Posted on: February 22, 2012 7:20 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 10:32 am
The competition to be the second running back selected in the 2012 NFL Draft will go from one of the more intriguing second tier topics of this week's Scouting Combine to one of the major stories with news Wednesday that Alabama runner Trent Richardson, the unquestioned top talent at the position, won't be able to perform in Indianapolis.
Richardson, NFLDraftScout.com's No. 6 rated overall prospect, underwent minor knee surgery a few weeks ago after initially injuring his knee while preparing for the BCS National Championship, according to NFL.com's Jason LaCanfora.
Though Richardson won't be able to participate in the athletic drills at the Combine, according to the report, he is expected to be able to participate in Alabama's March 7 Pro Day.
(LaCanfora has since reported via Twitter that Richardson will be working out on March 27, raising questions about his availability for Alabama's original Pro Day.)
Assuming that team doctors don't find reason to believe that Richardson will be troubled by the knee in the future, his stock isn't likely to be impacted, according to a league source who shared his thoughts under the condition of anonymity.
"If the doctors say he's okay, it won't change anything. [Richardson] is an elite talent," the scout wrote in a text message.
Considering the physicality with which he plays, however, the injury certainly will be checked out thoroughly by every team. Richardson suffered a slight MCL tear in 2011 and underwent surgery as a sophomore in high school after tearing ligaments in his ankle.
Richardson is currently slated to be a top five draft pick by Dane Brugler and I. Our colleague Pete Prisco has Richardson slipping a bit further but still has the Crimson Tide star earning a pick in the top half of the first round.
Since beating LSU in the BCS Championship, it has been a tough few weeks for several highly rated Alabama players. Prior to news of Richardson's injury, Tide seniors Josh Chapman (nose guard) and Mark Barron (safety) each missed the Senior Bowl due to injuries. Junior cornerback 'Dre Kirkpatrick was arrested (and ultimately had the charges dropped) for marijuana possession.
Richardson finished third in the Heisman voting in 2011 behind only Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck. He won the Doak Walker Award as the nation's elite running back, rushing for 1,583 yards and scoring 23 touchdowns, including the only touchdown in the BCS Championship Game.
NFLDraftScout.com currently lists Virginia Tech's David Wilson, Miami's Lamar Miller, Boise State's Doug Martin and Washington's Chris Polk as the other four backs behind Richardson as the top five talents at the position for the 2012 draft.
Posted on: February 6, 2012 11:30 am
Edited on: February 6, 2012 11:32 am
Alabama junior Trent Richardson is universally considered the top running back in the 2012 draft.
Ask five scouts which runner will follow him on draft day and you are liable to get five different answers. Some are enamored with the pure speed of Miami's Lamar Miller or Virginia Tech's David Wilson. Others like the all-around game of Boise State senior Doug Martin. With an MVP-performance in the Senior Bowl that showcased his potential as a returner, Cincinnati's Isaiah Pead is making a late run up the board.
A so-so performance in Mobile has taken some of the luster off of Washington's Chris Polk, but if he runs as fast in workouts as he and those close to him expect him to, the former Husky will certainly be in the mix.
Preparing interviews for Lindy's NFL Draft Preview scheduled to hit newstands March 1, I asked Chris at the Senior Bowl what he expects to run in the all-important 40-yard dash.
He smiled and replied simply, "Faster than any of you all think."
Pressed to be more specific, Polk elaborated.
"From what everyone has been saying and I've been reading, I guess speed is one of the big questions everyone has about me. I'm not that worried about it, to be honest with you. I know how fast I am. I expect to run something in the 4.4s."
Though Polk ran for 4,049 yards for the Huskies over his career, finishing second behind only former first round pick Napoleon Kaufman (4,106) in school history. Though he's shown the ability to break free for several long scores over his career (four TDs of 50+ yards), his straight-line speed is considered one of the question marks on an otherwise sparkling résumé.
Polk is currently preparing for the Combine at Athletes Performance Institute in Los Angeles. If his effort there result in a 40-yard dash time of 4.50 seconds or less, teams won't be able to ignore the fact that his game-tape, frankly, is more impressive than any of the other backs vying to follow Richardson.
Posted on: January 29, 2012 12:22 pm
Edited on: January 29, 2012 1:15 pm
As usual, the quarterbacks generated most of the hype throughout the week of practice at the Senior Bowl. But during the game Saturday it was their receivers who stole the spotlight as the North defeated the South, 23-13.
Arkansas wide receiver Joe Adams shrugged off a fumble in the first quarter to catch six passes for 116 yards for the South, demonstrating the elusiveness and pure speed that helped him return four punts for touchdowns this season, earning the SEC Special Teams Player of the Year award. For his efforts Adams was named the Senior Bowl's "Outstanding Player" for the South squad.
