Tag Archive: Tennessee


Quarterbacks:

-BJ Coleman, QB, Tennessee – Chattanooga. 6’3”, 220 pounds, 4.93 40 yard dash
-I really like B.J. Coleman. He missed some time due to injury this year which I thought might hurt him, but I was very happy to see him get an invite to the East-West Shrine Game. His game reminds me a bit of Nathan Enderle from last year, and there are some parallels between them that are pretty interesting (both started Senior season vs Nebraska, strong armed QB’s without much talent around them, both invited to East-West Shrine Game. I could go on, but I won’t.) Regardless, Coleman is a quality prospect in his own right and I think he has a chance to go in the first four rounds. This week will be big for him but if he is healthy he should have impressive ball velocity, good accuracy and pretty good pocket presence. I look forward to taking notes on him all week.

-Johnny Brantley, QB, Florida: 6’3”, 220 pounds, 4.89 40 yard dash
-I left his name as “Johnny” since that was how it was listed on the official roster and it cracked me up. Brantley is a guy that is starting to get some buzz as a sleeper and I understand why. He’s got experience playing in the SEC and he’s got a very strong arm. He did not have much success in his last two seasons as a starter in Florida but playing for two entirely different coaching staffs with very different offensive philosophies certainly didn’t help. I’m sure he appreciated not being taken out on 1st and 2nd down and thrust into a 3rd and long this year like he was in Urban Meyer’s last season at Florida (his first as a starter). He still didn’t do much passing this year in his first and only year under Charlie Weiss (who is now the head man at Kansas) but he did throw for 2,044 yards while completing 60% of his passes for an 8.5 yard average per attempt. He only threw 11 touchdowns as compared to 7 interceptions, but that was an improvement over his very unimpressive 9 touchdown, 10 interception stat line as a junior. Plenty of people have soured on him and don’t give him much of a chance at the NFL, but guys with his size and arm strength are always in demand. He’s been through a lot at Florida, but if he can have a solid week at the Shrine Game it could ensure him a chance as a late round draft pick or as an undrafted free agent come April.

-Austin Davis, QB, Southern Mississippi: 6’1”, 221 pounds, 4.78 40 yard dash
-Davis is the quarterback with the least upside of the quarterbacks on the East Roster. His size and arm strength are both average for the NFL and if there are any windy days down in St. Petersburg I think that will become very apparent. He’s the most athletic of the three quarterbacks and he does have an abundance of starting experience but I don’t think he has enough upside to warrant much consideration before the 7th round or as a priority free agent in April. He’s solid in a number of areas but spectacular in none, though he is supposed to have pretty good intangibles and football IQ. I don’t expect to see anything different than what I did at Southern Mississippi, but he might have the biggest adjustment to taking snaps from under center since Brantley had a chance to do that a bit with Weiss at Florida this year and Coleman ran an offense with pro-style looks in it. He’s definitely #3 on the depth chart for me, but it will be interesting to see him up close.

Running Backs:

– Tauren Poole, RB, Tennessee: 5’10”, 215 pounds, 4.56 40 yard dash
-Poole isn’t a freak athlete and he isn’t a burner, but he is a compact, well built running back. I like running backs that have compact, well filled out frames and Poole fits that bill. He runs hard, he’s strong, he has a good natural pad level because of his size, and he has shown the ability to run through arm tackles and gain yardage after contact. He’s my #1 RB at the East-West Shrine Game and I’m excited to see him in person. He’s an underrated guy that may not go very high on draft day but will be ready to contribute immediately and surprise people in training camp.

-Davin Meggett, RB, Maryland: 5’8”, 215 pounds, 4.56 40 yard dash
-I’m not a big fan of Meggett. He’s never really been the feature back until this season and his lack of production gives me pause when trying to evaluate him. He’s got the compact frame that I like in a running back, but he doesn’t break as many tackles and gain as many yards after contact as you would think given his size and strength. He’s supposed to be a big weight room guy who works very hard and was a team captain, but weight room strength doesn’t always translate to the football field and I’m worried that it doesn’t in his case. I question his balance a bit and that concerns me since I’m not sold on his vision and he doesn’t have the burst and speed to rip off big chunks of yardage. He’s a complete back though because he can run the ball, catch it out of the backfield and offer effort as a pass blocker. He needs work in all areas in my opinion, but there is ability to mold in all facets. He’s got some upside because he’s never really gotten a chance to be a feature back, but I wonder if he will ever reach it.

Wide Receivers:

-T.J. Graham, WR, North Carolina State: 5’11”, 180 pounds, 4.36 40 yard dash
-Graham definitely doesn’t look like he weighs 180 pounds to me so I will be very interested to see what he weighs in at. My estimation would be he’s actually about 5’10”, 170 pounds but that is just my opinion. Regardless of his official measurements there is no denying his speed and explosiveness. He put all of his ability on display in NC State’s bowl game against Louisville as he put on a show with 7 receptions for 116 yards and 2 touchdowns in that game. He finished the season with 46 receptions, 757 yards and 7 TD’s receiving this year which nearly exceeded all of his production as a receiver from his previous three seasons on the Wolfpack. In his first three years he totaled 52 career receptions, 673 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns. He was only 6 receptions short of doubling his career receptions, yards and touchdowns total as a receiver as a senior. On top of that, Graham also has 630 career punt return yards with one touchdown and 3,157 career kick return yards and two more touchdowns. He had well over 5,000 total yards as a member of the Wolfpack and I think that his value as a receiver and a kick returner will be on full display during the East-West Shrine Game. I definitely think Graham will be a riser during the week and I really like his NFL upside. He’s my #1 WR on the East going into the week, so it will be very fun to see him play in person.

-B.J. Cunningham, WR, Michigan State: 6’2”, 216 pounds, 4.59 40 yard dash
-I’m not a big Cunningham fan personally but there’s no denying the production he has amassed while at Michigan State. He has never had a season with under 500 receiving yards in his four years as a Spartan and in the past two years he has totaled 129 receptions, 1,917 yards and 21 touchdowns receiving. The list of more impressive stat lines over the last two seasons is pretty short and it’s headlined by a potential top five pick in Justin Blackmon. As a senior Cunningham had by far his best season with 79 receptions, 1,306 yards and 12 touchdowns. As a junior he was pretty inconsistent and dropped too many passes for my liking, but he seemed to improve that a bit as a senior. His hands are still a concern for me and I will be paying close attention to both how well he catches the ball this week and HOW he catches the ball. Namely, is he snagging passes outside of his frame, therefore displaying quality range, or is he body catching and letting passes outside of his frame bounce off his hands.

-Danny Coale, WR, Virginia Tech: 6’0”, 200 pounds, 4.43 40 yard dash
-Coale is a guy I have been paying attention to for the last two years because I’ve watched a significant amount of Virginia Tech over that time and while he may not be the #1 receiver on their depth chart there isn’t a lot of doubt in my mind that he had the best hands on the team. I was and still am high on Jarrett Boykin, a fellow senior who will be vying to be drafted, but Coale is a quality player in his own right. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him drop a routine pass and he adjusts very well to the ball when it’s in the air and has much better timed speed than I expected him to have. He’s got serious sleeper potential and I think he could be a guy that catches a lot of people’s eyes during the week of practices at the Shrine Game because he will almost certainly make a great catch that sticks in people’s minds. He is all effort all the time and while he probably won’t go very high in the draft I would be shocked if he didn’t end up making a NFL roster and working his way into a contributing role.

-Lance Lewis, WR, East Carolina: 6’1”, 209 pounds, 4.50 40 yard dash
-Lewis is a solidly built WR that has more speed than I expected him to have. I haven’t seen him enough to quantify exactly how good his hands are, but he strikes me as a mid-late round prospect that should be able to stick on a NFL roster. He missed three or four games this season which hurt his statistics as he totaled 60 receptions, 600 yards and 8 touchdowns on the year. That’s a solid total, but it pales in comparison to his junior season (his first with East Carolina) when he burst onto the scene with 89 receptions, 1,116 yards and 14 touchdowns. I haven’t done enough tape study to figure out if the drop-off is due only to his missed playing time or if he was not the same player he was last year when he had Dwayne Harris playing with him. Hopefully he is 100% ready to go and he can impress in this game because I think he has enough value to get drafted in the 5th or 6th round range.

-Thomas Mayo, WR, California-Pennsylvania: 6’2”, 200 pounds, 4.59 40 yard dash
-Pennsylvania: Mayo is a guy who is getting some love as a small-school sleeper. I haven’t seen any game tape of him yet, but I have heard good things. I’m very excited to see him in person and I think he has a chance to make himself some money if he plays well. I have a feeling a lot of people know of him, but don’t have a great feel for his game yet.

-LaRon Byrd, WR, Miami: 6’4”, 220 pounds, 4.53 40 yard dash
-I’m not sure why Byrd is on this roster to be honest. I thought he had some upside a couple of years ago, but he has continually disappointed me and anyone else who expected him to be productive. He was effectively buried on Miami’s depth chart and Jacory Harris’ ineptitude at quarterback didn’t help things, but I am pretty skeptical of Byrd’s talents at this point. He had more touchdowns as a freshman (4) than he had the next three years of his career (3, one each season). On top of that, he capped off his career as a Hurricane with a monster season totaling 11 receptions, 125 yards and 1 touchdown. Obviously I was being sarcastic saying he had a monster season since there are players playing in this game that have almost as many touchdown receptions this year as he had overall receptions. Byrd has the size and athleticism combination you would like to have in a receiver, but I’m not sold on his hands and his lack of almost any progression over his entire career at Miami makes me question whether he will ever reach the potential he seemed to flash as a freshman three years ago.

Tight Ends:

-Chase Ford, TE, Miami: 6’5”, 245 pounds, 4.84 40 yard dash
-Ford’s 9 receptions, 88 yards and 1 touchdown may not seem that impressive, but he nearly matched LaRon Byrd’s production, so he must be good! I personally don’t think Ford was the best tight end on Miami’s roster, I think Blake Ayles (a USC transfer) was. Unfortunately, Ayles went down with an injury at the beginning of the season and didn’t accrue any stats this year. Hopefully he will be healthy soon, but in the mean-time I can’t say I think Ford has much of a chance of being drafted. Ayles would have been the starter had it not been for his injury, so I don’t have very high expectations for Ford this week. Frankly, I think there are other more deserving tight ends that could have been in this game. Ladarius Green, Nick Provo, Aron White and James Hanna are all guys I like at this position that won’t be at this game.

Offensive Guards:

-Derek Dennis, OG, Temple: 6’3”, 328 pounds, 5.45 40 yard dash
-I wanted to give you guys a synopsis of what I expect from the offensive tackles for this roster but I haven’t seen any of them enough to give you what I consider a quality breakdown of their abilities. I’ve always enjoyed watching offensive line play though, so rest assured I will keep a close eye on them throughout the week. Dennis, however, I have seen. I’ll admit before the first time I saw him I glanced at his 40 yard dash time and wondered how athletic he could be, but that’s just another reason not to put stock in the 40 yard dash times of offensive linemen. Dennis moves much better than his 40 yard dash time would seem to indicate, especially for such a large man. I think Dennis could be a real riser this week, especially if his line coach can coach him up a bit and help him with his technique. Dennis has some tools you look for in an offensive lineman and while I don’t think he will go before round 4 or 5 I do think he has starter potential in the future. He’s going to take a year or two of coaching up and developing, but if he takes coaching well and has a good work ethic I think you could see him starting in a few years.

