Tag Archive: Texas


West Roster Notes:

Quarterbacks:

Chandler Harnish, QB, Northern Illinois: Not surprisingly Harnish was the best quarterback on the field for the West practice this afternoon. He doesn’t excel in any one phase of the game but is sound in most of them. He showed above average ball velocity today and had a couple impressive bucket throws downfield including a great one down the sideline against good coverage to Devon Wylie. Harnish is probably the 2nd best quarterback here and it showed today. He was definitely the most impressive quarterback on the West roster and I imagine it will remain that way for most of the week.

Dan Persa, QB, Northwestern: This is going to sound like an insult, but I truly believe that Dan Persa has the skill set to be a terrific CFL quarterback. I’m sure that’s not what he wants to hear (I wouldn’t want to hear it right now either) but being a quality CFL quarterback is a lot better than taking a shot at the NFL and quitting after you didn’t make it. His size hurts him as he measured in at 5’11” this morning and while he has some arm strength and solid accuracy I just don’t think he will be able to stick in the NFL. I enjoy watching him play though and that’s why I think he could be so good in the CFL.

Tyler Hansen, QB, Colorado: Hansen played better today than I expected him to but that isn’t saying a whole lot. He regularly just stared down one side of the field and threw to his primary read which got monotonous after a while, but he showed the ability to throw the ball on the move and has solid arm strength and accuracy. He’s a fringe draftable prospect at this point and I don’t think he has a future in the NFL outside of a career back-up but he wasn’t bad today.

Running Backs:

Bobby Rainey, RB, Western Kentucky: As I mentioned in the East roster post, today was not the day to take a lot of notes on running backs. It was a shells practice and you couldn’t tackle, so there wasn’t a lot to glean from the running backs. Rainey looked the best of anyone though as he showed good burst and quickness as well as soft hands as he caught passes in the flat (unlike Marc Tyler who dropped a pass or two and lacked burst). I am definitely going to keep an eye on him the rest of the week, he caught my eye today.

Wide Receivers:

Jarius Wright, WR, Arkansas: I went out on a limb and said that Jarius Wright was the best prospect at this game and while I still think he has that potential he definitely had his highs and his lows today. He demonstrated his fantastic athleticism as he burned a number of defensive backs today, created consistent separation and ran crisp routes. He caught the ball well with his hands early on in practice and flashed the ability to come down with a pass in traffic as he made a nice catch on a deep ball for one of the only touchdowns I saw the whole day. However, his hands were also an issue today as he let a number of passes bounce off his hands and hit the turf. I’m not sure if it’s a concentration issue, a hands issue or both, but it was frustrating to watch as the practice wore on. I’m still high on Jarius and I am going to try to track him down for an interview but I hope he catches the ball better the rest of the week than he did today.

Greg Childs, WR, Arkansas: Childs is supposed to be healthy, but he didn’t quite look like his old self today. He didn’t have much burst in and out of his breaks and looked relatively slow when he was running his routes. He displayed good hands as expected and I don’t think I saw him drop a pass today, but considering his skinny frame and his somewhat unimpressive route running this afternoon I am a little worried about his stock. I’m not sure if the knee injury is still bothering him or not, but I talked to him after practice and will have an interview with him later this week.

Devon Wylie, WR, Fresno State: Wylie was probably the best player on the entire West roster today. He displayed good hands, good route running, impressive burst and quickness and was just fun to watch at receiver today. He adjusted to the ball well deep and tracked the ball well into his hands and helped make one of the best plays of the day on a deep ball from Chandler Harnish against good coverage. I was waiting for him after the practice to try to talk to him but scout after scout was talking to him, and it looked like a Ravens scout even had him filling out a survey of some kind as someone was announcing that the player bus was leaving soon. I took that as a sign to try to talk to him later, but he definitely helped himself a lot today and I, as well as many other people, was very impressed by his play today.

Dale Moss, WR, South Dakota State: I mistakenly tweeted that Moss “truck-sticked” a player at the East practice earlier today, but obviously that was a mix-up on my part. I have to say that I was not very impressed by Moss today. He measured in well at 6’3”, 220 pounds with 10 1/8 inch hands and a 79 ¼ inch wingspan, but he looked slow the entire practice and didn’t impress me as a route runner. The sad thing is that he still created separation despite route running without much suddenness or burst which really says a lot about some of the players in the West secondary. I’m not high on Moss right now, but we will see what he shows the rest of the week.

Junior Hemingway, WR, Michigan: Hemingway was not very impressive today either. He also looked slow and didn’t create a lot of separation due to his route running. His hands were also inconsistent and that really hurts him. He’s not a burner and I didn’t think he was going to be able to threaten defenses vertically in the NFL like he did in college and that seemed to hold true today as he just couldn’t catch up to a couple pretty well thrown deep balls this afternoon.

Tyler Shoemaker, WR, Boise State: Shoemaker may have been the second best receiver on the field today behind Wylie. I noted multiple times that Shoemaker seemed to be the only receiver who continued to come back to the ball after making his breaks on curls, etc. That’s good coaching in my opinion and a couple of times it enabled him to catch a pass relatively easily when it could have been a tough catch in traffic had he completed his break and stood there while the corner closed. I don’t think I saw him drop a single pass today so his hands definitely impressed me and he seems to be pretty athletic. I liked what I saw from him today and I definitely think he has draftable talent.

Tight Ends:

David Paulson, TE, Oregon: I have been signing Paulson’s praises for a long time and while he wasn’t a stud today he did make a few nice catches on high throws and I don’t think I saw him drop a pass today. He’s underrated and while he doesn’t project well as an in-line TE he can definitely contribute to a NFL passing game at TE or H-Back. He’s consistent and catches the ball when it comes his way, that’s all you can ask.

