Tag Archive: Spencer Ware


Jarrett Lee has done a great job filling in for the Tigers in the wake of Jordan Jefferson's suspension (which coincidentally ended yesterday as LSU reinstated him) and it will be interesting to see exactly what his role is throughout the rest of the season.

Jarrett Lee (Senior) has been a quality starter for LSU this year, but he isn’t a great NFL prospect. He has solid size at 6’2”, 206 and he has solid mobility. His arm strength leaves a lot to be desired, and he struggles to put zip on throws beyond 10 or so yards. His deep passes have a lot of air under them, and I’m not sure he can make every NFL throw with solid zip. He’s a pretty accurate passer but his deep balls aren’t often well placed, either over throwing his receivers or putting the ball on the wrong shoulder. I think that a lot of his inaccurate passes can be traced back to his issues with stepping into his passes, especially in the face of pressure. He has gotten better about this, but it is still a very significant issue. Frequently when he feels pressure he instinctually fades away from the pressure as he throws instead of stepping into it. That hurts his zip and his ball placement, and it’s very noticeable. He seems to be very smart and the team seems to respect him as a leader in spite of the loss of Jordan Jefferson, and I think they have a chance to win a National Title with him at the helm thanks to their amazing defense. I thought he reminded me a bit of Matt Flynn when I had seen him before, but he doesn’t have the same arm and poise that Flynn did in my opinion. I think he’s a very late round prospect or an undrafted free agent as of right now, but he’s got the potential to stick as a #3 or as a practice squad QB in the NFL. He’s only throw 87 passes in four games (about 22 per game) and while he has been efficient in those attempts, it will be interesting to see how he and the rest of the LSU offense does if he is forced to throw to open up the running game if opposing defenses stack the box and slow down LSU’s powerful combination of Spencer Ware and Michael Ford. I think they might struggle, but I think they can win as long as he isn’t forced to throw 35+ times a game.

Spencer Ware (Sophomore) is a guy that I was extremely impressed with him when I watched him against Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. He seems bigger and more powerful this season, and he has really impressed me in all three games of his that I’ve watched. Against Oregon he demonstrated fantastic leg drive, a great ability to push a pile, an unwillingness to go down to the first hit, and he frequently ran through arm tackles. His cuts weren’t incredibly crisp and were at times slightly deliberate, but he also has good quickness considering his size (5’11”, 225 pounds or so). He also showed pretty reliable hands out of the backfield. I think he definitely has the potential to be a 3rd or 4th round pick in the NFL Draft (since he probably won’t run a great 40 yard dash time or blow people away in drills) when he comes out this year or next, and then be a very effective power back in the NFL. I think he has quality vision, great power, and good hands. He has done a great job of wearing defenses down and grinding out tough yards for LSU this year. Then Michael Ford comes in and gashes them, and Jarrett Lee burns them with play-action passes.

Michael Ford (Sophomore) is the quicker LSU back, though he is still a load to bring down. He’s listed at 5’10”, 215 pounds and he has a lot of quickness and burst based on what I have seen. He demonstrated solid hands in addition to good vision to find cut-back lanes and seams, he ran patiently much like Spencer Ware, but he has more speed to rip off runs for large chunks of yardage. That’s why he and Ware are such a potent one-two punch. Ware grinds the defense down, then Ford comes in and is just as likely to run you over as he is to outrun you to the edge. He’s a quality back, and definitely has it in him to be a feature back in the NFL.

Rueben Randle has a lot of potential due to his combination of size and athletic ability, but I want to see him make catches with his hands away from his body more consistently. He tends to body catch, and that leads to unnecessary drops at times.

Rueben Randle (Junior) is an intriguing wide receiver because of his size, but his hands are inconsistent. He can make catches with his hands, but will also let passes get into his pads. He also attempts to jump up and catch passes at chest level (like on back shoulder throws in the red zone) instead of simply catching them with his hands away from his body. But at 6’4”, 208 pounds he definitely intrigues you because he has the speed to threaten deep and he can win jump balls because of his size and athletic ability. But if his hands don’t improve he won’t ever reach his upside as a receiver. That sounds stupid to say because a receiver’s job is to catch the ball first and foremost, but every year there are players that are over-drafted because of how good they could be if they learned how to catch the damn ball.

