Tag Archive: T.J. Yates


Playoff Prediction Post:

I realize I’m late on this, meant to post it earlier but lost track of time today. I had the Texans picked though, I swear!

Wild Card:

Texans over Bengals
Saints over Lions
Giants over Falcons
Pittsburgh over Denver

The Giants-Falcons game could be interesting depending on what Falcons team shows up. They have struggled against quality competition this year and have gotten to the playoffs largely because of a weak schedule (especially to finish the season). The Giants pass rush could give the Falcons offensive line fits, but if they can run the ball and keep Matt Ryan upright they could make things interesting. The Giants should be able to pass all over the Falcons if they want to, but may struggle to run the ball a bit. I’m picking the Giants because they know how to win in the playoffs and the Falcons haven’t proven that they can yet.

Divisional Round:

Ravens over Texans
Patriots over Pittsburgh
Saints over 49ers
Packers over Giants

The Texans have been an inspiring story winning without Matt Schaub and Mario Williams, but I don’t think T.J. Yates will be able to threaten downfield enough to keep the Ravens from working to take away Arian Foster. The Ravens offense is going against a quality defense but I think they will be able to move the ball. Joe Flacco may not have a ton of playoff experience, but he certainly has more than Yates. I’m not sold on Yates making critical plays in big games and I think the Ravens will expose his flaws for all to see.

The Patriots over Pittsburgh is a tough call for me. I think the Patriots are a good team but their secondary is a mess and I am not sold on their defense at all. Pittsburgh can move the ball and threaten teams vertically, so they could make New England pay if they bite on the run. It’s tough to bet against Tom Brady in the playoffs though, and even though the Patriots haven’t won a playoff game in a while I think they have a good chance to win one with Pittsburgh coming up to Foxboro.

The Saints over 49ers isn’t an automatic either, but I think the Saints might be the only team in the NFC that can beat the Packers. There’s just no way I can bet against Drew Brees, especially with Alex Smith starting opposite him.

The Giants are one of the few teams that is built to beat the Packers. The Packers can’t run the ball very well and rely on passing the ball quite a bit, and the Giants have shown that they have the blueprint to beat passing teams when they upset Tom Brady and the Patriots in the Super Bowl in 2007. This is an interesting match-up, especially since Aaron Rodgers didn’t play in week 17, but I expect the Packers to end up winning despite some of their struggles on defense.

Conference Championship Games:

Ravens over Patriots
Saints over Packers

The Ravens have a great defense that I think can slow down the Patriots offense enough for their offense to win the game. I don’t think the Patriots can slow down the Ravens enough to win this game personally. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t think much of the Patriots defense, especially their secondary, but I do love the Ravens defense. So I’m going with them to beat the Patriots!

Yes, I’m picking the Saints. I can’t stand the Saints for what they do to the Falcons every year, but I do respect them. Their defense certainly isn’t elite, but they will be able to pressure Rodgers a bit and won’t have to worry much about the running game I don’t think. The Packers defense has little chance of slowing down the Saints offense and I think this game will end up being a shoot-out, but despite it all I think the Saints can win. They are playing the best football in the NFC right now and as the Packers know it’s all about getting hot at the right time. The Saints are hot, the Packers are not.

Superbowl:

Ravens over Saints

I am a defense first guy even though I love slinging the ball around and scouting quarterbacks, so that has something to do with my pick here. The Saints are a great offense, but the Ravens defense can slow them down in my opinion. Do they match up perfectly? No, I don’t think so. But I think they can rattle Brees and knock him around enough to contain their offense when they need to. The Saints know how to manufacture pressure, but I think the Ravens can run the ball on them and extend drives that way. I am a closet Ravens fan so take that into consideration, but I believe defense wins championships so one of the few good defensive teams left has a great shot to win the title!

Thanks for reading, it’ll be interesting to see how I do!

–Tom

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Scouting Report:

Yates has the potential to be a solid #2 at some point, but I don't think he will ever be a starter.

Positives: Solid size, arm strength, accuracy and athletic ability. Yates has a lot of experience as a starter in a pro-style offense and had his best statistical season of his career as a senior and has shown considerable improvement since he was first inserted into the starting line-up. He has pretty good mechanics, solid footwork on his drops and because he plays in a pro-style offense his transition from college to the NFL will not be as difficult because he has had to go through reads, progressions and take his drops from center already. He has matured a lot and will throw the ball away and check down when he doesn’t see anything promising downfield to pick up some yardage.

Negatives: Yates has questionable decision making ability and I don’t think he has much upside as a NFL QB. He has some arm strength but he doesn’t have a rocket by any means, and the only time he ever successfully completes deep passes are when there is no safety help over the top and he can just float the ball in the air and let his receiver beat one on one coverage and run under the ball. Otherwise not only does he not complete it if he throws it, he rarely has the confidence to even attempt to do so. I don’t know if he’s scared to challenge downfield or if he just doesn’t read coverages that well, but neither is a particularly encouraging sign. It’s a positive sign that he checks down consistently but he checks down far too often and sometimes far too early in his progression. Many times I have seen him check down to a RB in the flat or in the middle of the field during a two minute drill near the end of a half or at the end of a game and it is just maddening. His accuracy is also not consistent and he will throw off of his back foot in the face of pressure, and generally is unreliable in the face of any kind of pressure whether it be from the defensive line, from a 3rd down situation or from a crucial drive late in a game. He just doesn’t have much mental toughness from what I can tell.

Overall: I think Yates has the potential to be a #2 quarterback at some point but I don’t think he will ever be more than a stop-gap starter. He has some ability in his arm and some athleticism but he really just doesn’t have any upside to make him a high draft pick. I don’t think he has the mental toughness to be a quarterback and I don’t think he would be able to handle being a starting quarterback in the NFL.

