Tag:NFLDraftScout.com
Posted on: September 18, 2011 12:59 pm
Edited on: September 19, 2011 2:00 pm
 

Injuries pile up for Stanford in impressive win

Andrew Luck and the rest of No. 6 rated Stanford were impressive in their first conference victory last night at Arizona, but the Cardinal did not escape the game without injury.

Three players critical to Stanford's success this season suffered injuries.

The scariest injury appeared to be with junior inside linebacker Shayne Skov, who suffered an apparent injury to his left leg while attempting to tackle Arizona wide receiver Juron Criner. Skov struggled off the field, unable to put any weight on the injured limb. Last season, he emerged as Stanford's most consistent defender, leading the team with 84 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks on his way to honorable mention all-conference honors. UPDATE: Stanford head coach David Shaw told reporters Monday that an MRI taken on Sunday showed that Skov's knee injury is serious enough that he will miss the remainder of the 2011 season. 

With Luck directing the offense, it might appear that Stanford could keep scoring points with a collection of high schoolers at the skill positions. That theory could be put to the test as Luck's two favorite targets were the "other" important Stanford players who went down with injuries in the first half against Arizona.

Tight end Coby Fleener and wide receiver Chris Owusu -- both seniors and virtual locks to be selected by NFL teams this April -- each went down with injuries. Fleener suffered what appeared to be a concussion early on. Owusu appeared to have bruised his shoulder. Fleener is NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior tight end and second rated prospect at the position, overall. Owusu isn't rated nearly as high, but his versatility as a receiver and returner are nonetheless impressive.

Stanford is fortunate that while their Pac-12 schedule has now begun in earnest, their late September slate includes some of the easiest opponents the conference has to offer, namely hosting UCLA and Colorado before traveling to Washington State. Before they take on anyone, however, Stanford has their bye.

The timing couldn't be better for a 3-0 team licking their wounds after an impressive 34-10 victory at Arizona.

Posted on: September 17, 2011 10:25 am
 

Reuter previews Saturday - Five Matchups to Watch

Each week my fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter has agreed to provide for NFLDraftScout.com/CBSSports.com a listing of his Five On The Spot, as well as the following Five Matchups to Watch.

Chad can also be followed on Twitter @ChadReuter. He and I often comment on the day's games as the action occurs. Should you want to scout "alongside" either of us, simply follow us there.

Five Matchups to Watch:


1. Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins vs. Notre Dame Passing Defense

Cousins' eyes probably looked the size of saucers as he watched the film of Michigan beating Notre Dame's secondary for big play after big play last week. He has the set of fine senior receivers (B.J. Cunningham, Keshawn Martin, Keith Nichol) and tight ends (Brian Linthicum, Garrett Celek) to run rough-shod over the Irish defense in a similar manner unless Irish corners Robert Blanton and Gary Gray proves themselves more capable of playing the ball in the air.

NFL teams know Cousins is able to make throws from the picket, command a huddle, and possesses the agility to bootleg and make short to intermediate throws on the run. His arm strength has never been his greatest asset, however, so this contest gives him a chance to prove he is willing and able to test cornerbacks down the field with well-placed throws to the sideline when his receivers have the one-on-one match-up they desire.

2. Pittsburgh DE Brandon Lindsey vs. Iowa RT Markus Zusevics

Lindsey was part of a strong triumvirate of defensive ends in Pittsburgh the past couple of seasons, at least when Jabaal Sheard and Greg Romeus were healthy. He now stands alone on the strong side, and in this game faces against an underratedly tough and athletic Zusevics.

Lindsey had lined up on the weak side before Sheard headed off to Cleveland in the second round of last year's draft, but the presence of future NFL starting left tackle Riley Reiff will probably keep him battling Zusevics most of the game. Riding Lindsey around the pocket and protecting the inside rush lane will show scouts Zusevics has the potential to be reliable in pass pro at the next level, while Lindsey's strength against the run answers critics' questions about his ability to play on early downs against NFL linemen.

3. Auburn LT Brandon Mosley vs. Clemson DE Andre Branch

Mosley is a former junior college defensive end and tight end who stepped into the starting right tackle spot during the Tigers' BCS championship season last year. Now on the left side, he'll face an explosive group of Clemson defensive ends led by senior Branch.

