Blog Entry

Disagree with my Top 32? Here's my next 5

Posted on: December 8, 2010 12:32 pm
As you can imagine, I spent a great deal of time poring over tape and conversing with scouts before releasing my Top 32 Pro Prospects regardless of their draft class.

Some of who may be wondering why there is no Jake Locker (Washington QB) or Michael Floyd (Notre Dame WR) or Janoris Jenkins (Florida CB) on the list. Did I forget them or simply rank others ahead of them?

The quick answer is that I considered everyone but there were some tough cuts to the list. Here are the next 5 players that just missed out. Some were even among my original Top 32 but were late cuts due to questions about their size or readiness for the pros. 

33. ILB Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State: Burfict, only a true sophomore, just missed out on my original Top 32 article. Fans across the country may not know him or only know him due to his penchant for picking up personal fouls at the worst possible times, but in my opinion Dennis Erickson has the most explosive inside linebacker in the country and a future 1st round pick.

34. OT Tyron Smith, Southern Cal: Considering that all 24 of his career starts have come at right tackle and that his lanky frame (6-5, 285) and quick feet make him better suited on the left side, I am not among those who feel Smith should leave after this, his junior season. There is no denying Smith's upside, however, which is why I was included him in my latest projection of the 2011 first round.

35. OG Rodney Hudson, Florida State: The Seminoles' senior left guard - and my choice for the 2010 Outland Trophy - is among the better guard prospects I've scouted due to extraordinary balance and footwork. The problem is, at only 6-2, 284 pounds, he's so much smaller than most he's going to struggle against the behemoth DTs in the NFL. If correctly placed in a zone-blocking scheme, however, I have no doubt his agility will make up for it.

36. RB Michael Dyer, Auburn: South Carolina true freshman Marcus Lattimore made my Top 32, but Dyer, also in the class of 2014, isn't far behind. While I love Lattimore's physicality, Dyer could ultimately emerge as the better pro prospect because his agility and compact frame make him less likely to absorb the same punishment as the Gamecocks' star. His stats (950 rushing yards, 5 TDs) don't do him justice. This kid is a future superstar.

37. DT Stephen Paea, Oregon State : Paea was on my original list, but the 2010 Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year slipped amid concerns about his size (6-1, 312) and ability to pressure the passer. I love his strength inside and feel he can make an immediate impact in the pros. Considering he only played one season of football in high school, there is still a lot of upside here.


Since: Dec 8, 2010
Posted on: December 8, 2010 9:53 pm

Disagree with my Top 32? Here's my next 5

Thanks for the response Rob!

I enjoy your work on the site, I evaluate for an NFL site and hope to transfer it to a full-time position at some point. You're one of only two sources I use to gather a top 20 prospect list for upcoming seasons.

I've looked at 7 games of Mallett, only 3 games of Newton. What impresses me about Mallett is his constant improvement from year to year and game to game, especially with his decision making and shallow/intermediate ball placement (something that was a major mark last season).

He's as good as any college quarterback I've seen with his pre-snap diagnose; consistently changing the wide receiver progression based on the secondary look. Checking off to a run call when he has the matchup against the weakside. Things that most college quarterbacks won't pick up or bother with. I feel his mental understanding of the game is a bit underrated.

I also questioned his ability to win a big game after his poor decisions against Alabama. But after South Carolina, and Mississippi State on the road, and then again against LSU, I was very impressed with his composure late in the game/overtime and the throws he made on 3rd and 4th down.

His strongest areas for me are poise in the face of pressure, selling the play-action, his field vision, and of course the arm strength to make throws that don't exist. I think his arm is the best I've ever seen, at any level. 

One play in particular that stood out to me was against LSU, he had a cover 2 look, the corners were sitting on the underneath zone, his receiver broke past the underneath coverage, the safety angled towards the sideline, Mallett noticed the opening and hit his receiver 22 yards out from the center towards sideline in stride, closing the coverage window as fast as I've ever seen a coverage window close. It went for an 80 yard touchdown. Only Michael Vick could make the same play with his arm. I don't think Cutler or Favre get the ball there before the safety-- safety had the angle.