Odell Beckham (Freshman) has been huge for LSU so far this year. He doesn’t have great numbers (17 receptions, 193 yards and 1 touchdown) but he has made some big catches and has proven to be one of the most reliable (if not the most reliable) receivers on LSU’s roster. He’s been getting significant playing time and he continues to impress me every time I watch him. But being able to play well in his first game as a true freshman receiver in a critical game against one of the two teams who played for the National Championship the year before is extremely impressive. I always say that I love identifying players that step up in critical moments or in big games, and Beckham is well on his way to getting that reputation as far as I’m concerned. Watch out for him, because he’s going to be a good one.

Deangelo Peterson (Junior) is a tight end that reminds me a lot of Lance Kendricks, a tight end that I was extremely high on last year and had as my #1 TE for almost the entire year. Peterson is very athletic, has reliable hands, tracks the ball very well in the air, adjusts to the ball well in the air, can catch the ball away from his body, makes tough catches in traffic or with defenders draped over him, has enough speed to threaten down the seam, and offers solid run blocking as a wall-off blocker in the run game. He isn’t the same blocker that Kendricks is, but he’s got a similar blocking “style” in that he won’t drive block defensive ends four yards downfield, but he will get his hands on them and “wall them off” to create a seam or a cut-back lane and to take his man out of the play, even if he doesn’t dominate him. He’s only a junior, and in LSU’s run-heavy attack he won’t be featured very often, especially with all the talent they trot out at receiver, but outside of Orson Charles and Michael Egnew there might not be a better tight end in the country.

Darron Thomas has ability as a quarterback, but I don't think he is a consistent or polished enough passer to project well to the NFL at this point.

Darron Thomas (Junior) had his struggles in this game. I don’t think he is a pure passer, rather he has the ability to pass but also threatens as a runner because of his athleticism, and I think he will be an effective college quarterback but not an effective NFL quarterback. He has solid size at 6’3”, 215 but he looks VERY skinny on film. He doesn’t go through his progressions very regularly and has a tendency to stare his receivers down, partially because of him and partially because of the offense he plays in. Regardless, it reinforces bad habits and it almost led to a pick six or two against LSU because of Tyrann Mathieu’s great instincts and closing speed. His accuracy is good on shorter throws, but as he passes further downfield it becomes more erratic, and he doesn’t seem to have a very good sense of timing. I do think he understands  how to attack zone coverage, but doesn’t understand WHEN to attack zone coverage. A few times he threw the ball behind his intended receiver but it was in the correct hole in the zone, so his receiver had to stop and make a catch on a ball thrown behind him. While that might look like a bad throw/poor accuracy, it reflects that Thomas knew that if he led his receiver he would lead him either into a huge hit or potentially give the defender a shot at the turnover. However, after re-watching the plays it was evident that he just didn’t go through his progressions fast enough and didn’t get the ball out quick enough, because the throw was there earlier as the play was developing. He just didn’t see it, and because he was delivering it late he had to throw it behind his receiver to put it where only his receiver would have a chance to catch it. So while he does have above average accuracy, solid arm strength and mobility, I’m just not sure he has the intangibles to make it as a quarterback in the NFL.

LaMichael James (Junior) has a ton of potential as a 3rd down back and as a complementary back in the NFL, but I don’t think he can be the feature back for an offense like he is at Oregon. The Ducks throw the ball very frequently, and James rarely has to be the guy that grinds down the defense at Oregon. While he did average about 24.5 carries per game as a redshirt sophomore last season, he was averaging almost 6 yards per carry and did not get hit hard frequently. He is most dangerous in the open field, when he can find a cut-back lane, or when he can bounce a run outside. While he is also effective running between the tackles, that is not the best use of his speed and elusiveness. And because of his size (5’9”, 185 pounds) I don’t think he could hold up to the constant pounding that a NFL RB takes on a game to game basis. That makes me think he is a late 1st to early 2nd round pick as far as my grade on him. He has a lot of ability and is an absolute game-breaker, but I don’t think he should be running the ball 20+ times per game in the NFL every week. Giving him 8-10 carries and some passes out of the backfield or when he is split out on a linebacker maximizes his value in my opinion. I really do think he can go that high though, because his speed, quickness, burst, vision and hands are all good enough to step in and contribute to a NFL team right away.

D'Anthony Thomas has a lot of game-breaking speed, and he impressed me as a receiver and as a running back against LSU. He's going to be fun to watch as he develops.

