Category:NFL Draft
Posted on: November 26, 2009 10:52 am

McCoy the headliner, but A&M's Johnson no slouch

Texas quarterback Colt McCoy will certainly get most of the attention in tonight's in-state battle at College Station, but it his counterpart, Aggie redshirt junior Jerrod Johnson, who quietly is leading the conference in touchdown passes and has made the most strides as an NFL prospect this season.

Like McCoy, the 6-5, 243 pound Johnson is a do-everything talent for the Aggies, who can beat defenses with his arm, decision-making (only 5 INTs) and legs. The athletic Johnson has shown agility and good decision-making in the option and actually is tied for the team lead with 8 rushing touchdowns this season. Johnson was pushed into the starting role last season with the injury to now-Dallas Cowboy Stephen McGee. Johnson posted solid numbers last season (2,435 passing yards, 21 touchdowns/10 interceptions), but looked flustered when pressured and was prone to drive-killing mistakes. This season, however, he's proven much more adept at reading defenses. The improvement Johnson has shown in his second season as a starter under former Green Bay Packers head coach Mike Sherman has been impressive, something that Sherman noted in his press conference this week.

"I really don't know if I've been around a player that's made the progress that he's made," Sherman said. "He's a lot more football savvy than I ever gave him credit for last year."

The undefeated Longhorns boast a significant edge in overall talent and should win this game easily. However, the Aggies have proven to be quite the nemesis for Mack Brown, winning two of the past three games, including the last one at Texas A&M. The Aggies, 6-5 overall, are 5-1 at home and enjoy one of the great homefield advantages in all of college football.

I certainly recommend you focusing on the traditions on this Thanksgiving holiday with family, friends, turkey and perhaps some NFL football, but don't forget to check out this contest (7 pm EST, ESPN), it could prove surprisingly competitive and certainly will provide scouts with a barometer as to the play of two talented quarterbacks while on the big stage.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Posted on: November 23, 2009 12:04 am

Impressive East-West Shrine Roster So Far

With so much talent on the field at once, there is nothing quite like the all-star game circuit for scouts to gain an appreciation of the year's prospects. Only during these opportunities are small school prospects finally given the chance to prove their ability against the so-called power school talents. This year's game will be coached by former NFL head coaches Marty Schottenheimer and Romeo Crennel.

The East West Shrine Game has long been a favorite of mine. While I've enjoyed the several different venues the game has gone to since, the Shrine Game, to me, still means San Francisco, though I'm sure the game will do well this year in Orlando. The game, of course, is for a great cause -- the Shriners Hospitals for children. Those looking to donate to a great cause can do so by following this link.

The Shrine Game always boasts an impressive crop of talent. This year's roster is as impressive as any in recent memory, with several potential first round prospects having already accepted invitations. The roster, not yet complete, is listed by the Shrine Game's official website as follows:

East Roster
Ali Villanuea Tight End Army
Dan Lefevour Quarterback Central Michigan University
Thomas Austin Offensive Guard  Clemson University 
Kavell Conner Inside Linebacker Clemson University 
Vince Oghobaase Defensive Tackle Duke University
Van  Eskridge  Free Safety East Carolina University 
John Skelton Quarterback Fordham University 
Akwasi Owusu-Ansah Cornerback Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Jamar Chaney Inside Linebacker Mississippi State University
Ted Larsen Center North Carolina State University
Willie  Young  Defensive End  North Carolina State University
Arthur Jones Defensive Tackle Syracuse University
Andre Roberts Wide Receiver The Citadel
Brandon Lang Defensive End Troy University
Cameron Sheffield Outside Linebacker Troy University
Andre Anderson  Running Back  Tulane University 
Mitch Petrus Offensive Guard University of Arkansas
Torell Troup Defensive Tackle University of Central Florida
Lindsey Witten Defensive End University of Connecticut
Jon Asamoah Offensive Guard University of Illinois
Michael Hoomanawanui Tight End University of Illinois
Terrell Skinner Free Safety University of Maryland
Darryl Sharpton Inside Linebacker University of Miami
Nate Byham Tight End University of Pittsburgh
Kion Wilson Inside Linebacker University of South Florida
Chris Scott Offensive Tackle University of Tennessee
O'Brien Schofield Outside Linebacker University of Wisconsin
Barry  Church  Strong Safety University of Toledo
Ed Wang Offensive Tackle Virginia Tech
Brandon Ghee Cornerback Wake Forest University

