Tag:Arizona State
Posted on: February 27, 2012 5:37 pm
 

Lackluster Combine could push Burfict to Day 3

Arizona State inside linebacker Vontaze Burfict entered the Combine needing to answer questions about his maturity and athleticism. 

He may have failed at both.

Burfict raised more than a few eye-brows when he blamed the ASU coaching staff (which was led by former two-time NFL head coach Dennis Erickson) for his inconsistent play in 2011 during his interview with the media Sunday.

He then proceeded to run slower than any other linebacker tested at the Combine in the 40-yard dash, registering a 5.09 second time that was beaten by 36 of the 48 defensive linemen including 346 pound Dontari Poe. A troubling lack of overall explosion was also shown with a 30" vertical jump, a number beaten by all but two linebackers in Indianapolis. Burfict was tied by Montana's Caleb McSurdy for second to last in the event, beating Southern California's Chris Galippo (29.5") by just half an inch. 

Characterized as an elite talent deserving of first round consideration by some in the media, Burfict is rated as the No. 88 prospect in the draft by NFLDraftScout.com and that may be generous.

Frankly, few teams may be willing to invest anything higher than a Day Three selection in the boom or bust linebacker considering his lackluster performance. 
Posted on: February 26, 2012 12:40 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 1:09 pm
 

Burfict says he's best LB; coaches "messed me up"

Every prospect with some skeletons in the closet is coached up by his agent to make a strong PR move at the Combine. Former Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins admitted the last time he smoked marijuana, for example, as part of an extremely forthright media session Sunday.

Arizona State LB Vontaze Burfict was laid back and very "Yes sir, no sir," although he wasn't exactly apologetic about his penchant for penalties on the field and issues with the Sun Devils coaching staff off it.

"I'm a soft-spoken guy, shy," he said. "But when I'm on the field I hate to lose and that aggression comes out."

Burfict's ASU's career was marred by a slew of personal foul penalties that hurt his draft stock. He also had an altercation in the locker room with a teammate - he said it began with an argument in a 7-on-7 drill - and he left school a year early after a very strained relationship with former ASU coach Dennis Erickson's staff.

Burfict is the No. 3-ranked inside linebacker by NFLDraftScout.com and the No. 88 prospect overall. He'll need to convince scouts that he is an impact player who can control his aggression to avoid slipping into the third or fourth round.

"I just know I'm the best linebacker in this draft," said Burfict, who added that he patterns his game after the Ravens' Ray Lewis and the Bills' Nick Barnett.

Burfict said he is down to 248 pounds after playing last season at 260, but he wasn't about to absolve the coaching staff for its role in his disappointing 2011 season.
 
"The coaches kind of messed me up. I didn’t know if I would start a game or be benched," he said. "It hurt me, but I tried to fight through it."

 
Posted on: February 24, 2012 6:57 pm
 

Osweiler joins QB list not throwing at Combine

Arizona State quarterback Brock Osweiler is joining Stanford's Andrew Luck, Baylor's Robert Griffin III and Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill as quarterbacks who will not be throwing in front of scouts at the 2012 Combine. 

The foursome make up the top quarterback prospects on NFLDraftScout.com's board, leaving a rather ho-hum group of passers left to throw to receivers during Sunday's throwng session. 

The NFL can't be thrilled with the fact that arguably the four most intriguing quarterback talents in the draft will not be throwing on the first day the league is opening up the Combine to fans.

The shorter-than-expected Osweiler told me Friday as he was walking out of Lucas Oil Stadium that he would not be throwing. He did not provide a reason and unfortunately, I was unable to ask further questions due to a pre-scheduled radio commitment. 

Osweiler surprised many with his decision to leave Arizona State after only one starting season. He was very impressive in 2011, however, setting the ASU record by completing 63.2% of his passes for 4,036 yards -- another school record. Osweiler threw twice as many touchdowns (26) and interceptions (13) in 2011 and though he left ASU following the team's bowl loss to Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl, he had a strong game personally, completing 30 of 47 passes for a career-high 397 yards and two touchdowns against one interception. 

Arizona State's Pro Day is currently scheduled for March 24.    
Posted on: February 24, 2012 11:18 am
 

Osweiler boosts cause by measuring "short"

Friday has been a good day for NFL teams in search of a quarterback in the 2012 draft. 

Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III answered concerns about his height by measuring in at nearly 6-2 (1/2) and 223 pounds. Moments later, Arizona State quarterback Brock Osweiler, currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 4 rated passer, measured in slightly shorter than he'd been listed by the Sun Devils. According to a league source, Osweiler measured in at 6-6 (7/8) and 242 pounds. He'd been listed by ASU at 6-8.

Typically, it is a bad thing for a player to measure in shorter than he was listed by the school but in the case of the lanky Osweiler, measuring in more than an inch shorter should help to ease concerns about his mobility. Osweiler shows surprisingly light feet and flexibility on tape for a quarterback of his size. There is no doubt that he's a unique athlete, considering the fact that he originally committed to Gonzaga University as a basketball player before electing to pursue football with the Sun Devils. 

Despite Osweiler's rocket arm and athleticism, there are plenty of doubters who question if he'll be able to escape the speed of NFL pass rushers. This is mostly due to the fact that few quarterbacks of his size have had any sustained success in the NFL.

The only 6-8 quarterback in recent league history was former Seattle Seahawks' first round pick Dan McGwire (1991), whose lack of mobility contributed to him being a notable bust. On the other hand, there are a handful of successful NFL quarterbacks who measured in at 6-6, including Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens. Former Arkansas standout Ryan Mallett, drafted last year in the third round by the New England Patriots, is also 6-6 and played well when given an opportunity in the preseason. 

My CBS colleague Pete Prisco makes the case that Osweiler should contend for first round consideration and perhaps leap Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill as the quarterback to follow Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. By measuring in as he did, Osweiler may have boosted his chances at doing both.    

Posted on: February 22, 2012 11:19 am
Edited on: February 22, 2012 11:34 am
 

Under radar underclassmen set to light up combine

With the NFL Scouting Combine kicking off Wednesday, nearly every where you look you'll find another analyst with a list of athletes who could put up astonishing workout numbers. 

Dane Brugler and I collaborated on a that identified ten players with questions to answer in Indianapolis. Our colleague, Bruce Feldman, identified ten "athletic freaks" who should put forth some of the best numbers of any players invited to the combine this year.    

The simple reality of the combine season is that only occasionally are scouts surprised by the athleticism shown by prospects. At least among the senior prospects, scouts have been looking at them all year long and know what to expect. Prospects who don't perform well despite having a month (or more) typically to prepare for the very specific drills tested serve as more of a red flag to most talent evaluators than a surprisingly strong workout usually helps a prospect. 

The story is very different for underclassmen, however. 

Teams haven't had nearly as much time to prepare for these athletes and considering that the 2012 draft will feature a record 65 underclassmen, no year in history has as much potential for under the radar underclassmen to emphatically put their names on the map than this one. 

Rather than wait to see which underclassmen will surprise, I thought I'd take a chance at predicting five I believe could light up the combine and see a significant boost to their draft stock, as a result. 

CB Cliff Harris, Oregon: Harris has been a bit of a forgotten man since multiple run-ins with authorities led to his ultimately being kicked off the team by head coach Chip Kelly. While he'll certainly need to answer scouts' questions, once Harris is allowed to show off his athletic gifts, I believe he'll quickly force NFL teams to recognize his upside. After playing at less than 170 pounds throughout much of his career with the Ducks, scouts will be just as interested in how Harris physically measures up as well as how fast he runs, etc.

WR Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech: Hill reminds me a lot of former Georgia Tech standout Demaryius Thomas for his size, straight-line speed and big play ability. NFLDraftScout.com is currently estimating Hill as being able to run the 40-yard dash in 4.57 seconds. I think he'll shave a tenth off that time, as well as impress in leaping drills. He's undeniably raw but don't be surprised if a strong showing in Indianapolis pushes Hill into the second round.

OT Bobby Massie, Mississippi:
Massie signed with Ole Miss as one of the elite prep talents in the country but partially due to the anonymous nature of the right tackle position and to Ole Miss' relative struggles, Massie isn't getting much attention in the mainstream media. I wouldn't be surprised, however, if he shows very impressive athleticism, balance and power in drills based on his tape. The "big three" junior tackles -- USC's Matt Kalil, Iowa's Riley Reiff and Stanford's Jonathan Martin -- get the bulk of the attention but with the position essentially wide open after them, don't be surprised if Massie gives Ohio State's Mike Adams a run for his money as the 4th tackle off the board.

QB Brock Osweiler, Arizona State: Osweiler is currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 4-rated quarterback and No. 45-rated prospect, overall, so he hardly qualifies as under the radar. However, considering the amount of hype being generated around Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and even Ryan Tannehill, the lanky Osweiler hasn't received the national attention his talent warrants. If Osweiler can calm concerns about his mobility at a estimated 6-7, 240 pounds, scouts won't be able to resist admiring his strong, accurate arm.