Centers:

-Quentin Saulsberry, OC, Mississippi State: 6’2”, 300 pounds, 5.16 40 yard dash
-Saulsberry is kind of under the radar right now since there are some talented interior offensive linemen in this class. The center class is headlined by a first round center in Peter Konz, but it has some draftable talent and Saulsberry is in that group. I don’t have a great feel for his game yet, but he is being mentioned as a sleeper and I am excited to see how he looks this next week. He’s an under the radar guy, but he might be a riser this week.

Defensive Ends:

-Matt Conrath, DE, Virginia: 6’7”, 280 pounds, 4.84 40 yard dash
-Conrath has played DE at Virginia for a long time but a few people have started to project him inside. I disagree with that because I think he has a pretty ideal frame to bulk up and play defensive end in a 3-4 defense. He might not be big enough yet, but at 6’7” he has the frame you love to see in 3-4 defensive ends. It will be interesting to see where he plays this week since I don’t think he is a great fit as a left end in a 4-3 defensive scheme but I don’t think he fits well as a defensive tackle in that scheme either. As a result he might be a little out of position this week depending on where he lines up, but as a mid-late round guy I like him.

-Julian Miller, DE, West Virginia: 6’3”, 268 pounds, 4.76 40 yard dash
-Miller is a solid but not spectacular defensive end for West Virginia. Playing opposite Bruce Irvin meant he didn’t attract a lot of attention and that helped him rack up 57 total tackles (31 solo), 11.0 TFL, 6.0 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 2 pass break-ups this season. I don’t think he has a lot of edge speed and I don’t think he’s fantastic against the run either, so I question how much upside he has at defensive end. I think his best case scenario is being a rotational defensive end in the NFL, but I am looking forward to seeing how he looks in person getting off the ball, how much bend he has and how well he uses his hands among other things.

-Kyle Wilber, DE, Wake Forest: 6’4”, 240 pounds, 4.70 40 yard dash
-Wilber is a guy that I was high on coming into the season but he didn’t have the break-out season that I expected him to have. Many people think he will have to move to outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense in the NFL and I tend to agree. He has a pretty skinny frame despite his 6’4” height so I don’t know how much weight he will be able to pack on. He’s listed at 240 pounds and I think he could get up to 250 or 255 pounds on a quality weight training program but even at that weight he is likely too light to be able to play at right end in the NFL. This week will be important for him because he may get a chance to drop into coverage at some point. I haven’t seen him do that much at Wake Forest but I haven’t completed my film study on him yet. Regardless, he’s an athletic guy with upside in my opinion. This year he had 69 total tackles (47 solo), 10.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 pass deflection and he also blocked a kick. In the past two years he has 25 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 6 pass break-ups and 2 blocked kicks. The production and athletic ability is there, so I’m hoping he can have a big week and help demonstrate the ability that led me to put him on my list of potential break-out players at the beginning of the season.

Defensive Tackles:

-Nick Jean-Baptiste, DT, Baylor: 6’2”, 335 pounds, 5.06 40 yard dash
-Jean-Baptiste definitely catches your eye when he’s on the field because of his sheer size. The weigh-in will be important for him because if he comes in looking flabby and out of shape it will raise some concern from talent evaluators. However, his combination of size and athleticism is pretty impressive. I just don’t think he is as good as he could be yet given his natural size and athleticism. He was a complete non-factor in the Anti-Defense Bowl between Baylor and Washington a couple weeks ago and that’s concerning to me. I am interested to see how he plays this week but it seems that defensive tackles, perhaps more than any other position (at least, off the top of my head) really know how to turn it on when they are playing for a pay-check. Albert Haynesworth is the best example I can think of to support this claim, and if Jean-Baptiste plays great this week in stark contrast to his performance against Washington it will help his stock but make teams wonder where this effort level and ability was when everyone watching that game was begging for a quality defensive performance.

-Micanor Regis, DT, Miami: 6’2”, 305 pounds, 5.20 40 yard dash
-Regis was definitely overshadowed at Miami because that defensive line was bursting with talent. They didn’t live up to it this year unfortunately, but a defensive line with Olivier Vernon, Marcus Forston and Adewale Ojomo had a lot of potential. That left Regis in a reserve role before Forston’s injury, and even though he has had playing time throughout his career at Miami he has never had more than 8.0 TFL and 3.0 sacks, which he posted as a junior last year. I’m not sure he has much upside beyond a defensive tackle that can contribute to a 4-3 rotation, but it will be interesting to see how he looks this week.

Linebackers:

-Brandon Lindsey, OLB, Pittsburgh: 6’2”, 250 pounds, 4.68 40 yard dash
-Lindsey flashed onto the scene as a junior when he posted an impressive 18.0 TFL, 10.0 sacks and 3 fumbles forced after Greg Romeus went down with another injury. This year he was without Romeus and Jabaal Sheard but he still posted 55 total tackles (31 solo), 11.0 TFL, 8.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 1 pass deflection. Lindsey doesn’t project to a defensive end position very well but I think he will be able to transition effectively to the outside linebacker spot in a 3-4 defense. He’s an athletic guy and has shown that he’s capable of producing at Pittsburgh even though he may not have been used properly.

-Max Gruder, MLB, Pittsburgh: 6’1”, 230 pounds, 4.71 40 yard dash
-Gruder isn’t a freak athlete by any means and he probably doesn’t project to be a NFL starter now or in the future, but I think he’s going to be a great special teams player and a quality reserve in the NFL. He’s a reliable tackler and the Pittsburgh coaching staff admitted that they continued to try to take him out of the lineup but he was so fundamentally sound that he always found his way back onto the field. It will be interesting to see how he looks this week, but I wouldn’t expect him to be dominant in any one phase of the game. He seems like a guy who is solid in all facets but spectacular in none, and while that may help get him drafted I don’t think it gives him a great shot to start in the NFL.

Cornerbacks:

-Charles Brown, CB, North Carolina: 5’9”, 204 pounds, 4.49 40 yard dash
-Brown is another undersized cornerback from North Carolina that I think is primarily a zone corner personally. I always thought that his former teammate Kendric Burney was the better player and Burney went undrafted. That’s not to say that Brown will also go undrafted, but it speaks to where his draft stock is likely to end up barring a spectacular performance this week. I don’t think Brown has the size and speed to stick with receivers in man coverage very effectively, but North Carolina likes to run zone coverage and Brown should offer value in that phase of the game. I am interested to see him try to press corners during the week and I want to see how he does in man to man, though I anticipate him having some issues especially against taller, more physical receivers.

Safeties:

-Matt Daniels, S, Duke: 6’0”, 210 pounds, 4.53 40 yard dash
-Daniels is a quality sleeper prospect at the safety position. He isn’t a freak athlete but based on what I have read he has great intangibles, a high football IQ and an impressive work ethic. Those kinds of players are the ones you like to bet on when it comes to the NFL because they’ll get the most out of their ability even if they don’t project to be perennial pro-bowl players. Daniels has always impressed me as a tackler when I’ve watched him play over the last two years but I have never seen him much in coverage. This year he produced 126 tackles (65 solo), 4.0 TFL, 14 pass deflections, 2 interceptions and 1 forced fumble. I am interested to see how he looks in coverage this week but I expect him to be one of the more reliable tacklers at the East practices all week.

Kickers:

-Blair Walsh, K, Georgia:
-Walsh is a confusing player to me, but then again kickers in general are pretty confusing to me. During his sophomore and junior seasons he missed a combined five field goals, a terrific stat line for any kicker. In his first three years he missed 13 field goals, eight of which occurred when he was kicking as a freshman. Then this season he inexplicably missed 14 field goals, more than he had missed his entire career up until this point! I haven’t done my film study of Georgia yet but I definitely will and I am very interested to see what situations he missed kicks in. I’m not sure what to expect from him this week, but hopefully he gets his mojo back and starts making kicks more consistently because he’s got a helluva leg. He had 19 touchbacks this year and that was kicking from the 30. In the NFL he will be able to kick the ball into the end zone very consistently and provide a lot of touchbacks for his special teams unit. That gives him value, but it won’t mean much if he can’t make field goals when asked to.

This is obviously just a fraction of the talent at the East-West Shrine Game, but these are the players I am more familiar with. I’ll have notes on most every player by the end of the week and they will be posted here every day after practice, so check in every day for your East-West Shrine Game fix!

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

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1- Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama*: Grade: Top 15 Overall
2- Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin*: Grade: Early 2nd Round
3- Lamar Miller, RB, Miami*: Grade: Early 2nd Round
4- David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech*: Grade: Early 2nd Round
5- LaMichael James, RB, Oregon*: Grade: Early/Mid 2nd round
6- Bernard Pierce, RB, Temple*: Grade: 3rd round
7- Dennis Johnson, RB, Arkansas*: Grade: 3rd round
8- Doug Martin, RB, Boise State: Grade: 3rd/4th round
9- Robert Turbin, RB, Utah State*: Grade: 3rd/4th round
10- Dan Herron, RB, Ohio State: Grade: 4th round
11- Tauren Poole, RB, Tennessee: Grade: 4th round
12- Isaiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati: Grade: 4th/5th round
13- Brandon Bolden, RB, Mississippi: Grade: 5th round
14- Chris Rainey, RB, Florida: Grade: 5th round
15- Vick Ballard, RB, Mississippi State: Grade: 5th/6th round
16- Jeff Demps, RB, Florida: Grade: 6th round
17- Davin Meggett, RB, Maryland: Grade: 6th round
18- Bobby Rainey, RB, Western Kentucky: Grade: 6th/7th round
19- Marc Tyler, RB, Southern Cal: Grade: 7th round
20- Lennon Creer, RB, Louisiana Tech: Grade: 7th round
21- Terrance Ganaway, RB, Baylor: Grade: 7th round/UDFA
22- Antwon Bailey, RB, Syracuse: Grade: 7th round/UDFA
23- Adonis Thomas, RB, Toledo: Grade: 7th round/UDFA
24- Victor Anderson, RB, Louisville: Grade: 7th round/UDFA
25- Ryan Houston, RB, North Carolina: Grade: UDFA

