Tag Archive: Rice


NCAA Top 25 Picks Post

Here is a post where I make some picks for the games the top 25 teams are playing for the week. I’ll try to do this every week, but I might not always have time. I’ll track them to see how well (or poorly) I do over the course of the season. Enjoy!

Week Four NCAA Picks Post:

Oklahoma over Missouri

Analysis: Oklahoma’s offense and defense are both very good, and Missouri didn’t prove they could win against Arizona State, losing 37-30 in OT. James Franklin will probably struggle to carve up the Oklahoma defense like he did the ASU secondary, and I wonder just how much pressure their defense will be able to apply to Landry Jones. Jones will make poor throws when he has pressure in his face, so that will be the key to hanging in on this game. The problem is, I don’t think Missouri’s secondary can hold up consistently if the Tigers are forced to blitz to create pressure.

Oklahoma by 17

LSU over West Virginia

Analysis: LSU’s defense is the best in the country as far as I’m concerned. They were tested right off the bat against Oregon and stood very tall. I’ve never seen a defensive tackle rotation like theirs in all my years of watching football. I believe that they have four starting caliber defensive tackles, and they arguably have three starting caliber cornerbacks in Morris Claiborne, Tyrann Mathieu and Tharold Simon. Claiborne is a junior and Mathieu and Simon are both sophomores, but they might be the best trio of cornerbacks in the country. LSU’s run defense and pass defense are both very good and their defense is very fast, and I think they are going to cause a lot of problems for Geno Smith and his offensive counterparts. On defense, West Virginia will have to pressure Jarrett Lee, but also stop LSU from establishing the running game because they love to run play action after establishing the run (and they’re quite good at it). Without the play action fake LSU struggles to threaten downfield due to Lee’s lack of arm strength. However, I think WVU will struggle to take away the run game, end up loading the box, and therefore allowing Rueben Randle, Odell Beckham and Deagnelo Peterson to get behind the secondary.

LSU by 16

Alabama over Arkansas

This one was tough for me to call. Alabama probably has the #2 defense in the country behind LSU (at least as far as I’m concerned, but it’s definitely close) and they have a quarterback with limited experience as well in AJ McCarron. Luckily, they have two talented running backs to take the pressure off of him in Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy. Marquis Maze has stepped up as I thought he would and has 15 receptions, 186 yards and 1 TD in the first three contests. I think Alabama will be able to move the ball on offense against Arkansas’ defense, but I think that Alabama will be able to slow down the Razorbacks offensive attack. I love their WR’s, led by Cobi Hamilton as of now (13 receptions, a team leading 252 yards, 19.4 average per catch and 1 TD) and Tyler Wilson has stepped in to fill the void left by Ryan Mallett like I thought he would. However, Alabama’s defense is vastly better than Missouri State, New Mexico, Troy (the three teams he has faced this year) and much better than Auburn’s defense that struggled mightily to stop big, physically gifted receivers every time they matched up against them. Arkansas won’t get shut out by any means, but Alabama is going to be Tyler Wilson’s first real taste of what it’s like to play against a SEC caliber defense, and I don’t think he’s going to enjoy it.

Alabama by 13

Boise State over Tulsa

This really isn’t a hard pick in my opinion. Boise State’s defensive line is fierce and I expect Billy Winn and company to be in GJ Kinne’s face for the majority of this game. Boise State’s offense is still clicking thanks to Kellen Moore, so I expect this to be a relatively easy win. Kinne has a chance to show talent evaluators what he can do though, as his team is clearly overmatched.

Boise State by 21

Wisconsin over South Dakota

This shouldn’t be much of a contest either, as Wisconsin’s offense has the potential to be one of the best in the Big 10 if it isn’t already the best. Their running game and play action game will be way too much for South Dakota to handle, and hopefully they have continued to work on their run defense. If they don’t have it tuned up soon they will have a lot of trouble stopping Nebraska.