Projection: 5th/6th round. Because he might be a solid back-up at some point he warrants consideration late in the draft, but his limited upside prevents him from warranting earlier selection in my opinion.

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

Arm Strength: 3.0
Accuracy: 2.5
Mobility: 3.0
Decision Making: 2.5
Mechanics: 2.5
Pocket Awareness: 2.5
Intangibles: 2.0

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Weigh-In Results:

Nation

Pos First Last Team Ht Wt Hand Arm Wing
DB Isa Abdul-Quddus Fordham 6000 200 10 1/8 32 76 1/4
LS Corey Adams Kansas State 6043 246 9 32 7/8 77 5/8
OLB Mario Addison Troy 6025 245 9 3/8 33 5/8 80
DT Ladi Ajiboye South Carolina 6016 293 9 7/8 34 1/8 79 1/8
DE Christian Anthony Grambling State 6034 281 10 1/4 32 7/8 79 3/8
RB Damien Berry Miami 5104 212 9 3/8 31 5/8 75 5/8
P/K Matt Bosher Miami (FL) 6005 207 9 5/8 30 7/8 74 1/4
CB Niles Brinkley Wisconsin 5096 190 9 1/4 30 1/8 72 7/8
CB Vance Cuff Georgia 5102 171 9 5/8 31 1/4 74 7/8
OL Josh Davis Georgia 6073 305 10 3/4 35 5/8 85 3/4
S Dominic DeCicco Pittsburgh 6026 232 8 5/8 32 7/8 79
RB Shaun Draughn North Carolina 5112 210 9 5/8 31 75 1/8
WR Kris Durham Georgia 6052 214 9 1/8 31 5/8 77 1/8
DT Kenrick Ellis Hampton 6050 336 10 3/8 34 3/4 82 5/8
QB Nathan Enderle Idaho 6042 240 9 5/8 31 75 1/4
CB Anthony Gaitor FIU 5097 175 10 30 1/4 73 1/2
OLB Michael Gee Indiana (PA) 6004 239 8 7/8 32 7/8 77 1/2
DT John Graves Virginia Tech 6033 278 9 3/4 31 1/2 77 1/2
TE Daniel Hardy Idaho 6035 248 9 3/4 30 5/8 76 5/8
ILB Mario Harvey Marshall 5112 250 9 3/4 32 7/8 76 3/4
OL Peter Hendrickson Tulane 6076 310 10 1/4 33 3/4 82 3/8
WR Andre Holmes Hillsdale 6045 209 8 1/2 34 74
OLB Jeremiha Hunter Iowa 6006 239 9 3/8 31 5/8 75 3/4
OL Carl Johnson Florida 6052 353 9 7/8 35 3/8 85 1/8
WR Derrell Johnson-Koulianos Iowa 5116 204 9 1/2 32 75 1/4
DT Frank Kearse Alabama A&M 6041 311 10 3/4 34 3/4 84 3/4
OL Daniel Kilgore Appalachian State 6033 304 9 7/8 35 3/8 85 1/8
OL Jarriel King South Carolina 6052 310 10 35 1/2 86
S Mark Legree Appalachian State 6000 211 8 3/4 30 1/2 72 5/8
DE Lazarius Levingston LSU 6035 288 10 3/8 32 3/4 79 1/2
DE Craig Marshall South Florida 6045 276 9 1/4 32 1/4 81
CB Byron Maxwell Clemson 6006 207 9 1/8 32 5/8 76 7/8
WR Joe Morgan Walsh 6005 185 8 1/2 30 7/8 74 5/8
OLB Adrian Moten Maryland 6015 225 9 3/8 31 1/2 77 1/4
RB Richard Murphy LSU 6007 204 8 7/8 31 76 3/8
WR Jamar Newsome Central Flordia 6005 198 8 7/8 33 77 1/4
DE Clay Nurse Illinois 6026 259 9 5/8 34 1/8 81 1/4
TE Schuylar Oordt Northern Iowa 6056 258 9 5/8 33 1/4 80 3/8
RB Keith Payne Virginia 6022 257 10 3/4 32 1/2 78 1/4
OL Curt Porter Jacksonville State 6070 308 9 3/4 34 82 1/4
K Jacob Rogers Cincinnati 6022 215 9 1/2 31 1/8 76 1/2
WR Jock Sanders West Virginia 5063 174 8 7/8 28 3/8 68 1/2
TE Andre Smith Virginia Tech 6044 269 10 1/8 34 3/4 82 3/8
ILB D.J. Smith Appalachian State 5106 237 9 3/4 31 1/4 75 3/4
OT Willie Smith East Carolina 6047 305 11 33 3/4 81
WR Owen Spencer North Carolina State 6024 191 9 5/8 33 1/8 77 5/8
FB Ryan Taylor North Carolina 6033 250 10 1/8 33 1/8 77 5/8
OL Zane Taylor Utah 6024 313 10 32 77 3/4
OLB J.T. Thomas West Virginia 6012 236 9 1/4 30 3/4 74 1/4
OL Brad Thorson Kansas 6040 301 10 32 1/4 79 1/4
CB Devon Torrence Ohio State 5115 190 8 3/4 29 3/4 70 5/8
QB Jeff Van Camp Florida Atlantic 6052 209 10 32 1/2 78 3/4
S Anthony Walters Delaware 6000 201 9 1/2 32 77 1/4
QB T.J. Yates North Carolina 6035 221 10 1/8 32 1/4 75 3/4
OT D.J. Young Michigan State 6047 307 9 3/4 35 1/8 83 7/8

