 4.49 but he just doesn’t look like a burner to me, and he doesn’t look extremely quick in short areas as well. I kind of think he is a product of the offense that he plays in, though he is on the Maxwell watch list, the award given to the best WR in the country. I definitely have some questions about Stills’ ability to translate to the NFL, so I will be interested to see how he does without a #1 target drawing attention away from him, and he won’t have Jaz Reynolds or Trey Franks around to help take pressure off of him.

Trey Millard, FB*- Millard has been touted as the “best fullback I’ve ever had” by OU head coach Bob Stoops, even though he isn’t often on the field as a traditional fullback. He showed up as a reliable blocker for Oklahoma throughout the season and has shown the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield when he is targeted. He’s not a star, but he’s a reliable player. It will be interesting to see if he is involved more in the passing game now that James Hanna has gone on to the NFL.

Lane Johnson, LT- Johnson is a former tight end prospect who is now a senior starting at left tackle for the first time at Oklahoma. He didn’t play in 2010 but started 12 games at right tackle in 2011. He has the size you want in a left tackle at 6’6”, 296 pounds and converted tight end prospects traditionally do pretty well at left tackle thanks to the athleticism it requires to play tight end, so it will be interesting to see how he does at left tackle this year. He looks skinny on film, and could definitely stand to add weight to his frame and it shows when he is bullrushed in pass protection. Shoots off the ball at times, seems to have impressive short area quickness. Shows that he can get out of his stance pretty quickly and get into his kick slide. Doesn’t look like a great drive blocker, but plays with pretty good pad level and seems to mirror well. I don’t see a lot of nastiness and doesn’t always finish blocks, and is a little raw with his technique and footwork but he definitely has the athleticism and foot speed to be a quality blind side protector for Jones this season in my opinion. It will be interesting to see how he does on the left side and if he shows improved technique this year.

Ben Habern, C- Habern enters his senior season with 30 career starts despite missing 6 starts last season due to injury. He is listed at 6’4”, 292 pounds but looks more like 6’3” on film to me. When I have watched him I have never recorded a bad snap, even when I watched his first game back from a forearm injury with a cast on the arm that he snaps with. Shows an ability to anchor and seems to be mobile for a center his size, but can be pushed back when strong defensive lineman gets him on skates. Definitely needs to watch his hand placement when he’s blocking to make sure he doesn’t let his hands wander outside the numbers and draw holding penalties. He doesn’t look like he has very long arms, but he is smart, makes correct blitz pick-ups in pass pro. Seems to be more of a wall-off blocker than a drive blocker. He strikes me as a solid but unspectacular center, and right now is a fringe draftable prospect.

Jamarkus McFarland, DT- McFarland is one of two returning starters on the defensive line for Oklahoma and will need to step up as both Ronnell Lewis and Frank Alexander are gone and they were their best pass rushers. McFarland was solid last season as he started 7 games and totaled 21 tackles, 3 tackles for loss and half a sack. He’s listed at 6’1”, 296 pounds and is currently a fringe draftable prospect. His performance without two proven pass rushers on the outside will be telling for his NFL Draft prospects.

Tom Wort, MLB*- Wort may not be a big linebacker (listed at 6’0”, 229 pounds) but he is tough and seems to be a good leader. He wore Austin Box’s #12 in Oklahoma’s season opener last year and was crying as he came onto the field. He already has 21 career starts in his young career and produced 71 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 2 pass break-ups and 2 interceptions as a sophomore last year. He’s a reliable tackler who is improving in pass coverage, and he’s tough. He’s not big, but he’s effective.

Demontre Hurst has impressive ball skills and he can hit, as you can see from this picture. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Demontre Hurst, CB- Hurst may not be big, he’s only listed at 5’9”, 182 pounds, but he impressed me last season with his ball skills. He enters his senior season with 27 career starts at cornerback and has had 11 pass break-ups and 1 interception each of the last two years while also forcing 4 fumbles over those same two seasons. He has shown me that he is a reliable tackler, has impressive ball skills, is athletic and closes well and can support the run from the cornerback position. He doesn’t have elite height, but he’s a really nice sleeper prospect at corner. Hurst can definitely play.

