Tag:Brandon Burton
Posted on: March 14, 2011 2:08 pm
 

Rising Above the Competition

After the 2006 draft, I spoke with a college scouting director about why receiver Marques Colston fell to the seventh round of that year's event. Colston did have surgeries on both shoulders, but had a great week at the East-West Shrine Game and worked out very well at the Combine--I figured he would be a fourth or fifth round selection.

The scout's answer was quite surprising to me: "my GM said, 'I'm not taking a wideout from Hofstra." 

That sort of thinking is wasn't necessarily prevalent throughout the league at that time, and certainly his two 1,000-yard seasons the past two years has made teams more willing to overlook a player's level of competition if they see enough raw talent to select them high in the draft.

As I've often said (and heard said by others): "either a guy can play or he can't play."

Despite some administrators' biases, the first round every draft since at least 1976 included a player from outside the traditional Bowl Championship Series conferences (using current alignments, and including Notre Dame).

Since 2000, 2.6 players from non-BCS schools (including all lower divisions) have snuck into the first, including four in last year's draft: RB Ryan Matthews (Fresno State, #12, San Diego), OG Mike Iupati (Idaho, #17, San Francisco), CB Kyle Wilson (Boise State, #29, New York Jets), DE/OLB Jerry Hughes (TCU, #31, Indianapolis).

This year, however, may more closely resemble the 2009 class, where only one player from the "have-nots" of college football made it into the initial stanza (DE/OLB Larry English, Northern Illinois, #16, San Diego). Even in that year, however, six non-BCS conference prospects were selected in the second round: very close to the 6.3 average for 2001-2010 period.

As for players from outside the Football Bowl Subdivison like Colston, most drafts over the last decade did not include a first-round pick from "small schools" but one or two are picked in the second round.

The addition of TCU to the Big East and Utah to the Pac-10 over the next couple of seasons will change the regularity of intrusion by talented players from lesser-hyped programs in the top two rounds (8.9 average from 2001-2001)--but for now, expect this year's group to hover around the recent average.

I'll be watching for the following prospects to be picked early:

Possible first/easy second round picks:

1. DL Muhammad Wilkerson (Temple)
The junior played well for the Owls, then excelled at the Combine (4.96 40, 27 reps, 4.59 short shuttle). Teams looking for a five-technique in the late first could snap him up.

2. OL Marcus Cannon (TCU)
Cannon could be the surprise first round pick if power-blocking teams like Pittsburgh or Philadelphia feel strongly he fits their system as a guard or tackle--and don't want to wait until the late second to bring him in.

Solid second round picks:

3. WR Jerrel Jernigan (Troy)
Though he measured in a shade under 5-9, 185 pounds, Jernigan's quickness, toughness over the middle, and return ability give him an excellent shot to be a second-round pick.

4. CB Davon House (New Mexico State)
Teamed with Kyle Wilson on the 2009 All-WAC first team, and was named all-conference again in 2010. Though he isn't quite the player Wilson was in college, measuring over six-foot, 200-pounds with a 4.44 40 cemented his spot in the second round.

5. OL Ben Ijalana (Villanova)
If Ijalana were not dealing with a sports hernia, people would be discussing the versatile player (who is more athletic than former UMass Vlad Ducasse, last year's second round pick of the Jets) more frequently as a top 64 selection.

6. DL Kenrick Ellis (Hampton)
Another massive athlete with very good athleticism, Ellis' past may prevent him from going as high as his talent indicates--but 3-4 teams looking for an athletic 340-pounder who could play on the nose and at five-technique should jump on his talent in the mid-to-late second.

Possible second rounders:

7. QB Andy Dalton (TCU)
Dalton's excellent win-loss record and solid character could earn him a spot in the second round, but his lack of size and arm strength could make him available to teams early in the third--not unlike Colt McCoy last spring.

8. CB Brandon Burton (Utah)
Burton did not rip up the Combine, but he has enough size, speed, change of direction ability and toughness to be selected by New England, Pittsburgh or Chicago late in the second.

9. OLB Dontay Moch (Nevada)
We all knew Moch's 4.4 speed would show itself at the Combine, but he will take time to translate to the linebacker position at the next level. Unless Raiders owner Al Davis loves Moch's speed enough to pick him early in the second or the Colts, Seahawks, or another team fine with a 6-1 3/8, 248-pound rush end takes a shot late in the second, teams may wait until the third to see if he can develop.