Wisconsin by 21

Texas A&M over Oklahoma State

This one was very tough for me to call as well. This could very easily go either way considering it is a rare battle between the #7 and #8 teams in the country. Oklahoma State’s offense is a juggernaut still led by Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, but Weeden has thrown 6 interceptions already this season, so that is a concerning stat for OSU fans. However, Joseph Randle has stepped up to replace Kendall Hunter very nicely, running for 378 yards and 7 TD’s on only 62 carries (6.1 average). Ryan Tannehill is a dangerous quarterback though, and he’s got a number of weapons to work with. I’m not sure which defense is better than the other, but I do think that Texas A&M will miss Von Miller rushing the passer in this game. However, Oklahoma State’s defense is traditionally their weakness, so that is why I had to go with Texas A&M. I will be at an away game during this contest and I am very angry that I will miss it. It should be a great game. But I had to give A&M the slight edge.

Texas A&M by 6

Nebraska over Wyoming

Not a very tough call on this one. Nebraska should win this game easily even if Taylor Martinez doesn’t dazzle as a passer.

Nebraska by 28

Oregon over Arizona

This one wasn’t as easy for me to pick as I thought it might be. Oregon has a pretty good defense, but Arizona can move the football pretty well. I’m still confident in Oregon, but Nick Foles has a habit of surprising people when they sleep on him. I don’t think Oregon will take him for granted though especially after losing a tough one to LSU in Cowboys Stadium, and that’s why I think they will end up with a big Pac-12 win here.

Oregon by 14

Clemson over Florida State (Upset)

Clemson is absolutely on fire right now, and this is the worst time for Florida State to be playing them. This isn’t a guarantee by any means, but Clemson’s offense is firing on all cylinders and Florida State didn’t get consistent pressure on Landry Jones last week. Clemson’s offensive line isn’t nearly the equivalent of Oklahoma’s, but they have enough weapons on offense to at least make this a plausible upset. I don’t think Clemson has the defense to keep them in the game if they can’t score, so unless their defense steps up and slows FSU down they are going to make me look foolish for this pick.

Clemson by 7

South Carolina over Vanderbilt

This isn’t as easy of a pick as I thought it would be, especially since South Carolina is in a state of flux and Vanderbilt is undefeated for the first time in recent memory after three weeks. I don’t think Vanderbilt will be able to hold off South Carolina, but stranger things have happened. If it was ever going to happen, I think it would happen now. Steve Spurrier doesn’t seem to have much faith in Stephen Garcia and even though they have one of the best backs in the country in Marcus Lattimore you just never know what will happen in the SEC. I don’t expect Vanderbilt to pull it off, but this is one I would watch as a POSSIBLE upset.

South Carolina by 10

Virginia Tech over Marshall

Analysis: This shouldn’t be much of a challenge for Virginia Tech, but it should be a good tune-up game for Logan Thomas. I think he has tons of upside, and it’ll be interesting to see how he develops throughout the season.

Virginia Tech by 17

Florida over Kentucky

Analysis: Kentucky isn’t a terrible team, but Florida’s defense is vastly better than I expected it to be even without Janoris Jenkins. Chris Rainey really impressed me last week and if he can stay healthy I think he could really improve his draft stock. I’m pretty high on Jonathan Bostic, Jaye Howard and Dominique Easley on their defense, so I’m excited to see them play against Kentucky again. I don’t anticipate the Gators having a lot of trouble in this game.

Florida by 14

Baylor over Rice

Analysis: Robert Griffin has been absolutely LETHAL this year. He’s 41/49 for 624 yards (83.7% completion), 12.74 yards per attempts and he has 8 touchdowns and no interceptions. On top of that, he has 116 yards rushing. Kendall Wright has been huge for Baylor with 20 receptions (14 more than the next receiver), 312 yards (184 yards more than the next receiver) and 3 TD’s. I don’t think Rice has much of a chance to slow Griffin down. The first time he might slow down in my estimation would be October 15th against A&M once they get into the real meat of their schedule. I haven’t been able to watch much of him, but it will be interesting to go back and watch him play to see if he has corrected any of the things I said he needed to work on in my preseason scouting report.

Baylor by 21

South Florida over UTEP

Analysis: South Florida is having one of their best seasons in recent memory, at least to start the season, and BJ Daniels seems to be maturing rather nicely. As long as he continues to develop the sky is the limit for USF, and I don’t think UTEP will have much of a chance to slow them down this week.

