Tag:NFLDraftScout.com
Posted on: December 5, 2011 10:13 am
 

Marshall DE Curry reportedly heading to Sr Bowl

Officials from the Senior Bowl say they've begun inviting players to their annual all-star game.

Marshall defensive end Vinny Curry may have been the first to accept the invitiation.

According to multiple news outlets, the 6-3, 263 pound Nagurski, Bednarik and Lombardi Trophy candidate was invited and plans to participate in the senior all-star game, widely viewed as the elite game of its kind.

Curry is NFLDraftScout.com's No. 8 defensive end due to questions about his level of competition and fit at the next level. His statistics are undeniable. Curry has 53 tackles and ranks second in the country with 18 tackles for loss. He also recorded 10.5 sacks and is tied for the national lead with six forced fumbles. 

There have been reports that the Senior Bowl had invited Miami outside linebacker Sean Spence, as well, though Senior Bowl spokesman Kevin McDermond told Susan Miller Degnan of the Miami Herald on Saturday that has the committee in charge had “not invited the Miami guys yet, but I anticipate we certainly will.’’
Posted on: December 3, 2011 11:54 am
 

Five Prospects to Watch -- Championship Weekend

Each weekend I list my "Five prospects" that I'll be focusing on for the upcoming weekend. In reality, I'm focusing on dozens of prospects each week, but the players listed below are playing in high profile games and against the caliber of competition that I believe provides us with an opportunity to truly assess how a collegiate player might fare when asked to make the huge jump to the NFL. 

Typically I focus on senior prospects in this space. However, with it becoming more and more obvious as to which underclassmen are considering the jump to the pros, I'll be incorporating a few more juniors and redshirt sophomores in the coming weeks. 

Sometimes it also leads to the player being featured in Draft Slant , NFLDraftScout.com and CBSSports.com's weekly NFL Draft preview. In each PDF issue of Draft Slant Senior Analyst Chad Reuter breaks down six more players in Filmroom Notes, updates our Top 64 prospects overall and offers extensive previews of the next week's action. Here is the link to this week's issue of Draft Slant. Or for the entire season click this link . Looking for a specific week? Download past issues from the past three years here. 

Without any further adieu, here are the five prospects, as well as the cable provider and time you can expect to see them.

QB Case Keenum, Houston: Considering that the Houston Cougars are the only other FBS team other than No. 1 ranked LSU to have finished the regular season undefeated, I understand the pressure to rank them highly. That said, there are a host of teams currently ranked inside the top 20 that I'd pick to beat Houston, currently ranked No. 6. The biggest reason for Houston's success this season has been the stellar play of Keenum and this explosive offense. At 6-1, 210 pounds Keenum lacks prototypical size for the NFL and scouts question whether his arm strength and accuracy is exaggerated in an offense that relies so much on timing and short to intermediate routes. Keenum has faced one defense this season that ranks in the top 50 in stopping the pass, so his NCAA-leading 4,726 yards may be a mirage -- at least when it comes to the NFL. Still, his production and toughness are undeniable. A strong performance against an athletic and physical Southern Miss defense could help Keenum get an opportunity in a big-time all-star game. This game begins at noon ET and will be televised by ABC.

QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor*:  The fact that RGIII has shot up to No. 15 in my latest Big Board tells you that I am on board with his projection to the NFL. That said, Griffin will be facing a tough test against the Longhorns, who boast the top pass defense in the Big 12. Texas put a damper on Texas A&M Ryan Tannehill's stock last week. Can they do the same to Griffin this time? The matchup is especially interesting considering that Griffin may still be feeling some of the lingering effects of a concussion suffered last week against Texas Tech. A big game here could vault Griffin even higher up scouts' draft boards and make him an obvious finalist for the Heisman Trophy. This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be broadcast by ABC.