Could be outside looking in:

10. WR Titus Young (Boise State)
Since the player to which Young is most often compared, Philadelphia Eagles star receiver DeSean Jackson, fell into the second round due to off-field concerns, Young's own issues and slightly-less explosive game could land him in the third.

11. QB Colin Kaepernick (Nevada)
Athleticism and arm strength aren't questions; longish pitcher delivery, need to clean up footwork, and thin frame are. He could sneak into the second round because of the need for QBs, but often fans and media overestimate teams' willingness to use a valued second on a player not likely to be ready to contribute for two or three years.

12. OLB Chris Carter (Fresno State)
His exceptional Combine (4.58 40, 27 reps, 6.88 3-cone) and production for the Bulldogs could make him a late second-round pick. Carter's tape does not portend great consistency, however, so a top 64 slot is no sure thing.

--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Chad Reuter

Posted on: December 23, 2010 1:11 pm
 

Bowl standouts so far

We've only just begun the bowl season and yet already there have been several noteworthy performances from NFL hopefuls. Here is a quick run down of five prospects who have caught my eye with their impressive play.

OT Matt Reynolds, BYU --
The junior left tackle may lack the elite athleticism to remain at the blindside position in the NFL, but his balance, lateral agility and strong upper body impressed me Saturday in the Cougars' win over UTEP. At 6-6 and 322 pounds I love his size and toughness as a right tackle and feel he projects just as well inside at guard. That versatility and Reynolds' durability (started all 39 games of his career) should make him a top 50 pick should he elect to leave early, as expected. Reynolds is expected to leave BYU early as he, like many BYU players, is an older prospect having served two years on a LDS mission.

RB Chad Spann, Northern Illinois --
Fresno State entered the Humanitarian Bowl with all the hype, but it was Spann and the Huskies who dominated this contest. Spann, 5-08 and a 198 pounds, showcased better power than you'd expect for a back of his size. His vision, elusiveness and acceleration are, of course, the characteristics that scouts expect from him. The combination resulted in 95 yards (a 6.3 yard average) and two touchdowns against an athletic Bulldog defense.

CB Johnny Patrick, Louisville --
I've been impressed enough with Patrick this season that I've highlighted him on the blog on numerous occasions , including earlier this week . After reviewing Patrick's performance against Southern Miss in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl again, I can't help but mention him again as he's been as good as any corner I've scouted in this early bowl season. Patrick boasts quick feet, loose hips, physicality against the run and a swagger about him that I feel will help him translate his game quickly to the NFL. He did surrender an early touchdown against Southern Miss (good coverage, but got turned around on a jump ball and was late in locating the very accurate pass), but showed off his competitiveness with a blocked kick, forced fumble, tackle for loss and pass broken up.

WR Austin Pettis, Boise State -- Matched up for much of the night against Utah's talented corner Brandon Burton, Pettis showed off his combination of size, route-running and reliable hands to catch 12 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. Pettis should have had another score, but had the ball stripped away from him at the one yard line by Utah safety Brian Blechen. Burton provided tough, physical coverage on several of Pettis' receptions but the Boise star's 6-3, 201 pound frame and strong hands helped him snatch the ball out of the air and protect it from Burton's attempts to knock it free.

QB Pat Devlin, Delaware
-- Ok, so Devlin's Blue Hens aren't part of the FBS and the bowl system, but I've been impressed enough with the former Penn State quarterback's mobility inside the pocket, poise under pressure and accuracy to all levels that he deserves mentioning here. I've spoken to several teams regarding Devlin and there are a number of clubs who feel he could jump ahead of Florida State's Christian Ponder as the No. 2 senior quarterback (behind Washington's Jake Locker) if he is as impressive in a senior all-star game capacity.

I mention Devlin for another reason. Unlike the others on this list, you have one more opportunity to see Devlin play for Delaware. He and his teammates take on No. 1 rated Eastern Washington tomorrow for the FCS Championship.

Remember that for complete draft coverage, be sure to check out NFLDraftScout.com or simply click here. 
Posted on: November 12, 2010 8:59 pm
 

Five Prospects I'll Be Scouting Closely Saturday

Each week I list the five prospects that I'll be focusing on. 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.