Aaron Colvin, CB*- Colvin actually finished the season tied for the lead in tackles with Travis Lewis, and as a result is Oklahoma’s leading returning tackler. He also had 6 pass break-ups this season, and figures to move in to the starting position opposite Hurst now that Jamell Fleming has moved on to the NFL. Colvin is taller than Hurst as he is listed at 6’0”, but only weighs 176 pounds. I haven’t seen Colvin play as much as Hurst, so I don’t know as much about his playing style, but I do know he has 9 pass break-ups the past two years, 8 total tackles for loss and a forced fumble. He’s got ability and a surprising amount of experience, having started 13 games in his first two seasons despite quality NFL talent in Jamell Fleming and Hurst above him on the depth chart.

Tony Jefferson, FS*- Jefferson is a player I’ve been high on since I watched him as a freshman and I actually had him on my list of potential break-out players before his sophomore season. He’s versatile as he can line up at safety or at nickel back, he can play man or zone coverage and despite lacking elite size for the safety position (5’10”, 199 pounds) he loves to get involved in run support, he blitzes effectively and he does a great job dropping into coverage. He’s a fluid athlete with good speed, acceleration and ability to close, and one of my favorite draft eligible safeties for the 2013 NFL Draft.

Tress Way, P- I have had my eye on Tress Way since I watched him as a freshman and was blown away by his leg. He’s got a NFL leg without a doubt and it was obvious to me when I saw him two years ago. He is listed at 6’1”, 218 pounds but size and weight aren’t critical measurables for punters. Their hangtime is their key stat, and I was taught that you can hear if a punter has a NFL leg. If he does, the ball will “pop” off his foot like a gun shot. I believe Way has that caliber leg, and not only does he have the leg for distance he had an insane 34 punts downed inside the 20 yard line last season. I can’t find an official ranking list for this stat, but I would have a hard time believing that isn’t near the top which is especially impressive since he only punted 63 times. That means more than half of his punts were downed inside the 20! Punters don’t often get a lot of NFL Draft love, but I think Way has a chance to get drafted if he continues to demonstrate a strong and accurate leg.

I will be previewing Texas next, followed by Oklahoma State. Keep an eye out for them here as well as at NFL Draft Monsters!

–Tom

Here is the 3/4 release that I mentioned on Twitter and in the mechanics section of my scouting report.

Size: He is listed at 6’3”, 237 pounds but he doesn’t look that big on film to me. Would estimate him at 6’2”, 230 pounds just based on how big he looks on film. Looks pretty skinny and doesn’t look that tall to me. He has the size to be a NFL QB, even if he’s a little taller and bigger than he looks to me on film, but he looks more like a smaller, scrambling quarterback than a big, filled out pocket passer.

Arm Strength: Sorensen has a NFL arm, there’s no doubt about that. He has a live arm and can make all the throws with quality velocity. I’ve watched him throw passes from the left hash to the right sideline on a rope, he flashed a deep ball a time or two, and he makes plenty of impressive throws without his feet set both in the pocket and when he scrambles outside of the tackle box. His arm strength is definitely impressive, and it’s one of his best assets. I do have questions about his ability to challenge the deep half of the field, just because I only saw him do it a couple times, but I think he has the arm strength to do it.

Accuracy: Sorensen’s accuracy isn’t elite, but I believe it is NFL caliber without a doubt. He will miss the occasional throw like any quarterback will, but he regularly throws accurate passes both on short and intermediate throws. He very often places the ball on the correct shoulder and leads his receivers correctly so that they can catch the ball and immediately turn up field for RAC opportunities. He rarely challenged the deep half of the field, but when he did the throws weren’t as accurate as his other throws. They weren’t always thrown to the correct shoulder and at times were thrown too far inside, making it difficult for the receiver to make a play on it but easier for the defender. However, I was very impressed with his ability to make accurate, well placed throws without his feet set both inside and outside of the pocket. Sorensen definitely has NFL accuracy.

Mechanics: I’m not wild about Sorensen’s mechanics. This isn’t a significant issue at his listed height of 6’3” or even 6’4” which I have seen, but he has a ¾ release and that may cause some of his passes to get batted down at the LOS. He has a quick release, though too often he throws off balance and at times fades away from throws in the face of pressure. This isn’t a consistent thing, but I’ve seen it. He doesn’t have great footwork and rarely drops back straight from center so it’s hard to evaluate his footwork on his drops from under center. When he scrambles he shows the ability to keep his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage, but also throws with inconsistent mechanics when he is scrambling which is why his ball placement in spite of his mechanics is particularly impressive.

