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Tag:Devin Taylor
Posted on: January 9, 2012 2:01 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2012 6:09 pm
 

DE Taylor returning to South Carolina for 2012

In senior Melvin Ingram, junior Devin Taylor and heralded true freshman Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina's defensive line featured more individual talent than any other unit on Steve Spurrier's team during the 2011 season.

The Gamecocks will certainly miss Ingram's versatility but with the announcement Monday that Taylor will be returning in 2012 for his senior campaign, South Carolina will again feature an extraordinary pass rush combination next season.

Scouts have long had high regard for Taylor, listed at 6-7, 260 pounds by the Gamecocks. With Ingram lining up inside at defensive tackle, Taylor started all 13 games opposite Clowney in 2011, recording 42 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and six sacks. The numbers, while certainly respectable, were actually a bit of a disappointment, as Taylor earned First Team All-SEC honors in 2010 with 46 stops, including 13 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks.

"I still have some things I'd like to accomplish at Carolina before I go on to the next level," said Taylor in a statement released by the university.

Taylor is currently ranked by NFLDraftScout.com as the No. 4 defensive end for the 2013 draft.  

Posted on: November 26, 2011 11:15 am
 

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.

RB Dan "Boon" Herron, Ohio State: Herron appeared poised to enter this season as one of the Big Ten's few superstars at the skill positions. After all, he'd shown an NFL-caliber combination of size, power and speed and had already rushed for over 2,000 yards and scored 29 touchdowns on the ground. Suspended for the first five games of the season due to Tattoo-Gate, however, this has been a lost year for the senior, who enters the annual showdown with Michigan having only rushed for 556 yards and two touchdowns this season. Michigan has a solid run defense and know the Buckeyes are going to try to control the clock to keep Denard Robinson off the field. Other than a senior all-star game, this may be Herron's best chance this season to impress scouts. This game begins at noon ET and will be televised by ABC.

ILB Audie Cole, North Carolina State:  For all of the talk this season about underclassmen inside linebackers Manti Te'o, Luke Kuechly and Vontaze Burfict (among others), Cole is quietly earning top 75 grades from some scouts. Big (6-4, 239) and athletic enough to move back to outside linebacker, Cole is viewed as one of the more versatile linebackers in a relatively weak senior class. He's getting plenty of Senior Bowl buzz and should perform well in his final home game against a Maryland team that features the run. This game begins at 12:30 pm ET and will be broadcast by ESPN3.

ILB Donta Hightower, Alabama: As you can tell from my Top 32 "Big Board," of the so-called elite Alabama defenders, I'm lowest on Hightower. In terms of their ability to play in the NFL I rank the top draft-eligible Crimson Tide defenders as Dre' Kirkpatrick, Courtney Upshaw and Mark Barron over Hightower, a 6-4, 260 pound redshirt junior. Hightower is clearly more explosive this year than last as he further heals from the torn ACL that ended his 2009 season prematurely, but still doesn't have the lateral agility and straight-line speed most teams operating out of 4-3 are going to be looking for at linebacker. A move to defensive end is possible. Teams operating out of the 3-4 will certainly like Hightower's bulk and explosive hitting in their scheme, however. I'm curious to see Hightower have to defend in the open field, something I expect an Auburn team currently averaging 183.5 yards on the ground to force him to do. This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be televised by CBS. 

TE Coby Fleener, Stanford: All of the hype in this contest is going to revolve around Andrew Luck and the possibility that this is his last game in Palo Alto -- as it should. We all know Luck is a terrific prospect, so I'm going to focus my attention elsewhere, including with Luck's senior tight end, Fleener, who despite being rated by most scouts as the top senior tight end in the country virtually all season long, he's received very little national attention. One can certainly understand why the scouts love him. While not a legitimate in-line blocker at the next level, the 6-6, 245 pound Fleener has rare speed and soft hands and is averaging a guady 19.7 yards per catch. Fleener will be matched up much of this game against another legitimate NFL prospect in Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith, so this should be a battle worth keeping an eye on. This game begins at 8:00 pm ET and will be televised by ABC. 