Texas

WR Kris Adams UTEP 6034 194 10 L 34 80
OL Matt Allen Texas A&M 6025 279 10 L 33 1/4 79 1/2
ILB Tressor Baptiste Texas A&M Kingsville 6001 235 8 3/4 31 1/8 75 3/8
OL Tim Barnes Missouri 6036 297 10 32 7/8 78 1/4
FB Bubba Bartlett Carroll – MT 6007 238 10 31 74
OL Byron Bell New Mexico 6052 348 10 1/2 32 3/4 81
DT Corbin Bryant Northwestern 6041 302 9 1/4 32 1/4 76 1/4
WR Stephen Burton West Texas A&M 6016 219 8 7/8 31 1/2 74 7/8
DE Ugo Chinasa Oklahoma State 6051 254 9 7/8 35 1/2 85 1/4
QB Ryan Colburn Fresno State 6030 218 9 1/4 29 1/2 73 1/2
DE Wayne Daniels TCU 6006 257 10 32 1/2 78 3/8
OLB Quentin Davie Northwestern 6043 238 9 3/4 33 3/4 80
DE Roberto Davis NW Missouri State 6022 247 10 32 3/4 78 3/8
OL Ray Dominguez Arkansas 6042 340 9 1/2 33 80 7/8
OLB Brian Duncan Texas Tech 6003 237 9 1/4 30 3/4 74 1/4
P Derek Epperson Baylor 6032 237 9 1/8 32 1/4 77 7/8
RB Mario Fannin Auburn 5105 225 9 3/8 30 7/8 74 1/4
RB Jay Finley Baylor 5107 198 9 1/4 32 5/8 76 1/2
LS Harry Flaherty Princeton 6026 242 10 1/4 32 7/8 78 1/2
DB Josh Gatlin North Dakota State 6003 195 8 3/4 30 7/8 74 1/8
TE Cameron Graham Louisville 6031 240 9 3/8 L 30 7/8 75 1/2
CB Darian Hagan Cal 5113 178 8 7/8 31 7/8 75 5/8
WR Marcus Harris Murray State 6007 187 9 1/4 31 1/4 75
TE Robert Housler Florida Atlantic 6054 249 9 1/2 34 3/8 80 7/8
OL Kevin Hughes SE Louisiana 6037 297 9 3/8 33 1/2 80 1/2
FB Robert Hughes Notre Dame 5110 233 10 1/4 L 32 75 3/8
DE Eddie Jones Texas 6022 258 10 1/4 32 7/8 79
CB Ryan Jones NW Missouri State 5111 197 8 5/8 30 3/4 72 3/8
OLB Jamari Lattimore Middle Tennessee State 6020 218 10 3/4 33 1/8 79 7/8
WR Ricardo Lockette Fort Valley State 6021 207 9 7/8 33 1/2 79
DT Ricky Lumpkin Kentucky 6034 308 8 7/8 31 7/8 77 5/8
WR Chris Matthews Kentucky 6050 224 9 3/4 33 5/8 80 5/8
WR Denarius Moore Tennessee 6000 191 9 1/4 32 1/2 77 1/4
OL Derek Newton Arkansas State 6050 311 9 1/8 31 7/8 77 5/8
DT Lucas Patterson Texas A&M 6041 290 9 5/8 30 3/4 77 1/8
OLB Spencer Paysinger Oregon 6026 230 9 32 1/4 76
OL Mike Person Montana State 6047 296 9 3/8 31 7/8 77 7/8
QB Josh Portis California (PA) 6031 209 9 3/4 33 1/2 79 7/8
QB Taylor Potts Texas Tech 6040 220 9 3/4 32 7/8 80 1/4
DT Jerrell Powe Mississippi 6020 331 9 5/8 33 1/8 78
S Chris Prosinski Wyoming 6012 205 9 5/8 29 7/8 72 1/4
CB Reggie Rembert Air Force 5073 180 9 3/8 29 3/4 70 3/8
S Maurice Rolle Lousiana-Lafayette 6002 189 8 5/8 32 5/8 76 5/8
WR Jeremy Ross California 5117 212 9 1/8 30 3/4 74 1/4
CB Kevin Rutland MIssouri 5117 191 8 1/2 30 7/8 72 5/8
TE Stephen Skelton Fordham 6046 247 10 32 1/4 77 3/4
CB Buster Skrine Tennessee-Chattanooga 5095 186 8 5/8 30 1/8 72 1/4
RB Chad Spann Northern Illinois 5080 199 9 30 71 7/8
OL Chris Stewart Notre Dame 6043 346 9 1/8 34 83 1/8
OL Isaiah Thompson Houston 6035 300 9 1/8 32 3/4 77 1/4
OL Trevis Turner Abilene Christian 6067 342 10 3/8 33 5/8 81 3/8
S Jay Valai Wisconsin 5083 203 10 1/4 31 7/8 73 3/4
K Thomas Weber Arizona State University 6004 200 9 7/8 31 3/8 75 3/8
DT Colby Whitlock Texas Tech 6023 299 9 31 1/4 75 3/8
OLB Jabara Williams Stephen F. Austin 6022 223 9 3/8 31 1/8 75 1/8

This information was brought to you by Wes Bunting at National Football post. http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/NFLPA-Game-weighin-results-and-notes.html

Some of the guys I will be paying particular attention to this week are Ugo Chinasa, Kris Durham, Chad Spann, Mario Fannin (Fannin was one of my potential sleepers for this year but with Dyer’s emergence he didn’t get a lot of carries), Stephen Skelton, Jerrell Powe (a player I thought should have been at the Senior Bowl), Chris Matthews, Denarius Moore, Damien Berry, Dominic DeCicco, Kenrick Ellis, Nathan Enderle, John Graves, Mario Harvey, Carl Johnson, Derrell Johnson-Koulianos (a player with significant off-field issues to answer for), Jarriel King, T.J. Yates and Tim Barnes. It will be interesting to see how they all play.