My First Mock Draft of the Year

1. Indianapolis- Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford:
Analysis: It’s clear to everyone just how valuable Peyton Manning was to the Colts now. He’s practically an MVP candidate and he hasn’t even played a game. The Colts have since fired their defensive coordinator and while it’s arguable the Colts could use defensive upgrades there is no one in the draft that warrants a selection of Andrew Luck. Some people think that the Colts can’t have Luck and Manning on the same roster, but I disagree. Luck may be NFL ready, but you can’t convince me that he would be better off playing as a rookie instead of sitting for a year and learning from Manning. Learning from a MVP and a Super Bowl champion your first year on the job will only make you better.
2. Minnesota- Matt Kalil, OT, Southern Cal:
Analysis: The Vikings made a bold and, in my opinion, a great move releasing Bryant McKinnie. Leslie Frazier put his foot down by making it clear that even a quality LT will get cut if he shows up out of shape and isn’t ready to contribute to the team. However, that didn’t work out that well for the Vikings this year as Charlie Johnson has not been a worthwhile replacement in any sense of the word. He’s been consistently beaten as he’s tried to protect McNabb’s and Ponder’s blind side this year. LT is as big a need as any of the Vikings many needs, and it would be very easy to fix should Kalil declare for the draft this year. He’s the best left tackle in the country, and don’t forget that he was talented enough to keep an eventual top 10 pick in Tyron Smith at right tackle as a junior for the Trojans. Kalil has the potential to start at left tackle from day one, and that makes him very appealing to a team like the Vikings.
3. St. Louis- Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State:
Analysis: The Rams have been assembling some pieces on offense in recent years. I’m not sold on Sam Bradford yet, but he is clearly the quarterback of the future for the Rams. With Steven Jackson continuing to play well, Lance Kendricks coming on board in the 2nd round last year, and by acquiring Brandon Lloyd at the trade deadline the Rams have made surrounding Bradford with some weapons a priority. Lloyd is a quality target, but getting him a true #1 target with plenty of upside is something they still need to do. That is where Blackmon comes in. Blackmon is my #1 WR in this draft class, he has very good hands (though he does have concentration lapses at times resulting in drops), fantastic body control and he is very hard to tackle once he has the ball in his hands. He’s the top receiver in this class, and the Rams must only evaluate his character to determine whether he will continue to improve and if he will stay out of trouble once he gets his first NFL paycheck.
4. Jacksonville- Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU:
Analysis: The Jaguars have had a good defense this year and they really need offensive help, but one spot they could use help at is cornerback. Looking at the players available at this point I think Claiborne warrants the pick here more than any of them. Matt Barkley might have a higher grade, but with Blaine Gabbert on the roster I don’t think they will even consider a quarterback this early. Some will disagree with that based on Gabbert’s struggles this year, but he shouldn’t have been playing yet anyways. He needed a year to learn on the bench and he didn’t get it, and as a result the Jaguars have risked stunting his development. Claiborne is ready to come in and play right away and he is easily the most impressive cornerback in the country. He has very fluid hips, he turns and runs well, he has very good speed, he’s very athletic, and he has fantastic ball skills and return ability once he has the ball in his hands. He’s a playmaker at corner with great size, long arms and good instincts. It really speaks to LSU’s talent in the secondary that they may have a first round pick from their defensive backfield three years in a row if Claiborne and Tyrann Mathieu are drafted in round one in 2012 and 2013.
5. Carolina- Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa:
Analysis: The Panthers could use another wide receiver here and they have serious needs on defense, particularly at defensive tackle. However, Jeff Otah has not been particularly impressive when I’ve watched him and he has had serious durability issues since being drafted by the Panthers. Jordan Gross has been a mainstay on the Panthers offensive line for years but he is 31 years old now. He won’t be around forever, and drafting an eventual replacement for him as well as a player who could replace Otah at right tackle should he continue to struggle with injuries. Reiff might not be ready to start at LT right away, but he definitely has NFL LT ability.
6. Miami- Matt Barkley, QB, Southern Cal:
Analysis: Miami may end up trading up from this spot to assure themselves a shot at Barkley should he actually declare. I think he will after the fantastic season he’s had, but there is a possibility that he could come back and attempt to lead USC to a BCS bowl game. However, if he does come out he is definitely NFL ready as a result of his three years of experience starting in a pro style offense at USC. He is a NFL ready quarterback that could play day one much like Luck if necessary. Ideally he wouldn’t because I believe that quarterbacks should be developed patiently, but that’s just my opinion. Miami hasn’t had a legitimate quarterback since Marino, so hopefully Barkley can break that trend. Again, don’t rule out Miami moving up on draft day if they are in a similar position as they are in this mock to go up and get the quarterback they want.
7. Washington- Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor:
Analysis: Washington could go any variety of ways here, but quarterback is one of their most pressing needs. Rex Grossman and John Beck are not long term solutions by any means, and Robert Griffin has been one of the most impressive players, not just quarterbacks, in the entire country this season. He’s very mobile and his passing has developed vastly every year that he has been at Baylor and his athleticism would be utilized brilliantly by Mike Shanahan and his offense. He’s got as much upside as any quarterback in this class thanks to his passing ability and his athleticism, he just has to be developed appropriately. It’s a tricky thing to do, but Shanahan might be the man for the job.
8. Arizona- Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford:
Analysis: The Cardinals have huge needs along the offensive line but particularly at left tackle. They haven’t been able to adequately fill that position for years, and Levi Brown has not been holding up well at all. He has been flat out abused at times this year, and they don’t have an adequate replacement on the roster right now. I personally am not sold on Jonathan Martin being a quality left tackle yet as I think he might be a more ideal fit at right tackle, but I do think he will be drafted quite high because of his potential projection to the blind side.
9. Philadelphia- Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College:
Analysis: Kuechly continues to impress everyone who watches him. It’s hard to find significant flaws in his game and he has been doing amazing things at the linebacker position for Boston College. He’s a fantastic linebacker and is easily the most NFL ready linebacker that is eligible for the draft this year. He is only a junior so while he is absolutely ready for the jump to the next level it’s not a sure thing that he will leave early. However, the Eagles should be praying that he does because he is the perfect solution for their middle linebacker position. He’s a top 10 lock in my opinion because he is going to test off the charts in interviews and while he might not be an elite athlete with freakish ability he is very arguably the best tackler in the entire country and is as fundamentally sound and reliable as any linebacker prospect in the nation. The Eagles need a player like him in the middle of their defense as bad as anyone, and getting the chance to pick him #9 overall would be a godsend for their franchise.
10. Cleveland- Quentin Coples, DE, North Carolina:
Analysis: Cleveland seems to have hit home with Jabaal Sheard thus far but they don’t have a lot of pass rush talent opposite him and while they do have talent at defensive tackle I don’t think they have a defensive tackle with legitimate pass rush talent inside. Coples projects best to DE in the NFL, and while I’m not sure if he would be at RE or LE for the Browns since I wouldn’t want to move Sheard from where he has had success, I think he projects well to DE at the next level. Ideally he would be at left end, but on top of the value he presents as a starting left end he would also be able to slide inside to defensive tackle in pass rushing situations. He is a ‘tweener to some extent, but I think that works to his advantage in this situation. He would be able to be an every down defensive end, but he has such impressive size and strength that I think he could shift inside and use his athleticism to his advantage to create pressure from the interior in obvious passing situations. That would give the Browns some scheme flexibility and boost Coples’ value even more.
11. Kansas City- Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma:
Analysis: There is significant chance that Cassel will still be the Chiefs quarterback of the future, but he will be 30 next May and there is no indication that he is going to be durable for the long haul. Cassel hasn’t proven to be a franchise quarterback to any extent and the Chiefs front office has been making concerted efforts to surround him with weapons. He has Jamaal Charles, Dexter McCluster, Dwayne Bowe and Jonathan Baldwin at his disposal now. The effects haven’t been exactly what the Chiefs desired. Landry Jones might not be my favorite quarterback in this class, but he has quality size, arm strength and accuracy. I don’t think he’s a franchise guy and I’m not sure he will win a Super Bowl without a quality supporting cast and a great defense, but that’s just my opinion.
12. Seattle- Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama:
Analysis: Richardson is a top talent, but running backs don’t always go in the top five. I would argue that he’s on a similar level as McFadden and perhaps even Adrian Peterson as a prospect, but running backs have to make a fantastic case to go in the top 5-10 picks. There isn’t an incredible amount of demand for a running back in the top five, and outside of Washington and Cleveland there isn’t a ton of demand for running backs in the top 10. Shanahan doesn’t have a track record of picking running backs early on anyways, so I don’t think he would pick Richardson at 7 in this scenario unless he thought he was a truly elite talent. That, in my opinion, would cause Richardson to slide a bit. Seattle might not need him that much given Marshawn Lynch’s re-emergence to a degree, but with all of the highly touted underclassmen quarterbacks off the board I think that Pete Carroll would go in another direction other than quarterback. Richardson would help take a ton of pressure off of Tarvaris Jackson by combining him with Lynch in the running game. This might not be the most likely pick or the best pick for need for the Seahawks, but I do think Carroll is a man who could appreciate the immense value of this selection.
13. San Diego- Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia:
Analysis: San Diego has been searching for an upgrade at outside linebacker since they lost Shawne Merriman to injury years ago. Larry English hasn’t panned out like they thought he would (I personally thought he would be better as a RE in a 4-3, or perhaps only as a situational pass rusher in nickel packages) and they haven’t been able to upgrade him yet. Enter Jarvis Jones, one of the best pass rushers in the entire country. There’s no guarantee that he will declare as he is only a redshirt sophomore, but he has as much upside as a pass rusher as anyone in the nation. He’s been dominant rushing the passer this year and really helped ease the loss of Justin Houston to the NFL and made up for Cornelius Washington’s absence due to suspension at times this season. He’s got tremendous upside and while he needs to get bigger and stronger before he is NFL ready if he did declare I think he would demand immediate top 20 consideration.
14. Tampa Bay- Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame:
Analysis: This might not be Tampa Bay’s biggest need, but Josh Freeman has a solid running back in LeGarrette Blount, a talented tight end in Kellen Winslow and a potential #1 WR in Mike Williams, but I think he could use another weapon at wide receiver. Floyd is a good value at #14 overall and has the potential to go higher than this, but his character concerns might drop him a little bit. The Bucs haven’t shied away from character concerns before, especially at wide receiver where they picked the potentially troubled Williams who quit the Syracuse football team and still went in the fourth round. Floyd has had his issues, but he is a talented, big bodied receiver who would really compliment Mike Williams’ explosiveness and burst well.
15. Buffalo- David DeCastro, OG, Stanford:
Analysis: Buffalo needs help along the offensive line and David DeCastro is as good as it gets for an offensive guard prospect. Top 15 picks at OG are extremely rare, but this might be one instance where it could happen. DeCastro is a fantastic guard prospect and while he is only a junior he is ready for the next level. The Bills have a few needs along their roster, but I think that DeCastro would fill a significant need at guard for the Bills.
16. Tennessee- Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama:  
Analysis: The Titans have a quality corner in Cortland Finnegan, but they don’t have much talent beyond him. The Titans have other needs they could address here, but picking up a corner like Kirkpatrick who absolutely has top 15 ability makes a lot of sense in my opinion. The Titans have bigger issues than corner thanks to Finnegan’s ability, but getting another quality corner to start opposite him can help the defensive line, and if they are able to boost their pass rush and help out the secondary the Titans defense would really improve considerably. They need upgrades on defense and on offense, but picking up a very good corner like Kirkpatrick can’t hurt here.
17. New York Jets- Ronnell Lewis, OLB, Oklahoma:
Analysis: The Jets are one of the most creative teams as far as blitzing schemes thanks to Rex Ryan and they have enough talent on the back end to get away with some intricate blitz packages. However, their secondary and defense overall would benefit considerably if they could get a better pass rush out of their base packages. Ronnell Lewis has been one of the better pass rushers in the country and while he is still young he has plenty of upside and the Jets have shown that they have at least some ability to get production out of athletically talented players, most notably Aaron Maybin who looked like an absolute bust on the Bills but has tallied 5 sacks since signing on with the Jets. Lewis is an athletic specimen as well, and if he is developed properly I think he can be a quality pass rusher for the Jets.
18. Denver- Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia:
Analysis: The Broncos defense has really stepped up this season and Von Miller in particular has been playing not only like a Pro-Bowler, but like an All-Pro. He has 10.5 sacks in only 11 games which is almost unheard of for a rookie. The Broncos defense is definitely on the right track, but they could probably use an upgrade at corner. Champ Bailey is getting older but still playing well, however they don’t have an abundance of talent opposite him. I have been high on Minnifield since I watched him last season as a junior, and I think he has legitimate 1st round ability. Any corner that gets a chance to learn from Bailey will benefit considerably from it, but I think Minnifield would help improve Denver’s back end considerably once he was deemed ready to start.
19. New York Giants- Zach Brown, OLB, North Carolina:  
Analysis: The Giants may not have as serious of a need at linebacker as it seemed at the beginning of the year if Mark Herzlich proves to be the man for the job, but they have had serious issues with injuries and inconsistency at linebacker for years, so adding some talent to the fold isn’t a bad idea. Brown is extremely athletic and has significant upside and would fit very well on a Giants defense that likes an athletic front 7 and enjoys applying pressure with their front four and linebackers.
20. Dallas- Mark Barron, S, Alabama:
Analysis: Dallas has had issues at safety since they had Roy Williams starting at safety years and years ago and they’ve never really solved that problem. Mark Barron is one of the only safeties in the class that potentially warrants a 1st round pick. I was not high on him after his junior season, but he has shown much more ability in coverage than I expected to see this year. If he truly projects well to the NFL from a coverage standpoint then he definitely warrants 1st round consideration and the Cowboys would be wise to consider selecting him here.
21. Cleveland (F/ATL)- Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State:
Analysis: Cleveland’s offensive line could use an upgrade. Joe Thomas is a stud, but opposite him there isn’t anything special. Mike Adams has some potential as a left tackle, but I think he could be a good or a very good right tackle. He’s a local guy having gone to Ohio State and he would fill a need for them up front.
22. Cincinnati (F/OAK)- Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin:
Analysis: Cincinnati could use significant help along the interior of their offensive line and getting a center like Konz would be ideal. He’s easily the best draft eligible center for the 2012 draft and if he is healthy enough to play in the Big 10 Championship Game or whatever bowl game Wisconsin plays in then I think it is possible that he will declare. Regardless, if he decides to come out he is the rare center that warrants a 1st round selection.
23. Cincinnati- Alfonso Dennard, CB, Nebraska:
Analysis: Cincinnati has some talent at corner, but when they lost Jonathan Joseph to the Houston Texans in free agency it definitely hurt their secondary. Dennard is a physical corner and would help replace Joseph in the secondary. I don’t think he has the ball skills that Joseph has by any means, but he would definitely help shore up the hole he left at corner.
24. Chicago- Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State:
Analysis: Chicago has been searching for a left tackle for years and they haven’t found it yet. They drafted Chris Williams to play there and he has only recently showed enough to start inside at guard. J’Marcus Webb was certainly not drafted to be the future at left tackle but he has spent far too much time starting at that spot. He’s not a left tackle and he has struggled at the spot. Zebrie Sanders may not have been considered by many to be a starting left tackle but he pleasantly surprised a lot of people when he slid over to the left side of the line to replace Andrew Datko for Florida State this season. I think he has NFL potential at left tackle and if Chicago agrees then they have to pick him. Getting bookend tackles for an offensive line that has been one of the league’s worst for years would be a huge step in the right direction for the Bears organization.
25. Detroit- Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia:
Analysis: Detroit seems to be a team that drafts primarily for value and doesn’t reach for needs, preferring to get as much talent as possible. I like that drafting strategy, but unfortunately it led to them ignoring the offensive line and the cornerback position last year. This year I think they need to make sure they address the offensive line, and Cordy Glenn is one of the best remaining offensive linemen on the board at this point in the draft. He is a huge, powerful run blocker but I don’t think he can stick outside at tackle. That makes me think he could be a very good offensive guard, and the Lions could use the push up front.
26. Houston- Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis:
Analysis: Dontari Poe is a raw prospect in my opinion but at a listed height and weight of 6’5”, 350 pounds he definitely has immense upside. Houston likes to penetrate upfield and cause havoc with their defense, and Poe could definitely help them do that. I personally he might eventually be a better fit in a 4-3 defense if he is able to improve his pass rush moves to collapse the pocket more versus the pass. However, a lot of teams will see his size and strength and assume he is ready to be a nose tackle in a 3-4 defense. As we saw with Albert Haynesworth size and strength don’t automatically mean he can play nose tackle in that defense, so we need to be careful assuming that he is a great fit in that scheme. However, my opinion has never stopped NFL teams from doing what they want to do, so Poe could very well end up on a 3-4 team after all.
27. New England- Devon Still, DT, Penn State:
Analysis: The Patriots have plenty of talent in their front seven, but they still struggle to rush the passer at times. This might have to do with their transition from a 3-4 defense, but I think that Still projects well to the DT position in a 4-3 defense. He has had a fantastic senior year and could easily go higher than this, but it’s hard to figure out exactly where everyone’s stock is at this point. If he did make it this far I would not put it past the Patriots to take advantage of the value picking Still here would present.
28. New England (F/ NO)- Alshon Jeffrey, WR, South Carolina:
Analysis: New England has a lot of quick wide receivers but they don’t have a big, physical receiver. Perhaps they don’t want one, but I think it hurts them a bit in the red zone when they have to rely on quick routes from their wide receivers and throwing to tight ends in one on one coverage. At the very least, having a big, powerful wide receiver like Alshon Jeffrey couldn’t really hurt them in the red zone or overall. I worry about his ability to create consistent separation in the NFL, but he has fantastic size, very long arms and great hands. He’s got plenty of upside, but his stock has slipped this year due to inconsistent production partially because of him and partially because of transitions at the quarterback position. Jeffrey could easily go higher than this, but I’m not convinced he’s going to be a top 5-10 pick at this point.
29. Baltimore- Vontaze Burfict, ILB, Arizona State:
Analysis: Burfict has top 20 talent thanks to his combination of size, athleticism and his electrifying hitting ability. However, he has some character concerns that will probably scare a few teams away. The elite teams in the NFL often have the locker room presence to take risks on a certain number of these types of players. Burfict is such a player, and with Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and other strong locker room leaders the Ravens are one of the teams that could take a risk on Burfict. In fact, I think Ray Lewis would be a very intriguing mentor for Burfict because Lewis is a big hitter with great toughness and leadership capability. Burfict could learn a lot from Lewis and it might also help improve his reputation. Not only that, but Burfict would be the obvious heir apparent to Lewis at middle linebacker.
30. Pittsburgh- Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame:
Analysis: Pittsburgh, much like Baltimore, has an aging leader at middle linebacker in James Farrior and I don’t think the future replacement for him is currently on the roster. Enter Manti Te’o, a 1st round caliber middle linebacker. Te’o projects well to a 3-4 scheme that would require him to play downhill and blitz to help create pressure, two things that Te’o does very well. Pittsburgh would get a player who is a good fit for their scheme and they’d have a great replacement for Farrior in the middle of their defense.
31. San Francisco- Alameda Ta’amu, DT, Washington:
Analysis: San Francisco lost Aubrayo Franklin in free agency and most people anticipated them struggling to stop the run after losing him. That hasn’t been the case, however, they could still use an upgrade at the nose tackle spot. Ta’amu is one of the best nose tackle prospects in the country and he is very hard to move off of the line of scrimmage. He’d be a perfect nose tackle for the 49ers, and would be a reasonable value at this point in the draft.
32. Green Bay- Brandon Jenkins, OLB, Florida State:
Analysis: I have been saying this since Clay Matthews emerged as a stud linebacker for the Packers: They need someone opposite him to help take pressure off of him. Matthews is a man-child, but he can’t get 10 sacks a year and apply consistent pressure without a talented player opposite him. At first they had Brady Poppinga and he was replaced by Erik Walden, but both players could be easily upgraded. Enter Brandon Jenkins, the nation’s sack leader from a year ago. He has tons of speed off the edge and while he needs to get stronger he has significant upside as a 3-4 outside linebacker.

