Tag Archive: Vontaze Burfict


Kellen Moore has a very high football IQ and good accuracy but his arm strength and size limit his overall upside as a prospect.

Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State: Moore was the superior quarterback in this game and it wasn’t because of his size and arm strength it was because of his impressive football IQ and accuracy. He consistently made good pre-snap reads, flashed the ability to make anticipation throws, and delivered throws with quality ball placement. He threw two interceptions but the first one bounced off of Tyler Shoemaker’s hands for an easy interception and the second one occurred when he was hit as he threw and the ball floated in the air and was easily caught by a defender. He got lucky that he didn’t throw three as he got hit as he threw one other time and the ball floated in the air and an Arizona State defender seemed to misplay it as it fell harmlessly to the turf. Regardless of his interception total Moore was impressive in this game. He still has to transition to playing under center more consistently in the NFL which was partially demonstrated by a fumble as a result of a mishandled snap in one of his few snaps from under center. He also doesn’t do a great job in the face of pressure which was illustrated a bit by his issues throwing interceptions and some other poor passes when Arizona State was able to generate a pass rush against him. He’s a good quarterback with a quick release, good accuracy and a great head on his shoulders which makes him draftable in the 4th/5th round range but he will be limited by his very average arm strength and his lack of elite size. He will get drafted for his accuracy, experience and his football IQ and that will help him stick on a NFL roster as a back-up. If he can develop for a couple years he might get his shot at a primary back-up role which could lead to a chance as a spot starter. You never know what might happen, but I don’t think Moore is going to be an expected starter in his first two or three years in the NFL.

Doug Martin is without a doubt the top senior RB in this draft class and if he makes it to the 3rd round I think he will be an absolute steal.

Doug Martin, RB, Boise State: Martin is probably the most impressive 2012 NFL Draft prospect in this game in my opinion. I have a 2nd round grade on him right now and I could see him sneaking into the 2nd round if he impresses in the postseason. He not a tall back at 5’9” but he weighs 208 pounds and looks very strong. He’s got good leg drive, good vision as a runner and as a return man, he runs through arm tackles with ease, has good balance to absorb contact, impressive burst, acceleration, patience, soft hands and he is likely one of the best pass blockers of any of the running backs in this draft class. I think he’s going to be a very good running back in the NFL and he is almost certainly going to end up starting or contributing right off the bat depending on where he ends up going. He’s a complete back and honestly he warrants comparison to another do it all back already succeeding in the NFL: Ray Rice.

Tyler Shoemaker, WR, Boise State: I haven’t seen much of Shoemaker this year but he had a solid game tonight. He isn’t a freak athlete at receiver at 6’1”, 212 with a 4.5 40 yard dash but he has solid hands in combination with that size. He did have one key drop tonight that led to an interception, but he produced 954 yards and 16 touchdowns on 62 receptions this year. He warrants late round consideration to be sure, but I definitely need to see more of him before I come to a complete conclusion.

Nate Potter, OT, Boise State: Potter always struck me as a guy who would have to slide inside to guard, but seeing him a bit more before tonight has made me reconsider to a degree. I think he could move inside in a zone blocking scheme, but I think his best position may ultimately be at RT in a ZBS. He isn’t a force in the running game and might be overmatched inside at guard in that aspect, but he isn’t an impressive LT in my opinion and will have to shift from that spot to be a quality starter in the NFL. RT is the compromise I think makes the most sense so he won’t be overmatched as a pass blocker or as a run blocker. I’m not sure where I project him right now, but a 3rd/4th round grade makes sense at this point.

Billy Winn is a quality defensive line prospect that should be able to play DT in a 4-3 or DE in a 3-4.

Billy Winn, DT, Boise State: I was very impressed with Billy Winn last year and I am still impressed with him. At 6’3”, 300 pounds he has NFL size and should be able to play defensive tackle in a 4-3 or possibly defensive end in a 3-4. He wasn’t as statistically productive this season but he drew significantly more attention this season after he demonstrated a lot of ability last year. He definitely warrants 3rd round consideration and may very well be one of the players that improves his stock in a postseason all-star game. He’s got upside and I’m excited to see where he ultimately ends up.