Arizona's Juron Criner, also of the South, was quiet early in the game but connected with college teammate, quarterback Nick Foles, to the tune of four catches for 50 yards and the South's only touchdown, a 20-yarder with 12:55 left in the game. Criner finished with six catches for 77 yards.
Those receivers managed to stand out despite lackluster play by the quarterbacks. Just as he was throughout the week of practice, Michigan State's Kirk Cousins, for the North, was the most impressive quarterback in the game.
He completed only five of 11 passes overall, with a touchdown and an interception. However, that one touchdown pass, a 41-yarder to Arizona State's Gerrell Robinson with 11:44 left in the third quarter, gave the North a 23-13 lead and enough cushion to hold on for a victory.
MVP honors for the game went to North running back Isaiah Pead, who was also Offensive Player of the Year for Cincinnati in the Big East. In the game, Pead collected 31 on the ground and 98 yards on punt two punt returns, including a 60-yarder that was the highlight of the first half.
Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden, the most consistent of the South team's quarterbacks throughout the practice week was the worst of the six passers Saturday, completing nearly as many passes to the defense (two interceptions) as he did to South receivers (five completions) for just 56 yards.
Other Senior Bowl standouts:
--Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina: Undeniably the most talented player in Mobile for the Senior Bowl, Coples continued his dominant week of practice with an MVP-caliber performance in the game. Coples, a shade under 6-6 and 281 pounds, was a consistent threat off the edge and used his long arms and obvious upper body strength to rag-doll pass blockers on his way to the quarterback. Perhaps the most impressive play of the game from Coples, however, came as a run defender. He shook off a block from Iowa State right tackle Kelechi Osemele and with one arm stopped the momentum of running back Isaiah Pead and threw him to the ground for a two-yard loss on 3rd and goal. If Coples played with the same intensity throughout his senior season that he did throughout the week in Mobile, he might have been the easy choice as the top defensive prospect in the 2012 draft.
--Isaiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati: The game's MVP was easily the most explosive running back in this. He demonstrated his unique straight-line speed and agility by accelerating through holes and making defenders miss as a running back and punt returner. Despite taking on return duties late in his senior season, Pead showed good vision and courage in attacking seams as he averaged 49 yards on the two opportunities. He demonstrated not only athleticism, but also the willingness to cut back inside against the grain and finish his runs.
--Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State: Despite playing with a little less consistency that scouts would like, the 6-7, 323 pound Adams impressed throughout the week of practice with his ability to maintain squarely in front of speed rushers and play with a reliable base against bull rushes. Adams played with much better consistency Saturday, controlling his opponent throughout the contest and distancing himself as the elite offensive line prospect in the Senior Bowl. Adams surrendered a sack in the 3rd quarter to Alabama's Courtney Upshaw but held up well initially to my top-rated senior prospect and only allowed the coverage sack on Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson after protecting for several seconds.
--Doug Martin, RB, Boise State: While Martin wasn't able to break free for the splashy plays that his North teammate Pead did, it was the former Bronco running back who was the best running back in Mobile throughout the week of practice and he followed that up with an impressive game. Martin showed good burst to and through the hole, as well as the vision and acceleration to gain yardage in chunks as a running back and kick returner. Having impressed scouts with his obvious dedication to the weight room by sporting a chiseled physique during Monday's weigh-in, Martin showcased that his attention to details isn't just limited to lifting weights. He provided excellent effort blocking downfield on a 41-yard touchdown catch by Robinson.
--Bobby Wagner, ILB, Utah State: Like Martin, Wagner initially caught the attention of NFL scouts by showcasing a powerful build on his 6-0, 241 pound frame during Monday's weigh-in. With defenders asked not to take ball-carriers to the ground throughout the week of practice, Wagner wasn't able to wow scouts with what he does best -- tackle -- until the game. He certainly did on Saturday, anticipating and closing quickly on ball-carriers and then wrapping up cleanly to tie with South Carolina safety Antonio Allen to lead the game with seven tackles. Wagner also proved his playmaking ability, recording a tackle for loss and an interception of Weeden in the first quarter.
For much more Senior Bowl content from NFLDraftScout.com, click here.
Posted on: January 24, 2012 8:21 am
Edited on: January 25, 2012 1:58 pm
MOBILE, Ala. -- Making a strong first impression at the Senior Bowl can send a player's stock skyrocketing and boost his rookie contract by millions of dollars.
Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins and California wide receiver Marvin Jones can't start writing checks just yet but if they continue the sparkling efforts turned in Monday during the North Team practices they could prove to be two of the big winners from this year's Senior Bowl.
Cousins out-shined Wisconsin's Russell Wilson and Boise State's Kellen Moore by attacking all levels of a talented North defense. His experience in a pro-style offense was obvious as he made quick decisions, showed accuracy short, middle and deep and thread the needle through tight spaces. Whereas his teammates struggled to find a rhythm with their new receiving corps, Cousins was hitting on all cylinders, spreading the ball all over the field and hitting his backs, tight ends and receivers on a variety of routes.