George Bryan, TE, North Carolina State: This kid is big but my god is he slow. I see why people were mentioning moving him to offensive tackle, though I have seen plenty of offensive tackles move better than he did as a route runner at times today. Not only that, but a couple times he let passes bounce right off his hands when he wasn’t 5 yards downfield. His hands are definitely inconsistent and his speed and lack of quickness will really make it hard for teams to draft him early. He’s a late round pick at this point in my opinion, but the move to offensive tackle may not be a realistic one at this point considering his 33 ¼ inch arm measurement. That’s not terrible, but it’s not great either.

Kevin Koger, TE, Michigan: Koger didn’t flash much today. He showed pretty solid hands but didn’t look fluid in his routes and seemed to lake suddenness and burst in and out of his breaks. I’m not sure he’s going to do very well as an in-line tight end this week but we will see how he does in the run game. I think Koger is an underrated pass catcher but he has more to prove to me this week.

Offensive Line:

I didn’t see much of the offensive line at practice today since I had a much better look at the 1 on 1’s for the receivers and defensive backs, but I will definitely keep an eye on them throughout the week.

Defensive Line:

Again, I didn’t see a lot of the defensive line today either but when I did watch I was impressed by DaJohn Harris and Dominique Hamilton. Harris was consistently in the backfield when I saw him today which doesn’t surprise me one bit because I think he is one of the most underrated players here. Hamilton is a big, big guy and looked pretty strong at the POA when I saw him, but I have to see a lot more of both of them.

Linebackers:

I didn’t see a lot of the linebackers today, but predictably Tank Carder looked good in coverage. I’m very interested to see how he does in the box against the run the rest of the week. We all knew he could drop into coverage, now we need to see how he does filling versus the run in the middle of the defense. Jerry Franklin also flashed some ability in coverage which was good to see, but I definitely didn’t see him enough to make many conclusions about him. Josh Kaddu was a player I had never really watched before and he flashed potential to me today. He is an athletic kid and he demonstrated that when dropping into coverage today. I don’t know much about him, but I’m looking forward to learning more about him as the week goes on.

Cornerbacks:

Shaun Prater, CB, Iowa: Prater was the best of this lackluster group in my opinion. He closes on passes well and drove on the ball well in practice today for the most part. He should have had at least one interception when he made a nice break on the ball but it went right off his chest. He doesn’t have very good hands but he does have pretty good ball skills. He looks like the cream of his unimpressive crop early in the week.

Keith Tandy, CB, West Virginia: Tandy did not impress me at all today. He was playing pretty soft coverage and gave up slants pretty freely today. His backpedal looked high and I didn’t think he turned and ran well with receivers downfield. He has a lot of work to do to help his stock this week because he definitely didn’t do so today in my opinion.

Brandon Hardin, CB, Oregon State: Hardin may have been the worst of this batch of defensive backs and that is absolutely not a good thing. He inexplicably gave up slants over and over again and never showed any burst to close. It was baffling really, but slow receivers were creating 3 yards of separation against him on simple slant routes. He seemed to be reacting in slow motion and just looked awful today.

Rodney McLeod, CB, Virginia: I didn’t see much of McLeod, but I also didn’t see him getting beaten that much either. That puts him in the top half of this crop of defensive backs unfortunately. He is only 5’9.5”, 195 pounds which hurts him, but he may be a sleeper in this group of corners. I’ll keep a closer eye on him the rest of the week.

Safeties:

None of the safeties were particularly impressive in my opinion. Duke Ihenacho and Blake Gideon didn’t look very good in man coverage though I didn’t really expect Ihenacho to be good there. He did look slow in man coverage though which was concerning. I’m not as high on Aaron Henry as others are because I think he gives up too many big plays but that wasn’t as much of an issue on day one of practice. We will see how he does the rest of the week.

Punters:

Brian Anger, P, California: I almost forgot to include him in this, but he needs to be mentioned. I was watching him punt early on in practice and in comparison with Matt Prewitt from Kentucky Christian he looked fantastic. You can really tell when a punter or a kicker has a strong leg because the ball will sound like a gun-shot (or something similar) when it comes off of his foot. That was the case for Anger today and he was getting fantastic hang time (though I didn’t have a stop watch handy). He was beating the pigskin off the ball today and while he may not end up getting drafted if he keeps punting like this all week he will make a NFL roster.

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Defensive Ends:

-Justin Francis, DE, Rutgers: 6’2”, 275 pounds, 4.84 40 yard dash
-Francis isn’t a freak athlete but he did demonstrate production at Rutgers, especially this season, when he produced 64 total tackles (33 solo), 13.0 TFL, 6.5 sacks, 5 pass break-ups, 1 interception and 3 blocked kicks. That was a stark increase from his production as a junior and while he isn’t necessarily projected to be drafted right now this week is important for him. It gives him a chance to demonstrate his potential as a 4-3 defensive end (likely at LE if you ask me) and gives him a chance to improve his stock to a draftable level or he can help make himself get signed as a priority free agent.

-Tyrone Crawford, DE, Boise State: 6’4”, 273 pounds, 4.75 40 yard dash
-Crawford was overshadowed at Boise State but was a significant contributor to what was a very talented and experience defensive line. This is his chance to shine now that he isn’t surrounded by the talent of his former defensive line. He’s a mid-to-late round pick right now but in a defensive end class desperate for pass rushing talent he could improve his stock considerably if he can demonstrate those skills this week.

