Tag Archive: Skye Dawson


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.

Casey Pachall, QB, TCU: Pachall had a solid game, but was definitely not spectacular. He’s got an impressive combination of size, athletic ability and arm strength but his ball placement was very inconsistent tonight. He wasn’t throwing terrible balls, but he struggled to put the ball where the receiver needed it to make the catch much more than I would have liked to see. He’s got plenty of upside, and he’s got some leadership capability and toughness that make it easy for his teammates to rally around him. For example on a crucial 3rd down that, if converted, would essentially win the game for TCU Pachall kept the ball on a zone read and lowered his shoulder to gain the necessary yardage for the 1st down and ultimately the win. You love to see that from a talent evaluation perspective. He’s got plenty of upside, but he needs to spend this offseason drilling his mechanics to try and improve his accuracy. That is what held him back in this game, though he did come through when his team needed him as he helped lead two 4th quarter touchdown drives, including one 18 play drive that lasted 9:21. The next one was significantly shorter thanks to his perfect 42 yard strike to Skye Dawson that was ultimately the game-winning score.

Waymon James, RB, TCU: Waymon James didn’t finish the game with the most rushing yards on the Horned Frogs, but I think he is definitely their best back. He is a smaller back and is listed at only 5’8″ but he weighs an impressive 203 pounds. He has quality leg drive, good footwork as well as impressive burst and acceleration. He’s not an elite athlete, but he has been productive in each of his two years on TCU and profiles as a quality sleeper prospect for either the 2013 or 2014 draft depending on how long he stays in school. Keep an eye on him!

Josh Boyce, WR, TCU: Boyce was TCU’s go-to receiver this season as he had 61 receptions on the season including his five receptions against Louisiana Tech. He produced 998 receiving yards on the year along with 9 touchdowns and demonstrated quality hands, good body control and ability to adjust to the ball in the air even on very under thrown passes. He’s only about 6’0″, 200 pounds but he’s got upside without a doubt. It will be interesting to see how he progresses next year as a junior in his second season catching passes from Pachall.

Skye Dawson, WR, TCU: Dawson started this game out poorly as he dropped a wide open pass down the seam that would have converted a 3rd and 2 and gone for a huge gain thanks in part to his speed and in part because he was absolutely wide open in the middle of the field. Pachall delivered a nice throw but it went right off his hands and fell incomplete and TCU was forced to punt. I couldn’t see how far back the safeties were, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could have gained 40-50 yards after the catch which would have significantly changed the landscape of this game. However, he still produced 4 receptions, 85 yards and the game winning touchdown in the 4th quarter and was named the player of the game for this reason. Dawson strikes me as a guy who has taken some time to develop as he was a junior this year but it was his first season with significant playing time while Boyce was playing last season as a freshman. Dawson has track speed which makes him a big play threat despite his 5’10”, 175 pound size. He flashes some route running ability which helped him create great separation on the game-winning touchdown he caught. He’s still developing, but he had a bit of a break-out season this year and definitely has some upside as a slot receiver as he enters his senior season.

Stansly Maponga, DE, TCU: Maponga is a guy that intrigued me last year as a freshman and I expected him to improve significantly in his sophomore season. He did just that as he registered 55 total tackles (32 solo), 13.0 TFL, 8.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles and 2 pass deflections this season. He has solid size at 6’2″, 255 pounds but doesn’t have a lot of edge speed from what I can tell. He does have a solid get-off and acceleration when he lines up in a correct stance, but sometimes because he is often asked to stay at home for the zone read or for play-action bootlegs he drops his behind down from the ideal 3 point stance and stands up when he comes out of it. I’m not sure if he is coached to do this or not, but it hurts him when he is run at because he loses his leverage. Regardless, when he is in a correct stance and rushes the passer he uses his long arms effectively to help him avoid blocks, he flashes some hand usage and shows some flexibility to get the edge. He’s not a great pass rusher yet by any means, but he does have some upside. It is encouraging to see him use his long arms to affect passing lanes. It may not show in his number of pass deflections, but he gets his hands up pretty regularly. He’s only a sophomore so it will be interesting to see how he develops in the next year or two.

Tank Carder, ILB, TCU: Carder is a guy that I was very impressed with last year as he seemed to single handedly slow down Wisconsin’s offense in the Rose Bowl last year. Regardless of that great performance I can’t say I have been that impressed with him this year. He has solid size for a linebacker at 6’3″, 235 pounds or so but his combination of solid size and limited athleticism makes it hard for me to project him as anything more than a 5th round pick at this point. His athleticism projects him better to the inside, possibly in a 3-4 defense, but he doesn’t shed blocks that well and his sideline to sideline speed is not ideal. He demonstrates pretty good instincts but at times he will take false steps or take a long time to read the play before he reacts. It remains to be seen if his instincts and smarts will help him overcome some of his physical limitations to eventually be a starter, but for his first couple seasons I would expect him to be a back-up that contributes on special teams.