Although Mosley is quite athletic for his 6-foot-5, 305 pound build, but he'll need to be quick and fluid in his lateral movement and prove his anchor against the surprisingly strong bull rush of Branch and true freshman Corey Crawford (who looks like he could live up to wearing former Clemson star end Da'Quan Bowers' number 93 jersey) if he wants to show scouts he could stay on the blind side in the NFL.

4. Temple LG Derek Dennis vs. Penn State DTs Devon Still/Jordan Hill

Last season Temple defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson opened eyes with his performance against the Nittany Lions, eventually leading him to declare for the draft and be selected in the first round by the New York Jets. Though not likely to be picked that high, Dennis could be the Owl whose draft stock climbs after facing talented Big Ten prospects.

His thick frame, brute strength and fair short-area quickness matches up well against both the highly-regarded, athletic Devon Still and the less-heralded but active and strong junior Jordan Hill. If Dennis can stop the advances of the Still and Hill combination early in the game, the 6-foot-3, 328-pound left guard should be able to wear them down as the contest progresses, just as Alabama's line did last weekend. Temple's tough junior running back, Bernard Pierce, will take advantage of the space Dennis can create.

5. Florida International WR T.Y. Hilton vs. Central Florida CB Josh Robinson

This battle may be a bit under the college football radar, but Hilton's seven-catch, 201-yard, two-score Friday night performance against Louisville last week did get him in the national spotlight. Robinson's talent has also been clear to scouts since he picked off six passes as a true freshman for the Golden Knights in 2009. Now a junior, he faces his strongest test yet in Hilton.

FIU will undoubtedly move their star playmaker around to try and find openings in the UCF defense. But any time Robinson lines up across from Hilton, scouts will watch whether the corner has the speed to trail the receiver effectively as well as fight for the ball or close quickly to dislodge it from Hilton's hands.

Honorable mention
Ohio State C Mike Brewster vs. Miami (Fla.) DTs Marcus Forston/Micanor Regis
Northern Illinois QB Chandler Harnish vs. Wisconsin CB Antonio Fenelus
Stanford WR Chris Owusu vs. Arizona CB Trevin Wade
Arkansas RT Grant Freeman vs. Troy DE Johnathan Massaquoi
Washington RB Chris Polk vs. Nebraska Front Seven

Posted on: September 17, 2011 10:15 am
 

Reuter previews Saturday -- Five On the Spot

The college football world is looking forward to Saturday night's tilt in Tallahassee where top-ranked Oklahoma faces number five Seminoles in the second game of a home-and-home series.

The Sooners got the better of FSU last season, 47-17, separating early and never looking back.

NFL scouts are eagerly awaiting this match-up, as well. Seven players from last year's game (three from Florida State, four from Oklahoma) were drafted last April. That number could double in 2012, depending on how many underclassmen declare for early entry.

The various players and match-ups scouts will be watching, whether in person or on the road, could fill this weekly preview article.

Seminoles junior quarterback E.J. Manuel made the list of players "on the spot" this week, but covering the other line-battles (FSU LT Andrew Datko vs. Oklahoma DE Frank Alexander, Seminoles' RT Zebrie Sanders vs. Oklahoma DE Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma LT Donald Stephenson vs. Florida State DE Brandon Jenkins) or the importance of occasional skirmishes between Oklahoma star receiver Ryan Broyles and sophomore star cornerback, Xavier Rhodes, in this article would neglect all of the other interesting stories on Saturday.

So as you wait for the Sooner and Seminoles to kick off Saturday night, or if your thirst for football is not quenched after the prime-time match-up is decided, make sure to check out these other players and match-ups that NFL scouts will be watching.

This week's Five on the Spot

1. Florida State QB E.J. Manuel

If the Seminoles are to make a national title run, Manuel must do something Christian Ponder could not often enough in Norman last September -- make plays. The 12th pick in the 2011 NFL draft completed 11 of 28 throws for just 113 yards and two interceptions. Whether FSU wins or not, the grade Manuel receives from the NFL Draft Advisory Committee after the season, should he attempt to test the waters as a junior, could also hinge on this nationally-televised game.

Manuel came in for mop-up duty last year, going four-for-eight for 109 yards and a score. Now the starter, he must fit the ball into the tight windows Oklahoma defensive backs allow him and lead his receivers so they can make plays after the catch. Scouts will also expect him to be decisive with the ball after making correct pre-snap reads, as well as keep his eyes downfield to make plays instead of scrambling for a few yards here and there to avoid pressure.