Defensive Tackles:

-Dominique Hamilton, DT, Missouri: 6’5”, 305 pounds, 5.24 40 yard dash
-Hamilton could be a big riser this week in my opinion. He’s not very well known and while I personally haven’t seen him much he has demonstrated the ability to stuff the run inside at defensive tackle. Hamilton was a critical part of Missouri’s defense that bottled up a very talented running back in Giovanni Bernard in their bowl game against UNC. I really like the West’s talent along the defensive line and on the defensive side of the ball in general, but defensive tackle seems to be a strength of the roster. Hamilton may end up being one of the highest rated of the group, so keep an eye on him. He’s not a big-time pass rushing threat, but I am very interested to see how he holds up against double teams in the run game.

-Vaughn Meatoga, DT, Hawaii: 6’1”, 295 pounds, 5.02 40 yard dash
-Meatoga is another big, strong defensive tackle that I am anxious to see in the trenches. I haven’t seen much tape of him, but he’s definitely a player to keep an eye on. He’s a guy who could definitely help his stock this week if he holds up well at the point of attack and demonstrates the ability to clog running lanes up the middle. Like Hamilton I’m not expecting a lot from him from a pass rushing standpoint but his strength should be in the run game.

-DaJohn Harris, DT Southern California: 6’4”, 310 pounds, 5.16 40 yard dash
-Harris is a very underrated guy that I have been high on all season. He hasn’t gotten much love and he may not have eye-popping stats but every time I watched USC this year he was effective. I rarely (if ever) saw him get pushed off the ball, he made plays at or behind the line of scrimmage and he consistently did his job for USC’s defense. I really expect him to rise this week because he’s got NFL defensive tackle size, he’s athletic and looked pretty fundamentally sound when I watched him. Like Hamilton and Meatoga I think he will make his money stopping the run, but I think he has more pass rush potential than both of those guys. Keep an eye on him, I guarantee Harris will be making plays this week.

Linebackers:

-Jerry Franklin, LB, Arkansas: 6’1”, 245 pounds, 4.60 40 yard dash
-Franklin doesn’t get a lot of love because Arkansas’ defense has not traditionally been a powerhouse SEC defense. That overshadows him a bit, but I like him at linebacker. He’s not the biggest or the strongest but he has showed ability defending the run, seems to be a reliable tackler, and has flashed upside in pass coverage. I will be very interested to see where the coaches line him up on defense but I am also curious to see how he does at stacking and shedding near the point of attack. I don’t think he does that very well and if he can be reached by an offensive lineman he can be taken out of the play. But because he has never gotten a lot of attention I think he has chance to boost his stock this week.

-Tank Carder, LB, Texas Christian: 6’2”, 237 pounds, 4.67 40 yard dash
-Carder is a well-known prospect thanks to TCU’s win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl last year. He’s not a very big linebacker and many are projecting him outside in the NFL, but regardless of where he plays I have concerns about his ability to shed blocks and to hold up at the point of attack. He’s demonstrated his value in coverage but this week is going to be about his run defense. If he can defend the run well and tackle well (he has a reputation as a good tackler but I question his tackling a bit) then he should solidify himself as a 4th/5th round linebacker that warrants drafting. I have a feeling Carder is a guy who is going to let people down though because he has a reputation as a stud linebacker of sorts and I think some of his shortcomings will be exposed this week.

-Brandon Marshall, LB, Nevada: 6’1”, 245 pounds, 4.76 40 yard dash
-Marshall is another overshadowed linebacker that will be at the Shrine Game. He was overshadowed by James-Michael Johnson’s ability at Nevada but he may be the more fundamentally sound and reliable linebacker at the end of the day. I think he is a guy who will definitely help himself this week and show people that Nevada had more than one talented player at linebacker this past season.

-Ronnie Thomton, LB, University of Southern Mississippi: 6’2”, 240 pounds, 4.75 40 yard dash
-Thornton is a guy that I like. He’s not a stud linebacker prospect but I think he has draftable talent. He impressed me when I watched Southern Mississippi ruin Case Keenum’s day in the Conference USA Championship Game as well as in their bowl game. He looked like a very reliable tackler but I didn’t get to see him much in coverage. I will be watching him in that aspect this week without a doubt, but I think he can be a quality special teamer and reserve linebacker in the NFL if nothing more.

Cornerbacks:

-Shaun Prater, CB, Iowa: 5’10”, 185 pounds, 4.49 40 yard dash
-Prater is a quality cover corner that can play man and zone coverage. His size hurts him a bit in man coverage and he doesn’t have great ball skills, but he is still relatively effective. He will peek into the backfield at times which helps him in zone, but hurts him in man coverage at times. He has pretty good recovery speed though, which helps him in both man and zone coverage. He’s not a great tackler but he gives pretty good effort in run support. Overall he’s a solid corner, so it will be interesting to see how he stacks up with a pretty talented group of receivers all week.

Keith Tandy, CB, West Virginia: 5’10”, 199 pounds, 4.54 40 yard dash
-Tandy isn’t an ideal man coverage corner as he doesn’t have great size or recovery speed to react when beaten. He does have speed so there’s a possibility he could develop in man coverage, but his value is as a zone corner. He doesn’t have great hands but he does have good ball skills and he has good instincts in coverage. He’s also a pretty good tackler and definitely has draftable talent. It will be interesting to see how he does this week. If he excels in man coverage and takes well to coaching this week he could definitely improve his stock.