CB Josh Robinson, Central Florida: Robinson is one of three relatively "unknown" cornerbacks that I am significantly higher on than most (the other two are seniors Ryan Steed from Furman and Trumaine Johnson from Montana). Robinson's speed, agility and leaping ability jump off tape. If he works out as well as I think he will based on the athleticism I've seen on the field, scouts may have a hard time justifying Robinson not winding up a top 100 pick.        
Posted on: February 4, 2012 1:50 pm
 

Diamonds in the rough emerging in film study

Over the past few weeks, my fellow NFLDraftScout.com analyst Dane Brugler and I have been working around the clock to finish up the 300+ player profiles we'll be offering here and for Lindy's NFL Draft Magazine. 

While that time has left me unable to keep up the blog with the frequency I would have liked it has opened my eyes to a few lower rated prospects that haven't been receiving the attention their play warrants.

Here are the names of five prospects whose play forced me to re-evaluate where we've been ranking them... 

QB Brock Osweiler, Arizona State: I was disappointed to see Osweiler leave after his junior season as he remains a raw prospect. However, he possesses a strong, accurate arm and much better athleticism than most would reasonably expect given his huge frame (6-7, 240). There has been so much talk about which quarterback is likely to follow up Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin. For my money, that player has been (and remains) Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill. But in the race to follow Tannehill, Osweiler has the physical skill-set to lead ahead of next group, including Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden and Michigan State's Kirk Cousins, the two most impressive quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl. 

CB Ryan Steed, Furman: With a very strong week in Mobile for the Senior Bowl, Steed has been receiving a great deal of positive attention lately. I went back to his junior (as well as senior) film to make sure that the consistency I saw there matched up to his play against lesser competition. Steed is athletic, instinctive and possesses very good ball skills. If he runs in the 4.4s as I expect, he's not just a top 75 guy he might push the Alfonzo Dennard, Leonard Johnson and Stephon Gilmores of the world for a run as a late first round candidate. 

DL/LB Brett Roy, Nevada: Roy played out of position for the Wolfpack, lining up at defensive tackle despite weighing in the 260-270 pound area throughout his career. He has a toned, well-distributed build that isn't going to be able to handle adding the 30+ pounds of "good" weight most teams require at defensive tackle in the NFL. He does, however, show the instincts, lateral agility, vision and open field tackling skills to potentially make the conversion to linebacker for 3-4 clubs. Roy plays to the whistle. I watched him pursue Boise State RB Doug Martin 50+ yards downfield, demonstrating the never-say-die mentality that could help him a roster spot and time to develop.

TE Cory Harkey, UCLA: The traditional tight end is quickly being replaced by hybrid receivers but there are still spots available for blocking specialists. That is precisely what Harkey provides. Harkey caught just one pass as a senior, despite starting all 14 games for the Bruins. He shows the size (6-4, 262), strength, tenacity and technique teams are looking for as an in-line blocker, however, and was invited to the Combine despite his less than impressive catch total...

TE Andrew Szczerba, Penn State: The previous four players I mentioned were all among the players who made the initial invitation list to the Combine. Szczerba did not make this list, though after scouting him in person at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, I believe he has the size, soft hands and blocking skills to warrant a closer look. Szczerba lacks straight-line speed and after missing the entire 2010 season after undergoing back surgery, is a huge medical question mark. In my opinion, these questions, coupled with the 6-5, 265 pound Szczerba starting all 13 games for the Nittany Lions in 2011, simply provide all the more reason why teams should get a chance to look him over in Indianapolis.  
         

Posted on: January 24, 2012 1:45 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 1:58 pm
 

DTs Reyes, Martin proving disruptive at Sr Bowl

MOBILE, Ala. -- With Penn State's Devon Still -- NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior defensive tackle -- out of the Senior Bowl due to a sprained toe scouts were curious to see which of the remaining interior defensive linemen would be able to step up their play. 

Based on Tuesday's North practice, Connecticut's Kendall Reyes and Michigan's Mike Martin are taking full advantage of the opportunity.    

Physically speaking, the two couldn't be much different. Reyes, who measured in just a shade under 6-4 and 300 pounds lined up at the three-technnique and even was split out as a five-technique defensive end. His burst off the snap and quick hands made him a tough draw for even the most athletic and experienced of the North offensive linemen. Wisconsin's Kevin Zeitler, arguably the nation's top pure guard among seniors, struggled handling Reyes one on one during drills and during the scrimmages throughout practice, as well. 