Chinasa, a defensive end, showed up when I was watching Oklahoma State this year on defense, he has solid edge speed and managed 38 tackles, six tackles for loss, four sacks, one forced fumble and one interception on the season. He measured in at 6’5″, 254 pounds with very long 35.5 inch arms and a wingspan of over 85 inches. His long arms will really help him keep blockers off of him, so it will be interesting to see what kind of burst and edge speed he shows this week. I think he has draftable talent.

Kris Durham, a wide receiver, showed up a lot when I was watching Georgia games to get a look at A.J. Green this year. He reminds me a LOT of Brian Finneran, the long tenured Atlanta Falcons receiver. He is very tall and skinny but he has over 31.5 inch arms, good leaping ability and very reliable hands. He can be a long-term possession receiver for whatever team gives him a shot much like Finneran has for the Falcons in my opinion.

Fannin, a running back from Auburn, was a guy I thought might have a break-out year. Perhaps not on the level that Ben Tate did, but I thought he might surprise some people. Unfortunately for him that didn’t really happen, but I think he has a chance to show that he can be an effective #3 RB this week. He is very powerfully built and should have a solid week when he gets touches. I am very interested to see how he does this week.

Jerrell Powe, a defensive tackle from Mississippi, should honestly dominate this week. He is an extremely talented player and could very well sneak into the first round if he plays well here, tests well at the combine and perhaps most importantly if he has a good showing during interviews with whatever teams talk to him. He should be extremely disruptive this week because he had the talent level to play at the Senior Bowl or at least the East-West Shrine Game. He is a potentially great fit for teams looking for a 3-4 NT, so he will have a lot of eyes on him this week.

Chris Matthews, a wide receiver from Kentucky, has great size at 6’5″, 224 pounds and has long arms at over 33.5 inches, but I have never been that impressed with him. He is a weapon in jump-ball situations but it will be interesting to see how he progresses as a route runner this week and how he does catching the ball. If he can start to run routes with a little more burst and catch the ball well away from his body he could really help himself this week because with his size he will intrigue a lot of scouts.

Denarius Moore is a reliable receiver from Tennessee that I think is absolutely worth a late round pick. He’s smaller at 6’0″, 191 pounds but he has good speed (about 4.46-4.48 is my guess) and reliable hands. He had a down year statistically because of the problems at QB before Tyler Bray took over down the stretch, but I think he is at least worth a late round pick. He should surprise some people this week because he is a better player than a lot of people give him credit for in my opinion.

Dominic DeCicco, a safety from Pittsburgh, will likely be a 7th round pick or a UDFA, but I think he will end up sticking on a NFL roster. He has the potential to be a special teams ace in the NFL. He is a great tackler, supports the run well and while he is a ‘tweener in the sense that he is too slow to play safety and probably not a great fit at linebacker either (despite being close to 6’3″, and 232 pounds) he should provide value as a special teamer. Look for him to support the run well all week as a filling safety and to give a lot of effort on special teams.

Kenrick Ellis, a defensive tackle from Hampton, is a mammoth DT. He measured in at 6’5″, 336 pounds with huge hands at almost 10.5″, 34.75 inch arms and a wingspan of over 82.5 inches. He is a huge guy, so it will be very interesting to see how he does this week. I have never seen him play, so unfortunately I can’t give too much insight onto his playing style. That is one reason that I will be paying close attention to him during the practices this week.

John Graves, a defensive tackle from Virginia Tech, is a bit of a DE/DT ‘tweener in that he doesn’t have the burst and edge speed you want in a 4-3 DE but he is undersized for a 4-3 DT. It might seem that his best position would be a 3-4 DE if he could add some weight, but I am not sure how comfortable he would be taking up blockers instead of trying to penetrate upfield and be disruptive like he has always done at Virginia Tech. I have a feeling he will warrant late round consideration to play LE in a rotation on run downs and then slide inside to DT on pass downs. It will be interesting to see how he does this week because I think he could present some value in that role.

Mario Harvey, an ILB from Marshall, burst onto the scene with a huge game against West Virginia early in this college football season and I have had my eye on him ever since. He weighed in at 5’11”, 250 pounds (which is very thick for a guy his size) with almost 33 inch arms, which helps him as a linebacker. It will be interesting to see how he runs and moves in space this week and obviously how he does against the run. I like him as a mid-late round guy and I think he might surprise some people who have never seen him play.

Derrell Johnson-Koulianos (or DJK) is a former Hawkeye wide receiver who was kicked off of the team before the bowl game for possession of illegal substances in his room, one of which was cocaine. There are a lot of rumors about that that I won’t get into, but one thing is for sure: He needs a good week of practice on the field and off the field. Whenever he gets interviewed he is going to be on the hot seat with scouts because character concerns like that raise serious red flags. He is talented enough to be drafted in the first three rounds potentially, but he might not even get drafted because of his off-field issues at this point. That sets him up for a good comeback story (and whatever team that drafts him or signs him as a free agent could be in line for a potential steal) if and only if he can start to make positive changes to stay out of trouble. That, as much as anything he does on the field, will be critical for any evaluation of him.

