Posted on: September 22, 2011 11:27 am
The Cincinnati Bearcats host the North Carolina State Wolfpack tonight (8 pm ET) in an interesting Big East/ACC showdown.
There are a number of pro prospects worth watching in this game, but the two prospects scouts will be paying the most attention to will actually be squaring off one on one on many occasions, making the matchup all the more intriguing.
The hosting Bearcats boast one of the top -- if relatively anonymous -- running backs in the country in senior Isaiah Pead. Pead, a 5-10, 200 pound speedster led the Big East in rushing last season (1,029 yards) despite missing two games with a bruised knee. Don't think he's just a back capable of chewing up yards against "weak" competition. The Tennessee Volunteers found out just how explosive Pead is just a few weeks ago when he ran for 155 yards and a touchdown against them. Pead only rushed the ball 14 times, meaning he averaged 11.1 yards per attempt on the road against a quality SEC defense. Pead currently ranks as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 2 senior running back prospect and our No. 9 running back potentially available for the 2012 draft.
Pead will be facing one of the active linebackers in the country in NC State's Audie Cole, however. The 6-4, 239 pound Cole played strongside linebacker throughout most of his career, but was moved inside this season to help make up for the loss of Nate Irving -- a third round pick by the Denver Broncos (No. 67 overall).
Cole is athletic and generally recognizes the action quickly. This can lead to a lot of splashy plays at or near the line of scrimmage. Last season, however, he was prone to over-running the play, leaving cutback angles to backs with good vision and burst. He also had a tendency to hit ball-carriers, rather than wrapping them up securely. This is precisely why Pead could spring a big play or two on the Wolfpack.
Not surprisingly, Cole leads NC State in tackles for loss (5.5 in only three games) and is a close second to safety Earl Wolfe in total tackles (Wolfe has 28, Cole has 22). Cole has also racked up 1.5 sacks and has already forced and recovered a fumble this season. The versatile Cole currently is graded as an inside linebacker by NFLDraftScout.com and rates as our No. 4 senior at the position.
Looking for others to watch in this game? NC State has an interesting senior tight end in George Bryan. The 6-5, 265 pounder earned First Team All-ACC honors after each of the past two seasons. Scouts question whether he has enough athleticism, however, to enjoy similar success in today's pass-heavy NFL.
This game will be televised by ESPN.
Posted on: September 16, 2010 5:59 pm
Edited on: September 16, 2010 9:12 pm
There are several noteworthy senior prospects who will be on the field tonight when Cincinnati travels to North Carolina State.
Posted on: August 16, 2010 12:17 pm
There are times when I really do try to not mention a certain quarterback wearing the No. 15.
In explaining the hoopla to a few family members who don't care about football I realized that unless Tim Tebow truly revolutionizes the game, he'll never be able to match his hype. John Elway, who was the best all-around quarterback I've ever seen, couldn't live up to the expectations some are placing on Tebow.
And let's be clear, Tim Tebow is no John Elway.
Like many of you, I've intently watched Tebow for the past four years light up NCAA defenses with a brand of leadership, toughness, power running and passing just consistent enough to keep opponents in check.
I'm kicking myself this morning for not writing a Tebow Preview post yesterday prior to Denver's preseason game at Cincinnati.
Sure, it is easy to sound like a know-it-all after the fact, but was Tebow's up and down premiere really that surprising?
You tell me -- what wasn't predictable about last night?
And I guess that mixed reaction is the most predictable of all.
Posted on: December 5, 2009 12:16 pm
Senior quarterbacks Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy earn most of the media attention and there are NFL scouts I've spoken to who believe one of them will be the first senior passer selected in the 2010 draft.
There are, however, a signficant number of scouts who feel Cincinnati's Tony Pike is the best senior prospect at the position.
To warrant this praise, he'll need to be impressive today in the snow, on the road at Pitt.
The undefeated Bearcats have not faced a defensive line like this one before. Pittsburgh's ability to rush four and still generate pressure on the pocket will force Pike to read the coverage quicker, meaning he may not be able to take as much advantage of deep threat Mardy Gilyard. Pike will need to show great poise for the favored Bearcats to pull out this win.
Posted on: October 16, 2009 3:02 pm
In my preview to last night's South Florida-Cincinnati game I questioned Pike's downfield accuracy and whether he'd be successful against an athletic and experienced Bulls' secondary.
For the most part, South Florida held Pike in check. They even knocked him out of the game with a sprained left wrist in the 3rd quarter -- an injury that is expected to keep Pike out next week against Louisville and perhaps considerably longer.
Before the injury, however, Pike completed three legitimate NFL passes that were certain to impress NFL scouts.
The first one came on Pike's first touchdown. On the first play after a momentum-swinging interception, Pike fired a quick out to wideout Armon Binns for a three yard touchdown. The pass, thrown with good velocity, was perfectly placed, forcing Binns to make a finger-tip reception as he ran out of the side of the endzone, away from the defender.