Safeties:

-Aaron Henry, S, Wisconsin: 6’0”, 210 pounds, 4.52 40 yard dash
-Henry is likely one of the best safeties in this game and is pretty well known. He was one of Wisconsin’s captains this season and has plenty of starting experience in their secondary. Despite that I have never been overly impressed with Henry. I think he leaves something to be desired in pass coverage and Wisconsin had serious issues defending the pass this year and some of that had to do with their struggles to keep things in front of them on the back end. Some of that has to be on Henry, and it makes me wonder how good he is in coverage. I’ll absolutely be watching that this week, because if he has struggles in coverage then his stock is going to take a serious hit. His tackling worried me at one point but while he isn’t a great tackler I think he is solid in this aspect. So overall he’s a solid safety prospect, but I have my concerns about him. I’ll definitely be watching him closely this week and hopefully I will be able to land an interview with him.

-Blake Gideon, S, Texas: 6’0”, 205 pounds, 4.64 40 yard dash
-Gideon is a unheralded safety from Texas and considering Texas’ proficiency when it comes to churning out talented defensive backs he is definitely someone to keep an eye on. Gideon isn’t a flashy player but he strikes me as a reliable, fundamentally sound player. I’m not sure how much potential he has to be a starter in the NFL, but he strikes me as one of those guys it would be unwise to bet against. I am looking forward to evaluating him this week to see if I think he has starter upside, but even if I don’t think he does I would be surprised if he didn’t end up on a NFL roster.

-Duke Ihenacho, SS, San Jose State: 6’0”, 205 pounds, 4.60 40 yard dash
-Ihenacho is my favorite safety at this game and I can’t wait to see him in person. He looked very impressive to me when I watched coaches tape of San Jose State this summer and I can’t wait for him to ball out this week. He’s definitely going to be a riser and I think everyone who hasn’t seen him play will be very impressed with what he brings to the table. I think he could end up going in the 3rd or 4th round because this strong safety class doesn’t have a lot of high-end talent or depth to it. Keep an eye on Ihenacho, I’ll be trying to track him down for an interview without a doubt.

Apologies for getting this up so late everyone. I didn’t have internet access all day today and just got my internet working a bit earlier. I will be covering all the Shrine Game practices this week so check in every day for your updates on the action. Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Demontre Moore: Moore has plenty of upside. He’s got great size at 6’4″, 245 pounds and has good speed off the edge. Not sure he’s an elite athlete, but he has been very productive this season as a sophomore with 51 total tackles (31 solo), 14.0 TFL, 6.5 sacks, 3 FF’s and 1 pass break up. He and Sean Porter are a fearsome tandem and will be even scarier next year as he will be a junior and Porter will be a senior. He has flashed the ability to shed, keep contain and is a reliable tackler. Showed good burst/explosiveness off the edge.
-Moore made a great play to chase down Diggs on his terrific punt return to save a touchdown. A&M then forced a field goal. Could be a critical play if A&M can get going on offense.

Sean Porter: Porter reminds me a lot of what Von Miller used to be as a junior. He’s 6’2″, 230 pounds and very explosive as an athlete. He has 67 total tackles (44 solo), 13.5 TFL, 8.5 sacks and 1 forced fumble so far this year. He relies almost entirely on his athleticism as a pass rusher and a defender much like Miller used to, but he is still a fearsome player with only that in his arsenal. Like Miller he has plenty of upside and should be back in school next year as a senior, and if he comes back stronger and with better hand usage he could be a very scary prospect much like Miller developed into. It will be interesting to see if he is able to take that next step, but right now he avoids blocks versus shedding them with his speed and burst, but he has to be able to shed and use physical moves to get off blocks once he is engaged. Once he’s engaged he’s not nearly as effective, so he needs to get stronger and work on his hand usage.

Tony Jerod-Eddie: TJE has impressive size at 6’5″, 301 pounds. He has 40 total tackles (20 solo), 6.0 TFL, 4.0 sacks and has shown a solid motor and flashed a swim move. He’s got some potential as a 3-4 DE or a 4-3 DT. Not sure he’s a great pass rusher or run defender, but he has NFL size and that warrants some checking out. He hasn’t flashed a whole lot tonight, but he’s been solid. I’m going to keep an eye on him and see how he looks the rest of the game.

Eddie Brown Jr.: Brown Jr. has been impressive today. He’s tough to move off the line of scrimmage because of his size (6’0″, 310 pounds) and he has a very good burst off the line of scrimmage. He’s regularly one of the first defensive linemen off the ball and moves surprisingly well for a big man. He’s made some nice stops at the line of scrimmage tonight, and definitely has some potential as a rotational defensive lineman. Not sure he’s a starter yet, I just haven’t seen enough of him. But he has some value in my opinion.

Ryan Tannehill: Tannehill is a guy I like, but he has been very off so far tonight. Texas has a talented defense and they churn out talented defensive backs like it’s their job. Tannehill has struggled tonight for reasons I’m not sure of, but there have been drops, bad throws by him, deflections at the line of scrimmage, and he’s gotten hit a bit as well (a few times by Keenan Robinson). We’ll have to see how he does in the second half, but he has much more potential than this. He displayed it a bit on the first drive Texas A&M had when they marched down and scored, but Texas settled in on defense and has thwarted him for the majority of the half since. Tannehill has been very accurate on roll-outs and passes outside the pocket, but he hasn’t been very good inside the pocket yet. He needs to remedy that situation in the second half, because Texas has too much athleticism to continue to rely entirely on passes from outside of the pocket. Corner blitzes will come if they keep doing roll-outs off of play action and he will take more hits, get sacked or turn the ball over. He needs to pass better from the pocket.
-Tannehill has been terrible in this game. Texas has been great on defense since early in this game and their defensive backs have been especially good. Byndom has been in Fuller’s hip pocket all game and has a pick 6, Diggs has nearly made multiple interceptions, Vacarro has an interception, and Christian Scott nearly had his first interception of the season early on with a great break on the ball. Tannehill hasn’t had a lot of open receivers to throw to but he has been inaccurate, he’s stared down his receivers which has led to interceptions and he hasn’t handled his lack of success well as his issues have continued to snow ball. That is worth noting as a prospect, and because this is his 2nd to last game (assuming their 6 wins get them a bowl game which it should) this is definitely going to leave a sour taste in the mouth of evaluators. His only hope is to lead a comeback in the 4th quarter and win a game ugly.

