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Tag:Senior Bowl
Posted on: October 28, 2010 10:24 pm
Edited on: October 28, 2010 11:57 pm
 

Biggest game of weekend (for draft) in Seattle

With all six of the FBS undefeated teams on the road and two games pitting Top 20 teams against each other, there is certainly plenty of intrigue in college football for the upcoming Halloween weekend.

In terms of the NFL draft, however, the place to be is Seattle, Washington where the two top quarterback prospects in the country will face off.

According to sources within the league, the expectation is that there will be "at least" 15 NFL scouts attending this game. That total would almost surely double the number of scouts that have attended any college football game in Seattle in quite some time.

Stanford redshirt sophomore Andrew Luck has emerged this season as the clear top passer in the country. Some will argue that Washington's Jake Locker has fallen out of the first round. ESPN's John Clayton has reported that he's spoken to scouts who have dropped him into the second or third round.

That might be true -- but I believe that for however low Locker has dropped early this year, he'll earn back a great deal of that lost stock if he is invited (and accepts) a Senior Bowl invitation, as expected. In that environment, Locker's rare physical tools will stand out.

This isn't a life-long Seattle area resident talking... It is from the experience of covering Senior Bowl practices since 2000.

Having scouted this long, I've learned that many NFL talent evaluators believe (as I do) that one can gauge the talents of most prospects based on film - but not necessarily quarterbacks.

Most scouts believe that to truly gauge a quarterback, one has to see them throw in person. They have to see how the ball comes out of the passer's hand; get a feel for just how much zip is on his fastball; if the quarterback recognizes when to throw with touch; how he interracts with his teammates when the cameras aren't on him.

It is why I saved my final analysis of Sam Bradford (Pro Day) , Tim Tebow (Senior Bowl) , Mark Sanchez (Pro Day) and many others over the years until after I'd seen them in person.

It is also why I won't be scouting the myriad of games I normally do this Saturday, but instead will be evaluating Stanford-UW in person this weekend.

Because to truly judge a quarterback, there is nothing like being there in person.

Posted on: October 25, 2010 6:31 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2010 8:12 pm
 

App. State S Legree earns Diamond in the Rough

Appalachian State free safety Mark LeGree has won so many awards over his career with the Mountaineers that perhaps earning this week's Diamond in the Rough as the top "small school" NFL prospect won't even register as an award.

The recognition certainly pales in comparison to being a finalist for the Buck Buchanan award twice. Or, for earning consensus All-American accolades twice. Or, for being the only FCS representative on the official watch list for the Bronko Nagurski trophy.

It isn't difficult to understand why LeGree has earned such acknowledgement. After backing up three-time All-American Corey Lynch (now a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after being a 6th round pick by the Bengals in 2008), LeGree has started every game of his career, racking up an eye-popping 17 interceptions in his first two seasons as the Mountaineers' starting free safety.

I focused on LeGree in Saturday's 37-14 win over Western Carolina. Not surprisingly, LeGree came through with yet another interception, his fifth of the season and 22nd of his career. LeGree also notched eight tackles.

As is often the case with dominant FCS players, LeGree doesn't necessarily look the part of a future NFL standout. LeGree, who is listed at 6-0, 200 pounds, looks smaller on film and more like a cornerback than the lanky, big hitting free safety most NFL scouts are looking for.

That said, LeGree proved willing and able to mix it up near the line of scrimmage and the body control to break down in space and make the secure open field tackle. Scouts will be interested to learn his actual time in the 40-yard dash, but he's such an instinctive player, LeGree consistently made the play despite appearing to be out of position, at times.

LeGree's second quarter interception was an example of this. Western Carolina quarterback Zac Brindise attempted a long bomb down the left sideline from approximately the 50-yard line. He failed to look off LeGree, who easily drifted to his right to make the interception at his own 5.

I can't imagine that LeGree has had many interceptions over his career any easier than this one. However, when you have 22 (and counting) to choose from, perhaps he does.

Expect to hear LeGree's name as the season ends. He'll almost certainly be again recognized as an All-American and Buck Buchanan finalist. A savvy all-star game personnel director or two will most likely pick up on his accolades and legitimate NFL potential to invite him into compete at the East-West Shrine Game or Senior Bowl. And, of course, you'll hear his name again... when he's drafted.

Posted on: October 20, 2010 9:06 am
 

Strong individual performances highlight weekend

Some of you may have noticed that my fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter took over the blog for the past few days. He did an admirable job with a detailed breakdown of Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn as the Prospect of the Week and Slippery Rock center Brandon Fusco as our Diamond in the Rough .

Chad took over because I was on a short deer-hunting trip in Washington state with my father, brother and a few close friends. The annual trip is one of the reasons I have not accepted an NFL scouting position. I love football, but my family and our annual trips together come first.