As a side note, I initially planned to include Auburn junior quarterback Cam Newton (heard of him?) on this list. With speculation Friday evening that he may not play, I elected to leave him off this list of five. Needless to say, he's among the prospects I'll be scouting closely if he plays Saturday (and any future games).

Those interested in scouting "alongside" me can follow me on Twitter @RobRang.

Without any further adieu, here are the five prospects, as well as the cable provider and time you can expect to see them.
TE Luke Stocker, Tennessee: Entering the season the Volunteer receiver I expected to be highlighting so far this season would have been Stocker and not wideout Denarius Moore. The Vols simply haven't passed the ball enough to Stocker (24 grabs for 264 yards and one TD) for him to post the type of numbers that generate much media attention, but at 6-5, 253 pounds and possessing good hands and feet for the position, he remains one of the better senior prospects at tight end. There are several highly touted, but so far disappointing prospects on the Tennessee and Ole Miss rosters. I'm looking forward to this game to see which of them (if any) can shake out of their season-long funk. This game begins at 12:00 pm EST and will be televised by CBS.

QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri*: Though he's only a junior, scouts are starting to take a long look at Gabbert and the rest of the underclassmen quarterbacks simply because this year's seniors at the position have been so underwhelming. Gabbert has the production (2,193 passing yards, 12 TDs-3 INTs), size (6-5, 240), and efficient delivery that scouts are looking for in a high-ranking prospect, but after a hot start to the season, he (and Missouri, as a whole) has struggled over the past two weeks, suffering losses to Nebraska and Texas Tech. Scouts want to see if Gabbert can bounce back this week against a quality opponent in Kansas State. This game begins at 12:30 pm EST and will be regionally televised by the FOX Sports Network.  

CB Brandon Burton, Utah*: Burton, only a junior, is considered by some scouts to be the best draft-eligible cornerback in the west. While he's played very well throughout his career with the Utes, Burton was beaten for a 93-yard touchdown reception by wideout Josh Boyce last week in the humbling 47-7 home loss to TCU. Scouts like Burton's size (6'0, 185) and speed (estimated at 4.45), but want to see if he can come back with a strong performance this week. That will be tougher than it sounds, as at times he'll match up with Notre Dame's Michael Floyd, himself highly touted NFL prospect (though also only a junior) who at 6-3, 225 pounds is a much different assignment than Boyce and the rest of the Horned Frog receivers were last week. This game begins at 2:30 pm EST and will be televised by NBC.

OT Danny Watkins, Baylor: Quarterback Robert Griffin III and even defensive tackle Phil Taylor have each received their share of media attention as a result of Baylor's 7-3 season. It was Watkins, however, whose draft stock has risen the most this season. Draft Slant readers know full well how high Watkins' stock has risen as I wrote about his performance in last week's game against Oklahoma State. This week, however, Watkins will be facing an entirely different opponent in Texas A&M pass rusher Von Miller, my reigning Prospect of the Week. Watkins' quick feet and use of leverage have been impressive this season, but he'll be sorely tested by Miller. This game begins at 7:00 pm EST and will be regionally televised by Fox Sports Network.

DE Cameron Jordan, California: Those surprised with how high former Cal Golden Bear Tyson Alualu was drafted last year may want to start paying attention to Jordan, who, himself is earning top 20 grades from some talent evaluators. Jordan won't beat No. 1 Oregon on his own, but he and his Cal teammates will present the Ducks with a different look, considering that they are one of the few teams that operates out of a base 3-4 defense. Jordan has always been productive for Cal, earning all-conference recognition after each of the past two seasons. He enjoyed arguably his best game to date last week against an overmatched Washington State club, totaling 12 tackles, including four tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. Scouts love his size (6-4, 285), versatility and blood lines. His father, Steve Jordan, played in six Pro Bowls in 13 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. This game begins at 7:30 pm EST and will be televised by Versus.


Posted on: November 5, 2010 9:59 pm
 

Five Prospects I'll Be Focusing On Saturday

Each week I list the five prospects that I'll be focusing on. 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.

Those interested in scouting "alongside" me can follow me on Twitter @RobRang.

Without any further adieu, here are the five prospects, as well as the cable provider and time you can expect to see them.