Ben Malena: Malena has been very impressive in this game. He’s been running through arm tackles, churning his legs effectively, displaying impressive burst and speed as well as reliable hands. I’m really enjoying watching him, and should have a lot of touches the rest of the year and next year in a shared backfield.

Jeff Fuller: Fuller has been having a down year and it has something to do with his struggles to create separation. He’s been nicked up, but he struggled to create separation before. He has very impressive hands and can make tough catches even when covered, but you’d like to see him run better routes to generate more separation. A couple times he pushed off of the cornerback defending him to try to get free, but for the most part he was blanketed in the first half. Carrington Byndom has done a great job on him. He’s only a sophomore but he has played great and been in Fuller’s back pocket the entire game. Fuller has the size to beat him (6’4″, 220 pounds versus 6’0″, 180 pounds) but Byndom is more athletic than Fuller is and it has been evident. Fuller has been relatively productive this year, but he has possession receiver numbers with 56 receptions, 602 yards and 4 TD’s on the year. He’s got a 3rd or 4th round grade from me right now, but unless he gets healthy and starts showing he can generate consistent separation he probably won’t move up much more than that

Carrington Byndom: Byndom has been terrific tonight. According to the announcers he matches up with the best receiver on every opposing team and he is only a sophomore. He has been blanketing Jeff Fuller all night and has clearly been frustrating him as he has resorted to pushing off and trash talking, but Byndom has barked back and continues to stick with him in coverage. Byndom has tons of upside as a man coverage corner thanks to his size, speed and he seems to have pretty long arms. He needs to get bigger and stronger, but he’s got tons of upside. Keep an eye on him, he’s #23.
-Byndom had a great play to get a pick 6. He’s a very impressive corner.

Ryan Swope: Swope doesn’t have the same upside Fuller does because he doesn’t have the same size/athletic ability but he has good hands. He has dropped a pass or two in this game though, and hasn’t been able to beat Texas vertically like he has against other teams. He’s been good against zone coverage though, and needs to get more involved in the second half if Texas A&M is going to move the ball. Fuller is being taken out of the game by one on one coverage which leaves a lot of defenders to keep an eye on Swope.

Keenan Robinson: Robinson is a very talented linebacker. He’s clearly very athletic, is a very reliable tackler and has laid the wood on Tannehill a couple times in the first half. He really packs a punch and has a knack for finding his way to the ball carrier and the quarterback. He doesn’t have elite size, but he’s a quality linebacker that is fun to watch.

Quandre Diggs: Diggs is the “other” corner opposite Byndom. He is only a FRESHMAN but he is starting for Texas. He’s 5’10”, 200 but he has 39 total tackles (24 solo), 3.0 TFL, 2 interceptions (a 3rd in this game) and TEN pass deflections. That is incredibly impressive, and he seems likely to be the next stud corner at Texas after Byndom of course. I’ve been impressed with Diggs so far, he had a great recovery to pick Tannehill off. I almost forgot to mention that Diggs is a great punt returner. He flashed a lot of potential in his limited touches in the 1st half, but he really ripped off a great return after A&M’s first punt to set Texas up with the ball on A&M’s 9 yard line.

Kenny Vacarro: Vacarro is a guy that has been tabbed as a potentially underrated safety. It’s tough to watch him play, but he has looked solid in coverage when I could see him. He strikes me as a leader on Texas’ defense and wore Fozzy Whitaker’s #2 jersey because he is injured and unable to play which you love to see. #6 flashed an impressive close to nearly get an interception, but Vacarro is the better prospect at this point.
-Fantastic interception high pointing the ball on the sideline and getting his feet down. Looked like a wide receiver. He’s got a lot of upside.

Kheeston Randall: Randall has demonstrated some ability but he hasn’t been the dominant, disruptive force that I was expecting. He has NFL size and athletic ability, but I think he needs work on his hand usage and pass rush moves. He’s strong and not very easy to move off of the line of scrimmage, but he has left something to be desired thus far.

Randy Bullock:  Bullock is the Texas A&M kicker. He has made 3 FGs in this game, 24 this season. He is a  Lou Groza award finalist. 2 of his 3 field goals in this game have been 50+ yard attempts that he has made convincingly. I want to see him in clutch situations, but two 50 yard field goals is definitely impressive.

Jackson Jeffcoat: Jeffcoat has started to emerge this season along with Okafor. He hasn’t had a lot of pressure on Tannehill as a passer (or at least I haven’t noticed it, hard to see everything at once) but he has made some TFL’s in the backfield against a RB who has been running through unimpressive tackles all game. He’s done a good job versus the run so far.

Alex Okafor: Okafor has emerged as a pass rusher this year. I think they will be really fun to watch next year because they have a lot of athletic ability and upside as pass rushers, but beyond that they have a fantastic secondary that will help them get coverage sacks.