D’Anthony Thomas (Freshman) definitely stuck out to me because this was his first game as a true freshman as well, and he played very well before having some “rookie” struggles in the second half when he lost two fumbles to an opportunistic LSU team. However, his upside and versatility is undeniable. In four games playing both receiver and running back he has totaled 11 receptions, 172 yards and two touchdowns, 173 rushing yards on 23 attempts (7.52 ypc average) and one touchdown. Plus he has returned eight kickoffs for 163 yards, and has returned 3 punts for 52 yards (17.33 average per return). He’s undersized at only 5’9”, 173 pounds but he can get up to 180 or 185 pretty easily in my opinion. But one thing he definitely has is speed. He is extremely fast, has great burst and has reliable hands. He made some big catches on 3rd downs and was one of Darron Thomas’ most reliable targets against LSU as he had six of his 11 total receptions on the season in that game. It will be interesting to see how his role develops as the season goes on, but he is definitely a talented player and one that everyone should keep an eye on.

David Paulson (Senior) is a solid TE who I think will creep up boards slowly this year. He isn’t featured in this high flying Oregon offense by any means, but he has great size for a TE at 6’4”, 241 pounds. He isn’t an athletic freak and I don’t think he will blow you away with his 40 yard dash time, but he has reliable hands and provides Thomas with a reliable security blanket. He only has seven receptions for 48 yards and one touchdown in four games, but I think Paulson is a guy that will be under the radar for the majority of the season. If he is going to emerge I think it will be during the post-season in a game like the Senior Bowl or more likely the East-West Shrine Game where he will prove he has the necessary skills to play at the next level once he gets more reps and touches throughout the practices. I think he’s a solid sleeper at the TE position based off of what I’ve seen, but I don’t think he will ever be a game-breaker either.

Hopefully you enjoyed the second section of my Oregon-LSU post. I apologize for the length of each post, but hopefully most people reading this appreciate more information versus less. Thanks for reading, and look for a couple preliminary scouting reports in the next couple days!

–Tom

Advertisements

– LSU-Mississippi State:

Breakdown:

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

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

Key Players- LSU:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key Players- Mississippi State:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Tom

Cotton Bowl Notes:

Jordan Jefferson, QB, LSU- Jefferson had a pretty good game overall. I’m still not very impressed with him as a passer, but he had some nice throws in this game. He has good arm strength and he has good zip on his throws, but his accuracy tends to be very inconsistent. That showed at times in this game, but overall I would say he played pretty well as a passer. He still made some bad decisions throwing, but they only passed about 20 times (or called 20 pass plays, I haven’t seen the stat sheet yet) so every bad decision he makes is more significant because of the limited chances he had to make a bad throw. He did have a few nice, NFL throws though. Usually they were to Terrance Toliver, one of my favorite underrated prospects in the draft this year. Jefferson also showcased his mobility and though I knew he could pick up yards with his legs very effectively he looked really fast tonight, like in the 4.5-4.6 range. His play is usually the deciding factor in whether LSU wins or loses and his good play against Texas A&M was the main catalyst in their victory in my opinion. He did have a few bad throws though, one of which became a highlight reel interception for #5 in Texas A&M’s secondary, but there is still hope for him to develop into at least a solid passer as a senior. Will that happen? I wouldn’t bet $20 on it, but there is definitely room for progression and he looked better in this game than in the previous games I had seen of him this season.

Stevan Ridley, RB, LSU- Ridley really impressed me in this game. He looked very fast relative to his 4.55 listed 40 time, he looked explosive in and out of his cuts, he was decisive as a runner and ran hard and finished his runs which I like.  He seems to have solid vision, though I don’t think he necessarily has the speed to get the edge. He looks much better running between the tackles than he does on toss plays. A couple times on stretch plays I thought he had a cut-back lane to get North and South faster for a solid gain but instead he ran patiently behind his blockers or tried to bounce it further and got tackled for no gain or a loss. If he had cut it back then I might have thought more of his vision, but he had some nice lanes to run through in this game. I’d like to see him more involved in the passing game next year, and in blitz pick-up, but those are both things that can be developed more at the next level. Especially the pass blocking aspect. I think Ridley can be a productive NFL runner, but at this point he is probably a 4th round pick or so because he doesn’t have elite speed, he isn’t very involved in their passing game as a receiver or as a blocker, and I think he only has solid vision. There are plenty of examples of rookies or young running backs getting drafted in the middle of the draft, late in the draft or not even at all coming in and having quality careers or at least a couple big seasons. I think Ridley is a guy that people could sleep on as a draft prospect but then have that kind of a season or career because he strikes me as a quality runner.