West Roster

Tony  Washington Offensive Tackle Abilene Christian University 
Chris Thomas Safety  Air Force Academy
Dexter Davis Outside Linebacker Arizona State University
Chris McGaha Wide Receiver Arizona State University
Joe Pawelek Inside Linebacker Baylor University
J.D. Walton Center Baylor University
Max Hall Quarterback Brigham Young University
Shelley Smith Offensive Guard Colorado State University
Seyi Ajirotutu Wide Receiver Fresno State University
Robert  Malone Punter Fresno State University
Lonyae Miller Running Back Fresno State University
Reggie Stephens Offensive Guard Iowa State University
Perrish Cox Cornerback Oklahoma State University
Zac Robinson Quarterback Oklahoma State University
Erik Lorig Defensive End Stanford University
Ekom  Udofia Defensive Tackle Stanford University
Jerry Hughes Outside Linebacker Texas Christian University
Daryl Washington Inside Linebacker Texas Christian University
Brandon Carter Offensive Guard Texas Tech University
Earl Mitchell Defensive Tackle University of Arizona
Devin Ross Cornerback University of Arizona
Tyson Alualu Defensive Tackle University of California, Berkeley
Mike Tepper Offensive Tackle University of California, Berkeley
Syd'Quan Thompson Cornerback University of California, Berkeley
Verran Tucker Wide Receiver University of California, Berkeley
Ryan Moya Fullback University of California, Los Angeles
Alterraun Verner Cornerback University of California, Los Angeles
Danario Alexander Wide Receiver University of Missouri
Larry Asante Strong Safety University of Nebraska
James Ruffin Defensive End University of Northern Iowa
Auston English Defensive End University of Oklahoma
TJ Ward Free Safety University of Oregon
Joshua Pinkard Free Safety University of Southern California
Zane Beadles Offensive Tackle University of Utah
Kenny Alfred  Center Washington State University 

Posted on: November 21, 2009 7:24 pm

Final home game for Clausen? I'm not impressed.

I'll leave others to make the argument for or against this being Charlie Weis' final home game as the head coach for the Fighting Irish.

I have no problem weighing in, however, on whether junior quarterback Jimmy Clausen should leave early for the NFL.

I believe it would be a mistake.

I've scouted Clausen for three years. I acknowledge his physical tools, toughness and understanding of a pro-style offense. However, for all of the hype Clausen and Notre Dame have received in general for their many tight games down the stretch, I've been consistently underwhelmed by their (and more specifically, his) performance. For a quarterback to leave school early for the NFL, I want to see the ability to put his collegiate team on his shoulders and lead them to victory. I saw Clausen play to not lose this game -- just as I have done many times in the past. I saw him make some terrific, NFL-caliber throws, as well, including the touchdown to send the game into its second overtime. I also saw, however, a great deal of inconsistency in the game's crucial moments. On some throws he was inaccurate. On others he incorrectly read the defense and tried to squeeze in throws that simply weren't there.

Clausen is not the reason Notre Dame lost this game. A defense that struggled to make tackles in the open field all year long failed in doing so yet again. However, with opportunities to seal this game throughout the fourth quarter and overtime, Clausen was rendered a virtual non-factor -- and that shouldn't happen for a player viewed by scouts as the most NFL-ready passer in the country.

Posted on: November 18, 2009 2:06 pm

This week's Slant features most underrated DE, QB

I've used the blog as a way of advertising for's weekly PDF, Draft Slant, in the past. I've tried to list the players we were profiling each week so that "coach scouts" can read Chad Reuter's and my thoughts and compare notes based on the previous week's action of legitimate NFL prospects.

Scouting prospects across the country, week in and week out, is a laborious process. Every once in awhile, however, you see a prospect surprise you with his performance.