Jarriel King, an offensive lineman from South Carolina, is a confusing guy for me to evaluate. He has a lot of athletic ability as a former TE, but he is just so raw as a blocker that he couldn’t stay in the starting line-up consistently for the Gamecocks. I think that will probably show this week because I have seen him effectively mirror pass rushers when they try a speed rush against him, but his technique is not very good and I think his footwork needs improvement. However, as a mid-late round pick he has potential steal written all over him because of his great size (6’5″, 310 pounds) and his very long arms (35.5″ arms, 86″ wingspan). So even if he doesn’t block very effectively this week keep an eye on his athleticism… it’s pretty impressive. As I said, he is incredibly raw and undeveloped at this point, but he has the athletic ability to develop into a LT in the NFL and that is rare enough that he will warrant a 4th or 5th round consideration if he can have an alright showing this week. He has had problems with his heart before also, so that is something to keep in mind.

Hopefully that is a suitable introduction to some of the players that will be on display this week. I look forward to reading all of the notes with all of you and of course I look forward to seeing how these players do this week and in the game! Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Here are some notes I have on players I watched in recent bowl games:

-Justin Burke, QB, Louisville- He showed solid ability in the bowl game against Southern Mississippi. He has solid size, arm strength and accuracy. Plus he has some mobility to extend plays and occasionally pick up yards with his legs.  He started a little slow but he seemed to improve as the game went on, especially with his ball placement. He won’t be drafted early, but as a late round pick he warrants consideration because he could make a team as a developmental #3.

-Byron Stingily, OT, Louisville- Stingily is a guy that I had not heard of all season long but he was pointed out to me by a friend of mine. (check out his site: http://www.falcfans.com/forums/viewforum.php?f=3 ) He is a senior who looked good to me in this game. He has good size and athleticism for an offensive tackle, and he mirrored pass rushers well in this game which was good to see. He seems to have at least adequate lateral agility to play LT in the NFL, but I am not sure how well he sustains blocks and I think he needs to be coached up from a technique standpoint. But he could end up being a mid-round pick because if you have the athletic ability to play LT in the NFL teams will draft you and attempt to develop your technique until you are ready to be a starter. I think Stingily has that potential, so he could go much earlier than many people could imagine this year.

-Johnny Patrick, CB, Louisville- Patrick had a good game against Southern Miss. He had pretty good coverage in man and in zone plus he forced a fumble. He looks like he will be able to be a mid-round selection at corner but I am not completely sold on him as a man-coverage corner, though I think he could be a pretty good zone coverage corner right now.

-Bilal Powell, RB, Louisville- Powell is an impressive power back. He has good size, he runs hard and has pretty good burst for a guy his size. He also seems to run with good pad level. He is probably a 3rd or 4th round pick right now, but if he’s drafted into the right system he can be a contributor as a rookie. Especially in short yardage situations. He could eventually develop into a quality starter.

-Delone Carter, RB, Syracuse- Carter had a huge game against Kansas State thanks to two long touchdown runs, but even aside from those he was effective. He is a smaller back at only 5’9″ or so but he is well built and has great leg drive which helps him run through arm tackles and gain yards after contact. He also showed what will likely turn out to be low 4.4 speed when he ripped off those huge touchdown runs which was great to see. He has had some academic issues in the past as well as a minor off-field incident that (I believe) was a one punch fight. However, he will be at the East-West Shrine Game showcasing his talents so he has the potential to get drafted as high as the 4th round in my opinion. If he interviews well his game should speak for itself, even though I don’t think his hands are very good and I don’t think he has much experience as a pass protector because he usually isn’t on the field for 3rd downs. Oh, and I don’t think he fumbled at all this season despite over 200+ rushing attempts. That is impressive ball security.

-Marcus Sales, WR, Syracuse- It was hard not to notice him since he had three touchdowns against Kansas State. He had 5 catches, 172 yards and three scores in the bowl game, but he is only a junior and he should be back for his senior season since coming into the game he only had 21 catches, 242 yards and 1 touchdown in 11 games this year (he didn’t play in the first two games of the season, I don’t know whether it was for injury, a miscellaneous reason or if he wasn’t high enough on the depth chart). He ended on a very, very high note though and he showed some deep speed, though I’m not sure how much faster than a 4.5 he would run. He is listed at 6’0″, 177 pounds but he looked bigger than 177 to me on TV. He didn’t look like he was running very crisp routes, but the field was terrible so you could tell he was not exploding in and out of his breaks because he and the rest of the players on the field could barely stand up some places on the field. Regardless, when a guy breaks out like this you have to keep an eye on him, so I will monitor how he does next year to see how he looks and if he has NFL talent.

-Daniel Thomas, RB, Kansas State- I have never been a huge fan of Thomas and he didn’t look extremely good in this game. He broke a 51 yard run that I did not see, but after that he only managed 39 more yards on 21 carries, which isn’t even a two yard average. That isn’t his fault though because Syracuse was playing very downhill and they were determined to not let Thomas beat them even though he finished with 90 yards and 3 touchdowns on 22 carries. In my opinion he can be a quality power back in the NFL, but I haven’t watched him enough to see how often he runs with good pad level. However I think he has good vision, he does a good job of getting North/South and not dancing around in the backfield (something he struggled to do against Syracuse because of penetration into the backfield), he has surprising agility for a guy his size to make guys miss in the open field as well. At 6’2″, 228 pounds he is a load to bring down, but I don’t think he will run any faster than a 4.5 or a 4.55 at the combine. That doesn’t mean he can’t be productive though. I just need to see more of him to evaluate his pad level and his leg drive and ability to generate yards after contact. Usually when I have seen him he has been bottled up (against Syracuse) or he has been running through gaping holes (against Iowa State and UCLA) so I haven’t been able to judge his leg drive appropriately yet. He has ability though. I just don’t know if he will end up in the 2nd round as some believe. I think he will end up in the 3rd round after all is said and done. He also seems to have solid hands, but I haven’t evaluated him as a receiver or as a pass blocker yet.