Shea McClellin, DE, Boise State: McLellin is a quality NFL prospect. I’ve got a 3rd round grade on him right now but he’s got legitimate NFL ability. He’s got an impressive motor along with solid size at 6’3”, 255 pounds. I think he will be a rotational guy for a while, but reminds me a bit of Brian Robison who has found his way into the starting lineup for the Vikings. He had 9.5 TFL and 6 sacks coming into the game against Arizona State and added another sack at least in that contest, and while I don’t think he will be a high draft pick I do think he’s going to get drafted in round three or four.

George Iloka, S, Boise State: Iloka is an impressive specimen for a safety at 6’3”, 215 pounds with a 4.5 listed 40 yard dash time. He has never impressed me an awful lot in coverage, but he demonstrated the ability to cover receivers in man coverage tonight against Arizona State which is encouraging. He only had 7 career interceptions including just one over the last two years as well as only 6 pass break-ups over that same time period. Perhaps that is because offenses respected him and didn’t challenge him, but I’m not convinced that is the case. Regardless, he has legitimate NFL talent and projects as a 3rd/4th round pick right now. It will be interesting to see what he does at either the East-West Shrine Game or the Senior Bowl. His performance at either game could be critical for boosting or hurting his stock.

Brock Osweiler may have had a tough night against Boise State but he showed plenty of mental toughness and leadership. He's raw but he has a lot of upside.

Brock Osweiler, QB, Arizona State: Osweiler is a guy I have been talking up all year since seeing him play months ago. He’s a first year starter and is clearly very raw but he flashes ability that is definitely encouraging. Will he be a 1st round pick next year? Maybe, but it’s definitely not a sure thing at this point. He definitely has that ability but he hasn’t been consistent enough yet to be considered a lock in that regard. He has great size at 6’8” and a rocket arm but his accuracy isn’t always what you would want it to be, his throwing motion could use a bit of tweaking and he doesn’t have a lot of experience as a starter. He needs to learn to make better pre-snap reads and being able to compare and contrast his game with Moore’s was very interesting. Moore relies upon his smarts and his ball placement to succeed whereas Osweiler is more reliant on his physical tools like his size, athleticism to extend plays at times and his rocket arm strength. As Osweiler learns to move in the pocket better, make better pre-snap reads and hopefully improve his accuracy a bit he will be a very good QB. His accuracy is good right now, but it could be improved especially if he continues to drill his footwork. I’m not sure what impact having a new coaching staff at Arizona State will do for him, but hopefully it has a positive impact and not a negative one. If it has a positive impact then Osweiler could be in the 1st round conversation next year.

Gerell Robinson, WR, Arizona State: Robinson has had a great season and most people didn’t know a thing about him before this year. He was easily Osweiler’s go-to receiver and while he didn’t always make the play he consistently came up with a 3rd down catch or a big gain downfield to extend drives and provide a spark to Arizona State’s offense. He has legitimate NFL prospects due to his 6’3”, 222 frame and his 4.58 40 yard dash time. He won’t be a burner in the NFL and some of the vertical plays he was able to make at Arizona State won’t be as realistic against more talented, athletic corners than he faced in college this year, but he has plenty of upside as a possession receiver due to his impressive size. He’s got reliable hands and consistently makes catches in traffic so even if he doesn’t create elite separation at the next level he can still produce. Additionally, he has the size and hands to be an effective red zone target which increases his value. Finally, he also seems to be a pretty willing blocker which with coaching could make him even more valuable. I have a 5th round grade on him right now, but it will be interesting to see if he gets any postseason love from the East-West Shrine Game or maybe even the Senior Bowl. I’d love to meet him down there and interview him considering how much I have watched him this year as a result of taking a look at Osweiler and Vontaze Burfict.