South Florida by 17

TCU over Portland State

Analysis: TCU lost a tough one against Baylor in week one, but they seemed to have bounced back in recent weeks. Portland State shouldn’t pose much of a threat, even with an inexperienced quarterback still getting a feel for the starting role.

TCU by 17

Michigan over San Diego State

Analysis: Brady Hoke welcomes his former team into the Big House as the Head Coach of the Wolverines this week as pretty heavy favorites. Denard Robinson isn’t my favorite quarterback but he is incredibly fast and I’m not sure SDSU has the speed to keep up with him in this game. Junior Hemingway has really stepped up this year (even though he looks like a TE rumbling downfield sometimes on go routes). It’ll be interesting to see how Michigan does in this game, but I would be pretty surprised if they botched this game after clawing their way into the top 25.

Michigan by 17

USC over Arizona State

Analysis: Before the game against Illinois last week I might have picked Arizona State in this one, but Brock Osweiler is still developing and even though the Sun Devils had a huge win against Missouri a couple weeks ago I don’t think they are ready to knock off USC. USC has a big chip on its shoulder because of the bowl ban that was placed on them, and I think they will approach this game with something to prove even though they are favored.

USC by 10

Illinois over Western Michigan

Analysis: This shouldn’t be a challenging game for Illinois. Western Michigan isn’t a bad program, but I don’t think they have the firepower to stick with Illinois on either side of the ball. They just fought their way into the top 25, so I don’t think they’ll get upset after just earning their #24 ranking.

North Carolina over Georgia Tech (Upset)

Analysis: I have to admit that I am a UNC fan, so that may have had something to do with this pick (which really isn’t much of an upset, though technically it is). I think UNC’s offense can score on Georgia Tech’s defense, and I think UNC’s defense is fast enough and disciplined enough to slow down Georgia Tech’s option offense that absolutely dominated Kansas last week. Georgia Tech is flying high, but UNC usually plays them pretty well and they are talented enough to pull this off. I really wish I could see this game, but I will be traveling and working while it goes on.

Those are my picks for this week. Hopefully you enjoy them and I look forward to seeing some good football this week. Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Here is my final post about the East-West Shrine Game. These are the defensive players that I thought had up and down weeks and did not help or hurt their stock, rather it stayed more or less where it was before the start of practices. And at the bottom I have a few players who I thought just played bad all week and made it obvious that they are undraftable. Enjoy my final East-West Shrine Game post! Sorry it took me so long to get all of this up.

Cheta Ozougwu, DE/OLB, Rice: Cheta had a solid week and while he didn’t improve his stock that much I don’t think he hurt it by any means. He showed solid burst and edge speed, but I don’t think he has enough to be relied upon as a starting RE in a 4-3 defense. I definitely thought he was a 4-3 DE considering his build and what I saw in drills all week, but when I talked to him about what he thought his best scheme fit would be he told me he would love to play in a 3-4 defense at the OLB position. This surprised me, but apparently he spent much of his senior season dropping into coverage and told me he was comfortable doing so. That definitely helps his stock because if he really is comfortable dropping into coverage he could stick on a 3-4 team as a special teamer and potentially work his way into a back-up/starting role as a 3-4 OLB. I don’t think he will ever be a DeMarcus Ware type pass rusher in that scheme, but he could offer a solid pass rush from the opposite OLB spot.

Brian Rolle, OLB, Ohio State: Rolle’s toughest obstacle will be convincing people that he is a good enough player to warrant drafting despite his small stature. He moves fluidly in coverage, he is a good tackler, he is very instinctual, flows to the ball well and has pretty good sideline to sideline range. However, he is very undersized and as a result he has trouble against the run at times. I don’t think he is a very good fit in a typical 4-3 alignment at WLB because he would struggle a lot in the running game, but he could be a good fit on special teams and in nickel packages as a coverage linebacker in that scheme. That makes him a 6th round pick in those schemes. However, for Cover-2 defenses like the Colts, Vikings and Bears he warrants a 4th round pick in my opinion. A lot would be asked of him in coverage and that is his strong suit, and his size would be less of a hindrance than it would be in a typical 4-3 defense. It will be interesting to see if one of those teams snaps him up earlier than a lot of people expect him to get drafted. I could even see him getting picked in the late 3rd by the Bears.