TE Orson Charles, Georgia*: At 6-3, 242 pounds Charles doesn't possess the traditional size scouts are looking for at tight end. However, his agility, speed and reliable hands make him one of the country's most dangerous receivers at the position and he's a much stouter blocker than you might expect. I've ranked him as the top tight end in the country for much of the season, though strong play by Stanford senior Coby Fleener and a couple of other underclassmen make the position one of the year's most competitive. LSU is in the position they are largely due to their extraordinary collection of talent in their defensive backfield. They haven't faced many combinations of quarterback (Aaron Murray) and receiver talent as what Georgia brings. If Georgia is to pull off the upset, Charles will have to have a strong game. This game begins at 4:00 pm ET and will be televised by CBS. 

DE Andre Branch, Clemson: At 6-4, 270 pounds Branch has the size to remain at defensive end in the NFL, but what could really boost his stock is the fact that he appears to have the athleticism to translate to 3-4 outside linebacker, as well. Branch's teammate, defensive tackle Brandon Thompson, has generated most of the hype this season, but it is Branch who has enjoyed the better year. Branch leads the ACC in both tackles for loss (16) and sacks (10.5). He'll be facing an exciting young quarterback in Logan Thomas, who at 6-6, 254 pounds is nearly as big as Branch and also athletic enough to avoid him. A strong game by Branch in this game and I'll have a tough time continuing to keep him out of my top 32. This game begins at 8:00 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN. 

DT Jerel Worthy, Michigan State*:  Due to Michigan State's improbable comeback Hail Mary victory against Wisconsin earlier in the year, this game is one of the most intriguing of Championship Weekend. Despite the fact that Worthy enjoyed a solid performance in Round One (three tackles, including a tackle for loss), he wasn't dominant. Two factors may make him considerably more so in the rematch. For one, Worthy will be fortified by the return of sophomore defensive end William Gholston, who was suspended for the first game against Wisconsin. Secondly, Worthy likely won't have to play against Peter Konz, the Badgers' center who isn't expected to play due to an ankle injury. Worthy has first round talent, but his inconsistency troubles me. If he isn't a factor throughout this game, the junior could slip out of my top 32 prospects. This game begins at 8:17 pm ET and will be televised by FOX.


Posted on: December 2, 2011 1:30 pm
 

Barkley, Kalil not only Trojans exploring NFL

Considered possible top five picks in next April's NFL draft, it should come as no surprise that Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley and left tackle Matt Kalil are considering leaving school early.

According to multiple sources, these aren't the only Trojans exploring their options.

Defensive end Nick Perry, a 6-3, 250 pounder in the midst of a breakout campaign is also strongly considering making the jump to the pros. I've been told that if Perry receives a first round grade, the decision has essentially been made. Even if the grade he receives from the NFL Advisory Committee is "a little lower than [first round], he'd still likely go."

Perry led the Pac-12 with 9.5 sacks through the regular season. He also has 13 tackles for loss among his 54 stops, which ties him for third in the conference and three forced fumbles. While slimmer than scouts might want as a full-time defensive end in the 4-3 alignment, Perry's size and athleticism may make him perfectly suited to transition to outside linebacker for a 3-4 club.

Free safety T.J. McDonald is also strongly considering making the leap to the NFL early. The son of former USC All-American and San Francisco 49ers' All-Pro safety Tim McDonald, the 6-2, 205 pound Trojan star has a build and reputation as a big hitter reminiscent of former USC standout Taylor Mays. McDonald has proven to be more comfortable in coverage than his former teammate, however, and has better ball skills. He leads the team with three interceptions this year and had three in 2010, when he earned Second Team All Pac-10 honors in just his first season as a starter. McDonald led the Trojans in tackles (89) in 2010. He finished third this season with 67 stops, including 2.5 for loss.

Perry is currently rated 30th overall on my Big Board and is sixth overall among defensive ends on NFLDraftScout.com's rankings.

McDonald is my 40th rated prospect and ranks second behind only Alabama's Mark Barron among NFLDraftScout.com's 2012 free safety prospects.