Emmanuel Acho: Acho is a great tackler along with Robinson. He has made some impressive open field stops against Malena who has been making some Texas defenders look silly as the slide off of him. He and Robinson have shown ability in coverage and close very, very fast. Plus they know how to get after the passer when they come on a blitz.

NCAA Week 5 Top 25 Picks

South Florida over Pittsburgh

BJ Daniels should have a good game and Pittsburgh struggles with close games. The trouble is, this one might not end up being that close.

South Florida by 13

Texas A&M over Arkansas

Ryan Tannehill had a pretty good game last week in a loss to Oklahoma State, and the Aggies will be looking to rebound against Arkansas just a week after they were thoroughly dominated by Alabama. Both teams really need a win here, but I think Arkansas’ defense will prove problematic against the Aggies.

Texas A&M by 6

Michigan over Minnesota (Potential blow-out)

Denard Robinson should have a big game running and possibly a big game passing against the Gophers who are trying to turn the program around under Jerry Kill. The trouble is the head coach has had trouble with seizures, and there is no way it hasn’t had an impact on his players. Minnesota is simply overmatched in this game, and I see Michigan blowing them out.

Michigan by 24

Illinois over Northwestern

Illinois is a solid team but so is Northwestern. I expect Illinois to win, but don’t sleep on Northwestern. They are well coached and have some talent, plus they never go away. If the Illini let them hang around they could make a late push.

Illinois by 7

LSU over Kentucky (Potential blow-out)

LSU is hitting on all cylinders right now and Kentucky is going to be borderline powerless to stop them. Their defense is the best in the country and their running attack is extremely tough to slow down, much less stop. I see LSU winning in blow-out.

LSU by 24

Boise State over Nevada

Boise State lost this game to Nevada last year in dramatic fashion, but I don’t see Nevada pulling off two in a row. They should be overmatched, and Kellen Moore and company won’t be merciful after what Nevada did to their title hopes last season.

Boise State by 21

Georgia Tech over NC State

Georgia Tech’s running game is absolutely gashing anyone who gets in their way, even my beloved Tar Heels last week, and NC State’s defense isn’t on the same level as North Carolina’s. I expect them to run the ball early and often and control the clock in this game, and I think Georgia Tech should win pretty comfortably.

Georgia Tech by 17

West Virginia over Bowling Green

West Virginia is coming off of a rough loss against LSU, but Geno Smith looked poised and impressive staring into the teeth of the best defense in the nation and actually carved them up to an extent by throwing for 463 yards on 38 of 65 passing (58.5% completion) and two touchdowns and two interceptions. Was it a great game? No, but it was quite good for a developing quarterback against a fantastic defense. WVU should rebound easily against Bowling Green now that they know what their offense is truly capable of.

West Virginia by 28

Baylor over Kansas State

Robert Griffin III has been absolutely amazing this year. Through three games he has completed 70 of 82 pass attempts while throwing for 962 yards (11.73 yards per attempt, an insane number), 13 touchdowns and no interceptions. Last season he threw 22 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 13 games, an impressive statistical season. He is on pace to throw for well over 40 touchdowns at this current pace. It’s hard to imagine him continuing to play this way especially since he is averaging only four incompletions per GAME, but if he keeps playing comparably well to how he has started the season the Baylor Bears will be tough for anyone to beat. I don’t anticipate Kansas State being the team to cool Griffin off, so the Bears should win easily.

Baylor by 21

Auburn over South Carolina (upset)

I think South Carolina is pretty overrated and I think Auburn has a chance to pull off the upset here. Gene Chizik and his Auburn Tigers have a flair for the dramatic and they are tough to beat when you let them hang around. They always seem to make the big play late in the game to keep themselves alive, and they are well coached when it comes to playing from behind late in the game. I love Marcus Lattimore, but I don’t think Steve Spurrier has much faith in Stephen Garcia and I’m not sold on South Carolina’s defense. The game is in South Carolina, but I think Auburn has a great chance to pull off this upset. It will be interesting to see if they manage to do so.

Auburn by 3

TCU over SMU

I think SMU has a small chance of pulling off an upset here, but TCU is the better team overall. It will be interesting to see which way this game goes, but if SMU gets their offense going they could be tough to keep up with. Their running back Zach Line has 463 yards and 11 touchdowns in only four games, and their top receiver Darius Johnson has 27 catches, 398 yards and two scores already. I think TCU will win, but I don’t think it will be as easy as some people might think.

TCU by 7

Clemson over Virginia Tech

This was a really tough game for me to pick. I picked Clemson to upset Florida State last week, but Virginia Tech is extremely tough at home and the Tigers have to cool off EVENTUALLY right? Perhaps, but I don’t think it will be this week. I am high on Virginia Tech’s defense though and I think they have a chance to slow down Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins and the rest of Clemson’s high flying offense in this game. However, what might define the game is how well Logan Thomas and Virginia Tech’s offense is able to play. Thomas has been solid thus far with 761 yards on 60 of 105 passing (57.1% completion) but he has thrown as many touchdowns (4) as interceptions. Clemson is on fire right now, so it will be interesting to see how this game plays out.

Clemson by 7

Texas over Iowa State

The Longhorns lost this game last year and I think they will make sure they show up to this one. Iowa State isn’t a push-over this year, but I think the Longhorns will be too much for them.

Texas by 14

Oklahoma over Ball State

Oklahoma still has a legitimate argument to be the #1 team in the country, so I don’t think they will have too much trouble with Ball State.