Thanks for reading! I’d appreciate any feedback so I can improve future mock drafts.

–Tom

Vanderbilt-Kentucky:

-Jordan Rodgers has helped revitalize Vanderbilt’s season and in his fourth consecutive start he has Vanderbilt within one game of bowl eligibility. He’s very athletic, has some arm talent, but is still improving and developing as a quarterback. He isn’t on the same level as his brother, but it is worth watching what he can do in the SEC both this year and next. He’s got some weapons on offense in Zac Stacy at RB plus Jordan Matthews and Chris Boyd at WR. Matthews and Boyd are both 6’3″ plus, and as Rodgers continues to develop and gain experience I think he might make Vanderbilt a potentially fun offense to watch next year. Rodgers will be a senior in his first full season as a starter next year, Stacy will be a senior, Matthews will be a junior and Boyd will be a sophomore. They’ve got some intriguing pieces on offense, let’s hope this isn’t just a teaser and that they actually take the next step next year. I for one will be rooting for them to do so.
-Zac Stacy had another big day for Vanderbilt. I’ll need to watch him more because he has had a productive season this year. He now has 891 yards and 9 TD’s on the season as well as 16 receptions for 78 yards. I would expect him to exceed 1,000 yards rushing either this upcoming week or next, and if he is able to do then Vanderbilt has a solid shot at a bowl game. He’s their workhorse, and without him I don’t think Vanderbilt’s offense would be nearly as productive as they have been recently. I haven’t scouted him yet, but I will get to it soon when I watch Rodgers just to get a baseline idea of what he can do.
-I’m not sure anyone has enjoyed Rodgers’ presence at the quarterback position more than Jordan Matthews. He had his 3rd consecutive 100+ yard game after totaling just 8 receptions, 107 yards and 1 TD in the first six games he played in (he missed the game against Alabama). It has been a totally different story the last three weeks as he has produced 21 receptions, 452 yards and three touchdowns (one in each of the last three games). He’s been super productive and has helped open up Vanderbilt’s offense. Can’t wait to watch some of these recent games to see what he can do.

Baylor-Kansas:

-Robert Griffin had a very slow start, and while I didn’t see the game and I can’t speculate on how it happened, it certainly seemed like he carried Baylor back into the game and ultimately won it in overtime today against Kansas. I was wondering why he was struggling so much against such a seemingly bad Kansas squad, but he really rallied Baylor late in the game and helped erase a 21 point 4th quarter deficit. They scored three touchdowns in the quarter (all by Griffin, 1 rushing TD and 2 passing TD’s), forced overtime and Kansas went for a two point conversion and failed, resulting in a one point win for Baylor. I’ll definitely be watching this game later, because I have been wondering if Griffin had the ability to lead his team to a comeback win like this for a while. It was against a bad Kansas team, but it is still more than I have seen from him before. Obviously my thoughts on this game will be posted on my blog once I have a chance to break it down at a later date.

Georgia-Auburn:

-Aaron Murray is a guy I’ve been impressed with since he was a freshman. It feels like he’s been leading Georgia forever, but he is still only a sophomore. Still, he seems more mature than your average sophomore and is without a doubt the leader of Georgia’s football team. He had one of the best games of his career today when he went 14/18 for 224 yards and 4 touchdowns while adding 21 yards rushing. He was making plenty of stick throws and was placing the ball perfectly today. It was fun to watch him play this well.
-Jarvis Jones is an animal. I don’t have a lot of defensive players in this list because it’s tough to find stats for defenders the day of the game, but Jones warrants mention. I’m not sure what his final statistics were in this game, but I know he had at least one sack because I saw it. He has 9 sacks on the season I believe and an unreal 16 tackles for loss. He’s been fantastic for Georgia, and has incredible upside. It’s going to be fun to watch him develop. He’s only a sophomore, but he has had an absolute break-out season this year. He’s listed at 6’3″, 241 pounds and looks skinny on film. He has plenty of room to add weight, and I would be surprised if he wasn’t 250+ next year as a junior for Georgia.