Mike Willie, WR, Arizona State: Willie is the less impressive starting receiver for Arizona State. He was in Robinson’s shadow all season this year but I think he has the potential to make a team either as a very late draft pick or as an undrafted free agent. He has solid size at 6’2”, 212 pounds, a listed 40 yard dash time of 4.59 and solid hands. He didn’t play as well as Robinson did this year, but I think he could still make a roster, contribute on special teams and eventually get worked into a rotation. He’s never going to be more than a 4th/5th wide receiver on a roster, but he could contribute as a possession type receiver on 3rd down and in the red zone. The trouble is there are plenty of those types of receivers available and the NFL is looking for big time playmakers and Willie just isn’t one of them. That hurts his stock.

Rashad Ross may not have had glamorous numbers as a junior but he contributed much more late in the season and is my early favorite to be Osweiler's new go-to guy next year during his senior year.

Rashad Ross, WR, Arizona State: Ross is listed as a DB on the depth chart I’m looking at for Arizona State but he has come on late in the season as a wide receiver and as a return man in light of Jamal Miles’ absence. He only had one reception for nine yards against Boise State but he absolutely burned a Boise corner on a double move and may have scored a touchdown if Osweiler had been able to get the ball off despite Boise State’s pressure. Regardless, he had a significant impact on the game as a return man by returning the opening kickoff of the 2nd half 98 yards for a touchdown to briefly give Arizona State some momentum and a chance at a comeback. At 6’0”, 174 he doesn’t resemble three of the top receivers on Arizona State who are 6’2” or taller and profile as possession type receivers due to their large frames. Ross may be 6’0” tall but he is very skinny but has great speed to threaten vertically. He produced 16 receptions for 241 yards and one touchdown in Arizona State’s final seven games after only totaling two receptions for 13 yards and zero touchdowns in their first six of the season. I think he has the upside to return as a senior as Osweiler’s future go-to guy much like Robinson did this year and with his speed and burst I think he could have a huge year next year. I’d like to see him come back at 175+ to help keep himself healthy for a full season, but his speed and playmaking ability should be on full display for Arizona State next year. Keep an eye out for him.

Garth Gerhart, C, Arizona State: Gerhart is a solid but not spectacular center prospect. This interior offensive line class is pretty strong this year, especially if a couple juniors declare, so Gerhart may not go as high as he would in other years. However, Gerhart has the potential to get drafted in the 5th round range, make a NFL roster as a back-up, and eventually work his way into the starting lineup. He’s a very experienced player, he’s a good snapper, and while he won’t be able to handle a defensive tackle one on one very often he definitely profiles as an eventual NFL starter. He reminds me a little bit of Todd McClure because of his lack of ideal size but in spite of it he was an effective starter for multiple years. I don’t know if his football IQ and intangibles are as impressive as McClure’s, but if they are then I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a starting NFL center in a few years.

Jamaar Jarrett, DE, Arizona State: Jarrett isn’t a stud defensive end and he may not get drafted before the 7th round if he is drafted at all, but I have a feeling he will make a NFL roster somehow. He has quality size at 6’5”, 262 pounds and looks like he can add weight to his frame. He has a less than impressive listed 40 yard dash time of 4.90 which makes sense because he isn’t a pass rushing menace by any means. However, he is solid versus the run and has a quality motor which he demonstrates when pursuing from the backside and making stops downfield. His best bet may be to bulk up to 280+ and attempt to stick as a 3-4 DE, but regardless I think he has a NFL future as a back-up somewhere.

Will Sutton is only a sophomore and is a bit undersized judging by his listed weight but he has been consistently disruptive all year and I expect big things from him as a junior.

Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State: Sutton is only a sophomore defensive tackle but he has plenty of upside. He was incredibly disruptive tonight against Boise State and he got a number of clean hits on Kellen Moore and was responsible for one of his interceptions by hitting his arm as he threw. He isn’t the biggest guy as he is listed at 6’2”, 270 pounds but he definitely looked bigger than that (in a good way) against Boise State tonight. I would not be surprised to see him up to 285 by the time his junior year comes around next season. He may not be the biggest guy but he definitely has impressive burst and quickness and flashed some hand usage to disengage from blocks to pressure Moore consistently tonight. He is definitely an impressive player and while the stats haven’t shown it yet he was one of the rare consistently disruptive forces on Arizona State’s defense this year. Look for him next year, I think he might be ready to explode on the scene.