-Kendric Burney, CB, North Carolina- I love Burney. I’m a UNC fan and I have had the privilege of watching Burney for the last few years and I have always been a fan. He is definitely a smaller corner as he is only listed at 5’9″, 190 pounds but I think he is probably 5’8″, 180 or 185 in reality. I think he will run under a 4.5 also, which should help his cause. However if you can look past his small size and appreciate his game you will be impressed. I think he could be an ideal zone coverage corner because of his great ball skills, his experience in zone coverage and his great burst to close which is critical for cornerbacks in general, but especially for corners in zone coverage. He was one of the players suspended for part of the season (I believe it was six or seven games, I think seven) but he gave us a boost as soon as we got him back. I really hope he gets an invite to the East-West Shrine Game so he can show scouts what he can do. I really think he could be a great zone coverage corner. I think going in the 4th round is entirely realistic for him despite his size. In the right scheme though… he could definitely be a quality starter. I am not sure how he would do in a man coverage scheme though because he would be consistently mismatched with taller receivers and I don’t think it would play to his strengths like a zone system would.

-T.J. Yates, QB, North Carolina- I am not a big Yates fan but he certainly did have a good senior season and I appreciate him helping send this senior class out with a win in the bowl game, even if it was controversial. I have been critical of Yates in the past because he is almost afraid to challenge downfield at times. I don’t mean over the top of the coverage, I mean the intermediate portion of the field. He is especially bad at throwing to the first down markers on 3rd down (not that there isn’t anything wrong with checking down, but he goes to his check down too quickly too often in my opinion) and in many games in his first three seasons he was borderline worthless late in the half or late in the 4th quarter. He would get the ball back with enough time to move the ball and just take underneath completions in the middle of the field that would waste clock and gain little yardage which is the exact opposite of what you want with little time left to operate. It looked like that would happen again before the end of the first half but then he scrambled outside of the pocket and found Erik Highsmith deep for a touchdown down the sideline on what was probably a busted play. Regardless, I didn’t think he had it in him, so I was impressed. Yates didn’t impress me much in this game, but he definitely has the arm, intelligence and experience in a pro-style offense to warrant a late round selection to be a #3 on some team. I don’t think he will ever be a starter, but he should have a long career as a back-up because, for better or worse, he just won’t challenge downfield and make mistakes. His arm is solid, his accuracy is solid, his decision making has improved, he has 46 career starts, he has some mobility and he seems to be a pretty smart guy. I think he will stick with someone as a late round pick.

-Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee- Bray is seemingly the anti-Yates in that he will take risks and sling it even if it might not be the best decision. That probably has more to do with him being a freshman that was only starting his 5th game of the season, but it was something I noticed. He threw a few interceptions in this game but regularly he came through with a clutch throw when Tennessee needed it. He definitely has a good arm and a lot of ability, so I came away impressed. Hell, coming in as a freshman with no starting experience and leading a 2-6 team to a 4-0 finish to get into a bowl game is impressive enough, and he almost had a fifth consecutive win before the controversy ensued in this game. In the first OT he showed his true potential throwing a strike to Luke Stocker who made a terrific catch on a ball thrown just within his reach in the end zone to tie the game and send the game into double OT. Then in the second overtime he threw a bad interception to Quan Sturdivant which led to North Carolina kicking the game winning field goal. Bray has a bright future ahead of him though, and I am very much looking forward to seeing how he progresses next year.

-Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee- Another freshman here but this kid is going to be a good one you can just tell. He is listed at 6’4″, 183 pounds and he looks extremely skinny so he definitely has weight to add to his frame, but this kid can jump out of the gym. There was a pass in this game that I thought was overthrown downfield along the sideline and I thought it would sail over his head. He gathered and jumped and snagged the ball out of the air with a defender right behind him and his foot came down out of bounds, otherwise it would have been an incredible catch. But he demonstrated great ability to catch the ball away from his body, high point the ball in the air and obviously he showed that he can jump. Being 6’4″ and being able to jump is an asset in itself, but he has very long arms too which is going to make him a match-up nightmare as he develops, especially in the red zone. In fact, he already might be a match-up nightmare. He had only 16 catches this season but he had 415 yards and an unbelievable seven, yes, seven touchdowns as a true freshman. He caught five of his seven touchdowns after Bray took over as well, so look for him to step up big to fill the shoes of the departing senior starters at wide receiver in Gerald Jones and Denarius Moore. I’m telling you guys, this kid could be really, really good. Especially if he has a quality QB in Bray throwing to him. Watch out for him next year, he put up two 100 yard games as a freshman. Expect more of that next year.

-Janzen Jackson, FS, Tennessee- Jackson is going to be an insane safety prospect next year. The INT he made on a deep ball to the end zone (to Erik Highsmith) was a fantastic play on the ball. He has terrific ball skills. He isn’t very big but he’s fast, has great range, locates the ball really well in the air and he is just a playmaker. I really like him as a FS prospect. Between Berry and Jackson Tennessee has had a ton of talent at safety recently. He did have some off-field issues as a freshman though so that will have to be looked into. He isn’t afraid to make a big hit either, even though he did have a helmet to helmet hit that helped set up North Carolina’s controversial field goal attempt to force overtime. But his combination of speed, range, ball skills and willingness to hit make him a very intriguing safety prospect even in spite of his potential off-field concerns.