TCU-Boise State:

-I definitely kept an eye on this game not only because there were plenty of prospects to see, but because these two teams always seem to play each-other pretty tough. TCU played them tough again today and unfortunately it came down to another field goal attempt and Boise State couldn’t capitalize on it. Must be frustrating for Boise and their fans, but yet again they won’t get a shot at an elite bowl game. I hate to say it, but I have been one of their detractors who said that if they were in a better conference they wouldn’t always be undefeated. They aren’t exactly changing my mind by losing to Nevada last year and TCU this year.
-Kellen Moore is a good QB, but I question his ability to be a NFL starter. His arm strength is an issue, but that can be improved up and overcome at least to a degree. It’s definitely worrisome that he doesn’t throw a great deep ball because of his lack of arm strength and he doesn’t have good zip on intermediate or longer throws. He’s an accurate quarterback though, he’s very intelligent and he has tons of starting experience as a four year starter. I think he can stick in the NFL, I just don’t think his combination of size and arm strength give him a lot of upside as a potential NFL starter. I do think he will make a roster and be quality back-up that might eventually get his shot, but I think he is a developmental guy that will get drafted in the 4th round range. One thing that bothered me about him today was his issues handling pressure that TCU was bringing. He isn’t used to getting hit, and when TCU was able to pressure him, hit him and sack him he seemed rattled and was missing some throws that he usually makes. He obviously rebounded in the second half, but I thought that was worth noting.

Wisconsin-Minnesota:

-Russell Wilson was the epitome of efficiency and Montee Ball broke the Big 10 single season touchdown record with three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) today against Minnesota. He has an unreal 27 touchdowns on the season now. He has 1,232 yards, 23 rushing touchdowns and 14 catches, 234 yards and 4 touchdowns on the season. Definitely a fantastic year, and they still have two games left against Illinois and Penn State (I have a ticket to the Penn State game, very excited for that). Russell Wilson literally threw one incompletion today, and threw for 178 yards and 4 touchdowns.
-Nick Toon showed up big for Wisconsin today, but I am a little concerned that he all but disappeared in Wisconsin’s big games against Michigan State and Ohio State with a combined 5 catches for 97 total yards and 0 TD’s in those games. His only 100 yard games have been against the likes of South Dakota and now Minnesota, two teams with vastly less talent than Wisconsin. To be fair to Toon, who I think has NFL upside, he did have 4 catches, 94 yards and 1 TD against Nebraska which was Wisconsin’s first big game of the year. However, it is a bit concerning that he didn’t step up in much closer games later in the year, but is showing up against less significant opposition like he has.

USC-Washington:

-Matt Barkley continues to play well and I have to say he made Steve Sarkisian look pretty smart for saying he’d draft Barkley over Andrew Luck considering Luck’s relative struggles against Oregon tonight (to be covered later in this post) as well as Barkley’s quality season this year. He seems to have gotten better every week, which makes me think that the chances of him declaring early might be increasing. Regardless, still fun to see him play well because I have been high on him since he was a freshman.
-If you read my blog consistently you may remember me saying that I don’t know why Curtis McNeal isn’t getting more touches for USC a few weeks ago. Well recently he has been, and he has been playing fantastic. He has exceeded 100 yards rushing in three of the last four games, and has exceeded 85 yards rushing in each of the last five. Last week against Colorado he sat most of the second half, but in the first half he had 10 carries for 87 yards. Against Washington today he had 18 carries for 148 yards and another touchdown. Keep feeding McNeal USC, he’s got tons of ability. Looking forward to seeing him continue to grow and develop.
-Robert Woods and Marqise Lee are still beasts. Really fun to watch them play. People are really underestimating how significant Lee’s emergence has been for Woods. If Lee wasn’t playing this well as a freshman then Woods would be getting doubled and USC’s passing attack would be significantly impaired. It’s fun to watch these guys when Barkley has time to get them the ball.

Arkansas-Tennessee:

-Tyler Wilson continues to have a very good season for Arkansas. He’s flying a little under the radar, but he has played very well. He has 2,850 yards passing, 18 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions on the season after the game against Tennessee today. He has NFL upside, but I don’t think I will put a first round grade on him assuming he comes back for his senior year next year. I’d place him in the 2nd round conversation because he has upside, but needs to work on some things. Doesn’t always spin a clean ball, doesn’t have a rocket arm (though replacing Mallett would make anyone’s arm strength look inferior) but has quality accuracy.
-Dennis Johnson has been very strong the last four weeks and is showing Arkansas fans what might have been if he hadn’t gotten hurt and allowed Knile Davis to become the staple of their running game last season. He has filled in pretty well, and is one of the more underrated running backs in the SEC.
-Jarius Wright continues his fantastic season. He has the potential to end up in the 1st round, he has had a terrific year this year. He has 53 catches, 906 yards and 10 touchdowns in 10 games now. He is their go-to guy on offense.

Virginia-Duke:

-I didn’t get to see this game since it wasn’t on in my area, but Chase Minnifield, a cornerback on Virginia that I am very high on, had his 3rd interception of the season (13th of his career) and returned it for his first career defensive touchdown. I’m high on him and I look forward to getting to watch him more often.

Oregon-Stanford:

-This was supposed to be the game of the night but Oregon definitely surprised me and played much better than I expected them to. They were in control of this game after the 1st quarter, and they just had way too much speed and athletic ability on offense for Stanford.
-Andrew Luck played well in my opinion, but made a few mistakes and was flustered at times. He threw two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown and struggled to make plays downfield due to his lack of talent available to him at wide receiver. He still played a good game, but even Luck couldn’t find a way to win this one. His team was overmatched talent wise, especially at wide receiver and cornerback. Luck looked human in this game, but he is still a very good quarterback. He responds very well to adversity and was simply trying to make a play with his back against the wall when he threw his pick 6. It’s unfortunate how it played out for him, but he’s still a lock for the #1 overall pick in my opinion.
-Darron Thomas threw the ball as well as I have ever seen him throw it in this game. He would miss a throw every once in a while, but he was throwing darts all over the field and made some legitimate NFL throws in this game. Makes me wonder where this has been all season, because he looked like a completely different quarterback in this game. I didn’t even see him throw the ball like this last year when he led Oregon to the National Championship game against LSU.
-LaMichael James continues to play well, and it is very reassuring to see him healthy even if he has to play with that big pad on his right arm. He’s very explosive, agile and is stronger with better leg drive than he has had in previous years. I still have a 2nd round grade on him, but I don’t think he’s going to be able to hold up as a feature back in the NFL.
-Chase Thomas, an outside linebacker on Stanford, had a horrible game today in my opinion. He was taken out of the passing game by Darrion Weems, the senior Left Tackle on Oregon, and struggled mightily against the zone read that Oregon runs so well. He consistently collapsed on the running back instead of staying disciplined and making sure Thomas didn’t pull it and run. Instead, Thomas was able to keep it and scamper for significant rushing yardage a number of times and each time it was Thomas who let him break contain. Definitely a disappointing game for Thomas.

Arizona State-Washington State:

-It is fitting that this was the last game on tonight as well as the last game in this post because in my opinion it was the best game of the night. I completely expected Arizona State to win, but Washington State pulled off the upset thanks to two unreal individual performances.
-Connor Halliday is a freshman quarterback that has played in only three games in his college football career. I’m not even sure that he started this game for Washington State since I started watching after it had already started, but that doesn’t take away from what he was able to do. Halliday, a 6’4″, 180 pound freshman went 27/36 for 494 yards and 4 touchdowns and led the Cougars to an upset of Arizona State. He wasn’t just checking down and hitting drag routes for lots of YAC either, Halliday was making stick throw after stick throw and he was doing it under pressure, on 3rd down, it didn’t seem to matter. When he was threatening to take the lead he threw a strike to the end zone and it was dropped. Then it was 3rd and long, his RT jumped for a false start penalty. Now it was 3rd and longer and what does he do? Deliver another strike to the end zone for his fourth touchdown of the game to take the lead. Halliday played a fantastic game and while he doesn’t have perfect mechanics, a rocket arm or perfect accuracy he certainly has good arm strength, accuracy and shockingly good pocket poise for a freshman. The amount of poise it took to go toe to toe with Arizona State’s potent offense led by a quarterback in Brock Osweiler that has legitimate 1st round talent in his first significant playing time in his college career is inconceivable. He played a fantastic game, and was honestly the most impressive player that I watched today. That’s how good he was.
-Marquess Wilson was Halliday’s favorite target today as he accumulated 8 receptions, 223 yards and 3 touchdowns. He had an absolutely unreal game today, and while I had heard of him before as one of the best receivers in the Pac-12 I didn’t really think he was on the same level as Robert Woods and Keenan Allen but after seeing him tonight I think he is worthy of being mentioned as one of the best young receivers in the Pac-12. This was the first I’d ever seen him, but he had an absolutely fantastic game. He made a number of tough catches and obviously came up big when his team needed him to, and he helped make Connor Halliday look like a 4th year starter who had led 10 4th quarter comebacks in his career tonight.
-Brock Osweiler was impressive as well, though his performance will likely be lost in the shuffle because of Connor Halliday’s emergence and because he ultimately won the game. However, Osweiler still went 28/44 for 351 yards and 1 touchdown in this game despite an anemic running game that mustered just 60 yards on 24 carries. Osweiler would have had even more yards if his receivers hadn’t dropped a few catchable balls (particularly one by #13 that absolutely changed the game. He dropped a ball right on the money in a hole in the zone on 3rd and goal that would have been a TD, Arizona State then attempted a field goal and missed it, giving Washington State control). However, he was making some very impressive NFL throws. He was putting touch on passes to get the ball over the linebacker and in front of the safety down the seam and behind the corner, in front of the safety down the sideline. He made stick throw after stick throw in the 2nd half to lead his team to touchdown drives to try to stick with Washington State’s suddenly potent offense. I was very impressed even though he had a couple questionable decisions, but he played very well and deserves props for that. I’m still very high on him for the 2013 NFL Draft.
-Gerell Robinson had a huge game for Arizona State. He had 8 receptions, 158 yards and 1 TD tonight, and when I was watching I didn’t see him drop any passes he should have caught.

I know it was a long post, but hopefully you appreciated some of my thoughts on the afternoon and evening games. Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Carson Palmer to Raiders

The Raiders are on the verge of making a bold move to acquire Carson Palmer, potentially giving up two 1st round picks.

If what is currently being reported is indeed true, then Carson Palmer will be an Oakland Raider by the end of the day. The Raiders would send a 2012 1st round pick as well as a conditional 1st round pick in 2013. That is a very steep price for a player who has not been the same since his serious knee injury versus Pittsburgh in the playoffs in the 2005-2006 season. He’s definitely a quality quarterback, but in my opinion he is a pretty significant risk considering how he has played since his injury and because of how long it has been since he played a snap in a NFL game. How long will it be until he is ready to play? Will the Raiders still be in position to compete for a playoff spot? Will Palmer be able to mesh with the Raiders’ current personnel in time to lead them to the playoffs?

These are all questions that I find myself asking and honestly I have my doubts. Stranger things have happened, but it’s tough for a new quarterback to acclimate himself to a new roster when he is signed as a free agent and has an entire offseason, much less being traded to them mid-season when he has been previously out of football for the entire season. He has to mesh with the roster, learn and then master the playbook, and then go out there and make plays on Sundays. That’s a lot to ask of anyone, but it will be interesting to see if Palmer is up to the task. I have to say I am pretty skeptical just because it is a very tall order, but if he can pick up the playbook quickly and is embraced by the locker room then he has a chance to lead the Raiders to the playoffs. I have to say, as a fan I am excited about the potential of this move and I am very interested to see if Palmer can make this worthwhile for the Raiders. The early winner of this trade is clearly the Bengals in my opinion. Potentially getting two first round picks for a player who was never going to start for you again thanks to Dalton’s emergence as a quality leader? Yeah, that’s a pretty nice trade. Plus they are off the hook for his salary of which there was nearly $20 million remaining over the next two years.