2. Arizona QB Nick Foles

When Stanford's All-Everything junior quarterback Andrew Luck comes to town, it seems as though there is less exterior pressure on the defense he faces than the quarterback taking the field after the Preseason All-American has gone back to the sideline. Foles is just coming off a battle against Oklahoma State passer Brandon Weeden, but being compared with Luck on a series-by-series basis will be even more difficult.

Foles is perfectly capable of making the quick decisions and delivering accurately to stationery targets in the short and intermediate game. He also has enough mobility to escape the pocket to make a play, though scouts comparing at Luck's athleticism and accuracy on the run to Foles' will see a chasm of difference. If he's going to be a pocket passer at the next level, however, he must show scouts he can hit receivers Juron Criner and David Douglas accurately down the seam or the sideline in order to stretch defenses vertically.

3. Miami, FL QB Jacory Harris

When Miami's depth chart for the Ohio State contest was released, many were surprised to see Harris' name on top. Head coach Al Golden stated that Harris won the job over the summer, and only the team's holding him out while the NCAA investigated his receiving booster benefits kept him from starting the opener.

Harris has been all potential, and not enough production, through his three years as the main starter for the Hurricanes. He's always flashed the ability to make plays down the field from the pocket, as well as on the run, but inconsistent accuracy and his proclivity to make the big mistake (he had an unacceptable 14-15 touchdown-to-interception ratio last year) have held him back from fulfilling his promise. A strong performance against the Buckeyes Saturday night in front of a national audience could finally get him on track to a draftable grade from scouts.

4. Michigan State DT Jerel Worthy

NFL teams are looking for a defensive tackle to show himself as the playmaker they seek in the top half of the draft's first round. Over the past two seasons, Worthy has flashed this ability, making 17 tackles for loss, 8.5 of which were credited quarterback sacks. A prime Saturday afternoon match-up against Notre Dame gives him a stage on which to state his case as the top tackle in the 2012 class.

The junior does have to battle right guard Trevor Robinson in order to pressure sophomore quarterback Tommy Rees. Worthy should have a quickness advantage over Robinson and the other Notre Dame linemen (he will move around a bit), but has not always been as fast off the snap as scouts prefer. His strength at the point of attack is usually not an issue, but Worthy must shed blocks with violent hands quickly and show the closing speed to chase running backs and bring down Reeds to earn elite prospect status.

5. Virginia CB Chase Minnifield

A Virginia cornerback has been selected in the second round of the NFL draft in each of the past two springs. Chris Cook went to the Vikings in the 2010 event while New England snatched up the talented but oft-injured Ras-I Dowling last April. As the son of former NFL Pro Bowl cornerback Frank Minnifield, scouts expect Chase (not necessarily a great name for a cornerback) to have similar value if he continues his strong play.

Minnifield has difficult challenge in front of him this weekend, however, as North Carolina comes to town with a bevy of big, strong receivers. Dwight Jones (6-4, 225), Erik Highsmith (6-3, 190), and Jheranie Boye (6-2, 190) will all line up across from Minnifield as the game goes on. The spindly, six-foot, 180-pound corner will show scouts something if able to hand-play at the line or down the field against those receiver, as well as fight for position on jump and 50/50 balls. Proving hands to make the interception (has 10 career picks), as well as knock away passes or dislodging them with a big hit, will also quiet any concerns about his physicality or play-making ability.

This content was provided by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter. You can follow Chad on Twitter @ChadReuter.
Posted on: September 16, 2011 2:58 pm
Edited on: September 16, 2011 5:39 pm
 

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.

Because I'm scouting them in real time these players make an early impression, often leading to consideration as my Prospect of the Week or Diamond in the Rough. I also try to tweet comments on prospects throughout Saturday's action. You can follow me on Twitter @RobRang.

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 Tauren Poole, Tennessee: There are some huge games this weekend, but few have the longstanding rivalry that Tennessee-Florida boasts. Poole is currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 7 rated running back, but he boasts a combination of size, speed, elusiveness and power that could translate into a starter at the next level. When you take into account all of the talented underclassmen, Poole is our 16th rated RB and that seems waaay too low based on the tape I've seen. With a strong game against an athletic Gator defense playing in front of their home crowd, he could get my vote to move up significantly in our rankings. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by CBS.

