Tag:Connecticut
Posted on: January 25, 2012 1:46 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 1:58 pm
 

Trio from the North boosting stock at Senior Bowl

MOBILE, Ala. -- After scouting the North team practices for the past three days I am ready to make some adjustments to my own personal rankings on a few prospects.

I wouldn't necessarily characterize these adjustments as "Risers" from the Senior Bowl - at least not in terms of how NFL scouts perceive them. They may have been high on these three prospects already. I, on the other hand, may have underrated these prospects based on my initial film review and will be working with fellow analysts Dane Brugler, Brad Noel, technical director Brian Hitterman and the rest of our resources at NFLDraftScout.com to adjust our rankings based on what we've seen thus far at the Senior Bowl.

In previous blog posts I highlighted the play of Cal wideout Marvin Jones and Connecticut defensive tackle Kendall Reyes. Each would qualify for this list, as well.

CB Jamell Fleming, Oklahoma: Demonstrating good quickness, agility and physicality Fleming has been the surprising standout for a North team boasting a talented cornerback group, not the least of which is Nebraska's Alfonzo Dennard. Like Dennard, Fleming projects best in a man cover scheme and he's been beaten on occasion this week due to the fact that the Minnesota Vikings have asked him to play off a great deal. Still, Fleming has shown enough athleticism to turn and run with receivers and has demonstrated a very quick burst to the ball.

FS George Iloka, Boise State: At nearly 6-4 and 222 pounds, Iloka looks more like a potential linebacker than a free safety, but his athleticism and instincts have been on display all week long. He intercepted a pass during Tuesday's practice, making an impressive diving pick-off of Michigan State's Kirk Cousins in front of Massachusetts' H-back Emil Igwenagu. Iloka is not surprisingly a bit high in his back pedal but he showed surprising agility and burst when asked to drop down and cover receivers when the offense switched to a three receiver set. In a relatively weak year for safeties (outside of Alabama's Mark Barron), Iloka's size, athleticism and experience (40 consecutive starts) stand out.

OT Mitchell Schwartz, California: Overshadowed in the Pac-12 due to the presence of two elite prospects in USC's Matt Kalil and Stanford's Jonathan Martin, Schwartz has stood out this week due to his size (6-5, 317), long arms (33 1/8"), strength and surprising agility. He's held up well at right tackle in pass blocking drills and has done a nice job of sealing off defensive linemen in the running game and has been able to get to the second level, as well. Schwartz has been especially impressive in pass blocking drills, where he's repeatedly stoned Penn State's Jack Crawford and Virginia's Cam Johnson, among others.

 

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: November 26, 2011 12:15 pm
 

Mano-a-Mano, Week 13

In addition to the prospects Senior Analyst Rob Rang wrote about in his "five players to watch" blog post, take a look at these memorable ten one-on-one match-ups (plus a slew of honorable mention selections) while perusing this weekend's slate of college football games.

Because players move around based on different formations and what coaches see as favorable match-ups, these prospects won't go against each other on every snap. Scouts will pay attention when they do, however, because they rely on a player's film against top competition to determine their readiness for the NFL.

All times Eastern.
"*" Denotes an underclassman

1. Penn State DTs Devon Still (#71/6-4/310/5.06)/*Jordan Hill (#47/6-1/298/5.06) at Wisconsin RG Kevin Zeitler (#70/6-4/318/5.26)/C *Travis Frederick (#72/6-3/330/5.27)
Penn State DE Jack Crawford (#81/6-5/273/4.79) at Wisconsin LT *Ricky Wagner (#58/6-6/320/5.32)
Penn State DE Eric Latimore (#56/6-5/277/4.86) at Wisconsin RT Josh Oglesby (#67/6-7/330/5.38)
Saturday, 3:30, ESPN

Both Penn State and Wisconsin rank in the top ten nationally in scoring and total defense, but the Badgers' more potent offense (they rank 5th in scoring, Nittany Lions 106th) should put some pressure on PSU's talented defensive line. Still ranks 11th in the country with 16.5 tackles for loss, mostly when able jump the snap and penetrate into the B-gap. That means Zeitler, a solid top 125 talent likely to be an NFL starter due to his strength, technique, and fair mobility must be quick enough to ride Still out of the play. Once Still is stopped on his initial move, he won't necessarily bull his way in; but Zeitler and Frederick, the thick starting left guard who moved to center for the injured Peter Konz, will have to sustain blocks against the athletic Still, as he is agile enough to drag down junior RB Montee Ball from behind for short gains if given a clear path.