I love the boldness of this move, I just question whether or not I would have done the same. That’s an awfully high asking price, and this potential batch of quarterbacks in the 2012 NFL Draft class figures to be significantly better than any of the recent QB draft classes as far as overall talent and depth. But you have to think that if Al Davis was still running things this would be the kind of move he would make: It may seem crazy to some people, but he trusted his evaluation of the move as well as the rest of his staff and he believed that his coaches could make the most out of the acquisition. So in a way, this is kind of like Al’s last bold move as a Raider. I for one am rooting for them, and hopefully Palmer can find a way to make an immediate and lasting impact in Oakland.

Size: Coleman definitely seems to have NFL size, and I haven’t changed my opinion on that since I last watched him this summer. He’s got good size as he has listed at 6’5” but he looks a bit skinny on film and is listed at only 220 pounds. He could stand to get bigger, and if he added weight he would be able to sustain more hits as a quarterback.

Arm Strength: I have backed off my claim that Coleman has very rare arm strength for now. In this game his arm strength looked good, but it didn’t look great. He has a strong arm and can make all of the NFL throws, but it didn’t look elite. I’d grade it a 4.0 out of 5.0, so it’s not like he has a weak arm, but right now I can’t say that it’s elite. He has good zip on his throws though and can make quality deep ball throws.

Accuracy: Coleman has pretty good accuracy, and it was tough to judge against a very good Nebraska defense. He didn’t make a lot of NFL throws in this game just because a number of times they weren’t there, which made it difficult to truly evaluate his accuracy. But he showed the potential to be accurate to all levels, though he does still miss high at times. Right now I would give him a 3.5 grade on accuracy.

Mechanics: Coleman has solid mechanics. He very rarely lines up under center, but his offense is similar to what Ryan Mallett ran at Arkansas in that they run from under center almost every time he lines up there, but they will mix in play-action looks to try to catch the defense sneaking up to stack the box against the run. He has a smooth, quick release and has solid footwork in shotgun. He will need to develop his footwork when dropping back straight from center which I have rarely seen him do, but overall his mechanics are solid.

Mobility: Coleman has some mobility but won’t be a big scrambling threat in the NFL. However, he has more than enough mobility to make people miss in the pocket and to extend plays outside of the pocket by scrambling. He won’t outrun many people, but he can buy himself time which is all he has to do as a pocket passer.

Pre/Post Snap Reads: Coleman could use some development in this area. He stared down too many receivers in this game against Nebraska and checked down a lot. This probably has more to do with his receivers being overmatched as they struggled to create consistent separation, but regardless Coleman still struggled to threaten downfield. Additionally, he also did not recognize Nebraska’s blitz packages effectively prior to the snap which led to him being surprised by the immediacy of the pressure applied by them which led to a number of sacks for the Huskers. He needs to continue to learn how to use his eyes to deceive the defenders trying to read his eyes because right now he stares down too many receivers partially because he is still learning to read defenses and partially because of the offense that he operates. Particularly in this game, the only yardage they were able to accumulate was coming on short throws to try to get the ball out quickly due to Nebraska’s overpowering defensive line. He hasn’t really developed in this area since last season which is a little disappointing to me, but it adds credence to the idea that he would need a year or two before he could step in as a solid NFL starter.

Intangibles: Coleman still seems to have quality intangibles. His team was very overmatched in this game but he kept coming and making efforts even though literally every time his defense walked back onto the field they seemed to give up points. He is always up to the challenge of converting on 3rd downs, but doesn’t force a lot of throws into coverage which indicates pretty good decision making. He won’t just force throws into double or triple coverage which limited his options against a talented Nebraska defense. Their only touchdown drive was helped along by a big roughing the passer penalty that helped them convert on a 2nd and 10 after an incomplete pass instead of having yet another 3rd and long situation. I definitely need to see more of him from this aspect, but I’ve seen him exemplify mental toughness and perseverance before, so I know it’s there.

Character: I don’t know much about Coleman’s character, just like I don’t know an awful lot about his intangibles, but he didn’t seem frustrated or angry with his supporting cast even though they were vastly overmatched and struggled to consistently pick up yardage on early downs resulting in a lot of 2nd and 3rd and longs for him to try to convert. He seemed a bit frustrated later in the game as he continued to get hit, but by then they were so far behind that it was only natural to get a bit frustrated. He did transfer from Tennessee so I’m sure people will question how good he could really be if he couldn’t beat out Crompton back when he was a Volunteer, but that is only a minor concern in my opinion.

Overall: I was not as blown away by Coleman’s performance in this game, though he did play well overall considering the vast gap between Nebraska’s talent and the talent he had on his offense. He made good decisions, didn’t force throws into coverage, and continued to demonstrate good arm strength and accuracy. He still needs work on his pre and post snap reads and could stand to develop his mechanics further, but overall he is a solid prospect. Right now I’d grade him in the 4th round range based off of what I have seen so far, and hopefully he will merit an invite to the East-West Shrine Game so I can scout him further and potentially interview him later this year.

Saturday Games to Watch:

Saturday:
-West Virginia-Maryland:
I am excited to watch this game because there are a couple intriguing prospects (notably Bruce Irvin for West Virginia) that I’d like to get a look at, plus I think Danny O’Brien has it in him to potentially pull an upset. I haven’t watched West Virginia at all to get a sense for how they are doing this year, but I was incredibly impressed with O’Brien against Miami. He’s got a lot of upside and I expect him to play well today if his OL can keep him upright. Geno Smith is a quality QB too though, he just doesn’t project to the NFL as well as I think O’Brien does. I’m excited to see how this game plays out, and if my hunch is correct it could go down to the wire.

-Tennessee-Florida:
I am very excited to see this game because I think Tennessee can pull off the upset. It’s easy to look at this game and say “Oh, the 16th best team in the country against an unranked team? I’ll take Florida” but Tennessee is no slouch and if they can protect Tyler Bray he can carve up very talented defenses (see the Tennessee-UNC bowl game from last year. Might not be an “SEC” caliber defense, but still very talent laden). I want to see how John Brantley does as well, plus Florida always has talented players on defense that I’d like to see. Malik Jackson, a DE on Tennessee, was a player on my list of potential break-out players so I would like to see how he plays.

-Michigan State-Notre Dame:
I still can’t stop laughing at people who keeps saying “Notre Dame is a good team and I really like their squad” when they have started 0-2 and proved that their preseason top 25 ranking was completely unjustified, at least in my opinion. While they played a good game against Michigan, the Wolverines are not on the same level as the Spartans are. I have a hard time believing Notre Dame will be able to slow down their running game and Kirk Cousins is one of the best senior quarterbacks in the country. I think Notre Dame has a chance to give them a run for their money, but I don’t think they have it in them to pull off the upset.

-Virginia-North Carolina
Both are 2-0 this season and North Carolina passed their first test beating Rutgers in a close game last weekend. I don’t have very high hopes for them with the loss of Butch Davis and a new, young QB in Bryn Rynner (though I do like him). This is a big game for them though and if they can pull it off it would be huge for them to start out 3-0 in spite of all the turmoil the program has been through the last two years.

-Arizona State-Illinois
Arizona State dazzled everyone who watched the Thursday Night game about a week or so ago when they upset Missouri on national television in an overtime game. Brock Osweiler stole the show as far as I’m concerned as he was incredibly impressive and played an extremely efficient and effective game for ASU. He demonstrated a very strong arm, was placing the ball very well, and made only two throws that I identified as poor decisions or bad throws. Illinois is on the upswing in my opinion with Nathan Scheelhaase returning for his second season as a starter. I think Arizona State has the upper hand in this one, but it should be a pretty good game since Illinois is at home.

-Ohio State-Miami
This is a tough game for me to call. I actually trust Jacory Harris more than I trust any of Ohio State’s QB’s, but that isn’t saying much considering the fact that I think Stephen Morris should start for the ‘Canes. Regardless, Miami has an insane level of talent (especially on defense) even with some of their suspensions that have rocked the program. Ohio State is very talented as well, but I think they have demonstrated that they are not an elite or even a very good team by any means in their first two games. Miami can win this game, it’s just a question of who wins the turnover battle in my opinion. If Harris avoids interceptions and moves Miami down the field methodically with a few big plays, Miami has a great shot at winning. If Ohio State can get a few downfield plays and avoid turnovers, plus create them on the defensive side of the ball, they could win this game. It will be interesting to see which way it goes, but there’s a part of me that wants to pick Miami…

-Oklahoma-Florida State
This game is an extremely tough one for me to call. It’s almost impossible to bet against Oklahoma but Florida State is a very talented team. I like what E.J. Manuel brings to the table a lot, and while I like Landry Jones I don’t think he is a 1st round QB because of his issues dealing with interior pressure and because of his propensity for interceptions last season. This is going to be a critical litmus test for both programs as Oklahoma has been taking flak lately for not being able to win big games and Florida State is trying to prove that the “old” Florida State that used to battle for conference supremacy with Miami is back. It’s hard to bet against Oklahoma, but I am hoping for a great game unlike the match up last year in Norman where Oklahoma blew the doors off FSU.

-Stanford-Arizona
This might not seem like that big of a game, but Arizona has a tendency to pull off upsets and while I don’t think Nick Foles is anything more than a mid-round NFL QB prospect he can definitely sling it, especially in Arizona’s offense. He has been very efficient to start the season and while Stanford is clearly the better team they should try to avoid getting into a shootout with Arizona, because that’s the kind of game they want to play. I expect Stanford to win, but I also expect Arizona to give them a bit of a scare during the course of this game.

Thanks for reading and enjoy all the games today! There should be some exciting ones as usual.

–Tom

I have put together a top 25 list that I will post over the next few days in incriments of five teams. Tomorrow will be #16-20 and so on. Enjoy!

Bray is one of the best young NFL quarterbacks in the country and should help keep Tennessee relevant this year.

21. Tennessee- I am a huge Tyler Bray fan and that alone makes me think that Tennessee is ready to surprise some people. They may not be returning an abundance of elite SEC talent but I think they have enough talent on offense and on defense to compete in the SEC. They might not end up in the top 25 by the end of the season, but no one thought they would end up in a bowl game after their awful start last year either, and Bray was having none of that. A good or great QB can reverse the fortunes of even the worst teams, and Bray is living proof of that for Tennessee. This is his first full season as a starter, so it will be interesting to see if he can maintain the success he had late in the year last year, but if I had to pick I would anticipate him to continue to play well, even if he has a bit of a sophomore slump.

22. Baylor- I may not be a fan of Robert Griffin’s NFL prospects, but he has the upside to be a very good college quarterback and he has a chance to lead a Baylor team that is returning most of their talent (if not almost all of it). They have a lot of quality players on offense, led by Josh Gordon, a big, physical receiver with a listed 40 time of 4.42 (who I am very high on). They should have a very productive offense if Griffin can pass more accurately than he did at times last year, but he should be 100% healthy by now and won’t be as rusty as he was at the beginning of last season which should help the Baylor Bears prospects. Additionally, Baylor has some talent on defense worth noting and could have a pretty nice pass rush this season.

23. Mississippi State- The Bulldogs took the SEC by surprise last year and walloped Michigan in their bowl game last year thanks to a brutally effective rushing attack predicated on power. They lose some talent to the draft but they return talent on both sides of the ball, so it will be interesting to see if they can string two good seasons together in a row, or whether they won’t live up to expectations now that they have been raised. If they can get the ball out to Chris Smith (who I think is poised for a break-out season) they could have a more significant passing attack than they did at times last year.

Gilbert had his struggles last year, but we all saw flashes of potential in him against Alabama two years ago. If he can recapture that then Texas could be a dark-horse in the Big-12.