DT Alameda Ta'amu, Washington: For all of the attention that Jake Locker and running back Chris Polk gained for their roles in Washington's surprising Holiday Bowl victory over Nebraska in January, the emergence of this 6-3, 337 run-stuffer was a critical piece tot he puzzle. Ta'Amu and the Huskies will be facing a more motivated Huskers offense this time around, so it will be fascinating to see how these two teams perform in the rubber match. A strong performance in this game could lead to the underdog Huskies giving Nebraska a tough game and also push Ta'Amu into legitimate first round consideration. He could follow Phil Taylor and BJ Raji as recent run-stuffers whose strong senior seasons catapulted them into the top 32. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by ABC/ESPN.

DT Jerel Worthy, Michigan State: One could argue that for Michigan State to beat Notre Dame, the pressure is most on senior quarterback Kirk Cousins.However, considering the way the Irish defense has played, Cousins could have a field day. The greater pressure (and thus, why I, scouts will be paying close attention) will be on the Spartans' defense to bottle up the Irish offense. Worthy shows flashes of the penetrating quickness and power that can result in a first round pick, but needs to be more consistent. This game could go a long way in determing whether Worthy (a junior) should consider making the early leap to the NFL. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by NBC.

OLB Sean Spence, Miami: It wasn't that long ago when Miami-Ohio State would have ranked as the top game of the weekend. Now, for many it has become an after-thought. Not to me, however, and certainly not to scouts. Spence is one of the better chase linebackers in the country, but is undersized. He struggled handling Terrelle Pryor last year in this contest. While Pryor is obviously now an Oakland Raider, it will be interesting to see if Spence remembers his atypical performance a year ago and improves his open field tackling this time around. I expect that he will. This game begins at 7:30 pm EST and will be televised by ESPN.

QB Landry Jones, Oklahoma: In case you haven't seen my Top 32 "Bigger Board," let me just say right now that I'm lower on Jones than most. While he undeniably has an NFL combination of size and arm strength, I question whether he has the accuracy and poise to be an elite pro quarterback. The fact that he's coming out of a spread offense that significantly inflates his production and typically protects him from pressure doesn't help his cause at all. However, to beat a fast, aggressive Seminoles' defense in Tallahassee, Jones will have to show improved accuracy and calm in the pocket -- which could lead me to re-evaluate him quickly. There is legitimate NFL talent on both sides of the ball for both of these programs. No one has more riding on their performance, however, than Jones, a junior passer who some compare to Sam Bradford and view as a potential top five pick in the 2012 draft. This game begins at 8:00 pm EST and will be televised by ABC.


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Posted on: September 9, 2011 4:19 pm
 

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.

Because I'm scouting them in real time these players make an early impression, often leading to consideration as my Prospect of the Week or Diamond in the Rough.

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 Vick Ballard, Mississippi State: Ballard served notice immediately against Memphis last week (career-high 166 yards and three TDs) that his first season for the Bulldogs (994 yards, 19 TDs) was no fluke after transferring from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. The sledding will be tougher Saturday against the defending champion Auburn Tigers, which survived a scare last week from Utah State. Ballard has good size (5-11, 220) and power, but still has to answer concerns about his speed. This game begins at 12:20 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN3 and The SEC Network.

DT Devon Still, Penn State:  At 6-4, 310 pounds, Still has the size scouts are looking for and he's shown flashes of dominant ability throughout his career. Still hasn't yet shown the consistency, however, to warrant the hype he's received, however. A strong performance against Alabama Saturday and their potential All-SEC center William Vlachos, himself a late round NFL possibility, would go a long way in boosting Still's stock. This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be televised by ABC.

OT/OG Cordy Glenn, Georgia: A dominant guard throughout much of his career with the Bulldogs, Glenn was asked to move outside to left tackle against an experienced and athletic Boise State defensive front last week and not surprisingly struggled. At 6-5, 345 pounds, Glenn may simply lack the quick feet and balance to remain outside. As I pointed out in my "Big Board," however, I am not willing to move him out of my Top 32 after one poor performance. As good as the Boise front four was, Glenn and the Bulldogs are in for an even tougher test tomorrow against South Carolina's pass rushers. The Gamecocks boast two of the better rushers in the conference in senior Melvin Ingram and rising junior Devin Taylor, who also has a place on my Top 32. I'm looking forward to all of this weekend's games, but from a scouting standpoint, this is the one to focus on. This game begins at 4:30 ET and will be televised by ESPN.