Mario Butler, CB, Georgia Tech: Butler was a guy that I was not particularly impressed with during the week of practices but I heard from a couple players I talked to that he is a very intelligent player and he is smart about how he plays coverage. I know Perry Baker talked about how hard it was to eat up the cushion he was giving him and as soon as he would Butler would have closed and would be right in his hip pocket after his break. He had a pretty solid game also, so as a 4th or 5th round pick I think he warrants some consideration. I don’t know if his ceiling is any higher than a nickel corner, but I haven’t watched him a lot to see how well he turns and runs, how good his closing speed is, etc. But he definitely has some talent and warrants development in the mid-late round range.

Josh Thomas, CB, Buffalo: Thomas is a guy that I had not seen play before this week and while I was not super high on him after the week of practices I have a few things to say about him. One, he packs a punch as a hitter. I don’t know if he has the range or the coverage skill-set to play safety in the NFL, but if he could make the transition I am convinced that he could lay the wood from that position. He had a few nice pops all week in practice that jarred passes out of wide receiver’s hands. I don’t think he did a great job locating the ball in the air but he seems to have pretty solid closing speed. I don’t think he is going to be much of a man coverage corner in the NFL since he probably has 4.55 speed or so, but as a zone corner he offers good tackling versus the run. I think a move to safety could be intriguing though.

Korey Lindsey, CB, Southern Illinois: Lindsey was a guy that stuck out to be the last three days of practice. First, he got consistently good jams at the line of scrimmage. Second, he showed solid burst to close but I think he needs technique work on his footwork in coverage. 3rd he showed pretty good ball skills, and was not fooled by double moves. I think he has potential as a zone corner, but I don’t know how good he will be in a man scheme since I have a hard time seeing him run under a 4.5 and he doesn’t play much faster than that on the field. I like his game as a zone corner though, so he offers a potential steal in the 5th round range for those same zone teams that I mentioned as possible landing spots for Brian Rolle.

Karl Klug, DE, Iowa: Klug was a guy who was disruptive early in the week but his momentum slowed as the week progressed. His relatively short arms hurt him in this regard and it was pretty obvious that he does not have the edge speed to play 4-3 DE and does not have the bulk to hold up as a 4-3 DT. I think the answer for him is to gain some weight and play 3-4 DE, but his game is predicated on penetration and disruption in the backfield, not necessarily on occupying blockers and holding up at the point of attack (at least it wasn’t this week). He might just be a 4-3 DE on run downs and a 4-3 DT on pass downs in the NFL if he doesn’t fit the 3-4 scheme though. I think adding some more weight to his frame is probably his best bet regardless of which scheme he plays in though, because he will need it to hold up at 3-4 DE or at 4-3 DT, and he just doesn’t have the athletic ability or arm length to beat NFL OT’s off the edge. He is all hustle though and has good, violent hand usage so he could surprise some people if he can find a position to lock into and develop in once he gets to the NFL.

Losers:

Evan Royster, RB, Penn State: Royster just looked painfully slow when alternating reps with the likes of Delone Carter (a likely 4.4x runner at the combine) and Graig Cooper (a definite 4.4x runner at the combine prior to injury) all week and while he had some solid runs in the game they were largely due to gaping holes from the offensive line. He still has very little burst to hit a running lane, he doesn’t have very good footwork as a runner and while he runs with good power he does not have any better than 4.55 speed (if that) to break off long runs. I just don’t see him sticking in the NFL when there are so many more athletically talented players who are as well-rounded as he is, even though I think Royster’s hands were a bit inconsistent this week. I thought he had a slim chance of sticking on a NFL roster before this week but I can’t say I think that anymore.