Getting back yesterday, I spent much of the evening reviewing film and talking to contacts within the league. While I absolutely agree with selection of Clayborn as our senior prospect of the week, here are several other players that caught my (and scouts') attention with strong performances on Saturday.

OLB/DE Chris Carter, Fresno State : Carter registered nine tackles, including four tackles for loss and three sacks and forced two fumbles in the Bulldogs' 33-10 win over New Mexico State.

DT Guy Miller, Colorado State: The 6-3, 302 pounder broke the CSU record with 4.5 sacks against UNLV Saturday. He'd been rated as a likely free agent prior to the contest and had only two sacks to this point, but the dominating effort left a strong impression on two league insiders I spoke to who attended/viewed this game.

WR/RS Jerrel Jernigan, Troy : Jernigan, previously highlighted as Diamond in the Rough , deserved consideration again this week after a 188 all-purpose yard, two touchdown performance in the 31-24 win over Louisiana-Lafayette. Jernigan caught six passes for 77 yards, including the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. He also returned a punt for a 75-yard touchdown. Jernigan has been invited to the Senior Bowl .

WR/RS Dwayne Harris, East Carolina: Against quality ACC competition, Harris exploded for a career-high 260 all-purpose yards Saturday versus North Carolina State. Harris caught nine passes for 91 yards in ECU's thrilling 33-27 victory and contributed another 95 on kick returns and 75 on punt returns.

WR Armon Binns, Cincinnati: Binns caught a career-high eight passes for 175 yards and three scores in the Bearcats exciting come-from-behind win over Louisville Friday night. For his efforts Binns also was recognized as the Big East's Offensive Player of the Week.

S Mark Barron, Alabama: Scouts love Barron's instincts and versatility and both were on display Saturday against Ole Miss. Barron registered seven tackles, including five solos, an interception, tackle for loss and a quarterback pressure.

ILB Chris White, Mississippi State: White was all over the field for the Bulldogs in their impressive 10-7 win over Florida, Saturday. He earned SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors with 11 tackles (including nine solos), as well as 4.5 tackles for loss against the Gators. White is among the conference leaders with 57 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and five sacks so far this season.

OLB Blake Sorensen, Wisconsin: Sorenson's game-clinching interception with only a few minutes remaining sealed the Badgers upset bid over Ohio State Saturday, but was only part of his impressive game. Sorensen also registered a career-high 10 tackles, including a tackle for loss.





Posted on: October 4, 2010 6:29 pm
 

Hampton's massive Ellis wins Diamond in the Rough

Each Monday I provide a breakdown of my senior college Player/Prospect of the Week and my Diamond in the Rough (small school prospect of the week).

Last week's Diamond in the Rough , Troy wideout/returner Jerrel Jernigan was among the first players to earn a Senior Bowl invitation .

This week's recipient -- Hampton defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis -- could be among the next players who get a pass from the organizers of the Mobile, Alabama all-star game... especially if they pop in the film of Ellis against Howard (September 11) or Delaware State this past Thursday evening.

Ellis wasn't quite as dominant against the Hornets last week as he was against the Bison. Ellis was recognized as the MEAC Defensive Player of the Week for his September 11 efforts. In that contest, Ellis, who measures in at 6-5 340 pounds, was credited with an eye-popping 16 tackles (seven solos), 2.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and a fumble recovery. Against the Hornets Thursday night, Ellis "only" registered eight tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble.

Ellis is surprisingly athletic and well proportioned considering his massive frame. Against the pass, Ellis shows a quick burst off the snap and can rock the guard back onto his heels from his defensive tackle position. He relies mostly on his natural tools, but does possess some pass rush technique, showing a good rip and dip to get under the arm and past his opponent, as well as a quick swim move (which wasn't as effective). As one might expect, Ellis doesn't have the closing speed to be a consistent rush threat, but he was often able to get past the right guard when single blocked Thursday and was an intimidator who often forced hurried throws. Ellis locates the football quickly and pursues laterally and downfield with passion.

With his size, Ellis has obvious potential as a run-stuffer. At times, his quickness and strength was too much for his opponent. Early in the second quarter (12:35), for example, Ellis exploded off the snap, locked out the guard, discarded him easily and made the play at the line of scrimmage. On other occasions, Ellis struggled with leverage, allowing smaller and weaker linemen to get into his pads and push him back onto his heels. Despite his bulk and strength, Ellis' inability to keep his pad level low raises concerns about how well he'd fit inside as a nose guard -- at least until he plays with better technique.

What was obivous, however, is that Ellis was a man among boys Thursday night.

Hampton's strong play isn't unexpected. He impressed early on as a member of Steve Spurrier's South Carolina Gamecocks, but off-field troubles led to suspensions and ultimately a transfer. Scouts had hoped that he'd matured, but he was again suspended for the first game of this season, which means his first game of the year was his DPOY performance against Howard.