DE Alex Okafor, Texas: Like Still for the Nittany Lions, Okafor has generated more press than production early in his career. It is important to note that unlike Still, Okafor is only a junior and he was miscast last season as a defensive tackle. This season, the 6-4, 260 pounder is back outside rushing the passer. Okafor only registered two tackles last week against Rice, though one of them was a tackle for loss. Okafor will have plenty of opportunities to rush the quarterback against BYU Saturday. The Cougars could give Okafor and the Longhorns more than they bargained for, however, as they are coming off an impressive win last week at Mississippi. This game begins at 7 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN2.

ILB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame: Some believe Te'o will prove to be the first Notre Dame defender to be drafted in the first round since Renaldo Wynn (1997). What is very clear is that Te'o is an instinctive, physical defender very capable of dictating the action in the middle. Against an athletic and versatile Michigan offense, however, Te'o speed to the flanks will be tested. Considering that he finished with 133 tackles last year -- the most from any Irish defender since 1983 -- it wasn't surprising that Te'o led Notre Dame last week against South Florida with nine stops. He'll have to be even better this week if Brian Kelly's group is to get into the win column. This game begins at 8:00 pm EST and will be televised by ESPN. 
Posted on: September 8, 2011 3:36 pm
 

WR showdown tonight loses luster without Criner

While many of the football-loving community is eagerly anticipating the kickoff to the NFL season tonight, there are sure to be plenty of scouts focusing on another game -- the showdown between two of the most explosive offenses in college football in Arizona and Oklahoma State.

One of the primary reasons for scouts attending the game in Stillwater this evening was to watch Wildcat wideout Juron Criner. Unfortunately, rather than be able to compare and contrast him to Cowboys' star Justin Blackmon, scouts will have to focus their attention elsewhere, as Criner did not make the trip due to an "illness."

The 6-4, 215 pound Criner missed about a month of off-season workouts this past year dealing with "personal and family issues," according to Arizona head coach Mike Stoops. However, when he returned to the practice field, onlookers reported that he looked fit and every bit the playmaker he'd been in the past. Last season Criner enjoyed one of the greatest seasons in the school's history, catching 82 passes for 1,233 yards and 11 touchdowns and earning First Team All Pac-10 accolades.

He seemed ready to put all of the distractions behind him with a strong opening performance last week, as well, catching six passes for 151 yards and a touchdown against Northern Arizona. Criner's impressive stat line was enough to earn him a spot on my fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter's Risers list for the first week.

While Criner's play last week was impressive, the ambiguity of his malady and absence from this game will cause scouts to question exactly what is going on with the Arizona wideout.

There are plenty of rumors circulating as to why Criner mised so much off-season time. Whether this latest absence has anything to do with his previous departure from the program will almost certainly be a question scouts ask when they see him next -- whether that be on campus, at a post-season all-star game or at the Combine.



Posted on: September 6, 2011 8:41 am
 

WR Kearse, RB Bolden escape major injuries

The University of Washington and University of Mississippi football programs are breathing collective big sighs of relief after what appeared to be potentially serious leg injuries suffered by two of their stars was ruled to be relatively minor.

Huskies wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, a 2010 Second Team All Pac-10 selection and currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 8 rated wideout for the 2012 NFL Draft, was diagnosed with just a sprained ankle, Monday. Kearse's injury was feared to be much serious when he left the field Saturday in the Huskies' season-opening win against Eastern Washington. Kearse caught only one pass for eight yards in the opener before injuring his ankle.

Kearse apparently wanted to return to the field Saturday, but head coach Steve Sarkisian wouldn't let him. Kearse has already returned to the practice field in anticipation of the Huskies' next game, this Saturday against Hawaii.

The news wasn't quite as good for Ole Miss and their star running back Brandon Bolden, but still quite a relief considering how bad the injury first appeared.

According to Rebels' head coach Houston Nutt, Bolden suffered a "slight" fracture to his left ankle and is expected to miss a few weeks. He is in a walking boot, but could return to the field in September.

The 5-11, 221 pound Bolden is NFLDraftScout.com's No. 14 rated running back for 2012. He currently ranks second in the Ole Miss record books for most touchdowns scored (28), as well as most rushing touchdowns (23).

The Rebels clearly missed Bolden in their opener, losing at home to BYU 14-13. Bolden, voted the team's Most Outstanding Offensive Player at the conclusion of spring drills, only rushed four times for four times for 21 yards before going down with the injury.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com