Vontaze Burfict, ILB, Arizona State: Burfict is a pretty polarizing player and it’s not hard to see why. He consistently pisses people off with dumb penalties like late hits on a quarterback or on players running out of bounds and he has a bad boy reputation. I don’t know exactly why he was benched late in the season, it may be for a variety of reasons, but one of them I heard was that he refused to go back in the game after he was benched temporarily late in the season. I can’t confirm that, but it was mentioned on the broadcast tonight if I remember correctly. It’s frustrating because Burfict has great NFL size for a middle linebacker at 6’3”, 250 pounds but given his proficiency for dumb penalties on the field and for getting in some fights with teammates off the field in the past it might be hard for some teams to look past his issues to consider him a quality prospect. Now, he isn’t a first round lock because of his size and athletic ability and there are holes in his game, but it will be interesting to see if he declares after his rough season or if he comes back next year to try to make a run at the Pac-12 title with Osweiler at the helm under new coach Todd Graham. I wouldn’t be surprised if he left, but if he does he will have to answer a lot of tough questions about his behavior this season. Some of it is very warranted, but I personally believe he is targeted for personal foul penalties more than even Nick Fairley was last year because of his reputation. I spent a lot of time watching Arizona State this year (partially because I wanted to see Osweiler and Burfict, partially because they are usually on late so there was no other football to watch) and while some of the penalties he drew were legitimate there were definitely times when he drew a penalty for a clean hit that I personally don’t believe should have been a penalty. However, because it was a hard hit or because it was a 50/50 call or no call play the refs threw the flag. That has everything to do with his reputation. Burfict acknowledged the penalties and attempted to back off and not play with as much intensity to avoid the fouls but refs still called him for penalties that I didn’t believe were legitimate. That likely contributed to him boiling over and getting benched. I can’t say that for sure, but that is my take on the whole matter. I believe the personal foul penalties have been severely overblown, but his reaction to them and his attitude issues at the end of the season are definitely concerning. His upcoming decision to go or stay will say a lot about his true character in my opinion. If he has character and wants to win more than anything he will likely come back to try to help his teammates win, but if he is selfish like many claim he is then he will leave to chase money and avoid more possible conflict at Arizona State. We will have to wait and see what he does.

Shelly Lyons, OLB, Arizona State: Lyons is a late round OLB prospect that could very well go undrafted, but I think that his combination of solid size at 6’2”, 228 pounds, reliable tackling and solid coverage warrants at least 7th round or undrafted free agent consideration. I think he could be a quality special teamer that eventually finds himself as a back-up on a NFL roster. I’m not sure he will ever be a starter, but he can make a career out of being a special teams player if he wants to at least in my opinion.

Eddie Elder, S, Arizona State: Elder is a quality tackling safety but I have not been impressed with him in coverage over the last two years. He isn’t a big guy at 5’10”, 185 pounds and doesn’t project as a starting NFL safety but like Lyons I think he warrants late round or priority free agent consideration because of his tackling and his ability to potentially contribute on special teams.

Clint Floyd, S, Arizona State: Floyd may end up like Elder as a late round pick or a priority free agent addition but I think he has a bit more ability in coverage than Elder does. He has similar size at 5’10”, 194 pounds which hurts his NFL prospects as a safety but he seems to be a solid tackler and looked alright in coverage tonight even though he got lucky with his interception. He will likely end up trying to make a roster as a special teams player as well, but I think he has the potential to make a career out of that and being a back-up safety.

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

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

This was a fantastic game. I know I’m very late on posting this write-up, but it’s been a hectic week and I haven’t had a lot of free time. This was a very fun game to watch and it involved a comeback in the fourth quarter after the Sun Devils took a 14 point lead with 14:23 left when Brock Osweiler ran for a 12 yard touchdown. James Franklin saved his best stuff for the 4th quarter as he delivered both of his touchdown strikes in the 4th. One was to L’Damian Washington with 12 minutes left in the quarter, and the final strike was to Michael Egnew with 2:50 remaining to tie the score.