Crawford is also on scouts' radars as a mid-round pick because he has the size and agility to be a very capable swing end able to stand up on either side of the line. Although the London, England native is not elite with his speed off the edge, he will test Wagner's sprained MCL and the lateral movement of any of the inexperienced tackles the Badgers throw at him if their junior starter isn't healthy enough to stay on the field. Scouts will also take a look at two potential late-round picks in the hustling Latimore and the athletic but inconsistent Oglesby.

2. Alabama DE/OLBs Courtney Upshaw (#41/6-2/265/4.76)/*Dont'a Hightower (#30/6-4/260/4.74) at Auburn LT A.J. Greene (#77/6-5/298/5.18)/RT Brandon Mosley (#75/6-5/305/5.22)
Saturday, 3:30 pm, CBS

Two potential first round picks will challenge Auburn senior tackles Greene and Mosley during the Iron Bowl. Upshaw will likely rush the passer and try to contain sophomore running back Michael Dyer from the strong and weak sides of the line, though he'll more regularly likely go against the adequate Greene both standing up and his with hand on the ground. Hightower and junior DE/DT Jesse Williams (#54/6-4/320/5.28) tests the lateral agility of Mosley--the junior college transfer who has some athleticism and strength, but not elite amounts of either.

3. Clemson RT Landon Walker (#72/6-5/305/5.18) at South Carolina DE* Devin Taylor (#98/6-6/260/4.76)
Clemson DE Andre Branch (#40/6-4/260/4.77) at South Carolina LT Rokevious Watkins (#73/6-4/340/5.36)
Saturday, 7:45 pm, ESPN

Two of the top defensive lines in the country reside in this fight for the pride in the Palmetto State. Walker's one of the most underrated tackles in the country, but Taylor plays stronger than his long, lean frame would indicate. If Walker can anchor in pass pro against Taylor, or even if top freshman Jadeveon Clowney moves to that side of the line, scouts will be impressed. Branch is a potential 4-3 end or 3-4 linebacker prospect who also plays with leverage against the run despite a somewhat lean build. But scouts want to see him beat Watkins off the edge--the Gamecocks' top lineman is playing out of position at left tackle, but his toughness helps him win more battles than he loses. Still, if Branch wants to earn a second-round grade, he'll need to show the quickness and flexibility to get the corner.

4. Ohio State LT Mike Adams (#75/6-6/320/5.28)/RT J.B. Shugarts (#76/6-6/305/5.23) at Michigan DEs Ryan Van Bergen (#53/6-6/288/4.84)/*Craig Roh (#88/6-4/269/4.76)
Ohio State C Michael Brewster (#50/6-4/305/5.17) at Michigan DT Mike Martin (#68/6-1/304/4.98)
Saturday, 12:00 pm, ABC 

When the Buckeyes have the ball in the Midwest's version of "The Game", their talented offensive line must control some solid Wolverines defenders up front. Adams looked like a top ten pick at left tackle with his fluid movement and prototypical length, though he'll need to play hard every snap against the active Roh and workmanlike Van Bergen. Shugarts may not be drafted due to his average athleticism but he'll give great effort to keep those ends away from freshman quarterback Braxton Miller. Brewster's also fighting the non-athlete label from scouts, as his reaching and slow footwork could be exposed by the high-motor Martin, who is not easy to stop from penetrating into the backfield to track down Miller or Ohio State's top running back, "Boom" Herron.

5. Virginia Tech LT Andrew Lanier (#72/6-5/306/4.87) at Virginia DE Cam Johnson (#56/6-3/270/4.76)
Virginia Tech RG Jaymes Brooks (#68/6-2/308/5.05)/LG Greg Nosal (#75/6-5/298/5.27) at Virginia DTs Matt Conrath (#94/6-7/280/4.84)/Nick Jenkins (#96/6-3/276/5.14)
Saturday, 3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Like many other games today, scouts will have bouncing between multiple OL-DL match-ups in this battle for Virginia bragging rights. Cam Johnson is looking like a top 50 pick at times because of the pressure he puts on the outside shoulders of left tackles like Lanier. He'll need to prove to scouts he has a counter to his up-and-under move, however, or Lanier will negate it after the first couple of series. Conrath's long, lean frame is not typical of most college DTs; watching him against the short, stout Brooks will be interesting, though he'll be lined up across from the slimmer Nosal on most plays. Jenkins (like Clemson's Rennie Moore) has below-average size but will find his way into the backfield to chase redshirt sophomore QB Logan Thomas if Brooks/Nosal don't keep their feet moving and hands active.