Oklahoma by 28

Alabama over Florida

This is going to be a fantastic game. I think Alabama and Florida have the 2nd and 3rd best defenses in the country only to LSU, so this is going to be a defensive slug fest if I had to guess. I picked Alabama because I trust their offense more thanks to Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy on the ground. This should be a great, close game though.

Alabama by 10

Wisconsin over Nebraska

This game is going to be fantastic. I have been waiting for this game ever since I heard that Russell Wilson might sign with the Badgers. Wisconsin’s run defense might be problematic against Nebraska, but I think Wisconsin’s offense is more than potent enough to put up points on the Cornhuskers. It should be a great game that is close right until the end, and I can’t wait to see how it unfolds. I do expect Russell Wilson to give the Badgers the push they need to win this game. A year ago I couldn’t have picked Wisconsin, but with Wilson at the helm I expect them to win.

Wisconsin by 7

Stanford over UCLA

Stanford is just too talented and well coached to be slowed down by UCLA.

Stanford by 21

Arizona State over Oregon State

Arizona State’s Brock Osweiler is a player that I am really warming up to, and I expect that he and the Sun Devils won’t have a lot of trouble with the win-less Oregon State Beavers.

Arizona State by 17

I was 16-3 last week, so let’s see how I do this week! Thanks for reading, and enjoy the games!

–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

Hello to everyone from Orlando! I am here all week for the East-West Shrine game practices and the game on Saturday. I look forward to taking a lot of notes and of course posting my thoughts at night on my blog for all to read! So enjoy the notes from the East practice that I just finished up. The West notes will be done later tonight as well.

Quarterbacks:

Pat Devlin, QB, Delaware:

Devlin had a solid day. It didn’t start well when he bobbled the first two warm-up snaps he took under center, which kind of worried me at first. However, he didn’t bobble any snaps the rest of the practice that I saw. He was throwing a little high early and got intercepted on his first throw thanks to a tip by a corner once the ball got there. He seems to have pretty solid size, solid zip on his throws. He has long arms too as far as I could tell without measurements.

Tyrod Taylor, QB, Virginia Tech:

Taylor had a solid day too, and it was big for him to measure in at 6 feet. He looks small on the field, especially next to Devlin. He was a little erratic today, missing high and low, and struggled with ball placement some. His passes definitely had the most zip on them of the East QB’s.

Ricky Dobbs, QB, Navy:

Dobbs is not much of a passer, and his only value at QB at the next level will be running wildcat or something. His spirals weren’t very tight early, struggled with ball placement and didn’t seem to have very good zip on his throws.

Halfbacks:

Graig Cooper, RB, Miami:

Cooper was handling kick returns early in practice, though they were just walk-through kickoff drills. He was extremely fast before the injury, and it looks like he is returning to form a bit. It’s hard to say for sure, but he looked fast today. Showed soft hands today in drills too. I don’t think I saw him drop a pass.

Delone Carter, RB, Syracuse:

Carter looked great today. He looked very fast, got upfield quickly, made some really nice moves in open space and to get into the open field. He had an incredible game against Kansas State and he played like he still had momentum from that game today. He looked the best out of the RB’s on the East to me.

Evan Royster, RB, Penn State:

Royster lacked burst like he seemed to on tape in my opinion. Doesn’t explode in or out of his cuts at all, doesn’t seem to have very good footwork as a runner. I wonder about his vision too because he shuffles his feet and takes extra steps when the play is developing instead of finding a hole and making a cut to hit the hole. He looked really slow compared to Cooper and Carter too.

Anthony Sherman, FB, Connecticut:

Sherman really stuck out to me. He showed great hands out of the backfield, especially for a fullback, and seemed to have good vision as a runner as well. He looked great today.

Wide Receivers:

Terrence Toliver, WR, LSU:

Toliver looked like the best receiver on the East today without a doubt in my mind. I was high on him coming into practice, but only one pass thrown to him hit the ground that I saw. He dropped it but every other pass he caught easily. He seems to have pretty big hands, really long arms and he catches the ball well away from his body. Seemed to try to catch and turn too quickly on the one he dropped. His legs are really skinny though and he himself is skinny, and he doesn’t have much explosion out of his breaks to create separation. If he gets stronger in the lower body and works with a good receiver coach on that I think he could improve in that area, but it’s a concern for me at this point even though I love his hands.

Lestar Jean, WR, FAU:

Jean looked skinny overall but not as skinny as a couple other guys. Coaches were working with him on his stance a couple times early in practice to help him get off the ball better. He was body catching for the majority of practice when I saw him. Plus he was wasting steps in and out of his breaks, most notably on curl routes.

Perry Baker, WR, Fairmont State:

Baker started off horribly in this practice. He looks extremely skinny, especially in the legs, and he was dropping everything early. I saw him make one catch and drop every other ball in the first round of receiver drills. He seemed to be really nervous and was not running good routes during that time. However, he has great speed and definitely looked like the fastest receiver on the East squad to me. Not only that, but he calmed down as the practice continued and made a couple of good catches with his hands and away from his body late. He definitely started slow but he made very obvious progression throughout the practice.

Cecil Shorts, WR, Mount Union:

Shorts had a solid day. He made a couple catches but also dropped a couple catchable balls. He looked like he had a solid frame, definitely not skinny like a couple of the other receivers. I’m not sold on his hands yet, but he has some speed.

Tight Ends:

Greg Smith, TE, Texas:

Smith had one good catch in the beginning drills but he dropped a few passes that he definitely should have caught. He also had a couple false starts and struggled with ball placement initially as a long snapper, but he seemed to get better with that as he went along. Overall though, not a great day.