Athleticism: Because I saw a listed height and weight for Sorensen at 6’4”, 237 pounds (which is about the same size as me) I did not expect him to be so athletic and mobile, but I was consistently impressed with his ability to avoid the rush, change directions quickly and with burst, and to extend plays/get yardage with his legs. He’s not a great/elite runner, but he is a lot more mobile than I anticipated before I had watched him. He definitely has the mobility to extend plays at the next level and made some very impressive moves evading rushers that almost reminded me of a FCS level Tyrod Taylor.

Here is an example of missing an open receiver. #8 is running a deep in (located near the right hash) and across the field a WR is running the same route. #8 came open even earlier than I took this photo, but as #56 continues to drop he only got more open. However, Sorensen stared down the left side of the field and threw a pass into much tighter coverage (you can see the linebacker underneath the receiver running the other deep in as well as the safety closing from behind him just inside the 40). #8 was WIDE open on this play and would have been even more open had he anticipated his break. This is an example of what I’m talking about.

Pre/Post-Snap Reads: This is one of my big concerns with Sorensen’s game coming into his senior season. He has a solid feel for pre-snap reads and makes checks at the line of scrimmage at times, but he makes a lot of pre-determined throws. He almost always throws to his primary read on the play, and constantly stares down one side of the field or even one receiver. This makes it easier for defensive backs to make plays on the ball, and if FCS defenders are breaking on passes and causing incompletions you have to worry about what will happen when he’s facing powerhouse D-1 athletes or even worse NFL caliber athletes in the secondary. It’s a very bad habit, but he does FLASH (I can’t emphasize that enough) that he can come off his primary read and make a throw, but it is anything but consistent. That is the thing I will be looking for improvement in as much as anything. Far too often he takes the snap (in shotgun on top of that), stares down one side of the field, makes a quick throw if it’s open, holds onto it if it’s not and either forces it or drops his eyes and tries to escape or takes a sack. That’s a serious problem, and I want to see him improve his ability to go through his reads. Because right now his post-snap reads are in their very early development stage, they’re barely there but they exist. He frequently misses open receivers because he stares down one side of the field and ignores the other side. You can’t make those mistakes that consistently and survive at the next level. However, he does show a level of anticipation when he is throwing to his primary read, though he rarely (if ever) showed me that he could throw with anticipation on secondary reads. He regularly delivers throws with good timing and has shown that he can throw his receivers open with his ball placement and timing. That’s very encouraging despite his issues missing open receivers. However, I really want to see him improve his ability to read a Cover-2 defense, because he regularly struggled to attack significant holes between the corner and safety when defenses presented him with these coverages. They were there, he just rarely hit them. That has something to do with his issues staring receivers down, but there were a number of times he had a 10+ yard window between the corner and safety and he didn’t take advantage of it, usually preferring to check down instead of pushing the ball downfield. He could have thrown it a little late and still gotten away with it due to his arm strength but he just never saw it. I’ll be paying close attention to how he progresses in these areas when I get the chance to watch him during his senior year.

Pocket Poise: This is another of my concerns with Brad Sorensen’s game. He doesn’t have much pocket poise currently and that results in him making one read and then dropping his eyes to scramble and run. That’s a very bad habit for a quarterback to have and it does not project well to the NFL in any way, shape or form. He needs to break that habit and go through more of his progressions if he wants to make it as a NFL quarterback. To be fair, his offensive line is not a good unit and he doesn’t always have quality pass protection, and that likely has something to do with his internal clock running out faster than it should. Still, he has good enough protection that it doesn’t excuse him doing this as often as he does, and he doesn’t show me consistent ability to manipulate the pocket without dropping his eyes and scrambling. He FLASHES the ability to step up in the pocket and seems to have a solid feel for the rush at times, but instead of stepping up just enough to force the rush wide he will keep stepping up in the pocket and throw off balance with his chest parallel to the LOS like he was getting ready to scramble. He needs to work on side-stepping the rush, stepping up in the pocket without leaving it prematurely, and not dropping his eyes so often when his primary read isn’t there. This is one of the most concerning parts about his game, because mobile quarterbacks that play in spreads often struggle to kick these bad habits, and if he can’t then his game won’t translate to the NFL.