DE Devin Taylor, South Carolina: In reality, I could have listed several of the Gamecocks' and Tigers' defensive linemen in this game as this is definitely the area scouts will be closely watching in this game. Without a doubt, in terms of pure talent, this game features the best collection of defensive line talent of the day. At 6-6, 260 pounds the redshirt junior Taylor has as much physical upside as any of them, though he's not the same consistent difference-maker as his senior teammate Melvin Ingram. I'll be spending a lot of time watching the Clemson defensive line, as well, as end Andre Branch and defensive tackle Brandon Thompson (both seniors) are each capable of taking this game over, themselves.  This game begins at 7:45 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN2.


Posted on: October 6, 2011 1:51 pm
 

Offensive-minded Spurrier owes 2011 success to DL

Steve Spurrier is known throughout the country for his ability to score points. With two of the elite skill position players in the game in sophomore running back Marcus Lattimore and junior wideout Alshon Jeffery he has the star power to take advantage of his scheme and aggressive play-calling.

Whatever success the Gamecocks will have in 2011, however, can be directly attributed to the play of their defensive line.

Senior Melvin Ingram has emerged as the most dangerous and versatile defensive lineman in the country. He's already scored touchdowns on defense and special teams, currently ranks third on the squad with 26 tackles, is tied for the team lead with two interceptions and leads the SEC with 7.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. He's been recognized as the SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week twice already (and another time as the Special Teams Player of the Week), including this past week when he ravaged reigning BCS champion Auburn for 11 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and a career-high three sacks. He also recorded an interception when Auburn attempted a fake field goal.

The 6-2, 276 pound Ingram has proven to be simply too quick and instinctive for interior offensive linemen to handle. A former defensive end, he's been moved inside this season due to the presence of two other, highly talented defensive ends for the Gamecocks -- true freshman Jadeveon Clowney and junior Devin Taylor.

Many considered Clowney to be the elite prep prospect in the country and his signing with South Carolina was met with great fanfare. His play thus far has proven that the hype was well justified as he's behind only Ingram in terms of tackles for loss (five) and sacks (four) on the team. Listed at 6-5, 254 pounds, he already has the looks of a future NFL star. In another couple of years, he could be scary.

Taylor, 6-6 and 260 pounds, has the length and athleticism NFL scouts are looking for but hasn't played with nearly the consistency or produced the big plays that Ingram and Clowney have. Taylor's height has caused him to struggle, at times, this season with making tackles in close spaces. Scouts characterize him as a "bit stiff" and unable to change directions quickly enough to adjust in space. This was evident in South Carolina's close win over Navy when Taylor was credited with a season-high nine tackles, but missed opportunities for even more stops near the line of scrimmage. To Taylor's credit, he has proven a more reliable tackler in recent games. Considering his upside, continued improvement could lead to his ultimately being graded as a better pro prospect than Ingram, despite the fact the lesser production (19 tackles, four tackles for loss, one sack).

If South Carolina is able to solve their issues at quarterback and emerge as the BCS bowl contender they appear to be, a significant portion of the credit should go to their defensive line. NFL scouts certainly are doing so...


Posted on: September 9, 2011 4:19 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.

Because I'm scouting them in real time these players make an early impression, often leading to consideration as my Prospect of the Week or Diamond in the Rough.

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.
RB Vick Ballard, Mississippi State: Ballard served notice immediately against Memphis last week (career-high 166 yards and three TDs) that his first season for the Bulldogs (994 yards, 19 TDs) was no fluke after transferring from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. The sledding will be tougher Saturday against the defending champion Auburn Tigers, which survived a scare last week from Utah State. Ballard has good size (5-11, 220) and power, but still has to answer concerns about his speed. This game begins at 12:20 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN3 and The SEC Network.

DT Devon Still, Penn State:  At 6-4, 310 pounds, Still has the size scouts are looking for and he's shown flashes of dominant ability throughout his career. Still hasn't yet shown the consistency, however, to warrant the hype he's received, however. A strong performance against Alabama Saturday and their potential All-SEC center William Vlachos, himself a late round NFL possibility, would go a long way in boosting Still's stock. This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be televised by ABC.