6. Penn State CB D'Anton Lynn (#8/6-0/208/4.53)/Chaz Powell (#2/6-1/206/4.48) at Wisconsin WR Nick Toon (#1/6-2/220/4.52)
Saturday, 3:30, ESPN

If the Badgers are to advance to the Big Ten Championship Game, they'll need senior Russell Wilson to find his favorite receiver on their preferred out routes as well as down the sideline. One reason Toon is considered a top prospect in the 2012 draft class is that he can use his size advantage over smaller college corners. But Lynn and Powell will give no quarter at the line of scrimmage or downfield, so the son of former first round pick Al Toon must use foot quickness to separate during his routes and prove he can win 50/50 balls against Penn State's two well-built outside defenders.

7. Iowa State LT Kelechi Osemele (#72/6-5/347/5.40) at Oklahoma DE Frank Alexander (#84/6-3/255/4.82)
Saturday, 12:00 pm, FX

Iowa State would love to make it two wins over Oklahoma schools by beating the Sooners one week after upsetting Oklahoma State in Ames last weekend. The Cyclones' massive left tackle will be a big factor if they're to pull off another unexpected win. He plays with the nasty attitude NFL offensive line coaches love. Some scouts suspect he will have to move inside at the next level due to a lack of agility, and though Alexander brings more strength and hustle as a pass rusher than pure speed -- he will attempt to help them make their case.

8. Virginia Tech WR Jarrett Boykin (#81/6-2/218/4.64)/Danny Coale (#19/6-0/200/4.43) at Virginia CB Chase Minnifield (#13/6-0/185/4.49)
Saturday, 3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

The son of former NFL cornerback Frank Minnifield obviously has the length, quickness, height, and ball skills (13 INT, 18 PBU) to be an NFL corner, but will be closely watched by scouts to see if he has strength to handle larger receivers like Boykin downfield as well as the foot work and instincts to stay with the savvy Coale. Virginia Tech's receivers also have something to prove against their in-state rivals, as Boykin's large hands don't always make the big catches when needed and Coale looks to show scouts he is more of a play-maker than pure possession receiver.

9. Rutgers LG Desmond Wynn (#70/6-5/295/5.14) at Connecticut DT Kendall Reyes (#99/6-4/296/4.99)
Saturday, 12:00 pm, ESPN2

Reyes is the sort of athletic big man coveted by NFL defensive coordinators preferring three or four man fronts -- and especially those using a mix of both because of his versatility. After putting up big numbers against non-conference foes (9 TFLs, 4 sacks), he has a grand total of two tackles for loss and a half-sack in the past five games. But that doesn't mean he isn't active, as he has managed to rack up 14 tackles in the two weeks. Wynn will therefore have to not only prevent Reyes from knifing into the backfield, but also sustain his block to ensure the probable All-Big East tackle won't shed to grab freshman running back Lyle McCombs.

10. Louisiana-Lafayette CB Dwight Bentley (#5/5-10/180/4.49) at Arizona WRs Juron Criner (#82/6-4/215/4.62)
Saturday, 4:00 pm, TBA

Arizona quarterback Nick Foles suffered bruised ribs against Arizona State, but he is expected to play in this game. Bentley has gotten close looks from scouts this year due to his toughness and ball skills, especially when he intercepted two passes against Oklahoma State in the season opener. He'll face strong competition from the 6-4 Criner on the outside, as the senior has had three 100-yard games in the last five games even after tweaking his knee a couple of weeks ago. And Criner isn't the only one able to stretch defenses vertically, or go over the top of Bentley with his six-inch height advantage, as will Foles' other targets: *Dan Buckner, David Douglas and Gino Crump.