24. Texas- Texas is always good with recruiting and they have a lot of returning talent, but like so many teams their quarterback will make or break their season. Garrett Gilbert didn’t have a very good season last year (260/441, 59% completion, 2744 yards and 10 TD’s with an out of control 17 interceptions, plus 380 yards and 5 rushing TD’s) and if Texas is going to legitimize themselves as a contender they are going to need him to step it up. The flashes of greatness he showed against Alabama were nowhere to be found last year, and if he doesn’t recapture the poise and accuracy he flashed in that game two years ago then Texas is going to be in trouble, regardless of how much talent they are bringing in.

25. BYU- BYU has definite upside because even though they may not be a powerhouse they have a quality quarterback in Jake Heaps, who as a true freshman managed to complete 219 of 384 passes (57% completion) for 2,316 yards, and 15 TD’s with only 9 interceptions. Those are impressive numbers for a freshman, and he really stepped up against UTEP in their bowl game when he had his best game of the season with his 2nd highest career total in completions and he tied his career high for touchdowns with four. Heaps may not be a big guy, but even though he’s about 6’0” 195 he can sling the pigskin and he will give BYU a chance to remain competitive for the next three years if he stays healthy.

Look out for more rankings in the coming days! Thanks for reading!

–Tom

1- Janzen Jackson, FS, Tennessee
Analysis:
Jackson played one season with Eric Berry and I think that Berry passed the torch as the best safety in the country to Jackson, however there is a lot of uncertainty of whether or not he will actually be on the field this year. He left the program in February according to what I have read to deal with personal reasons, and Tennessee’s Head Coach Derek Dooley has repeatedly said he left on his own accord to deal with personal issues and that he was not suspended or kicked off the team. Hopefully Jackson will be able to get his head right and his life in order in time for him to come back to play this season because he really is an incredible talent. So even though there is no guarantee that he will be back I am obligated to rank him as my top safety because if he comes back that is exactly what he will be: the best safety in the country.
2- Robert Lester, FS, Alabama
Analysis: I watched Lester play quite a bit last year when I was scouting Alabama and I have to say I was pretty impressed. He is a ball-hawk in the secondary and definitely has a lot of potential as such, but he is not a very good tackler at all if I remember. He has his upside but also has things he needs to work on. But he is definitely one of the best safeties in the country. Last season he produced 52 tackles (29 solo), 1.5 TFL, 1.0 sacks, 8 INT’s (102 return yards), 1 FR and 4 pass deflections. I am looking forward to see him play in one of the best secondaries in the country next year as I believe Alabama returns all four of their starting DB’s.
3- T.J. McDonald, FS, Southern Cal
Analysis: McDonald won’t be playing in a bowl game this year and while I wish they would have taken the bowl ban off of USC’s program there is little to do about it now. However, McDonald should emerge as a very good player this year and I think he will live up to my #3 safety in the country ranking. He has good size at 6’2″, 205 pounds and has a listed 40 time of 4.54, plus last year he produced 89 total tackles (54 solo), 3.0 TFL, 1.0 sack, 3 INT’s, 4 pass break-ups and 1 kick/punt block. He was productive last year but I am anxious to see him in coverage this season as I didn’t get to see him a  lot in that capacity last year. I have heard one of his weaknesses may be long speed but if he has a good burst to close as well as quality ball skills and hopefully good tackling fundamentals that won’t be much of an issue, at least not in my opinion.
4- Markelle Martin, SS, Oklahoma State
Analysis: Martin is a quality safety on Oklahoma State, a team and program I am liking more and more every year. I actually just visited their stadium when I was in Oklahoma for the weekend and my Facebook profile picture is me striking a pose in their end zone. They have a great stadium and I really like their team, so I am glad I have an excuse to watch their defense so I can see Martin play this year. He has pretty solid size for a safety at 6’1, 195 pounds and he has a 4.47 40 yard dash time. Last year he had 55 total tackles and a remarkable 49 solo tackles, I’ve never seen a tackle total quite like that. He also had 2.0 TFL, 3 INT’s (1 TD), and 10 pass break-ups. He was very productive last year but I want to see how he plays in coverage and I’d like to see if he is as good of a tackler as his stat sheet would seem to indicate. I can’t wait to watch him and Go Cowboys!
5- Trenton Robinson, FS, Michigan State
Analysis: Robinson is going to be the anchor of Michigan State’s secondary and even though he is the size of a corner he is quite the effective safety. He stands at 5’10”, 195 pounds and has a 4.46 40 yard dash time, but he played safety and recorded 76 total tackles (35 solo), 4 INT’s, and 8 pass break-ups last season. I am looking forward to evaluating him because I have not seen him play much and I didn’t pay much attention to him when I watched Michigan State this past season. Between Jerell Worthy and Robinson the Spartans definitely have some talent on defense.
6- George Iloka, FS, Boise State
Analysis: Iloka is big for a safety as he stands at 6’3″, 215 pounds and has a listed 4.50 40 yard dash time. He was productive last year for Boise State as a junior when he totaled 63 total tackles (49 solo), 3.0 TFL, 2 INT’s, 5 pass break-ups and 1 FF. I have no idea as far as what his tendencies are and I haven’t seen him play much, so I will definitely be looking into Boise State this year so I can evaluate him.
7- Aaron Henry, FS, Wisconsin
Analysis: Henry is easily the best player in Wisconsin’s secondary and is probably one of the best players on Wisconsin’s defense now that Watt has left for the NFL. He has solid size at 6’0″, 210 pounds and has a listed 4.52 40 yard dash time. Last season he produced 57 total tackles (46 solo), 0.5 TFL, 2 INT’s (2 TD’s), 7 pass break-ups, 2 FR’s (1 TD). It will be interesting to see how he does this year since I am not sure how good Wisconsin’s pass rush is going to be, and their pass defense wasn’t exactly elite last year even with J.J. Watt living in the backfield.
8- Tony Dye, SS, UCLA
Analysis: Dye has solid safety size at 5’11”, 206 pounds and has a listed 40 yard dash time of 4.52. He played opposite Rahim Moore last year and it will be interesting to see how he does this season without Moore ballhawking in the backfield. Last year he produced 96 total tackles (59 solo), 3.5 TFL, 1 INT, and 9 pass deflections. This year he will be the man in the secondary as a Senior and he will have to step up in pass coverage. It will be interesting to see how he does.
9- Antonio Allen, SS, South Carolina
Analysis: Allen is part of a pretty talented secondary for South Carolina. They have a few potential starting safeties but I think Allen might be the best of the bunch. He is 6’1″, 208 pounds and has a listed 4.57 40 yard dash time. Last year he produced 69 total tackles (38 solo), 10.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 1 INT (1 TD), 4 pass break-ups, and 2 FF. I can’t believe he had 10.5 tackles for loss as a safety, but he seems to be a quality tackler. I can’t wait to evaluate him and the other talented players on South Carolina’s defense next year. They could have quite a defense in 2011.
10- Rashard Hall, FS, Clemson
Analysis: Hall has an intriguing combination of size and speed for the safety position. He is 6’2″, 200 pounds and has a listed 4.52 40 yard dash time. He totaled 62 total tackles (35 solo), 1.0 TFL, 2 INT’s (1 TD), and 2 pass deflections last season. He will be playing safety without DeAndre McDaniel this year so it will be interesting to see how he does. He seems like a pretty cerebral player contrary to a lot of Clemson players I have scouted in years past, so it will be interesting to see if that proves to be true and if he can step up to lead Clemson’s secondary this season.

And that concludes my safety rankings but also all of my pre-season rankings for this season. It feels good to be done, and hopefully you all enjoyed reading them. I’ll update them throughout the year, but for now I need a break from them to be honest. They can be a grind. I am going to start watching film now and get to work on putting up some early pre-season scouting reports based off of the film I watch. Ryan Lindley will be the first one I post as I have already watched all the film I have on him, so expect that either later today or tonight. Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Jenkins has a lot of potential and athletic ability so I am excited to see how he progresses as a sophomore.

Jelani Jenkins, LB, Florida:

Measurables: 6’1”, 223 pounds, #43

Year in 2011: Sophomore

Stats: 76 tackles (41 solo), 4.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks, 1 pass break up

Analysis: Jenkins was one of the most productive freshman linebackers in the country last year as he managed 75+ tackles, 4.5 TFL and 2.0 sacks. I expect him to improve on those statistics as a sophomore, and I think he is on the fast track to leaving as a junior if he continues to improve and get bigger and stronger. I am very much looking forward to seeing how much he improves as a sophomore because he has a lot of upside.

Robinson really impressed me when I saw him get limited playing time behind Dent last year, and I think he will emerge as a consistnt playmaker this year.

Christian Robinson, LB, Georgia:

Measurables: 6’2”, 226 pounds, #45

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 45 tackles (27 solo), 5.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks

Analysis: Robinson should be one of the starting ILB’s in Georgia’s 3-4 defense this year. He will be replacing Akeem Dent and I think he has the instincts and tackling ability to do so. He strikes me as a potentially impressive linebacker and I think he has the mentality to be a very good player for Georgia. He’s fearless and I watched him dive over an offensive lineman’s cut block to tackle a running back. It was pretty epic, so I expect him to be an impact player the next two years for Georgia.

Banks has rare size for a cornerback and if he shows ability in man coverage he will be a hot commodity when he leaves for the draft.

Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State:

Measurables: 6’2”, 180 pounds, #13

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 54 tackles (34 solo), 1.5 TFL, 1.0 sacks, 3 INTs, 7 pass break ups, 1 FF

Analysis: Banks showed me some ability to turn and run and an ability to locate the ball in the air and make a play on it when I was watching him. He had 3 INT’s and 7 pass break ups last year which is pretty good for a sophomore corner. His size is going to be very intriguing, especially for a corner, but if he has good hips and speed then he’s going to shoot up draft boards. It’ll be interesting to see how he plays this year as a junior, I think he has a lot of potential.

Buchanan has a lot of potential because of his size and speed so I am looking for a serious bump in production as a junior.

Michael Buchanan, DE, Illinois:

Measurables: 6’6”, 225 pounds, #99

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 40 tackles (18 solo), 5.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks, 2 pass break ups

Analysis: Buchanan has great size and speed off the edge and I think he has a bunch of potential. He might not have filled out his frame yet but I think that if he can get stronger and continue to develop he could easily hit 8 sacks this season. I am very interested to see how he plays this year because I think he has a high ceiling based off of what I saw of him as a sophomore. He was reportedly arrested for underage consumption of alcohol and for driving under the influence last September, so it will be interesting to see if he learned from that incident or if he struggles with off field issues in the future. Hopefully he stays out of trouble from here on out.

Tress Way is definitely going to get drafted if he maintains his impressive production as a punter before he leaves.

Tress Way, P, Oklahoma:

Measurables: 6’1”, 200 pounds, #36

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 73 punts, 3,212 yards (44 yard average), 70 kick offs, 4,400 yards (62.99 average), 9 touchbacks

Analysis: I know having a punter on this list might seem strange, but Tress Way is a pretty insane punter. Every time I see him punt it’s a great punt, so I am interested to see if he can have an even better year than last year punting. Plus he has a very strong leg for kick offs, so once he enters the draft he is going to be a draftable prospect because of his ability to impact games punting and kicking off.

Fleming (pictured as #14) seems to have impressive ball skills and I’m excited to see him play as a Senior.