OT/OG Cordy Glenn, Georgia: A dominant guard throughout much of his career with the Bulldogs, Glenn was asked to move outside to left tackle against an experienced and athletic Boise State defensive front last week and not surprisingly struggled. At 6-5, 345 pounds, Glenn may simply lack the quick feet and balance to remain outside. As I pointed out in my "Big Board," however, I am not willing to move him out of my Top 32 after one poor performance. As good as the Boise front four was, Glenn and the Bulldogs are in for an even tougher test tomorrow against South Carolina's pass rushers. The Gamecocks boast two of the better rushers in the conference in senior Melvin Ingram and rising junior Devin Taylor, who also has a place on my Top 32. I'm looking forward to all of this weekend's games, but from a scouting standpoint, this is the one to focus on. This game begins at 4:30 ET and will be televised by ESPN.

DE Alex Okafor, Texas: Like Still for the Nittany Lions, Okafor has generated more press than production early in his career. It is important to note that unlike Still, Okafor is only a junior and he was miscast last season as a defensive tackle. This season, the 6-4, 260 pounder is back outside rushing the passer. Okafor only registered two tackles last week against Rice, though one of them was a tackle for loss. Okafor will have plenty of opportunities to rush the quarterback against BYU Saturday. The Cougars could give Okafor and the Longhorns more than they bargained for, however, as they are coming off an impressive win last week at Mississippi. This game begins at 7 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN2.

ILB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame: Some believe Te'o will prove to be the first Notre Dame defender to be drafted in the first round since Renaldo Wynn (1997). What is very clear is that Te'o is an instinctive, physical defender very capable of dictating the action in the middle. Against an athletic and versatile Michigan offense, however, Te'o speed to the flanks will be tested. Considering that he finished with 133 tackles last year -- the most from any Irish defender since 1983 -- it wasn't surprising that Te'o led Notre Dame last week against South Florida with nine stops. He'll have to be even better this week if Brian Kelly's group is to get into the win column. This game begins at 8:00 pm EST and will be televised by ESPN. 
Posted on: July 15, 2011 12:15 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 12:23 pm
 

Some surprises in Coaches Preseason All-SEC team

For the purposes of scouting for the NFL, whether a player makes an all-conference team or not is less important than how I personally grade a player off tape, how a player performs in an all-star game, and many other factors.

It is, however, a tool that scouts can and often do use to ascertain which players rival coaches feel are legitimate difference-makers.

This is especially true in the SEC. The reasons are simple. There is a great deal of individual talent in the conference and a high number of the elite talent leaves early for the NFL as underclassmen, often creating quite a turnover on the all-conference list.

The SEC announced their official Coaches Preseason First, Second and Third all-conference lists this week. There were some surprises.

Here were the five that raised my eyebrow...
  1. Alabama cornerback 'Dre Kirkpatrick, a Second Team All-SEC pick last year, only made the Third Team preseason polling this summer. Kirkpatrick, entering his junior season, is considered a potential elite prospect for the NFL and is currently NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated CB for the class of 2013.
  2. True sophomore Aaron Murray from Georgia was named the First-Team quarterback. This is a reflection of two things. For one, Murray flashed some serious talent last year and looks like he could be the next big thing at the position from this conference. Secondly, he has little proven competition. 
  3. Some will find it interesting that defending national champion Auburn and perennial talent hotbed Florida had zero 1st team selections. LSU, another annual contributor to the NFL, had only one player (junior CB Morris Claiborne) make the team. Quite frankly, after reviewing tape this summer of these three teams, I'm not surprised. While the schemes that have made each of these teams successful in recent years remain intact, the plethora of elite talent that had resulted in recent national championships simply isn't there... or at least hasn't proven itself yet.
  4. Don't look now but Steve Spurrier's South Carolina Gamecocks are loaded. They boast four first-team All-SEC picks in running back Marcus Lattimore, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, defensive end Devin Taylor and cornerback Stephon Gilmore. None of whom are seniors. Each looks like a potential high round NFL prospect.
  5. The talent at running back in this conference is staggering. Typically, all-conference teams feature two running backs per team. There must have been a tie among voters, however, as the SEC lists three running backs for the Second-Team (only two for the First and Third teams, respectively). Hard to blame the coaches when you take into consideration the three backs that made the Second Team are Arkansas' Knile Davis, Florida's Jeff Demps and Auburn's Michael Dyer. Each of those who be a shoo-in for First-Team honors in most other conferences, though I agree with the coaches that South Carolina's Lattimore and Alabama's Trent Richardson deserve top-billing. 


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