Posted on: December 1, 2011 3:44 pm
Edited on: December 1, 2011 3:44 pm
 

Rookie QB T.J. Yates could surprise with Texans

NFL teams have been impressed thus far with the development of the class of 2011's quarterbacks. Cam Newton has already emerged as one of the league's most exciting players and Andy Dalton has the Bengals in the thick of the playoff hunt. Though wins and big plays have been tougher to come by for Christian Ponder (Vikings) and Blaine Gabbert (Jaguars) thus far, each have shown flashes.

The relative success of his young peers bodes well for the Houston Texans and their rookie quarterback, T.J. Yates.

Yates, graded as a sixth round pick last year by NFLDraftScout.com, was the Texans' 5th round pick (No. 152 overall).

A year earlier, the idea of Yates being drafted at all would have been considered a long shot.

As a junior Yates completed barely 60% of his passes and threw more interceptions (15) than touchdowns on the season (14) despite being surrounded by a lot of NFL talent, including current Cleveland Browns' rookie Greg Little and rising 2012 prospect Dwight Jones, among others.

Yates, however, showed remarkable poise a year later during the scandal that eventually led to year-long suspensions of Little, defensive tackle Marvin Austin and defensive end Robert Quinn, among others.

While everything around him was crumbling, Yates developed into a legitimate pro prospect, completing 66.% of his passes for 3,418 yards and a 19-9 touchdown to interception ratio. For his improvement, Yates was named an honorable mention All-ACC pick and helped lead the Tar Heels to a dramatic double overtime victory over Tennessee in the Music City Bowl.

When Yates entered last Sunday's game against the Jaguars, he did so with the same poise and leadership he'd demonstrated while at UNC. The moment wasn't too big for him -- a testament to the calm he's gained as a three-year starter while at UNC.

Certainly there are other quarterbacks with greater talent. Yates, in fact, will be playing opposite one this week in Atlanta's Matt Ryan. Like Ryan, however, Yates is more than the sum of his parts. While he doesn't have a howizter or great mobility, he's already a savvy enough player to spread the ball out to Houston's playmakers and manage a game.

For the AFC-South leading Texans, that may be all he has to do to help them reach the playoffs.


 

Posted on: November 30, 2011 3:48 pm
 

Nick Foles signs with "super-agent" Dunn

With his collegiate career over, Arizona quarterback Nick Foles is looking ahead to the NFL.

The first step in that process is to determine which agent he'd like to sign with.

Check that step off the list.

According to Anthony Gimino of the Tuscon Citizen and a frequent contributor to The Sports XChange, Foles will sign with Athletes First, an agency presided by David Dunn, one of the bigger names in the business.

In signing with Dunn, Foles will prepare for the Combine and other individual workouts at Velocity Performance Center in Irvine, California. There, Foles will undergo training to improve his technique. Foles' father, Larry, told Gimino that his son will be working on his speed, agility and a "lazy foot" issue in which the record-breaking Arizona quarterback fails to point his lead foot in the direction he wants his pass to go.

Foles is expected to travel to Irvine and begin his training on January 3. Foles has been heavily rumored to be among the quarterbacks that several highly prominent all-star games (such as the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Game) have been considering inviting. The decision to start his training in early January will not affect Foles' ability to participate in one of these games should he be invited and choose to participate.

In three seasons as Arizona's starting quarterback, Foles produced some sparkling numbers. He completed 66.8% of his passes for 10,011 yards and threw 67 touchdowns compared to only 33 interceptions. This past season Foles broke several school and conference records. The signal-caller in a spread offense, Foles attempted (and completed) more passes than any quarterback in Pac-10 (or Pac-12) history. He finished the year completing 387 of his 560 attempts (69.1%) for 4,334 yards and 28 touchdowns against 14 interceptions.

There is a lot to like about Foles, not the least of which is the fact that at 6-5, 240 pounds he has the size NFL teams covet. There are some concerns about his arm strength, accuracy and mobility which have made some scouts skeptical about Foles' ability to transition to the NFL. Of course, another of Dunn's clients -- former Washington quarterback Jake Locker also had to answer plenty of pre-draft questions. He did so well enough to convince the Tennessee Titans to make him the No. 8 overall pick in last April's draft.  

