Tag:Ben Ijalana
Posted on: April 19, 2011 6:05 pm
 

Reuter/Shehadi discuss Draft's Risers/Fallers

My fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter and CBSSports.com's Lauren Shehadi discussed the latest Risers and Fallers in preparation of next week's NFL Draft.

Rather than waste time by explaining what was said, I've just embedded the video for you to watch.



Posted on: April 15, 2011 1:22 pm
 

OT, RB depth underrated strengths of 2011 class

For most fans of the NFL draft, it is simply human nature to focus on the best players. These, of course, are the headliners that typically are drafted highest and thus, are expected to make the most immediate and lasting impact in the NFL.

Scouts, however, are very well aware of the fact that the big names will only constitute the first 32 or 64 picks of the 254 players selected this year.

As such, they're dedicating much of their attention to the lower rated prospects... and what they've been discovering is the unusual depth at offensive tackle and running back in this year's class.

By now, everyone knows the elite offensive tackles. Anthony Castonzo, Tyron Smith, Gabe Carimi, Derek Sherrod and Nate Solder are all expected to be first round picks . The depth behind the "fabulous five" is worth mentioning too.

Teams are quite high on the toughness and consistency of Alabama's James Carpenter and Miami's Orlando Franklin. With a little fine-tuning, TCU's Marcus Cannon, Indiana's James Brewer and Florida's Marcus Gilbert could surprise. Though level of competition questions abound, no one dominated their opponents as consistently as Villanova's Ben Ijalana throughout his respective career. There are a lot of teams very high on the long-term upside of lower level FBS prospects Derek Newton (Arkansas State), Jah Reid (Central Florida), Willie Smith (East Carolina), Byron Stingily (Louisville) and Byron Bell (New Mexico).

Running backs offer similar depth.

I highlighted three of the "sleeper" running backs that I really like in this video with CBS' Lauren Shehadi. Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers, Eastern Washington's Taiwan Jones and Hawaii's Alex Green are only a few of the backs not getting a lot of media attention that I feel will ultimately surprise. I'm also particularly high on Clemson's Jamie Harper, Louisville's Bilal Powell and Miami's Graig Cooper, though NFLDraftScout.com currently rates all three as Day three picks or, in the case of Cooper, even a potentially undrafted player.

Last year we saw two undrafted free agents lead all rookie running backs in rushing yards. Tampa found their star in former Oregon Duck LaGarrette Blount and New Orleans found a true diamond in the rough in former Tiffin Dragon (and Washington State Cougar) Chris Ivory. The three running backs drafted in the first round -- CJ Spiller (Buffalo), Ryan Matthews (San Diego) and Jahvid Best (Detroit) were all relative disappointments as rookies.

Considering the underrated talent of this year's RB class, don't be surprised if a Day Three find winds up competing for the league's rookie rushing title again in 2011...
Posted on: December 17, 2010 7:01 pm
 

Legit NFL talent in tonight's FCS playoff game

Need to scratch that football itch?

There is an exciting game tonight in the FCS -- where they let playoffs determine the national champion.

Villanova and Eastern Washington meet tonight for the chance to play in the championship game. It should be an exciting game. If you haven't seen a game from Roos Field in Cheney Washington, you should tune in for a moment just to see the field. It's red.

NFL scouts will be tuning in for a different reason - the fact that 'Nova and Eastern each boast legitimate pro talent.

The greater talent lies with the defending champion Wildcats. Left tackle Ben Ijalana is the best of the small school linemen and ranks among the top ten senior tackles in all of college football, in my opinion. His quick feet, good balance and long arms could keep him outside in the pros, though some teams project him inside as a guard.

The most exciting prospect in the game is Villanova's do-everything weapon Matt Szczur . By do-everything, I mean take a peek at what he's done in the two playoff games so far: 25 rushes for 172 yards (6.8 yards per carry) and three touchdowns, 16 receptions for 153 yards and one score and 2-of-2 passing for 58 yards and another touchdown. Szczur earned a spot as Diamond in the Rough -- the most impressive small school player of the week -- earlier in the year. Oh, and he's a terrific baseball player too. So good, in fact, that the Chicago Cubs drafted him last year in the fifth round. He hit safely in 21 consecutive games over the summer for their minor league teams.

Ijalana and Szczur have each been invited to the Senior Bowl and are viewed as possible Top 100 prospects in the 2011 draft.