I really like Newton's athleticism. He's exciting. I just don't see him being anywhere near pro ready. His lower body technique seems to be non-existent, he rarely strides into his throws or opens up his hips. He tends to whip his throws, relying on his shoulder torque. I haven't seen more than 5 snaps from him under center or stepping inside the pocket to make a throw with backside pressure on top of him. He doesn't go through a progression, and he always has 5 or 6 seconds to throw the football with receivers wide open.

I do feel his size/athleticism combination is freakish and he has a very good arm. It just seems hard for me to see him as a franchise quarterback when he's not asked to drop from center, set in his drop, look off coverage, and make decisions based on route timing.

It will probably be a tough decision for a team in April, because his upside is as high as any player available.

Have you been able to look at Knile Davis from Arkansas yet? He's going to be special.

Since: Feb 19, 2009
Posted on: December 8, 2010 8:23 pm

Disagree with my Top 32? Here's my next 5

Valid points on both Newton and Mallett.

You touched upon one of the points that concern me most about Mallett - his footwork. I believe he'll struggle moving about the pocket against NFL pressure. I also have reservations about his leadership ability. Much of this is based on conversations I've had with scouts who also have concerns.

I fully expect Mallett to be taken in the first round when (not if) he enters the 2011 draft. At this point, however, I personally wouldn't select him that high.

Regarding Newton, again, you make some excellent points. The concern I, too, have with him is his ability to translate his skills to a pro offense that requires him to make multiple reads. I do not know if he has the cognitive ability to handle the huge responsibility NFL teams will place on him as their quarterback. Scouts don't know this either, yet, and will rely on how Newton fares during Combine interviews and team visits to make that determination.

However, I can't say enough how impressed I've been with Newton's poise thus far through the scandal. His ability to focus leads me to believe he can handle the mental component of being an NFL quarterback, which, quite frankly, I believe takes an extraordinary football IQ to handle.
Finally... I agree wholeheartedly with the statement that Tyrod Taylor would be a Heisman candidate in Auburn's scheme. I have not seen the consistency reading defenses or accuracy, however, to believe he'd be any higher rated as an NFL quarterback prospect if he played in this offense.

Since: Dec 8, 2010
Posted on: December 8, 2010 4:55 pm

Disagree with my Top 32? Here's my next 5

Thanks for putting the list together.

I had a couple questions. I noticed that Ryan Mallett wasn't listed among your top 35 or 37, how is it that he becomes a top 10 pick according to your mock draft? I'd have to say that the only issue I see at all with Mallett is his ability to make plays with his legs. His mobility around the pocket is adequate. He moves well inside the pocket. Footwork has improved noticeably in two seasons. What is it that you see as a sharp flaw? His accuracy isn't elite but it's better than adequate. I would say he's a better prospect than Jimmy Clausen last year, or even Jay Cutler when he declared a few years ago. Mobility and lapses in concentration are the only marks I see from him. Release is quick, though he tends to loop his forearm on deeper throws. No long-windup, doesn't bird-dog the primary. I can't say I agree he wouldn't be considered a top 37 player, or top 25 for that matter based on production and on-field demeanor.

I noticed you had Cam Newton high on your list. I noticed that Newton only has two options in his progression read from Gus Mahlzan's system, one primary and a shallow outlet. He's also almost always well protected (6-8 in coverage and LB spy playing pass and run option) and isn't patient in the pocket. His pass patterns don't rely on timing, he doesn't take snaps from center and has only played 13 games of collegiate ball, besides JUCO.

Wouldn't those factor in when considering his ability to be a top ten prospect, if he intends to be a professional quarterback?

His game seems to be more style than substance. A great athlete, but pro-quarterback seems to be a stretch when evaluating him in Gus Mahlzan's spread pistol. Tyrod Taylor would be a Heisman candidate in that system.

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