Brock Osweiler was the star of this game without question in my opinion, and really burst onto the scene as a prospect as far as I'm concerned. He's shot up my personal quarterback rankings this year, and I can't wait to watch him play the rest of the year.

Brock Osweiler had a great game and he really impressed me. He has a fantastic combination of size (listed at 6’8”, 240 pounds) and arm strength. He’s got an extremely strong arm, perhaps comparable to Ryan Mallett’s. He has terrific zip on throws to all levels, a quality release (though it looks a little like a 3/4 release at times, I haven’t quite pinned down what it is, but it looks a little funny to me every now and then) and good mechanics when he throws the ball. He generates a lot of power when he plants and drives, but doesn’t always spin a clean ball when he releases it. More often than not I would say he does though. He also placed the ball very well in this game and displayed overall great accuracy as evidenced by his 24/32 performance for 353 yards (with an 11 yards per attempt average), three touchdowns and no interceptions. He even had 5 carries, 34 yards and one touchdown rushing despite not having great mobility. He didn’t display consistent poise in the pocket in this game, but he did flash the willingness to take a hit to deliver a throw. He left the pocket prematurely a few times in this game, so that is something to note. Overall I was very impressed with him as a prospect and if he continues to play well he will be one of my top junior quarterbacks behind Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley and Landry Jones. After four games (three against ranked teams- Missouri, Illinois and USC) he is 93/135 (68.9% completion), 1,094 yards, 8 TD’s and 3 INT’s. He also has 94 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

Aaron Pflugrad had a breakout game of sorts against Missouri. He had two touchdowns in the opening game against UC Davis, but he had a huge game against Missouri when he totaled 8 catches, 180 yards (for a 22.5 ypc) and 2 TD’s. I had never seen him play before, but he was definitely the deep ball threat for Osweiler in this game and Missouri just couldn’t seem to keep him from getting behind their secondary. He’s only listed at 5’10”, 184 pounds but he was the playmaker in this game. He really stole the show. It’ll be interesting to see if he continues to be targeted by Osweiler the rest of the season, as after four games he has 22 receptions, 344 yards (15.64 yards per reception) and four touchdowns.

Gerell Robinson had a solid game, but I am not very impressed with his hands. He had a couple drops in this game including one on a potential third down conversion. He has good size for a WR at 6’4”, 222 pounds and a listed 4.58 40 yard dash time. He produced two catches, 66 yards (33 ypc) and 0 TD’s despite a couple drops. He has solid upside as a possession receiver, but if he doesn’t make critical catches on third down it really limits his value as a prospect.

Jamal Miles is a 5’10”, 180 pound WR who does it all for Missouri. In this game he had two carries for 13 yards, six catches for 50 yards and 2 TD’s, and three punt returns for 27 yards. This year he has 16 receptions, 110 yards and three touchdowns receiving. He also has six rushes for 53 yards, five kickoff returns for 169 yards (and one TD), and seven punt returns for 87 yards. He even has a touchdown pass this year (1 pass attempt completed for 35 yards). He even scored the winning touchdown on a swing pass from Brock Osweiler in OT to put the Sun Devils ahead for good. He had a good game even if he had a couple incidents returning punts. He’s very versatile, so it’ll be interesting if he continues to prove his value in so many different phases of the game.

Junior Onyeali is a dynamic, albiet undersized, defensive end. He's underrated because of his size, but he has the potential to be extremely disruptive as he continues to develop.

Junior Onyeali is a very undersized DE on Arizona State. He’s listed at 5’11”, 244 pounds which is very small for a defensive end, but I couldn’t help but be impressed by his burst off the ball and his speed off the edge. I was impressed with him as a freshman and he flashed the same ability as a sophomore against Missouri. He hasn’t been producing at the same level statistically, but he was able to create relatively consistent pressure against Missouri. He definitely has upside even if he’s undersized.

Jamaar Jarrett is a senior defensive end on Arizona State. He’s listed at 6’5”, 260 pounds and while his production has been more limited as a senior he had 40 total tackles (23 solo), 10.5 TFL and 4.5 sacks as a junior. He doesn’t have a lot of burst off the ball or off the edge if I remember, but he is pretty solid against the run. It’ll be interesting to see how he does in the remainder of the games I watch of him.