Scouts know Ellis can play. He's proven that. There is some concern that his best efforts have come in the first game back from his suspension and the game that earned ESPN coverage. Scouts would like to Ellis play with more consistency and make better choices off the field.



Posted on: October 1, 2010 8:53 pm
 

Reigning Diamond Jernigan gets Senior Bowl invite

Troy wideout and return specialist Jerrel Jernigan, my reigning "Diamond in the Rough" as a the country's top "small-school" prospect learned this week that he'd been invited to the prestigious Senior Bowl, according to multiple reports.

The invitation isn't a surprise. Jernigan leads all active FBS receivers with 209 career receptions and has been especially spectacular this season, having posted games of 277 and 311 all-purpose yards and twice earning Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week honors.

Jernigan is averaging 207.8 all-purpose yards per game. That number, as Drew Champlin of the Enterprise Ledger notes , is barely second behind Boise State's Titus Young, who is averaging 208.0 all-purpose yards per game.

The Senior Bowl, located in Mobile, Alabama has taken full advantage in years past of the rich talent from their neighboring universities. While Alabama and Auburn traditionally send the most prospects, the Trojans (based in Troy, Alabama) have more than held their own, sending future NFL standouts DeMarcus Ware and Leodis McKelvin, among a host of others, to the all-star game.

The 2011 Senior Bowl will be played at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile on January 29.



 
Posted on: September 27, 2010 9:52 pm
 

Troy's WR/RS Jernigan earns Diamond in the Rough

Typically, my weekly Diamond in the Rough award goes to a player who stands out at a lower level of play.
Considering the NFL success of former Trojans Osi Umenyiora, DeMarcus Ware and Leodis McKelvin, I hardly consider Sun Belt powerhouse Troy to be among the "small schools" for traditional Diamonds in the Rough.

But Troy wideout Jerrel Jernigan was so dominant in a Sun Belt conference showdown with Arkansas State that I simply had to acknowledge his play here.

All Jernigan did was catch ten passes for a career high 209 yards, rush the ball five times for 31 yards and record another 71 yards on four (three kick, one punt) returns. The 311 all-purpose yards were also a career-high for Jernigan, who was recognized by the Sun Belt Conference for his second Player of the Week award already this season. He was recognized with the Offensive Player of the Week award Monday, after earning the SBC Special Teams Player of the Week following a September 12 performance against Oklahoma State in which he posted 277 all-purpose yards (including a 100 kick return for a touchdown and a 10-yard touchdown reception).

What made Jernigan's electric performance Saturday against the Red Wolves all the more stunning was that much of it came during rain showers.

Jernigan, 5-9 and 185 pounds, has true three-tier speed. He has the quickness to elude in tight quarters, the acceleration to burst through seams and the long speed to pull away from the pursuit. It didn't take long for him to demonstrate this rare combination against Arkansas State, as Jernigan caught reached high to snatch a high pass on a post route, accelerated between two Red Wolf defensive backs and was gone for a 70-yard score on only the Trojans' third play from scrimmage.

While Jernigan certainly lacks the height scouts would prefer, he has an athletic, surprisingly strong frame and has demonstrated great toughness over his career. He attacks the hole as a returner and does not back down from a physical challenge. Scouts would like to see more consistency out of Jernigan as a route-runner, though some of his troubles have been that he's been asked to line up at so many different positions in an effort to get him the ball. He rarely allows the ball to get into his chest, showing good hands to extend and pluck outside of his frame. Jernigan also showed good body control and the ability to track passes over his shoulder.

Jernigan currently leads all active FBS receivers with 209 career receptions and ranks as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 5 senior wideout and yet few across the country know his name. They would if he played for a Big Ten or SEC team... and they will when he lights up practices at the Senior Bowl.




Posted on: August 16, 2010 12:17 pm
 

Tebow's first game as predictable as it comes

There are times when I really do try to not mention a certain quarterback wearing the No. 15.

In explaining the hoopla to a few family members who don't care about football I realized that unless Tim Tebow truly revolutionizes the game, he'll never be able to match his hype. John Elway, who was the best all-around quarterback I've ever seen, couldn't live up to the expectations some are placing on Tebow.

And let's be clear, Tim Tebow is no John Elway.

Like many of you, I've intently watched Tebow for the past four years light up NCAA defenses with a brand of leadership, toughness, power running and passing just consistent enough to keep opponents in check.

I'm kicking myself this morning for not writing a Tebow Preview post yesterday prior to Denver's preseason game at Cincinnati.

Sure, it is easy to sound like a know-it-all after the fact, but was Tebow's up and down premiere really that surprising?

You tell me -- what wasn't predictable about last night?