Matthew O’Donnell, OT, Queens (Ontario): O’Donnell stuck out immediately because of his mammoth size at 6’10” but that was about the only impressive thing about him. He consistently struggled with leverage all week, he has heavy feet and can’t handle any type of speed off of the edge. This was painfully obvious in the game when Kenny Rowe, a late addition to the East team despite being from Oregon, beat him badly off the edge when O’Donnell was at RT two plays in a row with a simple edge rush. O’Donnell has no future in the NFL for this reason unless a team wants to use a roster spot on a 6’10” guy to stand in the middle of their field goal formations to try to block kicks.

Jerrod Johnson, QB, Texas A&M: I wrote a scouting report on Jerrod Johnson before the season started and talked about how I thought he was a 4th rounder before the season started, and that he could move up if he had a good season where he demonstrated improved mechanics and decision making. Well, he got benched this year in favor of Ryan Tannehill, who compared to Johnson looks like the next Dan Marino thanks to a clean release, solid footwork and relatively consistent accuracy and ball placement. Johnson looked god awful all week to me and while he would make the occasional solid throw his throwing motion is still too long despite some noticeable tweaking, he still has little to no pocket poise, his decision making is still bad and he still floats his passes too much despite obvious arm strength. His footwork is still bad and he made some absolutely god awful throws in Saturday’s game. He is not a draftable QB at this point and if someone picks him up as a UDFA he is going to need considerable work before he ever sticks on a team. I think Johnson’s future is either in the CFL or the UFL because he just doesn’t have NFL ability despite his size and arm strength.

Wes Byrum, K, Auburn: Byrum made a few big kicks this year for Auburn, including a chip shot to win the National Championship less than two weeks before all the players reported for practices, but he was pretty bad in this game. He missed a couple of short field goals and did not look like he had a very strong leg despite solid kick-offs. It’s tough for kickers to get drafted at all, much less drafted early, but Byrum did not help his chances with his performance in the game. I would be surprised if he got drafted.

Hopefully you enjoyed my final post on the Shrine Game. I have a number of interviews to transcribe and I am getting back into the swing of things at school so hopefully there will be some free time to continue scouting so I can churn out some more scouting reports. Let me know if you have any requests and I will do my best to accommodate them! Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Quarterbacks:

Nathan Enderle, QB, Idaho:

Enderle had a solid day but again struggled with ball placement. He double clutched a bit like he did yesterday, and didn’t come off as overly accurate. He missed Armon Binns twice when he sailed it over his head, and looked uncomfortable in the pocket at times. Struggled to find places to go with the ball, at times because of good coverage and at times he was probably struggling to find the open guy. He has talent worth developing but his ability to place the ball where he wants to has not been there this week.

Halfbacks:

Patrick DiMarco, FB, South Carolina:

DiMarco has shown soft hands this week out of the backfield. I need to see him block this week though I have had a positive impression of him in that aspect. Just need to take some notes on him. I like what I have seen though.

Wide Receivers:

Armon Binns, WR, Cincinnati:

Binns has good size and long arms, seems to have reliable hands as well. He caught a touchdown at the end of a two minute drill. He is a long strider from what I can see and at times he struggles to create separation a bit. He ran a pretty good curl route as far as footwork is concerned but couldn’t create separation against Lindsey. I’m not sure how much burst and quickness he has going in and out of his breaks, which will hurt him as a route runner. I haven’t gotten to see how he does when going over the middle, so hopefully he handles that better this week than Toliver did.

Ryan Whalen, WR, Stanford:

Whalen has not dropped a pass all week that I have seen. If he gets his hand on it he catches it, and he has made some nice grabs. He will catch passes against his body at times, but he also makes nice catches away from his body with his hands. He will sell out for a catch and isn’t afraid of contact. I’m not sure he is any faster than 4.5 in the 40, but he is fundamentally sound and I guarantee he will make a roster.

Anthony Parker, WR, Calgary:

Parker continues to show reliable hands, he hasn’t dropped a ball either that I have seen. He has good size, solid speed and he seems fundamentally sound. He was rounding off some of his breaks a bit today, but he is a draftable player in my opinion. I will be keeping an eye on him all week.

Jeff Maehl, WR, Oregon:

Maehl just looks so skinny to me, but he showed good effort as a run blocker today and has deceptive speed for a guy his size. He has pretty good hands, but dropped a pass over the middle when it seemed like he might have been worried about contact coming. I can’t say it was alligator arms for sure, but it seemed like a possibility.