Vontaze Burfict is one of the top linebacker prospects in the country because of his great combination of size and athletic ability. He’s listed at 6’3”, 250 pounds and has a listed 40 yard dash time of 4.67. He packs a serious punch as a hitter and is an effective blitzer, and plays with a lot of aggressiveness as a football player. The problem is, sometimes that aggression spills over on and off the field (such as when he punched one of his teammates in the locker room, or when he draws unnecessary late hit penalties). I’m not sold on his instincts and ability to read and react to plays yet, nor am I confident in his ability in coverage. However, he does play the run well and he is very effective when he can flow to the ball, play downhill or attack blockers. He’s strong and aggressive enough to be a very effective linebacker.

Burfict is an intimidating presence at the heart of Arizona State's defense, but I don't know how good his instincts are, how effective he is in coverage, and he has a tendency to draw unnecessary penalties.

Shelly Lyons is an outside linebacker on Arizona State who’s relatively undersized for a linebacker even though he is 6’2”, but he only weighs 228 pounds. He’s got ability and he’s a good tackler, and he seems to flow to the ball well. I’m not sold on his ability to shed blocks, but he gets pretty good depth in his drops and seems comfortable in coverage. He actually recorded an interception and returned it for a touchdown this past weekend against USC. He’s an under the radar senior in my opinion, so it’ll be interesting to see how he progresses this year.

I’m not sure how good of a game he had because it’s hard to watch the secondary due to ESPN’s camera angles, but Eddie Elder is a safety on Arizona State that had a productive season last year despite only being 5’10”. He’s another under the radar guy to keep an eye on, though he’s had a relatively slow start to the season statistically.

James Franklin is the sophomore quarterback on Missouri that has stepped up to replace Blaine Gabbert. He isn’t a very good passer, but he had a productive game completing 26/42 pass attempts, throwing for 319 yards (with a 7.6 YPA), plus 2 TD’s and no interceptions. He also had 27 carries, 84 yards (3.1 ypa) and 1 TD on the ground. He led Missouri in rushing attempts against Arizona State, and he seems to have a pretty strong arm, but I wasn’t impressed with his mechanics or his pocket poise. I don’t think he has a ton of upside as a passing quarterback (like a number of past Missouri quarterbacks excluding Gabbert) but he can still be an effective college starter for them due to his arm strength and his ability to gain yardage on the ground.

Shelly Lyons is an underrated linebacker, but I was impressed with him when I watched him last year and he continues to flash ability as a senior. Keep an eye on him.

Henry Josey is Missouri’s very athletic running back. He’s listed at 5’10”, 190 pounds but he’s got a lot of speed to make plays in open space. He had very limited touches in this game as he only had nine carries and two catches, but produced 94 yards rushing (a 10.4 ypc average) and 51 yards receiving. In four games he has produced more yards rushing than his freshman year (533 yards versus 437) and is averaging an absurd 12.4 yards per carry. He also has four touchdowns after producing five as a freshman. He also has five receptions, 65 yards versus only four receptions for 19 yards a year ago. I really like him as a potential 3rd down back and he’s used as the complement to James Franklin who generally gets far more carries.

Marcus Lucas, a sophomore receiver on Missouri, intrigues me because of his size (6’5”, 205 lbs) and because he had a pretty big game against Arizona State’s secondary. He had 5 receptions, 97 yards, and one touchdown in the game, and his receptions were critical ones for a touchdown or some big first down conversions. He’s definitely a guy to keep an eye on since Missouri likes to spread the ball around and he’s a great red zone threat for them.

T.J. Moe is a smaller, squattier looking receiver who is listed at 5’11”, 195 pounds. He might not be the tallest, the fastest or the quickest, but he’s got great hands and he rarely drops anything. He looks like a running back running routes and I’m not sure he is going to be able to create consistent separation in the NFL, but if you’ve got hands like he does you can find a way to stick in the NFL somehow. He’s tough too so while he is probably a 4th round grade this year he could definitely have a shot at getting drafted in the 2013 draft after he graduates. He had 92 receptions, 1,045 yards and 6 TD’s last year and was one of Gabbert’s more reliable targets as a sophomore. He probably won’t replicate those numbers this year, but that won’t change the fact that he’s got great hands.