Eastern has a lot of talent, as well, but was dealt a blow last weekend. Their junior star running back Taiwan Jones broke his foot in the fourth quarter of Eastern's win over North Dakota State. Jones was spectacular in that contest, rushing for 230 yards and a touchdown before breaking the fifth metatarsal of his left foot. Jones, an All-American, rushed for 1,742 yards and 14 scores this year. There was some buzz in the scouting community that he was looking into leaving Eastern early for the NFL.

The Eagles feature another intriguing junior prospect in defensive tackle Renard Williams . The 6-2, 300 pounder posted 43 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks on the season. I love to see interior defenders that know how to knock the ball free and Williams did precisely that this season, forcing a team-high four fumbles on the year. Like Jones, Williams had a spectacular game against North Dakota State, registering three tackles for loss, including two sacks. Williams also forced a fumble and intercepted a pass.

The defensive player you'll hear the most about is linebacker J.C. Sherritt . Sherritt earned the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year award this season because, quite frankly, he's a tackling machine. Sherritt is Eastern's all-time leader 406 stops, including 15 last week. Scouts don't believe he has the size (5-10, 220) to remain at mike linebacker in the NFL and some teams are projecting him to strong safety. Sherritt does not appear to have the agility or speed to make this conversion in today's pass-happy NFL. Sherritt does play with spectacular instincts, however, and is fun to watch. Some team will give him a well-deserved chance to beat the odds.

This game will be played tonight (Friday) at 8:00 pm EST and televised by ESPN2.

They may be televising the game, but you should know by now where to get the best analysis.

As always, remember that for complete draft coverage, be sure to check out NFLDraftScout.com or simply click here.




Posted on: December 11, 2010 10:09 pm
 

Underrated prospects prove worth in FCS playoffs

On a day when most of the college football world was focused on four players dressed in suits in New York City, there was some exciting on-field action and legitimate pro prospects also on display.

Reviewing all of the quarterfinal FCS games this weekend, there were several standout performances.

The most impressive, not surprisingly, came from Villanova wide receiver and Wildcat quarterback Matt Szczur. Szczur, my reigning Diamond in the Rough as the best small school prospect of the week, scored five touchdowns -- rushing for three, passing for one and catching -- in the Wildcats' 42-24 victory over No. 1 ranked Appalachian State.

Szczur, who battled a high ankle sprain for much of this season, clearly has regained his explosiveness, impressing not only with his agility and speed, but with improved route-running from just last week (when he accounted for 196 yards as a runner and receiver and scored a touchdown against Stephen F. Austin.

Draft Slant fans know precisely how high I am on Nova's "other" draft prospect, left tackle Ben Ijalana. His quick feet and good balance again stood out against the Mountaineers.

Szczur and Ijalana have already been invited to the Senior Bowl, the most prestigious all-star game in college football and one usually reserved for FBS prospects.

Friday night, scouts got their first nationally televised opportunity to see Delaware quarterback Pat Devlin, who also led his team to a victory.

Devlin wasn't flashy, but the 6-3, 220 pound Penn State transfer shook off a slow start to complete 27 of 38 passes for 261 yards and the Blue Hens' two touchdowns in their 16-3 victory over New Hampshire. Scouts like Devlin's mobility, short to intermediate accuracy and poise in the pocket. Delaware's spread offense is quarterback-friendly and rarely asks Devlin to make deep throws, but he showed better zip than he's often been given credit for. He, too, could wind up with an invitation to the Senior Bowl.

The most impressive player on the field in Eastern Washington's thrilling overtime victory over North Dakota State was the Eagles' junior running back Taiwan Jones.

Generously listed by Eastern at 6-1, 200 pounds, Jones looks a bit smaller, but scouts won't quibble about his size after this contest. The junior star rushed for a career-high 230 yards demonstrating a degree of explosiveness that simply is rarely seen at the FCS level. Perhaps most impressive is that Jones enjoyed his strong game in snowy conditions, which limited his effectiveness late in this contest. His lean build is similar to that of NFL star Chris Johnson and Oregon's Heisman finalist LaMichael James.

There has been some talk in the scouting community that Jones will consider leaving the Eagles early for the NFL. Considering the weak senior class of running backs, he could surprise as a middle round pick based on his big play ability.

Without an all-star game, however, to test his game against the FBS' bigger, stronger athletes level of competition questions will dog him, likely resulting in low enough grade from the NFL Advisory Committee to send him back to Eastern for another season.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com