Consider that:

  • One could see Tebow's nervous energy on the Denver sideline as the game went on and he knew his time was coming.
  • Once on the field, Tebow was loudly booed (amidst some cheers) by the Ohio crowd. Surprise, surprise that Buckeye and Bearcat fans remembered Tebow's impact in the 2007 BCS Championship Game (41-14) and 2010 Sugar Bowl (51-24) throttlings, respectively, of their beloved teams. 
  • Tebow's best throw was a 40-yard bomb to wideout Matt Willis. Though the ball wasn't perfectly placed -- it would have hit Willis in the helmet had it not bounced off of both hands first -- it was thrown with enough trajectory and speed to allow the receiver to catch and run away from the cornerback. It should have been a 60 yard touchdown. Tebow's deep ball prowess was among his most impressive traits I noticed when scouting him during his Pro Day workout and the Senior Bowl .
  • Once pressured, Tebow reverted back to the long wind-up delivery that we'd seen throughout his four years at Florida. By dropping the ball to his hip like he'd done hundreds of times with the Gators, Tebow had the ball knocked free when hit by a Cincinnati blitz. Bengal pass rusher Frostee Rucker picked up the ball and ran for an apparent touchdown. Replay ruled that Tebow's arm was going forward and the defensive touchdown was wiped away, but this was precisely what scouts were concerned about . Even when the ball wasn't knocked away during his wind-up, Bengal pass defenders still got a half-step advantage in breaking to the ball. Again, for all of the talk about Tebow's smoother throwing motion following the season, did anyone really believe the tutoring in a controlled situation would take over for his instincts and muscle memory once back in an actual game?
  • Finally, was anyone surprised that Tebow was able to score on the game's final play? Trailing 33-17, the last timed play of the game wasn't going to have any bearing on the final outcome. The players giving their all on this play would be the ones whose jobs were on the line or simply the most competitive on the field. Tebow's competitive fire is as impressive as any player I've ever scouted and he's a load as a runner (as his SEC-record 57 rushing touchdowns can attest) so it was quite predictable to see him take off from the 7-yard line and bowl over a defender (Bengals safety Kyries Hebert) on his way to the endzone. Even Cincinnati quarterback Carson Palmer wasn't surprised with the outcome. As he told reporters following the game, "It was one of those things where you knew he was going to score on the last play of the game, either run it in or throw it in there," Palmer said. "He's such a competitor. I've been a big fan of his ever since he started at Florida. He's one of the greatest college football players."
Now, the day after the game, sports analysts everywhere are micro-analyzing Tebow's performance. Some are surprised he didn't fall on his face, completely. Others, buying into Tebow-mania, are surely certain that his last-play touchdown forecasts immediate NFL success.

And I guess that mixed reaction is the most predictable of all.
Posted on: August 3, 2010 1:26 pm
 

Rookie LB Edds a big loss for Dolphins



The South Florida Sun-Sentinel is reporting that Dolphins' fourth round pick A.J. Edds has been placed on the Physical Unable to Perform List after tearing the ACL in his right knee during practice Monday evening.

The loss of Edds (pronounced Eads) is a significant one for the Dolphins who were planning on using the 6-4, 246 pound Edds as a coverage specialist at inside linebacker during nickel situations. Edds started 38 games at strongside linebacker in the Iowa Hawkeyes 4-3 scheme, but, according to Miami head coach Tony Sparano, Edds had impressed early on with his ability to acclimate to the Dolphins' 3-4 strategy.

Said Sparano this morning, confirming Edd's injury:

“He did a good job,” Sparano said. “Obviously there was a lot of football left out here. A.J. looked like he had some good promise and had the ability to do some good jobs. We’ll get him healthy and we’ll get going.”
Edds was a player I was particularly high on. Like many Iowa players, he came to the NFL exceptionally well-coached by Kirk Ferentz's staff. While Edds' linebacking teammate, inside linebacker Pat Angerer received much of the press during their respective career with the Hawkeyes, I was more consistently impressed with Edds' play on film and when scouting him in person at the Senior Bowl. Angerer was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the second round.

I characterized Edds as a "personal favorite" numerous times in preparation for the 2010 draft and explained some of the reasoning behind the attention in this Senior Bowl post-practice report.

I felt then that "There's nothing flashy about Iowa outside linebacker A.J. Edds, but he always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Whether blowing up fullbacks or covering up receivers in the flat, he flashed the skills to be a Ben Leber-type coverage linebacker who will play for 10 years in the NFL."

Hopefully Edds will come back a year from now just as athletic and instinctive. His work ethic was praised by Iowa coaches in the past and I suspect that it will be by the Miami coaches and trainers soon, as well.

Without Edds' instincts and athleticism in coverage, the Dolphins may have to turn back to two veterans much better suited towards playing the run than pass with incumbent starter Channing Crowder and recent addition Tim Dobbins, who was acquired via a trade with San Diego that allowed the Chargers to move up to the No. 12 pick to select Fresno State running back Ryan Matthews.

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