Martin, on the other hand, is a virtual bowling ball of muscle at a rocked 6-1, 307 pounds. He was able to consistently knock centers back onto their heels with his leg drive and surprisingly long arms. Though he nearly three inches shorter than Reyes, Martin's arms (31 3/4) are less than an inch shorter than Reyes' (32 5/8), who has the longest arms of any of the North's defensive tackles. Martin's long arms allow him to keep his opponents from grasping a firm hold of him. With good lateral agility, power and a relentless motor, Martin got the better of Ohio State's Michael Brewster, a possible top 100 pick, on numerous occasions. Not surprisingly, Martin was even more effective when locking horns with Zeitler (who saw some time at center) and Wake Forest's Joe Looney, who was an injury replacement Tuesday for Arizona State's Garth Gerhart.     

The duo stood in strong contrast to Washington's Alameda Ta'amu and Boise State's Billy Winn, each of whom have been disappointments, thus far. Ta'amu is a powerful run plugger sure to intrigue 3-4 teams looking for a nose guard. His power and mass (6-2, 341) makes him a classic block-eater but his lack of any type of pass rush ability is painfully apparent during drills. If his opponent has the anchor and core flexibility to handle Ta'amu's bull rush, the big Husky can offer little else. Winn, who was used inside and out while with the Broncos, may be proving himself to be a 'tweener with a lackluster performance, thus far. He hasn't shown the agility to slip blocks nor the power to push the pocket.     
Posted on: January 3, 2012 4:03 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:40 pm
 

Updated: ASU ILB Burfict declares early for NFL

As expected the past few days have seen a lot of underclassmen news. NFL scouts have to be pleased that virtually every position on the football field has been enhanced with junior talent.

According to multiple reports, Mississippi State defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, Rutgers wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus, North Carolina State outside linebacker Terrell Manning and a trio from Stanford -- quarterback Andrew Luck, offensive tackle Jonathan Martin and offensive guard David DeCastro have all announced their intentions for the 2011 season to be their last as amatuers.

Add to that list Arizona State inside linebacker Vontaze Burfict -- at least according to his facebook page.

The 6-3, 250 pound Burfict thanked fans and teammates for the memories he's had at Arizona State and wrote that he'll be "expanding [his] talents to the next level."

Burfict erased any doubt about his intentions Tuesday afternoon in releasing a prepared statement. The statement reads:

“After thoughtful and in-depth discussions with my family, I have decided to skip my final year of eligibility at Arizona State University and make myself eligible for the 2012 NFL Draft.  I would like to thank every one of my coaches and professors at ASU.  I plan to return to ASU and get my degree and I will always support the university and its football program.  I cherish the memories and great times I had as a student-athlete at ASU and I hope to make the university proud of my future accomplishments on and off the field.”

Outgoing head coach Dennis Erickson characterized Burfict's junior season as "average." There may not be a more accurate way of putting it.  

While Burfict certainly has the hype and talent to warrant leaving school early, quite frankly he's been a disappointment over the past two seasons.

For a player nationally known as an intimidator, Burfict only registered 69 tackles (including seven for loss) in 2011, along with one interception and one fumble recovery. He was not recognized by Pac-12 coaches as a first, second or even honorable mention player following his junior season. This is quite a drop from Burfict's 2010 season in which he led the team with 90 tackles and earned Second Team accolades. It is an even bigger disappointment considering that in 2009 he was named the Pac-10 Defensive Freshman of the Year.

Burfict is explosive. He can rock ball-carriers in the hole, is particularly adept rushing the quarterback and plays with a ferocity that could quickly make him a fan favorite. As you'll read in our official NFLDraftScout.com profile for Burfict, there are plenty of aspects about his game that translate well to the next level.

However, he has been prone to immature behavior that has cost his team penalties at critical stages of games throughout his career. He's not as instinctive as his reputation might lead you to believe, has a soft build and hasn't shown any real improvement since first stepping onto the ASU campus.

As such, he's currently ranked third in our rankings of inside linebacker prospects.

Quite frankly, I think he's as overrated a prospect as there is in the country. He may prove me wrong. He certainly has talent to do so. However, Burfict won't soon get added to my ranking of the top 32 prospects in the draft. Burfict, in fact, wouldn't make my list if the Big Board contained twice as many players.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com