Foles is currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 8 rated quarterback potentially available in the 2012 draft. Only two senior quarterbacks -- Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill and Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden -- are currently rated higher by NFLDraftScout.com. He is viewed as a 3rd round value.

Posted on: November 29, 2011 5:54 pm
 

Miami OL Washington returning for senior year

The "open season" date for agents to begin recruiting underclassmen as possible early entrants into the 2012 NFL draft is Thursday, December 1st.

At least one possible top 50 pick isn't waiting that long to announce that the agents might as well not even bother; he's returning for his senior season.

Miami offensive lineman Brandon Washington, a 6-4, 330 pound junior with high level starting experience at left tackle and left guard, told beat writers that he's coming back.

"Yes, I'm going to be here," Washington said emphatically, adding "because I see the change in the program, I see the change in the kids and I see how everybody's buying in."

Washington hadn't received the national attention of a David DeCastro (Stanford) or a Cordy Glenn (Georgia), but like these two men, he was being projected as a possible first round pick. Washington claims that he may not even submit his name for a grade from the NFL Advisory Committee because he is so firm with his decision. He cited the fact that in returning to school, he'd be on pace to graduate -- an accomplishment that no one in his family had previously been able to do.

Though Washington played well outside at tackle, most project him back inside at guard in the NFL. Washington has a short, stock build. He is surprisingly light on his feet and plays with intensity and physicality. The feeling among scouts is that Washington could play outside at the next level, but he could become a Pro Bowl caliber guard.

While a loss for NFL teams needing help up front, the decision is a coup for Al Golden's Hurricanes. Washington will return as Miami's most experienced offensive lineman. An All-ACC pick as a sophomore at guard, Washington was moved outside to left tackle to replace Seantrel Henderson, who went down to a back injury. Considering the skill-position talent usually brewing at Miami, having two NFL-caliber offensive linemen in Henderson and Washinton next season could be just the boost this team needs after a year rocked by scandal and disappointing results on the field.

Washington is currently ranked as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 2 guard for the 2013 draft. The only man rated higher is DeCastro, who soon will have his own decision to make.

Posted on: November 28, 2011 3:33 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:51 pm
 

Bowl bans may push USC/Miami youngsters to NFL

With many of the FBS teams finishing up their seasons last weekend, the march to the NFL draft in April is taking a turn onto a new road -- the early pathway to the pros.

Each year there are dozens of underclassmen who petition the NFL Advisory Committee for the grades that will help them determine whether they should leave school early for a chance at NFL riches or return to school for another year.

Generally speaking, most underclassmen wait until after the bowl games to make these requests.

Bowl bans for USC and Miami, however, mean that their underclassmen could be all the more vulnerable to the pressures placed by family, friends and prospective agents. While players all over the country are busy preparing for their final game or anxiously waiting to hear what bowl their team has been invited to play in, the likes of Matt Barkley, Matt Kalil and Lamar Miller (among others) may get convinced that the extra time could give them an advantage in preparation time for the Combine and other workouts.

Typically, once a few prospects begin to declare themselves eligible for the NFL draft, the floodgates open. Usually some of the first names to make it official are players who announce their thoughts immediately following a bowl game.

This year, some of the biggest names potentially available in 2012 could have made their intentions known long before the first bowl game kicks off.

Posted on: November 26, 2011 11:15 am
 

Five Prospects I'll Be Scouting Closely Saturday

Each Friday I list my "Five prospects" that I'll be focusing on for the upcoming weekend. In reality, I'm focusing on dozens of prospects each week, but the players listed below are playing in high profile games and against the caliber of competition that I believe provides us with an opportunity to truly assess how a collegiate player might fare when asked to make the huge jump to the NFL. 

Typically I focus on senior prospects in this space. However, with it becoming more and more obvious as to which underclassmen are considering the jump to the pros, I'll be incorporating a few more juniors and redshirt sophomores in the coming weeks. 