Later in the second quarter Pike fired another impressive touchdown pass to Binns -- this time on a short drag route over the middle for an 8-yard score. Again, the pass was thrown with good velocity and perfect accuracy. Binns had to make a finger-tip catch to score on the play and he did so.
The most impressive play of the night for Pike, however, came in between these two plays and at the opposite end of the field. Pike, in fact, released the ball only a few yards out of his own endzone. One play after being sacked by George Selvie, Pike, showing surprising mobility for a 6-6 quarterback, stepped out of another Selvie tackle, rolled left, squared his shoulders and fired a 25-yard strike to DJ Woods on the far (left) sideline. The pass required legitimate NFL arm-strong and very good accuracy. It was a great catch for Woods, as well, as he secured the ball and dragged both feet to beat double-coverage by the Bulls.
According to the announcers of this contest there were upwards of 25 NFL scouts, including at least 5 personnel directors at this game. While much of Pike's production throughout this game came on the dink and dunk receiver screens and outlet tosses to backs and tight ends, these three throws left scouts in attendance impressed.
Posted on: October 15, 2009 6:31 pm
There is a lot more riding on tonight's Big East showdown between Cincinnati and South Florida than the lead in the conference standings.
National title implications, as well as the draft stock of several prospects are on the line.
Both teams enter the game with sparkling 5-0 records, thought they've accomplished their undefeated seasons in different ways. Cincinnati has been led by the high-flying offense led by senior quarterback Tony Pike and Mr. Versatility (and a former Player of the Week honoree in Draft Slant), wideout Mardy Gilyard. USF, on the other hand, has been led by their traditionally stingy defense, with seniors end George Selvie and safety Nate Allen earning most of the attention from scouts.
The 6-6, 225 pound Pike has been flying up boards this season. Quite honestly, I'm lower on him than most seem to be. He certainly has the size scouts are looking for, but his accuracy has been less consistent that his impressive production (1,493 yards, 66.7% completion rate, 13 TDs-3 INTs) would lead one to believe. He was often late across the middle last week, for example, against Miami (Ohio) and will be making the same adjustment to a traditional pro-style offense that all spread quarterbacks have to make -- learning to take the snap from center, read defenses more quickly, etc. He also has been helped greatly by Gilyard, who might be the country's best run-after-the-catch threat at the receiver position. In this spread offense, built on timing-based slants and post-corners, Gilyard (7 of Pike's 15 TD receptions) has been virtually unstoppable. I certainly recognize Pike's talent as NFL caliber, but so far I've seen a prospect worthy of mid-round consideration and not a true challenger to the Colt McCoy's and Tim Tebow's (and a host of underclassmen) at the top of the draft board.
Pike could shut me up quickly, however, with a strong game tonight against what is clearly the most talented defense he's seen thus far this season.
The Bearcats would be wise to focus their blocking assignments on pass rusher George Selvie. The 6-4, 245 pounder has exceptional burst off the snap and will easily chase down Pike, though his mobility is an underrated component to his game. Selvie broke out as a sophomore to post 14.5 sacks in 2007, but an ankle sprain last year and cease-less double and even triple-teams have shadowed him since. He enters this game with only 2.5 sacks, but is capable of matching that total in just this game if single-blocked by the Bearcats. Selvie has tried to add weight throughout his career, but hasn't been able to do so, prompting plenty of concerns from NFL scouts who question where he'll fit in an NFL defense. He has the burst off the edge to earn a first round grade from some teams, but others question if he'll be able to contribute on running downs at all.
Perhaps the defender who may have the most impact on this game is USF safety Nate Allen, an instictive, ball-hawking sort who already posted a two-interception game in the Bulls' only other Big East game of the year (a win over Syracuse). If Pike is late passing over the middle in this contest, Allen could make him pay. Some scouts feel he is a more reliable pass defender in the middle than USC superstar Taylor Mays.
There are certainly other prospects to keep an eye on tonight and plenty of other story-lines (not the least of which is the inspiring play of backup turned star freshman QB B.J. Daniels for USF), but these four are the ones NFL scouts will be keeping the closest eye on...
As such, you should be too...
Posted on: September 7, 2009 12:41 pm
For those needing a fix of football on Labor Day, there are two games today in which the NFL scouts certainly will be paying attention.
Cincinnati visits Rutgers in a Big East battle at 4pm (EST). Miami visits Florida State in an ACC clash at 8 pm (EST). Both games will be televised by ESPN.
While the Miami/Florida State contest is certain to get more hype, the Cincinnati/Rutgers contest offers just as much, if not more for scouts to watch. Certainly the most intriguing one on one battle should come from this contest as Cincinnati's Mardy Gilyard (6-0, 187, #1), NFLDraftScout.com's #2 rated senior wideout is expected to be shadowed by Rutgers cornerback Devin McCourty (5-11, 190, #21).
The more impressive of the two will make this week's issue of Draft Slant, NFLDraftScout.com's weekly PDF that highlights ten of the more intriguing NFL prospects from the previous week's action, as well as much more.
For more information about Draft Slant, follow the link below.