-Luke Stocker, TE, Tennessee- I haven’t scouted Stocker yet but I got a chance to watch him some in this game and I have to say I came away impressed. I had heard that he doesn’t have very good hands but that was not the impression I got. He had five catches, 58 yards and a touchdown. Did I mention that his touchdown occurred in overtime on a throw that was admittedly high from Bray, but Stocker jumped and extended fully in the air and made a terrific catch away from his body and came down in-bounds for the tying touchdown to force double overtime. It was a terrific catch, and though I haven’t had enough time to evaluate his hands on routine catches I don’t think I saw him drop a pass in this game and he seemed fine catching the other four balls he caught in the game. He also has a reputation as a good blocker but I have yet to evaluate him on that part of his game, though he didn’t do anything to make me doubt his ability as a blocker when I saw him against North Carolina. I definitely think Stocker has potential, and since my Falcons may be in the market for a TE this year Stocker is definitely on my radar.

I think that is enough for this round of player notes. What better way to ring in the new year than going over your notes from watching live bowl games to get a feel for current and future NFL Draft prospects? I can’t think of one. Happy New Year everyone and thank you for visiting my blog today and any other times you have checked in. I really do appreciate it. This blog officially had 5,243 views in December which just blows my mind. Before the beginning of the month I had about 7,400 views and now I am almost at 13,000 (currently 12,739). Thank you for all the support because if you all weren’t reading this I wouldn’t be as motivated to post this stuff. I would definitely still be taking notes and scouting, but it feels good to be appreciated. So thank you again! Let’s hope 2011 picks up where 2010 left off.

–Tom

Here are my current QB rankings as of early November. This list does not indicate the order that I think they will come off the board in April, but rather which I like the most at this juncture. Enjoy!

1-      Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford- Luck has a great combination of size, good arm strength, accuracy and he is a very intelligent QB. I don’t think he will come out this year but if he did I think he has the football IQ to transition effectively to the NFL, much like Mark Sanchez.

2-      Jake Locker, QB, Washington- Yes, I have Jake Locker #2 even though I have Mallett going #1 overall in my mock draft. I personally think Locker will be the better NFL player, though he will need more coaching than most probably thought after his incredible progression from his sophomore to junior year. His intangibles are just so special that a good QB coach could really make him a quality NFL starter.

3-      Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas- Mallett has as much potential as any QB I have ever scouted because of his amazing arm strength and great size, but how good of a leader is he? How dependable is he late in games to make the right decisions and not turn the ball over? I don’t like his intangibles and his leadership ability and that combined with the offense he plays in, which is not preparing him for the NFL, make me doubt him as a prospect. However, that is just my opinion, and I still believe he is the odds on favorite to go #1 if Luck stays in school.

4-      Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State- I really like Cousins’ game so he stays high on my rankings. He has been effective this year, but I am a little concerned about how he played against Iowa. That was a huge game for Michigan State and he made some mistakes that led to three interceptions. However, I think he has the tools to be a good starting QB in the NFL.

5-      Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State- Ponder has disappointed me in the little that I have seen him this year, but it’s not enough to drop him out of the top 5 of my rankings. I still think he will be a solid starter in the NFL, but he doesn’t look like a franchise QB to me. He is a fringe first rounder in my opinion at this point, so we will see how he does the rest of the year.

6-      Greg McElroy, QB, Alabama- McElroy has been very efficient this year but I am not sure he is much more than a solid NFL starter. I think he will be a solid mid-round pick and he seems to be very intelligent and if he had a good running game and some quality targets to throw to I think he could be an effective QB. Like Ponder I think he may be a product of the players around him rather than a Franchise QB/leader that makes the rest of his teammates better.

7-      Nathan Enderle, QB, Idaho- Enderle was one of my favorite QB’s coming into the season but he has had a very down year so far involving a lot of turnovers. I’m not willing to drop him down in my rankings yet since I haven’t scouted him in any of them specifically yet. However, I have definitely been disappointed with how he has played statistically thus far this year.

8-      Cam Newton, QB, Auburn- It is hard not to rank Newton in the top 10 even though he hasn’t shown me as much as I would like to see as a passer. In my opinion Newton is performing at a level that everyone expected Terrelle Pryor to perform at. He has shown the ability to throw the ball well, but his athletic ability and smoothness as a runner is what sets him apart from other QB’s. He has a lot of improvement to make as a passer, but to produce like he has as a first year starter in the SEC is absolutely amazing to me. I really hope there isn’t anything to these allegations of taking money for signing a LOI (Letter of Intent) because he is a fun player to watch.

9-      Pat Devlin, QB, Delaware- I haven’t ever seen much of Devlin, but from what I have seen he doesn’t seem to have a very strong arm but he does have pretty good accuracy. I don’t think he would be getting the same attention he has gotten from draftniks if it wasn’t for Flacco’s early success in the NFL out of Delaware, but he looks like a solid draft prospect to me.

10-   Ricky Stanzi, QB, Iowa- Stanzi has been statistically impressive this year and currently has the second best QB rating in the entire nation. I have not scouted him much this year, but he has had a strong statistical showing this year to be sure. In his last three important conference games against Michigan, Wisconsin and Michigan State he has thrown a combined nine touchdowns with no interceptions which is incredibly impressive.

11-   Stephen Garcia, QB, South Carolina- Garcia has shown some really incredible flashes, such as his 17/20 performance when the Gamecocks upset Alabama, but he has not been as consistent as I would like. In his three games since the Alabama upset he has thrown a combined five touchdowns with four interceptions and for the first time all season he completed less than 65% of his passes in a game in two of those contests. It will be interesting to see if he bounces back to finish the season strong, because right now he is a mid-round pick in my opinion.