Sometimes it also leads to the player being featured in Draft Slant , NFLDraftScout.com and CBSSports.com's weekly NFL Draft preview. In each PDF issue of Draft Slant Senior Analyst Chad Reuter breaks down six more players in Filmroom Notes, updates our Top 64 prospects overall and offers extensive previews of the next week's action. Here is the link to this week's issue of Draft Slant. Or for the entire season click this link . Looking for a specific week? Download past issues from the past three years here. 

Without any further adieu, here are the five prospects, as well as the cable provider and time you can expect to see them.

RB Dan "Boon" Herron, Ohio State: Herron appeared poised to enter this season as one of the Big Ten's few superstars at the skill positions. After all, he'd shown an NFL-caliber combination of size, power and speed and had already rushed for over 2,000 yards and scored 29 touchdowns on the ground. Suspended for the first five games of the season due to Tattoo-Gate, however, this has been a lost year for the senior, who enters the annual showdown with Michigan having only rushed for 556 yards and two touchdowns this season. Michigan has a solid run defense and know the Buckeyes are going to try to control the clock to keep Denard Robinson off the field. Other than a senior all-star game, this may be Herron's best chance this season to impress scouts. This game begins at noon ET and will be televised by ABC.

ILB Audie Cole, North Carolina State:  For all of the talk this season about underclassmen inside linebackers Manti Te'o, Luke Kuechly and Vontaze Burfict (among others), Cole is quietly earning top 75 grades from some scouts. Big (6-4, 239) and athletic enough to move back to outside linebacker, Cole is viewed as one of the more versatile linebackers in a relatively weak senior class. He's getting plenty of Senior Bowl buzz and should perform well in his final home game against a Maryland team that features the run. This game begins at 12:30 pm ET and will be broadcast by ESPN3.

ILB Donta Hightower, Alabama: As you can tell from my Top 32 "Big Board," of the so-called elite Alabama defenders, I'm lowest on Hightower. In terms of their ability to play in the NFL I rank the top draft-eligible Crimson Tide defenders as Dre' Kirkpatrick, Courtney Upshaw and Mark Barron over Hightower, a 6-4, 260 pound redshirt junior. Hightower is clearly more explosive this year than last as he further heals from the torn ACL that ended his 2009 season prematurely, but still doesn't have the lateral agility and straight-line speed most teams operating out of 4-3 are going to be looking for at linebacker. A move to defensive end is possible. Teams operating out of the 3-4 will certainly like Hightower's bulk and explosive hitting in their scheme, however. I'm curious to see Hightower have to defend in the open field, something I expect an Auburn team currently averaging 183.5 yards on the ground to force him to do. This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be televised by CBS. 

TE Coby Fleener, Stanford: All of the hype in this contest is going to revolve around Andrew Luck and the possibility that this is his last game in Palo Alto -- as it should. We all know Luck is a terrific prospect, so I'm going to focus my attention elsewhere, including with Luck's senior tight end, Fleener, who despite being rated by most scouts as the top senior tight end in the country virtually all season long, he's received very little national attention. One can certainly understand why the scouts love him. While not a legitimate in-line blocker at the next level, the 6-6, 245 pound Fleener has rare speed and soft hands and is averaging a guady 19.7 yards per catch. Fleener will be matched up much of this game against another legitimate NFL prospect in Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith, so this should be a battle worth keeping an eye on. This game begins at 8:00 pm ET and will be televised by ABC. 

DE Devin Taylor, South Carolina: In reality, I could have listed several of the Gamecocks' and Tigers' defensive linemen in this game as this is definitely the area scouts will be closely watching in this game. Without a doubt, in terms of pure talent, this game features the best collection of defensive line talent of the day. At 6-6, 260 pounds the redshirt junior Taylor has as much physical upside as any of them, though he's not the same consistent difference-maker as his senior teammate Melvin Ingram. I'll be spending a lot of time watching the Clemson defensive line, as well, as end Andre Branch and defensive tackle Brandon Thompson (both seniors) are each capable of taking this game over, themselves.  This game begins at 7:45 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN2.


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com