This week I'm especially excited about our Draft Slant feature, as two prospects popped off the film. As such, we'll be significantly changing their grades on Watch around the web with the other draft-related websites. They'll be catching on soon enough.

I wish I could just copy and paste the mini-profiles I wrote for these two players here. That, however, wouldn't be fair to our loyal subscribers. What I can do is list the prospects we featured to let you make an educated guess as to who it is I (and scouts I've spoken to since) are talking about...

The ten seniors featured this week are:

Clemson DE/OLB - Ricky Sapp
Murray State DE - Austen Lane
South Florida DE - George Selvie
Oregon State QB - Sean Canfield
Pittsburgh QB - Bill Stull
Baylor C - JD Walton
Iowa TE - Tony Moeaki
Troy ILB - Boris Lee
Utah FS - Robert Johnson
East Carolina DT - Jay  Ross

Those who'd like to purchase this single copy of Draft Slant can follow the link here.
Posted on: November 11, 2009 10:03 pm

Greg Hardy out for year... Out of 1st Rd too?

Mississippi defensive end Greg Hardy is expected to miss the rest of the 2009 season due to a broken left wrist. The injury occurred earlier in the year, but was made worse in Saturday's matchup with Northern Arizona. Hardy, according to head coach Houston Nutt, will undergo surgery on the wrist tomorrow. His collegiate career appears over.

The 6-4, 265 pound Hardy is a dominating force when healthy. The problem is, he's never made it through an entire season with the Rebels, battling multiple foot injuries before the fractured wrist.

He led the Rebels in sacks this season (5) and had 26.5 for his career. Injuries kept him from starting a single game as a junior (and only four as a sophomore) but in the 19 games in which he played, Hardy registered 18.5 sacks, earning all-conference accolades from league coaches after both seasons.

In an era of pure speed rushers, Hardy's size, strength and hand technique made him unique. He enjoyed some of his most impressive games against the SEC's top tackles. His 2.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and multiple hurries of Tim Tebow were a primary reason for the Rebels' stunning victory over Florida last year. has ranked him as the top defensive end of the 2010 senior class from the beginning -- and from a talent standpoint he deserves to remain there even with this latest injury.

For all of his talent, however, Hardy's lack of durability and off-beat personality is certain to drop him on draft day. Few players in league history will have been more scrutinized (both medically and in interviews) at the Combine. It will take a confident team, indeed, willing to spend a first round pick on a player who has never made it through a full collegiate season healthy.

In a draft destined to be known for great defensive linemen (principally Ndamukong Suh and potentially Gerald McCoy), Greg Hardy remains the enigma. If he can ever recover his health, he could be prove to be the best pass rusher from this class.

Posted on: November 10, 2009 12:45 pm

Arthur Jones' lack of durability a concern

In terms of NFL caliber talent, the Syracuse Orangemen had two senior prospects worthy of early round consideration: defensive tackle Arthur Jones and wide receiver Mike Williams.

Williams stunned the school and scouts, alike, with his decision to quit the team two weeks ago. Now, the Orange will have to do without Jones, as well, as the university announced Monday night that Jones had torn the lateral meniscus in his left knee in the loss to Pittsburgh, Saturday, ending his collegiate career.

The meniscus tear, on its own isn't necessarily a huge concern for scouts. Depending on the location and severity of the tear, Jones may not even need to undergo surgery. If the injury does require surgery, it will be arthroscopic in nature and isn't expected to keep Jones from participating in rookie mini camps, or perhaps even the Combine.

Jones has been prone to injuries throughout his career, however, which will certainly give teams reason to pause on draft day. Of most concern is the fact that Jones' injuries have become more serious and occurred more frequently as his career has gone on. Jones tore his pectoral muscle during a February workout and missed time earlier this season with a "upper leg injury."

Jones is a versatile, talented defender that ordinarily would receive strong first round consideration. Considering the injuries and the relative depth along the defensive line, however, his status is much cloudier.