Charles Gantt, TE, Michigan State:

Gantt had a false start and also had a pretty funny moment during blocking drills when he planted his foot and his foot went right through the side of his shoe, tearing a huge hole in the side of his shoe. He had to come out of drills and get a new pair of shoes before he could continue.

Offensive Tackle:

Chris Hairston

Hairston is a huge dude, but he looked like he was carrying some extra weight. I don’t think he has the foot speed to stick at LT, but he is working out at OT. He has solid technique based on what I saw today, but his feet look heavy and he lumbers a bit at times. It’s something I will look out for this week. He did a good job of bending at the knees and not at the waist in drills from what I saw.

Jah Reid

Reid is a big guy and was spending time at RT today. He has pretty solid fundamental footwork but in drills he was bending at his waist a lot which is definitely a concern. It’s hard for him to get leverage because of his size, but bending at the waist is a definite red flag and I saw him do that a number of times.

Offensive Guard/Center:

Randall Hutt, OG, Illinois:

Hutt had a pretty bad day today. He had three false starts I believe and he struggled in the run game, and especially had trouble with Marvin Austin.

David Arkin, OG, Missouri State:

Arkin is a small school guy that I had not heard of before I saw him on the roster, so I was anxious to get a look at him. He had a couple of false starts, but other than that he looked great today. One of them was on the first play when Marvin Austin was lined up right in front of him, so I’m sure he wanted to get off the ball a little quicker than normal. He looked very good at the point of attack today, had a nice pancake block on Martin Parker, a DT from Richmond. He held up pretty well in pass protection too, though Parker got leverage on him and drove him slowly into the personal space of the QB today. When the ball was thrown they went at it for a second or two afterwards. But Arkin had a great day.

Bryant Browning, OG, Ohio State:

Browning had a bad day. He got pulled quickly for Hunt and had two false starts that I saw.

William Rackley, C/OG, Lehigh:

He is listed on the West Roster but he was moved to the East team for practice today. He has really big legs and moves well which is important for an interior lineman. He’s listed as a center but I am pretty sure he saw time at guard. He had a solid day today, I look forward to seeing more of him this week.

Ryan Bartholomew, C/OG, Syracuse:

Bartholomew had a solid day of practice. I don’t have a lot of notes on him, but he did a good job of sealing on a couple blocks and spent time at guard and at center. Versatility is huge and if he can play center and either or both guard spots it will help his stock.

Defensive Line:

Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina:

I was really looking forward to seeing Austin play, especially because I am a big UNC fan. He had a very good day today, though that is to be expected because of his talent level. I have never been convinced he has a very good motor, but he has pretty violent hands and he shed blocks pretty nicely today. He was pretty disruptive and had a couple nice swim moves to get into the backfield. He looked pretty good at the point of attack and when he didn’t shed blocks he didn’t get pushed off the line. He also had a pass deflection at the line of scrimmage today. He had a strong practice, and I am trying to lock down an interview with him at some point this week.

Martin Parker, DT, Richmond:

Parker didn’t have a great day as he struggled a bit at the point of attack against Arkin, but he plays with good natural leverage because he doesn’t have great size. He had a pretty good bull rush but the QB held onto the ball a long time which gave him more time to slowly drive Arkin into the pocket.

Linebackers:

Brian Rolle, OLB, Ohio State:

I like Rolle but he looks SO small out there. He measured in under 5’10” today and that will hurt him a lot as a prospect. He was getting washed out in the running game today which is not going to endear him to scouts. He needs to add weight to his frame and get stronger if he is going to have any chance of holding up in the box. I didn’t pay much attention to him in coverage, but I will do that later this week. But his size sticks out to you right away, but I am not someone who will be scared away from a guy because of his size. For that reason I will look forward to seeing him show me his ability that got him this far the rest of the week.

Greg Lloyd II, ILB, Connecticut:

Greg looked good today. He is a pretty big guy and has a great frame to add weight to. He seemed to be the emotional leader of the East’s first unit today and he was the one calling guys into the huddle and telling them the play they were going to run. That’s always great to see from a player, to see him take command, etc. He was filling well versus the run too, but it was only a walk through. He seems to have pretty good instincts and recognition skills. I liked what I saw from him.

Akeem Dent, ILB, Georgia:

Dent is another guy that I am high on. Hopefully I will get an interview with a few of these guys, and Dent is definitely high on my list. He is an absolute tackling machine and he is always in position to make tackles. He fills very well against the run and seems to have a very good grasp of gap assignments and responsibilities. I’m not sure how well he will run, but he plays very well when he can play downhill and though he couldn’t show it today he is a great tackler.

Scott Lutrus, OLB, Connecticut:

I don’t have many notes on him, but he had an interception off of a tipped ball by Justin Rogers today.

Cornerbacks:

Justin Rogers, CB, Richmond:

Rogers looked pretty good in coverage and seemed to close on the ball pretty well the few times I saw him. He had a pass deflection against Devlin that led to an interception by Lutrus as mentioned above. I am going to keep an eye on him this week to be sure.

Sorry about the lack of notes on the DB’s from today. I’m sure I’ll have more tomorrow. It was a lot to take in at first but I got better at taking notes as practice went along. I am really excited to see everybody in pads the rest of the week instead of just helmets today. Hope you enjoyed the notes and look out for the West notes later tonight and notes on both teams the rest of the week! Also check out NFLDraftMonsters.com for updates from me and Ben Allbright all week. Thanks for reading!

–Tom