Honorable mention

Georgia CBs CB Brandon Boykin (#2/5-10/183/4.44)/*Branden Smith (#1/5-11/176/4.39) at Georgia Tech WR *Stephen Hill (#5/6-4/206/4.57)
Saturday, 12:00 pm, ABC

Rutgers DE Manny Abreu (#51/6-2/260/4.76) at Connecticut LT Mike Ryan (#71/6-5/335/5.38)
Saturday, 12:00 pm, ESPN2

Michigan State WRs B.J. Cunningham (#3/6-2/216/4.59)/Keshawn Martin (#82/5-10/190/4.44) at Northwestern CB Jordan Mabin (#26/5-10/180/4.57)
Saturday, 12:00 pm, Big Ten Network

Iowa State WR Darius Reynolds (#7/6-1/208/4.54) at Oklahoma CB Jamell Fleming (#32/5-11/192/4.54)/*Demontre Hurst (#6/5-09/182/4.46)
Iowa State RG Hayworth Hicks (#75/6-2/336/5.37) at Oklahoma DTs *Casey Walker (#53/6-1/308/5.09)/* Jamarkus McFarland (#97/6-1/296/4.97)
Saturday, 12:00 pm, FX

Cincinnati LT Alex Hoffman (#59/6-6/298/5.28) at Syracuse DE *Chandler Jones (#99/6-5/265/4.86)
Saturday, 12:00 pm, MASN/SNY/ESPN3.com

Rice DE Scott Solomon (#35/6-3/270/4.79) at SMU LT Kelvin Beachum (#70/6-3/306/5.52)
Saturday, 12:00 pm, FSN

Tennessee DE/DT Malik Jackson (#97/6-5/270/4.82) at Kentucky RG *Larry Warford (#67/6-3/336/5.34)
Saturday, 12:21 pm, SEC Network/ESPN3.com

Nevada DT Brett Roy (#47/6-3/280/4.88) at Utah State OG Phillip Gapelu (#68/6-2/300)
Saturday, 2:00 pm, ALT/Comcast

Wyoming CB Tashuan Gipson (#4/6-0/203/4.57) at Boise State WR Tyler Shoemaker (#89/6-1/212/4.50)
Wyoming DE Gabe Knapton (#52/6-3/252/4.79) at Boise State LT Nate Potter (#73/6-6/298/5.18)
Saturday, 3:00 pm, MTN

Kansas RT *Tanner Hawkinson (#72/6-5/295/5.04) vs. Missouri DE Jacquies Smith (#3/6-3/255/4.62)Kansas C Jeremiah Hatch (#77/6-2/308/5.48) vs. Missouri DTs Dominique Hamilton (#90/6-5/305/5.24)/*Sheldon Richardson (#34/6-3/290/4.86)/Terrell Resonno (#93/6-3/295/5.08)
Saturday, 3:30 pm, FSN 

Maryland CB Cameron Chism (#22/5-10/190/4.52) at North Carolina State WR T.J. Graham (#6/5-11/180/4.36)
Saturday, 3:30 pm, ACC Network/ESPN3.com

Illinois CB Tavon Wilson (#3/6-0/205/4.54) at Minnesota WR Da'Jon McKnight (#6/6-1/212/4.54)
Saturday, 3:30 pm, Big Ten Network

Alabama CBs Dre Kirkpatrick (#21/6-2/192/4.49)/*DeQuan Menzie (#24/5-11/198/4.65) at Auburn WR *Emory Blake (#80/6-1/197/4.58)
Saturday, 3:30 pm, CBS

Duke WRs Conner Vernon (#2/6-1/195/4.53)/*Donovan Varner (#26/5-08/175/4.53) at North Carolina CB Charles Brown (#12/5-09/205/4.49)
Saturday, 3:30 pm, FSN

Virginia Tech CB *Jayron Hosley (#20/5-10/172/4.52) at Virginia WR Kris Burd (#18/6-0/200/4.53)
Saturday, 3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Penn State WR Derek Moye (#6/6-4/210/4.54) at Wisconsin CB Antonio Fenelus (#26/5-08/190/4.49)
Penn State LT Quinn Barham (#67/6-3/305/5.34) at Wisconsin DE Louis Nzegwu (#93/6-4/255/4.76)
Saturday, 3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Oregon State WRs James Rodgers (#1/5-07/188/4.48)/*Markus Wheaton (#2/6-0/178/4.47) at Oregon CB Anthony Gildon (#18/6-0/182/4.57)
Oregon State LT Mike Remmers (#50/6-4/305/5.26) at Oregon DE Terrell Turner (#45/6-2/265/4.86)
Saturday, 3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Florida WR Deonte Thompson (#6/5-11/200/4.44) at Florida State CB Mike Harris (#1/5-10/195/4.52)
Saturday, 7:00 pm, ESPN2