L’Damian Washington hasn’t gotten a ton of looks this year but he has good size (6’4”, 185 pounds) and has been good for vertical plays despite only having eight catches on the season. He has produced 149 yards (18.63 yard per catch average) and two touchdowns on those catches, including a big score against Arizona State. He’s only a sophomore, but he’s got good size and has flashed good hands. Missouri is deep at receiver this year but it will be fun to see Washington and Lucas step up as they move up the depth chart. They’ve got a lot of potential and they’ll be developing right along with James Franklin since they are all sophomores.

Michael Egnew is without a doubt the best senior tight end in my opinion, and he and Orson Charles of Georgia are 1 and 1a in this potential 2012 Draft class.

Michael Egnew is one of the best TE prospects in the draft despite limited targets this year he continues to prove it. He’s a great red-zone threat thanks to his 6’6”, 245 pound frame and he’s got very good hands. He’s not the best blocker, but he is developing a bit in this area. But he’s athletic enough to be split out like a super-sized receiver, and he can create enough separation to attack the seam. As his blocking continues to improve he will become a more and more complete tight end, but he is definitely one of the best draft-eligible tight ends in the draft along with Orson Charles from Georgia.

Jacquies Smith was the DE playing opposite Aldon Smith last year, and he had a good year producing 35 tackles, 10 TFL, 5.5 sacks, one fumble recovery, three pass deflections, two forced fumbles and one blocked kick/punt. He has good size (6’4”, 250) and has shown speed off the edge, but he just hasn’t produced at the same level without Smith opposite him. He’s only been healthy for two of their four games this year, but he has to pick it up if he’s going to prove that his good season last year wasn’t just a product of teams ignoring him to try to deal with Smith.

Sorry this post took me so long to get done, but there were a lot of things to touch on and I haven’t had much time. It feels good to have it done, and hopefully you enjoyed reading it.