WR Julio Jones, Alabama : For some, the one on one showdown between Randy Moss and Darrelle Revis was the best wide receiver-cornerback battle of the year. For me, this is the matchup I've been waiting to see. Jones and Peterson each played well in their matchup last year. Jones may have had the more impressive statistics (four catches for 102 yards, including a 73 yard touchdown), but none of these grabs came against Peterson, who finished with three tackles and three passes broken up despite battling cramps. The fact that I have Peterson going No. 2 overall in my first round mock draft (higher than any cornerback has ever gone) gives you an ideal as to how high the LSU corner ranks on my board. That said, I'm higher than most on Jones, as well. He isn't as polished as some of the other highly touted wideouts due to Alabama's reliance on the running game, but I've seen improvements in his route-running this season and I love the size, strength and toughness he brings to the position. The toughest adjustment most collegiate receivers have to make when going to the NFL is handling the added physicality of the pro grame. I characterized Hakeen Nicks (over the more highly touted Crabtree, Maclin, Harvin, etc.) as the rookie wideout likeliest to have the greatest immediate impact two years ago due to his physicality and body control. I see a similiar skill set in Jones. This game will be televised by CBS and will begin at 3:30 pm EST.

QB Andy Dalton, TCU
: The fact that No. 3 TCU is heading to No. 5 Utah for a game with legitimate BCS implications and yet only minimal television coverage is precisely what is wrong with the inequity of today's college football system. If this were a showdown among two undefeated teams in an automatic qualifier conference like the Big Ten, ACC or SEC this would unquestionably be the biggest game of the weekend. Instead, only those of us fortunate enough to have CBS' College Sports channel will get to watch what could be an instant classic. TCU has based a great deal of their success over the years on their defense, but if they are to win this game, Dalton will have to play well. He didn't last year in the Fiesta Bowl loss to Boise State. This game is particularly interesting for Dalton due to the fact that his favorite receiver, senior Jeremy Kerley will often be covered by Utah junior cornerback Brandon Burton -- one of the best, if underrated young corners in the country. This game will be televised by CBS College Sports and will begin at 3:30 pm EST.

SS Shiloh Keo, Idaho: Some questioned our sanity when NFLDraftScout.com rated former Vandal guard Mike Iupati as a potential first round pick before last season even began. Their safety, Shiloh Keo also popped off the tape and began this year among our top five prospects at the position. Like many of you, I haven't seen much of Keo thus far this season. That is because I've been waiting to see him in coverage against a dynamic offense. With Colin Kaepernick and the No. 3 nationally rated Nevada offense coming to town, Keo will have the opportunity to answer questions about his coverage skills. This game won't get mentioned by many, but in terms of a player's stock, few games will be bigger than this one is for Keo. This game will be televised by televised by ESPN and will begin at 5:00 pm EST.

OLB Akeem Ayers, UCLA:
At 6-4, 254 pounds, Bruins' junior outside linebacker Akeem Ayers is as gifted an outside linebacker prospect as there is in the entire country. The Bruins have struggled with consistency this season, but Ayers has been one of the few bright spots. His numbers (45 tackles, seven tackles for loss, three sacks) aren't eye-popping, but scouts love his versatility and upside. I'm very interested to see how Ayers performs against Oregon State this weekend. The Beavers may lack the big play offense of their arch rival Ducks, but their pro-style offense and the excellent running of junior back Jacquizz Rodgers will be a truer test of Ayers' talents. This game will be televised by Versus and will begin at 7:00 pm EST.

QB Nick Foles, Arizona: Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck will get all of the hype leading up to this contest and for good reason. However, I've spoken to NFL scouts that are very intrigued with Foles, as well. Foles, a junior, was leading the Pac-10 in passing yards per game before sustaining the knee injury that kept him sidelined for the past two weeks. Like most quarterbacks operating out of the spread offense, most of Foles' passes are in the short to intermediate range -- precisely the areas that Stanford's 3-4 defense is designed to counter. If Arizona is going to beat Stanford this week, Foles will have to play well and he may have to attack downfield. How he performs in that test may determine if he is a legitimate top 50 prospect or just another product of the spread offense. This game will be televised by ABC/ESPN and will begin at 8:00 pm EST.


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