Washington State WR Jared Karstetter (#84/6-3/210/4.64) at Washington CB *Desmond Trufant (#6/6-0/185/4.49)
Saturday, 7:30 pm, Versus

Clemson RG Antoine McClain (#74/6-5/335/5.34) at South Carolina DT Travian Robertson (#42/6-4/303/5.08)
Saturday, 7:45 pm, ESPN

Notre Dame CBs Gary Gray (#4/5-10/195/4.49)/Robert Blanton (#12/6-0/200/4.53) at Stanford WR Griff Whalen (#17/6-0/187)
Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd (#3/6-3/224/4.54) at Stanford CB Johnson Bademosi (#27/6-1/200)
Saturday, 8:00 pm, ESPN

UCLA OT Mike Harris (#65/6-5/326/5.32) at Southern Cal DE *Devon Kennard (#42/6-3/250/4.72)
UCLA C Kai Maiava (#51/6-1/318/5.12) at Southern Cal DT Christian Tupou (#44/6-2/300/5.06)/DaJohn Harris (#98/6-4/310/5.16)
Saturday, 10:00 pm, FSN

San Diego State CB Larry Parker (#29/5-11/170) at UNLV WR Phillip Payne (#4/6-3/205/4.62)
Saturday, 11:00 pm, MTN

Tulsa LT Tyler Holmes (#78/6-4/302/5.29) at Houston OLB Sammy Brown (#8/6-2/240/4.67)
Saturday, 11:00 pm, ESPN3.com


--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter   Follow him on Twitter @ChadReuter  

Posted on: November 18, 2011 6:23 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2011 2:40 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. 

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.

DT Kendall Reyes, Connecticut: Reyes wasn't a highly touted prospect when signing with UCONN, but has built himself into a legitimate top 100 prospect. Experienced inside and out, teams running the 3-4 and 4-3 schemes, alike, will be interested in acquiring his services. Reyes will have his hands full against a much improved Louisville team, but with a strong showing the senior could secure a spot on one of the premier all-star game rosters. This game begins at noon ET and will be televised by ESPN.

DT Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State:  The afore-mentioned Reyes is underrated in some circles. Few outside of the SEC know much about Cox, a 6-4, 295 pound junior who has been running the conference ragged. Cox, you may be surprised to learn, has earned the SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week three times this season. Arkansas generally does a great job of protecting the quarterback, but Tyler Wilson will certainly have to keep his eyes open for this Bulldog.  This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be broadcast by CBS.

OT Mike Adams, Ohio State: When Adams, Terrelle Pryor and three other Buckeyes were suspended over "Tattoo-gate" last season, I made the argument that the man whose stock might be impacted the least was Adams. The reasoning behind it was simple -- Adams was the best prospect of the group. The 6-6, 320 pounder has proven to be worth the hype thus far in his abbreviated senior campaign, though he'll get a tough test Saturday against a very talented Penn State defensive line. Adams is NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior at the position and, quite frankly, the only senior tackle I've seen this year that I've given a first round grade.  This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN/ABC. 

QB Matt Barkley, Southern Cal: A week after the Oregon Ducks' talented (albeit young) secondary shut down the presumptive No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck and the Stanford Cardinal offense, Barkley and the Trojans will get their chance. The Ducks contained Luck in large part due to the fact that Stanford was missing their top speed threat on the outside, senior wideout Chris Owusu. Barkley could be without his star receiver, Robert Woods in this contest, as the sophomore is battling nagging shoulder and ankle injuries. Barkley is blessed to have better weapons on the outside to help shoulder the possible loss of Woods, but this matchup nonetheless poses quite a challenge for my No. 2 rated prospect overall.  This game begins at 8:00 pm ET and will be televised by ABC. 

QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor: Possessing quick feet and a strong, accurate arm, RGIII has been dazzling, at times, this season. He is fortunate to have one of the more criminally underrated wideouts in the country in senior Kendall Wright, an explosive playmaker that some scouts have compared to DeSean Jackson. This combination has been enough to beat the also-rans on Baylor's schedule, but with the Sooners coming to town Saturday night, Griffin will need to be able to spread the ball around to have much of a chance. Griffin has steadily maintained that he's likely to return to Baylor next season, but a strong performance against a team as talented as Oklahoma could create such a buzz that he'd have to explore his potential NFL options sooner than maybe even he expects.  This game begins at 8:00 ET and will be televised by ESPN.