12-   Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri- Gabbert is definitely on my radar but I would be surprised if he declared this year. He has impressive arm strength and accuracy along with good size, but he doesn’t have much in the way of mobility and I don’t like how often he is in shotgun and how much Missouri runs sets with four or five wide receivers. He definitely has NFL potential, but I think he needs to stay for his senior year to have a shot at the first round.

13-   Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma- Jones has had an incredibly productive season in his first full season as a starter and he is only a sophomore. He is playing much more efficiently, but he hasn’t been tested by many great defenses. I really wish I could see him play against Nebraska’s defense this year because they have made some really good QB prospects look like mid-round draft picks this season. He definitely has a lot of potential, but I have the same concerns about the offense he is playing in that I had with Sam Bradford.

14-   Andy Dalton, QB, TCU- Dalton has had a good statistical season but he really hasn’t played anyone outside of Oregon State in the first week, and he struggled in that game statistically. I was not impressed with Dalton at all after seeing him play against Boise State last year, so in my opinion he is a mid-late round pick in the NFL Draft. He has some redeemable talent and ability, but his ceiling is an average NFL starter. I think he may be better suited for a back-up role in the NFL, but I still need to scout him based off of his senior year tape.

15-   Jerrod Johnson, QB, Texas A&M- I have a really good feel for Johnson’s game and I think he is a 4th round pick at this point, perhaps a 5th rounder, but he has good size, athletic ability and a strong enough arm to warrant development. He just puts too much touch and air under his passes, he has a hitch in his throwing motion where he dips the ball below his chest near his hip, and he has poor footwork and pocket poise. With a couple or three years of development he could potentially be a solid starter, but I think he will have a longer road to starting in the NFL than a number of QB’s that I have ranked ahead of him.

16-   Tyrod Taylor, QB, Virginia Tech- Taylor has had an impressive statistical season but he has not been tested much other than the first week against Boise State and potentially against NC State. It will be interesting to see how he performs against potentially tougher ACC teams like Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Miami, but if he continues to play well he will have a chance at the middle rounds, especially if he demonstrates some patience and pocket poise.

17-   Mike Hartline, QB, Kentucky- Hartline has been making me regret not naming him my pre-season sleeper at QB for the majority of the season. He played very well against Auburn, South Carolina and Georgia combining for over 900 passing yards and nine touchdowns with only one interception. He is having an impressive season overall, and I look forward to watching tape of him to see if he has improved on some of the things I saw him struggle with when I watched him against Alabama last year. Hopefully he keeps this up.

18-   Ben Chappell, QB, Indiana- Chappell has had a pretty solid statistical season, however those numbers are padded by games against teams like Arkansas State, Towson, Western Kentucky and Akron. He produced about 1,250 passing yards, a completion percentage of around 68% and 13 touchdowns with no interceptions in those four games. He torched Michigan for an astounding 480 yards passing with three touchdowns and one interception, but he had disappointing games against Ohio State, Illinois and Northwestern where he threw only two touchdowns with a combined six interceptions. He is a late round pick right now, and from what I noticed in the little I have seen him he seems to have a bit of a hitch in his throwing motion.

19-   Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada- Kaepernick is a true dual-threat QB. He is just as likely to beat you with his legs as he is with his arm. He has a strong arm, but I have never been very impressed with him as a passer. I haven’t scouted him yet this year, but I imagine his athletic ability and arm strength will warrant at least late round consideration when the Draft finally rolls around. However, I am not sold on him ever amounting into a solid starter in the NFL, therefore he will be down towards the bottom of all of my rankings.

20-   Nick Foles, QB, Arizona- Foles should be back from his injury this weekend, so it will be interesting to see how he finishes his junior season out. When I have seen him play I have noticed him staring down his receivers quite frequently which worries me as far as his transition to the NFL is concerned. He has good size and a nice arm, but I worry about the offense he plays in and how often he stares down his primary receiver.

21-   Terrelle Pryor, QB, Ohio State- Pryor is an incredibly gifted player, but he still seems like an athlete playing quarterback to me. He has definitely shown signs of improvement this year, but at the end of the day they are just signs. I think if he comes out after his junior season he will get drafted higher than he deserves, but that doesn’t mean he will pan out obviously. He might have a higher ceiling at wide receiver in the NFL than he does at QB, but that is an entirely different can of worms.

22-   Mitch Mustain, QB, Southern Cal- Mustain has been residing low on my rankings all year, and it’s hard to say that he should be much higher considering how limited his playing time has been at Southern Cal, but I think he has the tools to be a successful back-up QB and if he is developed for three or four years I think he would have a shot at being a solid starter in the NFL. He has a lot of experience in a pro-style offense and that will help his transition to the next level.

23-   Scott Tolzien, QB, Wisconsin- Tolzien is nothing more than a game manager at Wisconsin, but he does a good job of avoiding mistakes and he has shown some added ability to make throws on 3rd down this year when they need a conversion. He isn’t going to be much more than a back-up on the next level in my opinion, but I think he could be a solid back-up who could step in and manage the game should the starter go down.

24-   T.J. Yates, QB, North Carolina- Yates is barely on this list and it is only because he has shown flashes of ability this year. I don’t think he deserves to be drafted at this point, and his ceiling is probably a #3 or at best a #2 in the NFL.

25-   Justin Roper, QB, Montana- Roper is a guy who has impressive size but I have not been able to see him play. He has pretty impressive stats even though he is playing at the Division II level, but I look forward to being able to see his arm strength, throwing motion and overall mechanics if Montana is ever televised nationally. A guy with his size and production warrants some consideration.