Terrence Toliver, WR, LSU- Toliver is a guy that every time I watch I just come away impressed. Every single time. He is a skinny receiver but he is tall and is a long strider so he has deceptive deep speed but he has reliable hands and catches the ball well away from his frame which makes him Jefferson’s favorite target. In this game he definitely impressed me because when I stopped watching with about 4 minutes left in the game after Texas A&M threw the game clinching interception Toliver had 5 catches for over 100 yards and three touchdowns even though LSU only threw the ball 15 or so times. And like he always seems to whenever I watch him he showed up regularly on 3rd down with those catches. I swear the majority of his catches are either touchdowns or 3rd down conversions. You can just sense they are going to throw him the ball in those situations when they really need a play and he comes through many more times than not. I think Toliver is a really underrated receiver and I’m really high on him. I’d love to see him on the Falcons, but he probably isn’t a significant upgrade over Jenkins and he isn’t a speed demon who can help stretch the field to take some pressure off of Roddy. But I hope he has a good offseason and that he doesn’t go to a Falcons division rival because I really like him as a prospect. He is going to be at the East/West Shrine game so hopefully he has a good week there. If I had to guess I would say he will.

Spencer Ware, RB, LSU- I had never seen Ware play before but he really impressed me as a runner and as a receiver. I don’t know what his measurements are yet but he ran effectively and also caught the ball pretty effectively for a running back. He has a lot of speed and even though he appears to be relatively undersized he runs really hard. On the first play that I saw him touch the ball he broke a run out, shrugged off one tackle, stiff armed another would-be tackler away from him and ran through another tackle before finally being taken down along the sideline after a huge run. I watched that play and just said “Wow…” it was that impressive of a run. He kept showing up as the game continued too, so I will definitely be doing my due diligence on him. But watch out for him because he had a really good game.

Tyrann Mathieu, FS, LSU- Mathieu was absolutely everywhere in this game. I could not believe my eyes and ears when I heard he was a TRUE freshman and saw the graphic pop up listing that he was a true freshman who was listed at only 5’9”. It blew my mind. First of all, he does look small but he runs really well and clearly has a lot of speed, both in long and short distances. He has great burst and acceleration and he looked like a seasoned veteran out there at times. He made some truly incredible plays. My two favorites occurred in each half. The one in the first half involved him blitzing off the edge against the RT. He shot off the line and the RT was in position to slow him down a bit even though he obviously had enough speed to get the edge, but Mathieu dipped his shoulder and got the edge like he was a seasoned defensive end executing a speed rush. That shoulder dip in addition to his size led him to fly right around/under the tackle’s shoulder after which he absolutely lit up Tannehill for a sack and a forced fumble. It was an absolutely terrific play. He showed up a number of other times with tackles, etc. but he saved his best play for last when he was in coverage and Texas A&M was attempting a late comeback down two touchdowns. Tannehill dropped back to pass and threw to his receiver underneath but Mathieu saw it coming. He closed on it, dove and fully extended to make a fantastic catch with his hands right in front of the intended receiver for the game clinching interception. I could barely believe my eyes, it was one of the best interceptions I have seen all year without a doubt. All I have to say is if you don’t know who this kid is you will soon. He may not be big, but he plays big and makes huge plays and he’s only a TRUE freshman. I can’t wait to see how he develops over the next two years. Watch out for him, he’s going to be a really good one.

Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU- I was not particularly impressed with Peterson in this game. I didn’t see him a lot, but when I did it was because Jeff Fuller was catching a pass against him on a curl route on the sideline. Again, I didn’t pay specific attention to him in this game but almost every time I saw him Fuller was catching a pass in front of him, a number of them for first downs. So as a result I did not get a very good impression of him in this game.