Posted on: June 2, 2011 8:50 pm
 

UConn WR Smith academically ineligible

New UConn head coach Paul Pasqualoni confirmed that senior wide receiver Mike Smith is academically ineligible to play in 2011. Although Smith led the Huskies with 46 catches for 615 yards and two touchdowns last season, don't expect him to throw his name into the hat for the NFL supplemental draft - which is likely to be held in July.

Smith is not currently rated among the draftable wide receiver prospects for 2012 by NFLDraftScout.com. The 13-game starter in 2010 is 6-feet-2 and 202 pounds, and can consider 2011 a redshirt season since he played as a true freshman. The Houston native is expected to stick around the Huskies' program.

"Michael will be, obviously in the program," Pasqualoni said, per The Hartford Courant. "He will be in practice each day. He just will not participate in games.

"I do think this is a year that he can use to improve himself all the way around and then still have a final year of eligibility.

--Derek Harper, NFLDraftScout.com executive editor
Posted on: January 16, 2011 1:51 pm
 

All-Stars with everything on the line - DT Austin

While much of the football-loving world is focusing on the NFL playoffs, scouts are preparing today for the first of a three week grind of all-star games that will have a huge impact on where (or if) dozens of players are ultimately drafted.

Over the next five days I'm going to highlight a player I believe could stand out and therefore significantly boost their stock. These players could come from the East-West Shrine Game (whose practices begin Monday), the Senior Bowl (whose practices begin Monday, January 24) and the NFLPA Game (whose practices begin Monday, January 31). The games themselves will be on succeeding Saturdays over the next three weeks. The NFLPA Game had previously been known as the Texas vs. Nation game.

One player who obviously has a great deal riding on his all-star performance is former North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin , invited to play in the Shrine Game.

Austin was, of course, suspended for the entire 2010 season after the NCAA discovered that he'd accepted inappropriate benefits from an agent.

Prior to the controversy, however, Austin rated among the elite senior prospects in the country. He was, according to published reports, given a high first round grade entering the year by National Scouting.

Austin, 6-3, 310 pounds has the quick first step, agility and strength teams operating out of the 4-3 alignment are looking for. One of the knocks on him has been an inconsistent motor. Having not played all season long, scouts will expect Austin to be fresh and firing on all cylinders all week long. Any sign of taking snaps off from Austin this week will only reinforce previous concerns - which could have disastrous results on his draft grade.

I've pointed out previously that this is a good looking Shrine roster , but one area that it may prove lacking is with the interior offensive linemen. NFLDraftScout.com currently ranks only one of the six interior offensive linemen Austin is expected to face in practice (East Team) higher than a 7th round pick.

Currently, the East team features Syracuse's Ryan Bartholomew and Texas A&M's JC Brignone at center and Missouri State's David Arkin, Ohio State's Bryant Browning, Illinois' Randall Hunt and Connecticut's Zachary Hurd at guard. Hurd is our highest rated of the bunch. NFLDraftScout.com currently has Hurd as a 5th-6th round value.

If Austin wants to re-emerge as the 50 prospect he'd previously been universally ranked as, he'll need to enjoy a dominant week.

For the entire Shrine Game roster, click here.

Or, for the best in NFL draft coverage, click here for NFLDraftScout.com.
Posted on: January 11, 2011 1:58 pm
 

LeShoure added to big class of underclassmen RBs

The University of Illinois' Mikel LeShoure announced today that he'll be joining Alabama's Mark Ingram, Virginia Tech's Ryan Williams, and Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers, among many others as underclassmen running backs heading early to the NFL.

LeShoure is the 11th underclassmen running back to declare early so far. He'll compete with former Hokies' star Williams to be the second running back drafted after Ingram, the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner.

So far, the running backs who have declared early include: Wisconsin's John Clay, Virginia Tech's Darren Evans, Ingram, Clemson's Jamie Harper, Pitt fullbakc Henry Hynoski, LeShoure, Pitt's Dion Lewis, Rodgers, Connecticut's Jordan Todman, Cal's Shane Vereen and Williams.

The early defections are hardly a surprise. While scouts generally encourage prospects to return for their senior seasons, there is an understanding that for running backs the same rules don't apply due to the fact that they absorb so much punishment.

Scouts also aren't surprised by the early defections because this year's senior class of running backs is one of the weakest positional groups in the country. In speaking to scouts over the past few weeks, only a trio of Big 12 runners -- Oklahoma's DeMarco Murray, Kansas State's Daniel Thomas and Oklahoma State's Kendall Hunter were characterized as "possible" Top 64 picks. None were viewed as "locks" for the first two rounds.