Jones leaves Syracuse with 38.5 career tackles for loss -- the most by a defensive tackle in Orange history. He was Syracuse's lone First-Team Big-East selection in 2008.

Posted on: November 9, 2009 3:37 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2009 3:42 pm

Has QB Ponder played his last game for FSU?

Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder has been one of the few bright spots in an ugly season for Florida State. That bright spot was extinguished Saturday night, when Ponder suffered a separated right shoulder in trying to tackle Clemson defensive back DeAndre McDaniel. The injury, a grade three shoulder separation, that will require season-ending surgery, prompting speculation that the play -- which concluded Ponder's fourth interception of the night -- could be his final one for the Seminoles.

With the injury (and potential lost earnings) of Sam Bradford last year, as well as speculation that the league is looking to impose a rookie salary cap soon, scouts are anticipating underclassmen flocking early to the NFL this winter.

Despite this being only his second season as Florida State's starting quarterback, his improvement has been considerable. Numbers rarely tell the whole story, but consider that in 13 starts in 2008 Ponder completed 55.7% of his passes for 2007 yards and a 14-13 TD to INT ratio. In only 9 starts this season, Ponder completed 68.8% of his passes for 2,717 yards and a TD-INT ratio of 14-7.

Ponder, 6-3, 215 pounds, has the size, intelligence, arm strength, accuracy and mobility scouts are looking for in a potential franchise quarterback. Unlike many of the other highly touted quarterbacks across the country, Ponder's production has come via a pro-style offense. 

Scouts would like to see Ponder return for his senior campaign, as he remains raw. Highly drafted, but unpolished young quarterbacks have a significantly more difficultt time acclimating to the pros simply because there is very little time for second or third quarterbacks handling the ball in a typical NFL week of practice. To improve, he'll need to play -- and scouts don't feel he (or many of the other highly touted underclassmen QBs of the potential 2010 class) is ready.

Still, with undeniable physical tools, his academics in order (he already has his undergraduate degree) and now time on his hands to consider his future, Ponder is a name to keep in mind for the 2010 QB class.

Take into consideration his words, as told to the St. Petersburg Times before the Clemson game:
“Obviously after the season, I’ll take an evaluation (from the NFL) and see what happens and make a decision after that,’’ he said. “I see myself playing here next year, but we’ll see what they say and what happens. There’s a chance of either way.’’

Posted on: November 9, 2009 3:06 pm

Second chance for Blount... Don't blow it, kid

Proving just how out of whack the NCAA can be in their priorities, Oregon running back LaGarrette Blount has been reinstated to the program and is expected to see his first game-action since his well-documented post-game meltdown againt Boise State 

(Meanwhile, former Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant, who dined with Deion Sanders, and then lied about it to the NCAA, had his final suspension appeal denied and has unofficially declared himself eligible for the 2010 NFL Draft.)

Following Oregon's loss to Boise State, Blount infamously took a cheap shot at the Broncos' defensive end Byron Hout and had to be restrained by teammates, coaches and security on his way off the field. At times, he appeared to go after his own teammates, coaches and fans.

Blount was suspended for the season by head coach Chip Kelly a day later. Kelly said at the time that, "the suspension would remain in effect through any bowl games the Ducks may play in.''

Less than a month after Blount's September 3rd meltdown, Chip Kelly outlined a way in which the talented, but troubled back could return to the field for the Ducks. If Blount were to maintain certain academic and behavioral standards, there was a "potential opportunity" for Blount to be reinstated.

Prior the season, I listed Blount as one of six senior prospects capable of moving from a relative unknown all the way to the first round. The 6-1, 240 pound back broke school records and led the Pac-10 with 17 rushing touchdowns despite operating behind starter Jeremiah Johnson. His size and bullish running style had earned comparisons to the Giants' Brandon Jacobs. Assuming he stays out of trouble (and opponents will surely test him), Blount has the physical talent to recoup some of his draft prospects.

Blount returns for Pac-10 leading Oregon this weekend against Arizona State, who is coming off of a loss at home to USC. Though the scoreboard said differently, the Sun Devils were more impressive Saturday night than the Trojans, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

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