–Tom

1- Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College
Analysis: Kuechly emerged out of Mark Herzlich’s heroic shadow this year thanks to an extremely impressive season statistically. Standing at 6’3″, 235 pounds Kuechly produced an astonishing 183 total tackles (11o solo), 10.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 3 INT’s, 2 FF’s and 3 pass deflections. He was hugely productive and he deserves this ranking as the top linebacker in the country despite only being a junior this season. The fact that he had 183 total tackles and 110 solo tackles as a sophomore is mind-blowing, especially considering that his 110 solo tackles would have tied him for 48th place in the country if every other players assisted tackles were included in their total. He also produced 158 tackles the year before as a freshman, demonstrating remarkable consistency from the start that makes me believe he will probably leave after his junior season. It also leads me to believe that if Kuechly stays healthy for his junior season it’s a safe bet he will end up with 150 tackles for a third year in a row.
2- Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame
Analysis: Te’o has impressed me every single time I have watched Notre Dame and he has impressed me so much that it has led me to ranking him as the #2 ILB in the entire country. A lot of people may be surprised that Burfict or Hightower aren’t in this spot, but I think Te’o is a more cerebral player than any of those guys and that, combined with his 6’2″, 245 pound frame, 4.59 listed 40 yard dash time and 129 total tackles (64 solo), 8.5 TFL, 1.0 sacks, 1 FF and 3 pass deflections makes him quite the linebacker prospect. I can’t wait to watch more of him this year to see if he lives up to the hype I am giving him before the season starts.
3- Vontaze Burfict, ILB, Arizona State
Analysis: Vontaze Burfict is an absolute beast at 6’3, 245 pounds and plays an extremely physical style of football. He produced 90 total tackles this year (54 solo), 8.5 TFL, 2 FF’s and 3 pass break-ups. I’m not sure he has the mental capacity to be a great player at this point, so while he is a great athletic specimen I don’t know that he will ever be a true student of the game. He has more than enough athletic ability to warrant 1st round consideration though.
4- Jerry Franklin, ILB, Arkansas
Analysis: Franklin has always impressed me when I have watched Arkansas and he has a pretty nice combination of size and athletic ability at 6’1″, 245 pounds with a listed 4.66 40 yard dash time. He produced 95 total tackles (58 solo), 13.0 TFL, 6.5 sacks, 1 FF and 2 pass break-ups last season as a junior. He is one of the best linebackers in the SEC which says a lot considering the great tradition of producing defensive players the SEC has. I am very excited to see how he looks as a senior this season.
5- Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
Analysis: Dont’a Hightower first and foremost is a pretty impressive athlete. He is 6’4″, 260 pounds and he has great speed and strength to go with his impressive size. He is a very versatile player than can line up at middle linebacker on one play and then put his hand down and rush the passer in nickel packages the next. I don’t think he is very good in pass coverage, but he does support the run quite well. This season he managed 69 total tackles (30 solo), 3.5 TFL and 3 pass break-ups. I tend to think he is a bit overrated because of his lack of production both as an overall linebacker but especially as a pass rusher because he frequently rushes the passer as a blitzer or when he puts his hand in the dirt. He does get some hits on quarterbacks, but while he is an impressive athlete I just don’t know if he is cerebral enough to maximize his ability. We will have to see how he develops as a junior.
6- James-Michael Johnson, ILB, Nevada
Analysis: I will admit that I don’t know a whole lot about James-Michael Johnson and I haven’t seen him play much, but I do know that he has pretty good size at 6’2″, 240 pounds and a listed 4.68 40 yard dash time. Plus, he produced 88 total tackles (51 solo), 8.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 3 FF’s, 1 FR and 2 pass break-ups. I didn’t see him much last year when I was watching Dontay Moch or Colin Kaepernick, so I am looking forward to evaluating him for the first time this season.
7- Korey Williams, ILB, Southern Mississippi
Analysis: Williams is a guy I have not seen play yet but he has pretty impressive size for a linebacker at 6’2″, 243 pounds and has a listed 40 yard dash time of 4.65 seconds. As a junior last year he produced 92 total tackles (52 solo), 14.5 TFL, 3.0 sacks, 1 INT and 1 FF. I am looking forward to seeing him play this upcoming season.
8- Chris Marve, ILB, Vanderbilt
Analysis:
Marve is one of the best prospects Vanderbilt has had in recent years from what I can remember. Marve doesn’t have elite size, but at 6’0″, 230 pounds he has enough size for the inside linebacker spot. Last season as a sophomore Marve managed to produce 80 total tackles (45 solo), 8.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks and 2 pass break-ups. I am excited to watch Vanderbilt this year because I haven’t had much reason to watch them in recent years.
9- Kevin Reddick, ILB, North Carolina
Analysis: Reddick is another talented player on North Carolina’s defense, and it seems that UNC has a chance to replicate the dominant defense they were supposed to have this past season prior to the suspensions doled out by the NCAA. Reddick has good size at 6’3″, 240 pounds and a listed 4.67 40 yard dash time. As a sophomore last season Reddick produced 74 total tackles (48 solo), 6.0 TFL, 1.0 sack, 2 INT’s (1 TD), and 5 pass deflections. I am really looking forward to seeing what he can do with an entire season starting inside at middle linebacker.
10- Shayne Skov, ILB, Stanford
Analysis: Skov may only be a junior but I think he could be one of the better linebackers in the country. He has impressive size at 6’3″, 243 pounds and a listed 4.65 40 yard dash time, plus he produced 83 total tackles (50 solo), 10.0 TFL, 7.0 sacks, 2 FF’s and 5 pass deflections. I am very much looking forward to seeing him play at Stanford this year as all eyes will be on Andrew Luck, but I’m sure Skov will draw some attention to himself with quality play.

Thanks for reading my pre-season inside linebacker rankings! Just two more rankings posts left before I get to some film break-down. The end is in sight! I’m excited to get a lot of film study underway, so hopefully either tomorrow night or Monday at some point I will be able to polish those last two rankings lists off. Thanks again!

–Tom