LeShoure is coming off a spectacular junior season in which he rushed for a school record 1,687 rushing yards and 17 TDs. He was at his best in Illinois' Texas Bowl victory over Baylor, rushing for a Texas Bowl record 187 yards and three touchdowns, earning MVP accolades. 

As always for the best in NFL draft coverage, be sure to check out NFLDraftScout.com.
Posted on: January 2, 2011 10:06 pm
 

Five most impressive prospects from New Years Day

Taking the extra 24 hours to review all six of the New Years' Day bowl games, I've come up with a list of the five draft-eligible players who I felt enjoyed the strongest performances.

In New Years' fashion, I'm putting them in reverse order, starting with the No. 5 performance and finishing with the player I thought was No. 1 on the day of ones (1-1-11).

5. OT Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State : Those that followed me on Twitter yesterday (I had 55 posts) they know that I'm quite high on the Bulldogs' left tackle. Sherrod doesn't have elite quickness off the edge, but rarely allowed pressure from Michigan pass rushers during the Gator Bowl. Sherrod's ability to pop the defensive end and switch off to blitzing linebackers (essentially blocking two men) gave quarterback Chris Relf plenty of time to attack the Wolverines' vulnerable secondary. For Relf, who completed only 55.5% of his passes and threw only 10 touchdowns during his 12 regular season starts, it was his most impressive performance of the year (completed 78.3% of his passes for 281 yards, 3 TDs and an INT). In fact, Relf's 18 of 23 passing was the most efficient of any New Years' Day quarterback, helping him earn MVP honors. The credit should go just as much to Sherrod as Relf.
 
4. RB Jordan Todman, Connecticut: The Oklahoma Sooners knew heading into the Fiesta Bowl that if they could contain Todman, the No. 2 rusher in the FBS (behind Oregon's LaMichael James), they'd almost surely be victorious. The Sooners won easily, but like nearly every other opponent this season, they couldn't stop Todman from rushing for over 100 yards. It was Todman's agility, burst and determined running, in fact, that served as the Huskies' only offensive spark in the 48-20 loss. I remain concerned about the 5-09, 195 pound Todman's ability to hold up long term in the NFL, but the Huskies apparenty aren't. Todman rushed 32 times for his 121 times against the Sooners -- the fifth time in final six games of his Connecticut career in which he had at least 30 attempts.

3. C Mike Pouncey, Florida: It hasn't always been easy this year for Pouncey, who, of course, took over at center for his twin brother, Maurkice - Pittsburgh's first round pick last April. Mike more than held his own yesterday against Penn State, however, clearing the way for interior running lanes, providing stellar pass protection up the middle and -- perhaps most impressively -- showcasing the nimble feet to pull and hit moving defenders downfield. Pouncey's size and agility make him a better fit at guard in the pros, but in a showdown of two of the best senior interior lineman in college football yesterday, Pouncey was more consistently impressive than Penn State's Stefen Wisniewski.

2. QB Andy Dalton, TCU: It wasn't that Dalton put up staggering numbers against Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl (15/23 for 219 yards and a TD), but the poise he demonstrated in helping the Horned Frogs to their biggest win ever will not only help secure his place in TCU history, it will unquestionably boost his stock with NFL scouts. With their defense and special teams, TCU knew they could win the game as long as Dalton didn't attempt to win the game on his own. He didn't, playing within himself by making key reads, using his legs to buy time and pick up yardage and taking the occasional shot downfield. In doing so he atoned for the mistakes (three INTs) he made in TCU's loss to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl last year and reassured scouts that he has the mettle to handle the big stage.

1. DL Marcell Dareus, Alabama:
There were any number of Crimson Tide players that deserved acknowledgement for their 49-7 thrashing of Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl - not the least of which was RB Mark Ingram or WR Julio Jones - but the most dominant 'Bama player on New Years' Day was Dareus. He dominated the Spartans offensive line, easily handling one on one blocks and splitting double-teams, as well on his way to the backfield. Those that didn't watch the game may point out that Dareus had only three tackles (two TFL including a sack) and thus couldn't possibly warrant the top spot. As is often the case with dominant defensive linemen, however, Dareus' penetration and three QB hurries often gave his teammates easy opportunities to pad their own statistics. 
 
 
 
 
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