Greg McCoy, CB, TCU: McCoy is an interesting prospect. He’s listed at 5’10”, 182 pounds and has a listed 40 yard dash time of 4.43 which is awfully impressive. He might be a better return man than a cornerback, but that isn’t to say I think he’s a terrible corner. He’s just a very good return man. This season he produced 979 kick return yards (with a fantastic 30.59 average per return) and took two kick-offs back for touchdowns. He doesn’t have any punt return experience in college, but he might be worth trying out at that position once he gets to the NFL. As a corner I’m not sure how well he projects to the NFL, but he did a good job staying with Louisiana Tech’s receivers when he was thrown at. They aren’t burners by any means, but he was in their hip pocket consistently and every time I saw him he seemed to have good coverage and made a couple plays on the ball to deflect passes away. Will he be a good/great corner in the NFL? I’m not sure, but I think he has enough ability as a corner to stick on a roster as a return man and contribute on special teams before ultimately living up to some of his potential as a nickel or dime corner. It will be interesting to see if he gets invited to any post-season all star games. I’d love to watch him play on special teams as well as demonstrate his upside as a corner.

Colby Cameron, QB, Louisiana Tech: Cameron had a solid start to this game but as I expected once TCU started to bring pressure he struggled more and more. Obviously he didn’t fold like a lawn chair and never complete a pass again, but he faded away from more of his throws, threw without his feet properly set more often, and continued to seem uncomfortable in the face of TCU’s pressure. That led to the offense’s collapse and helped spur TCU to a win, and had Cameron not thrown a perfect pass off of his back foot that Myles White managed to catch up to and haul in for a 61 yard touchdown then Louisiana Tech would have probably lost this game by two or more touchdowns. Their offense didn’t produce a single point in the last 17 minutes of this game and Cameron had plenty to do with that. Cameron is a junior that stands at 6’2″, 205 pounds, has average arm strength and accuracy and in general doesn’t have impressive NFL upside in my opinion. He looks far too uncomfortable in the pocket and struggles in the face of pressure which is always a red flag when you are evaluating QB’s. He led Louisiana Tech to a 5-1 record in his 6 starts this year, but it will be interesting to see if teams find creative ways to pressure him to see how he holds up next year.

Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech: Patton is a junior WR on Louisiana Tech that impressed me in this game. He struggled to create separation from Greg McCoy at times which might hurt his ultimate NFL prospects, but he demonstrated pretty reliable hands and the ability to make catches in traffic which he will need to do at the next level since he isn’t a burner. He still has another year at Louisiana Tech so he has the opportunity to improve and develop further, but he had a very productive season this year with over 78 receptions, 1,202 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has solid size at 6’2″, 195 pounds and a listed 40 yard dash time of 4.56 so while he isn’t an elite NFL prospect by any means I do think he has a chance to be a late round pick if he continues to improve.

Matt Broha, DE, Louisiana Tech: Broha is an interesting prospect. He had a pretty good year this year as he produced 45 total tackles (25 solo), 9.5 TFL, 7.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 2 pass deflections. He’s got solid size at 6’4″, 255 pounds but he doesn’t have much edge speed and he looks very stiff rushing the passer at times. He struggled to get the edge and finish the rush at times, though initially he looks pretty good getting off the ball and using his hands to keep blockers off of him or using a pass rush move like a swim or a club move to gain an advantage. He doesn’t project as anything more than a late round pick or possible free agent to me, but with his size and solid hand usage he has a chance to make a roster. I just haven’t seen much that makes me think he will be a quality rotational guy at the next level.

Terry Carter, CB, Louisiana Tech: I was excited to see Carter in this game but he was very rarely challenged while I was watching. He’s not very highly rated but at 5’11”, 190 pounds he has solid corner size. I wasn’t able to judge his tackling in this game, but he did have 59 total tackles (41 solo) on the year as well as 2.5 TFL, 11 pass break-ups, 1 forced fumble and an interception that he returned for a touchdown. I don’t have a listed 40 yard dash time for him and I didn’t see much of him against TCU, but he had solid coverage the few times I was able to see him. I would be surprised if he was picked earlier than the 5th round right now due to the sheer lack of information on him, but he strikes me as a guy that could be a bit better than most people think.

Sorry it had been so long since my last post. The end of the semester entailed a lot of work like it always does. I’m very much looking forward to getting back to scouting and posting some of my thoughts, so keep an eye out for those as I try to keep up with all the bowl games. Thanks for reading!

–Tom