Jamell Fleming, DB, Oklahoma:

Measurables: 5’11”, 191 pounds, #32

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 71 tackles (49 solo), 8.5 TFL, 5 INT (1 TD), 1.0 sacks, 14 pass break ups

Analysis: Fleming impressed me when I was watching Oklahoma’s defense this season and I checked out his stat line and it was also impressive. 70+ tackles, 8.5 TFL, 5 INT’s with a touchdown plus 14 pass break ups? That’s very impressive production for a defensive back. I am looking forward to seeing where he lines up this year (probably corner) and if he continues to play well there he could be a top 100 pick without a doubt, especially if he turns and runs well. It’s pretty evident he has good ball skills by his 14 pass break ups and 5 INT’s. I’m excited to see him play this year.

Benjamin might not be the biggest receiver, but I love his potential as a slot receiver. I’d just like to see him improve his hands.

Travis Benjamin, WR, Miami:

Measurables: 5’10”, 176 pounds, #3

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 43 receptions, 743 yards, 3 TD’s. 3 rushes, 44 yards. PR: 23 returns, 106 yards, 1 TD.

Analysis: Benjamin was a guy that I thought might break out last year but Hankerson drew most of the attention. I think Benjamin has a lot of potential as a slot receiver in the NFL and I think he’s going to surpass all of the stats he had last year with 50+ receptions, 800+ yards, 5+ TD’s and potentially more effectiveness as a punt returner. He doesn’t have impressive size but he is fast and I think he has pretty reliable hands. I think he has a lot of explosiveness and if Stephen Morris can spread the ball around amongst all of his talent (LaRon Byrd, Travis Benjamin, Aldarius Johnson…) then Benjamin could have a very big year. I worry a bit about him body catching so I will be looking to see how well he catches the ball away from his body with his hands this year.

Jefferson was quite impressive as a freshman, but his offseason arrest is a bit concerning.

Tony Jefferson, DB, Oklahoma:

Measurables: 5’11”, 198 pounds, #1

Year in 2011: Sophomore

Stats: 65 tackles (44 solo), 7.0 TFL, 2 INT (1 TD), 1 FR, 2.0 sacks, 7 pass break ups

Analysis: Jefferson had an impressive freshman year and I imagine he will be opposite Jamell Fleming at corner. I will definitely be tuning in to see how he progresses as a sophomore. If he has another year like he did as a freshman he could be on the fast track to leaving as a junior for the NFL draft. However, he was arrested on interference with the official process of Kenny Stills being arrested for suspicion of misdemeanor driving under the influence. These charges don’t seem particularly serious to me, but hopefully it doesn’t become a pattern.

Wilber has a very intriguing combination of size and athletic ability. If he can get stronger then he could produce 10 sacks next year.

Kyle Wilber, DE, Wake Forest:

Measurables: 6’5”, 235 pounds, #97

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 65 tackles (33 solo), 14.5 TFL, 6.0 sacks, 4 pass break ups, 3 FF’s, 1 kick/punt blocked

Analysis: Wilber strikes me as a major sleeper because he has great size, has already showed the ability to be productive, plus he has impressive speed off the edge from what I have seen. He just needs to get stronger to fill out his frame. I don’t know a ton about his game yet, but he showed up whenever I was watching Wake Forest’s defense, so I have high expectations for him as a senior. He could very well hit 15.0 TFL and 10.0 sacks next year, he has that upside.


Okoro has an intriguing combination of size, athletic ability and ball skills.

Kenny Okoro, CB, Wake Forest:

Measurables: 6’0”, 195 pounds, #6

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 39 tackles (32 solo), 1.0 TFL, 2 INT, 5 pass break ups

Analysis: Okoro impressed me almost as much as Wilber did when I watched Wake Forest. I think he is probably the best corner they’ve had since Alphonso Smith. He has good size for a corner as well and seems to have good ball skills. I am very much looking forward to see how he progresses as a junior. I want to see how he does in man coverage because if he plays man well then he will be in serious demand because he has good size for a corner and seems to have reliable hands. I don’t know how well he supports the run, but if he has a good year this year he might consider leaving for the NFL Draft after this season.

Elliot has a lot of speed off the edge and I think he should be a very effective pass rusher when he cracks the starting line-up.

Tevin Elliot, DE/LB, Baylor:

Measurables: 6’2”, 245 pounds, #18

Year in 2011: Sophomore

Stats: 36 tackles (24), 9.0 TFL, 5.0 sacks, 2 pass break ups, 2 FF’s

Analysis: Tevin Elliot was a freshman last year and in a rotational role he managed 9.0 TFL and 5.0 sacks. He has a lot of speed off the edge and while he doesn’t have ideal size I think he is going to be a fierce 4-3 RE or 3-4 OLB prospect in two years. I think with more consistent playing time he will improve on all of these stats because with his edge speed he has the potential to get 8.0 sacks a year.

Adams has a ton of potential and I love him as a slot receiver, but he is kind of a hot head and he body catches too much for my liking.

Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas:

Measurables: 5’11”, 190 pounds, #3

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 50 receptions, 813 yards, 6 TD’s. 6 rushes, 32 yards. 16 PR, 249 yards (15.56 avg) 1 TD

Analysis: I think that Adams is going to have another very good year this year, but I think he has the potential to break 1,000 yards because I think he will be one of the go-to guys on Arkansas. He has a ton of potential as he has solid size, he plays hard and he is very dangerous after the catch. He body-catches more than I would like to see though, and he also tends to be a hot-head which can get him in trouble and draw unnecessary penalties. So he is a bit of a risky player, but I love how he plays the game and if he can improve his hands to catch passes away from his body then he could be an extremely dangerous slot receiver in the NFL.

I don’t think Wilson will have any problems stepping in to replace Mallett at QB next year.

Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas:

Measurables: 6’3”, 215 pounds, #8

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 34/51, 66.7% comp, 453 yards, 4 TD’s/3 INT’s

Analysis: I think Wilson is going to surprise everyone that is expecting Arkansas to have a drop-off at quarterback with Mallett leaving. Wilson came in after Mallett got hurt against Auburn and almost won that game. Obviously his inexperience plagued him as he made a couple of costly turnovers, but that’s bound to happen in your first meaningful playing time when you aren’t expected to be the starter (plus they were playing from behind). However, he has good arm strength, accuracy and solid size. I expect him to take over the starting job and have an incredible year because he is stepping into an ideal situation with Knile Davis, a very dynamic running back, returning for his junior season, plus he will have three seniors and a junior to throw the ball to in Greg Childs, Joe Adams, Jarius Wright and Cobi Hamilton. That’s a plethora of weapons to spread the ball around to, so I think that Arkansas’ offense could be just as potent as it was last year, if not more potent. Wilson will have everything to do with that.

Wright has definite potential as a slot receiver and I think he will have a great senior season with Wilson at QB.

Jarius Wright, WR, Arkansas:

Measurables: 5’10”, 180 pounds, #4

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 42 receptions, 788 yards, 5 TD’s.

Analysis: Jarius Wright is going to be a part of one of the best group of college receivers in my recent memory next year with Greg Childs, Joe Adams and Cobi Hamilton. They are all very experienced, they all have the ability to stretch defenses vertically and they all have ability after the catch. Wright should be a slot receiver with Joe Adams, and I look for him to improve on his numbers from a year ago because I think Tyler Wilson will be slinging the ball around a lot this year.

I think Cobi Hamilton has the upside to be one of the best receivers in the SEC.

Cobi Hamilton, WR, Arkansas:

Measurables: 6’3”, 209, #11

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 32 catches, 630 yards, 6 TD’s.

Analysis: I have been high on Cobi Hamilton since I saw him play as a freshman and nothing he did as a sophomore could have dissuaded me from thinking this way. He has impressive size, he has great leaping ability, he attacks the ball in the air, and he has a knack for big plays. I am very excited to see how he progresses as a junior with Tyler Wilson throwing him the ball. If he gets the ball enough he could very well leave for the NFL draft and join the rest of Arkansas’ receivers in this receiver class. I think it would be great if he came back for Wilson’s senior season because I think they could be one of the best QB-WR tandems in the country, but obviously that is looking a bit too far forward. Hamilton has the potential to be one of the best WR’s in the SEC, he just needs opportunities to prove it.

Malik Jackson has a lot of potential and I think his senior season may be the year he puts it all together.

Malik Jackson, DE, Tennessee:

Measurables: 6’5”, 265 pounds, #97

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 48 tackles (29 solo), 11.0 TFL, 5.0 Sacks, 1 INT, 1 FF, 4 pass break ups

Analysis: Jackson transferred from USC to Tennessee after their problems with the NCAA and he hasn’t done a ton thus far but he showed some definite potential as a junior with 11.0 TFL and 5.0 sacks. He has great size and he is an impressive athlete though I haven’t been able to properly assess his burst and edge speed yet. However, I am looking for a pretty big boost in production as a senior and I am definitely going to be checking in to see how he does this year.

Janzen Jackson is an incredible player and he may be the best safety in the country.

Janzen Jackson, S, Tennessee:

Measurables: 6’0”, 187 pounds, #15

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 69 tackles (40 solo), 4.0 TFL, 1.0 sacks, 5 INT’s, 6 pass break ups

Analysis: Janzen Jackson may be the best DB in the SEC right now and that is saying a hell of a lot because the SEC has as much talent in the secondary as I have ever seen right now. Jackson is incredibly athletic and I think he is going to have an insane junior season and leave for the draft. He is one of my favorite players in the country right now even though he definitely had off-field issues as a freshman when Kiffin was still around. He had the chance to learn from Eric Berry so it will be interesting to see how he does this year with all the focus on him. I imagine teams will be throwing away from him, but he will probably still get his numbers like Berry did because he is one of the best, if not the best, safeties in the entire country.

Bray is one of the best young NFL quarterbacks in the country and the best part is he runs a pro-style so he will be easier to project to the NFL.

Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee:

Measurables: 6’5”, 210 pounds, #8

Year in 2011: Sophomore

Stats: 125/224, 55.8% comp, 1,849, 18 TD’s/10 INT’s

Analysis: Bray really impressed me last year when he stepped in as a true freshman and rallied Tennessee’s season as it seemed to be circling the drain and led them to a bowl game. It was an epic game against UNC and while it was controversial I was still very impressed with how Bray handled himself and how he played. He seems to be very poised and he has a strong arm, good accuracy and impressive size. I am very excited to see how he progresses over the next two years because I think he could be one of the best quarterbacks in the 2013 NFL Draft class if he continues to develop and work hard to improve. I am very high on him.

Hunter is one of my favorite young wide receivers in the country and I think he is going to step up in a big way for Tennessee this year.


Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee:

Measurables: 6’4”, 183 pounds, #87

Year in 2011: Sophomore

Stats: 16 receptions, 415 yards, 7 TD’s

Analysis: Hunter is a guy that I have been high on since his freshman year and I am looking for him to absolutely blow up this year. Tennessee’s top two receivers both graduated this year and now it will be up to him to step up to help them replace him. He has impressive size, leaping ability and I really like his hands. I am excited to see how he deveopls this season.

Martin has a lot of speed and playmaking ability and he should have an increased role in Michigan State’s offense this year.

Keshawn Martin, WR, Michigan State:

Measurables: 5’11”, 185 pounds, #82

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 32 receptions, 394 yards, 1 TD. 18 rushes, 157 yards (8.72 ypc). 16 PR, 228 yards (14.25 avg), 1 TD

Analysis: Martin should be targeted a lot more as a senior now that Mark Dell graduated and he has great speed and quickness which should allow him to get over the top of defenses. I think he has the potential to get 50+ catches, 750+ yards and 5 TD’s, plus still have an impact on the running game and as a punt returner. He brings a lot of value and I am excited to see how he steps up to replace Dell and how explosive he is this year.

Thanks for reading!! There is more to come!

–Tom