Aldrick Robinson, WR, Southern Methodist:

Robinson has good hands in my opinion, but he looked like he didn’t have very good top end speed today. I pegged him as about a 4.5 guy, but obviously we will have to wait for the combine to see what he runs (without pads obviously).

Tight Ends:

Jordan Cameron, TE, USC:

Cameron had another good catch today, but I just didn’t have the opportunity to see him blocking much today from the sideline I was on. Cameron seems to have reliable hands however.

Virgil Green, TE, Nevada:

I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw from Green as a blocker today. He has shown pretty soft hands when I have seen him, and he has flashed the ability to drive block in the running game which is something I had not seen him do because I hadn’t watched him play often. I look forward to seeing how he does in this department the rest of the week as well as how well he catches the ball.

Offensive Linemen:

Matthew O’Donnell, OT, Queens (Ontario):

O’Donnell is a huge guy which makes him stick out immediately, but I am not sold on him as a NFL RT. He has pretty slow feet and will have a ton of problems playing with good leverage because of his huge stature. He doesn’t seem to have very good hand usage and ability to sustain blocks either, and has struggled in pass protection thus far in practices in my opinion.

Joseph Barksdale, OT, LSU:

Barksdale has an impressive frame, long arms and he just kind of looks like an offensive tackle. However, he doesn’t have good feet in my opinion and was beaten inside multiple times today. I couldn’t see if it was because he opened his hips up too early, but I think it’s a fair assumption that he was looking for the speed rush and wasn’t ready for the inside rush. I’ve never been a big fan, and though I hear he is a nice guy, I just don’t think he is worth a pick before the 4th or 5th round.

Defensive Linemen:

David Carter, DT, UCLA:

Carter was very disruptive today. He has good size, long arms and showed a nice swim move today. He was disruptive in team drills and looked good in one on one drills when I saw him. He has the perfect size for a 3-4 defense, but has shown the versatility to beat guards inside at tackle. I liked what I saw from him today, and I should have a chance to get an interview with him this week since I talked to him today after practice.

Ryan Winterswyk, DE, Boise State:

Winterswyk is really strong, and uses power moves to get penetration. He has good size, strong arms, hands and has a solid bull rush. He’s tall so he has to work to get leverage, but he doesn’t seem to bend at the waist. He beat Barskdale inside thanks to his strong arms and hand usage in one on ones.

Cheta Ozougwu, DE, Rice:

Ozougwu looks like he has a DE frame. He’s not very tall, but he is pretty filled out. He doesn’t have a lot of edge speed and isn’t very quick off the ball, but he showed some hip flexibility to dip his shoulder to get the edge. He has natural leverage because of his size, and he flashed a spin move to spin off of a block and some solid hand usage to swat away the blocker’s hands when rushing the passer. I don’t think he has a high ceiling as a pass rusher because he isn’t very fast off the ball, but he is a solid player that I think has draftable ability.

Karl Klug, DT, Iowa:

Klug is undersized and doesn’t have very long arms but I still think he is worth a draft pick. He has good hand usage, he uses the swim move well and he gets off blocks despite his shorter arms. He has been disruptive this week and even though he may not be a perfect projection to the next level I think he warrants consideration in the mid-late rounds.

Ted Laurent, DT, Mississippi:

Laurent is a short but squatty player. He showed a solid bull rush and some power. I am going to watch him the rest of the week to see how he holds up against the run, how he is off the ball and what kind of hand usage he has.

Cornerbacks:

Korey Lindsey, CB, Southern Illinois:

I was really impressed with Lindsey today. I don’t think he has much better than 4.5 speed, but he has fluid hips, turns and runs well, looked good in man coverage against Whalen, Parker and Binns. Also looked comfortable in zone coverage and showed good footwork to turn and run, but didn’t do as well when he had to close on plays in front of him. I don’t know how good he will be in man coverage in the NFL, but he looked good against bigger receivers that weren’t as quick, probably because they had comparable speed. I was impressed with him today though and I thought he had a great practice.

Thanks for reading! There will be more to come obviously.

–Tom