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M- I have to start this paragraph off by saying that I like Tannehill infinitely more as a prospect than I liked Jerrod Johnson. Did he have his struggles in this game? Sure. But you have to remember that this is his 6th game as a starter. Johnson was making dumber decisions than he was and he was a senior with much more starting experience, hence the change. It speaks volumes about Tannehill that he was able to take over and finish the season with five wins and only one loss in his six games as a starter, including victories against Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas. I may have to watch those games just to see him play after seeing this. Texas A&M does run a pro style offense though so that will help him as a prospect and he throws a nice ball. He has good zip on his throws and I think he has a NFL arm from that aspect. He had pretty good ball placement overall, but this is just based off of watching him live so obviously I will have to go back over the game and check that out. He also has vastly better footwork on his drops and when he passes the ball than Johnson which was as refreshing as anything to see. He looked like a pro-style QB when he dropped back, it was great to see. He had some bad decisions in this game but both of his interceptions were pretty rare plays. The first one occurred on a pretty big miscommunication with #7 who ran a curl when Tannehill threw a fade or something and the corner just kept running and got a free interception. The second interception came when Texas A&M had become completely one dimensional and Tannehill threw the ball a bit behind his receiver and Mathieu capitalized on it by making a fantastic interception. As far as two interception games go those are pretty good ways to end up with turnovers from a decision making aspect. Overall I was impressed with Tannehill though. He still has developing to do and I really look forward to watching him play next year, but he has solid size, good arm strength, pretty good accuracy based off of what I saw in this game, good footwork, pretty impressive mobility and a little pocket poise. I couldn’t believe that a guy who hadn’t started all season or ever at Texas A&M could step in and lead that five game winning streak to finish the season the way they did, but I do now. He has NFL talent in my opinion, and clearly he has some pretty impressive intangibles if he was able to step in and immediately make his team better like he did. Clearly I liked what I saw, even though he may have struggled a bit statistically and his team lost, but I am very much looking forward to seeing him play and develop as a QB next year. Keep an eye on him obviously.

Cyrus Gray, RB, Texas A&M- I thought he looked good against a very good LSU defense. I am not very familiar with him or his offensive line, but he had a 100 yard rushing game even though they trailed for most of the game after the 1st quarter. He looked pretty quick, like he had solid size and pretty good leg drive as well. I didn’t pay close attention to him because I was trying to learn everything I could about Tannehill since I had never seen him play before, but overall Gray impressed me. I look forward to watching him play with Tannehill again next year, and with Fuller leaving he should be one of the key cogs in their offense.

Jeff Fuller, WR, Texas A&M- Fuller had a pretty good game, though it wasn’t one of his best. I didn’t see how well he blocked in the running game which is something I will have to evaluate, but he caught a number of passes against Patrick Peterson which kind of surprised me. I think Peterson might have been saying he was pushing off a bit, which also wouldn’t surprise me, but I was definitely taken aback by the amount of separation Fuller was creating against someone so athletically gifted as Peterson. He had a solid game though and caught a number of first downs on curls, etc. I didn’t pay too close attention to see how well he caught the ball with his hands though, so that will be something I look into more closely when I re-watch this game and others that he played in. He has good size, probably slower than 4.5 speed if I had to estimate, and I’m not sure how much quickness/burst he has to get in and out of his breaks as a route runner, but he had a very productive year and is really effective in the red zone.

Uzoma Nwachukwu, WR, Texas A&M- Nwachukwu has an awesome name and he had a pretty solid game too. He caught a touchdown on a half-back pass and had a few other nice catches. Again, I don’t recall how well he caught the ball with his hands or whether he let it get into his pads, which is one of the easiest way to guarantee dropping passes in the NFL. He looked like he had 4.48-4.5 speed though and since he is only a junior I imagine he will be back next year looking to replace Fuller as the go-to guy on offense. I look forward to seeing how well he adjusts to that role because he had a pretty good year as the complementary guy. It is a whole different mindset being the #1 target though, so it will be interesting to see how he handles that. Tannehill should make it easier on him than Johnson did on Fuller at times.

Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M- Von Miller is a polarizing guy in my opinion. Some people love him because of his speed and quickness off the edge and because of his great production as a pass rusher. Others can’t stand him as a prospect because they think he is too small to hold up against the run, among other things. I haven’t watched enough of him to come to a conclusion on him yet but my initial impression is that I like him as a prospect. I don’t think he will be a 10-15 sack guy like he has been in college, but I think he has the potential to be a quality pass rusher in the NFL. He has impressive speed off the edge and a couple times he showed really nice quickness and burst to beat his man inside when he opened his hips too early. That was something I had never seen him do before, but that may just have been because I haven’t seen him play very much. I think he will end up going in the first round, but I thought he had a solid game based off of how much I saw him.

Coryell Judie, CB, Texas A&M- I didn’t see him much in this game, but he warrants mention for his sick one handed interception that he made in the first half off of Jordan Jefferson. It will be on Sportscenter, it was a great catch. Other than that I didn’t see much of him.

 

Sorry about the lateness of this post. I thought they might be worth looking through, especially since Ridley has decided to leave early for the draft. He could be a steal for someone in the mid-rounds…

Thanks for reading!

–Tom