Decision Making: I was actually relatively satisfied with Sorensen’s decision making. He will force passes against solid or good coverage because of his struggles to make complete reads but doesn’t seem to panic and force bad passes as a result of pressure. He would be a much better decision maker if he could see the whole field instead of just 1/3 of it on any given play. But he will take sacks instead of forcing a throw he shouldn’t, and while that isn’t ideal, I think it reflects some level of understanding that a sack is usually better than a turnover. This part of his game could improve, but if he improves his ability to make reads and progressions post-snap and learns to manipulate the pocket better his decision making will look better and improve naturally.

Intangibles: I can’t speak to Sorensen’s intangibles, but he does make checks at the line of scrimmage regularly and helps get his teammates lined up at times. I also think he has some mental toughness and doesn’t unravel if he makes a mistake or misses a throw. For example, in the game I watched against Northern Arizona it was a tight game and his team was down 17-3 at one point after he turned the ball over on an inaccurate throw and he marched the team down to the opposing red zone. The team ended up in a 3rd and 20 on the opposing 27 yard line and it looked like the drive was going to stall for a field goal or no points, but Sorensen stepped up to avoid the rush, delivered a strike on a deep corner route and while it was a little underthrown (traveling 30 yards downfield from the right hash to the left numbers) it was accurate, his WR caught it, and immediately turned upfield avoiding the defensive back covering him and scored a touchdown. That play changed the game, and it was the pocket manipulation, arm strength, placement and mental toughness from Sorensen that made it possible. NFL quarterbacks make mistakes, but they have to walk back onto the field and walk their team down the field and respond when they do. Sorensen proved to me that he is at least capable of that, and that matters.

Character: I don’t have any insight into Sorensen’s character beyond that I could tell he really hates losing and wants to win. He didn’t show much outward frustration even when his receivers were dropping passes that were bouncing right off their hands after Sorensen made a good throw, he didn’t get mad when he was under consistent pressure as a result of his offensive line, and he didn’t collapse when his team was down two scores and he turned the ball over. He led the team back for a touchdown right before the end of the first half, changing the entire momentum of the game, and ended up winning the game 27-24 in part because he made a gorgeous NFL throw on the move on a 3rd and 10 with 2 minutes left when he was backed up in his own territory. That conversion enabled them to keep the ball, run the ball three times for a first down, and then kneel it twice to seal the win. He’s definitely got the ability to make a key play when his team needs it most, and that is something I never discount when I’m scouting a football player. You can’t teach that, you either have it or you don’t. I think Sorensen does.

Overall: Sorensen has plenty of NFL talent and there are a number of things to like about him. He has enough size to be a NFL quarterback even if he is only 6’2” like I am hypothesizing. He has more than enough mobility to survive in the NFL and I think he can even be a threat to pick up some yardage when a play breaks down, and I would estimate him in the 4.75 range for the 40 yard dash. Not a burner, but agile enough to make you pay if you play man coverage and don’t keep an eye on him. He has a NFL arm without a doubt in my mind, and while he doesn’t have a howitzer I would give him a good grade for his arm strength and velocity, especially because he can make throws with impressive velocity without his feet set or while he is throwing on the move. On top of that he shows consistently good ball placement on short and intermediate throws, whether he is in the pocket or throwing without his feet set. I am also intrigued by his intangibles and I think he is a pretty good decision maker for a player who struggles to or doesn’t make NFL level reads. I was encouraged by his ability to show anticipation on his primary reads, and I want to see him improve on that and start to do that on secondary reads. But his issues staying in the pocket, dropping his eyes to scramble after making a single read, missing open receivers in various coverages (but particularly Cover-2 and Cover-3) and staring down his primary read are all very concerning. He has another year to improve on these flaws, but a couple of them are serious red flags for me when I’m scouting a quarterback prospect. I’ll reserve judgment until he has played his remaining year of football, but I need to see significant progress in those problem areas before I can give him a Day Two grade.

Projection: 5th round. Sorensen has NFL ability and I would be surprised if he didn’t get drafted, but if he were in the draft right now he would be a guy with a NFL arm that, to quote Trent Dilfer from the Elite 11 show, needs to work on being a surgeon instead of a butcher. He has the mobility to get away with his lack of pocket poise and his non-existent progressions, but his athleticism won’t mask his deficiencies in those areas at the NFL level, so he needs to start working to improve in those areas if he wants to be viewed as anything beyond a talented project. I like him and his tools, but he has some serious question marks that I need to see improvement on before I’ll hop on the bandwagon.

Thanks for reading! Logan Thomas and Geno Smith scouting reports are in the pipeline.

–Tom