Like Cousins, Jones entered the Senior Bowl with significantly less hype that others at his position. Jones, who measured in at a shade under 6-2 and 200 pounds during the morning weigh-ins, was quick off the snap, showed burst out of his breaks to gain separation and the speed to slip past cornerbacks for big plays. He caught everything thrown his way, showing the hand strength to gather in passes thrown slightly off-target as well as the vision to track deep balls over his shoulder.
Jones wasn't the only wideout to make eye-popping plays on the day, though he was the most consistent.
A few uncharacteristic drops from Appalachian State's Brian Quick late in Monday's practice dampened an otherwise strong initial showing from the FCS All-American. Quick, who measured in at a chiseled 6-3 (and a 1/2) and 222 pounds Monday morning was the early star among receivers. Though not sudden off the line of scrimmage, his long-strides help him to quickly eat up the cushion and he showed terrific hand-eye coordination making several impressive catches out of some poor throws. Quick, in fact, arguably made the catch of the day when he snatched a quick out thrown high and wide by Moore. Quick used every bit of his height and long arms to pull the ball down while dragging both feet in bounds to secure the catch.
It took some strong catches from Jones, Quick and a few other North receivers to get Moore on track. The Boise State All-American appeared every bit as un-athletic as scouts feared when he measured in at a touch under 6-0 (5'11 and 3/4) and 191 pounds during the weigh-in. Worse, concerns about his arm strength appeared to be legitimate when he struggled connecting with his receivers on simple quick outs to open practice. As practice went on, however, Moore seemed to settle in and the accuracy and touch he demonstrated in throwing a staggering 142 touchdowns against just 28 interceptions during his record-breaking career with the Broncos were again on display. Moore is especially effective throwing down the seam, showing excellent touch to settle passes in over the linebacker and in front of the safety to slot receivers and tight ends.
Russell Wilson clearly has the arm strength to make NFL throws but was surprisingly tentative in his first Senior Bowl practice. Too often he stood flat-footed in the pocket and surveyed the field looking for easy completions. He attacked holes when he saw them, rifling in passes through tight coverage but also stared down his receivers on occasion and was nearly picked off a few times.
Of the North's receivers, Ohio State's Devier Posey provided the biggest challenge to a talented defensive backfield that included Nebraska's Alfonzo Dennard, graded by some scouts entering the year among the nation's elite senior prospects at any position. Posey's speed allowed him to slip past Dennard as well as Iowa State's Leonard Johnson and Boston College's Donnie Fletcher but too often Posey simply dropped the ball when his quarterbacks didn't place it perfectly. Posey struggled adjusting to passes slightly behind and had a couple of big play opportunities simply bounce to the ground because he allowed passes to get into his pads rather than catching the ball with his hands.
The concern was the exact opposite for his Big Ten rival Marvin McNutt from the Iowa Hawkeyes. McNutt has excellent size (6'2 1/2, 212 pounds), strength, hands and route-running to be a possession receiver in the NFL but didn't show much in terms of elusiveness or the speed to turn short and intermediate passes into big plays. He is a savvy route-runner, however, who was consistently open despite aggressive coverage from defensive backs.
It wasn't a standout practice for any of the North's defensive backs. Dennard showed his characteristic physicality in challenging big and small receivers, alike, but also proved vulnerable to double-moves, getting beaten over the top by Jones and McNutt, alike.
Oklahoma's Jamell Fleming and Cal Poly's Asa Jackson had their moments, each demonstrating a quick, low backpedal and good burst back to the ball.
Scouts will want to see improvement from Fletcher and Penn State's D'Anton Lynn. Each struggled to keep up with the North's receivers, showing average change of direction and speed. Fletcher was turned around on several occasions early in practice before the North's quarterbacks and receivers turned their attention to Lynn. The former Nittany Lion was victimized by Cousins and Wilson often as practice wore, perhaps an indication of their comfort with his limited playing speed and awareness after having played against him in the Big Ten.
Extra Notes: The Monday morning weigh-in put the spotlight on a couple of under-the-radar prospects scouts will no doubt be keeping an eye on this week. Quick looked every bit the part of a standout NFL receiver with his impressive measurables, as did Utah State inside linebacker Bobby Wagner (6'0, 241), Boise State running back Doug Martin (5'09, 219) and Michigan defensive lineman Mike Martin (6'1, 307). Though the Martins are not related, one wouldn't know it by their compact, heavily muscled builds... Clemson defensive end Andre Branch was among those who may have been caught in the bad weather that kept several from getting into Mobile as planned. NFL officials informed scouts that Branch would be participating this week but that he was not in Mobile for Monday morning's weigh-in... Cincinnati running back Isaiah Pead got an opportunity to field punts late in Monday's practice, showing the concentration to catch the ball in traffic as well as the burst, elusiveness and vision you'd expect from the all-conference running back. Pead was rarely used in this capacity while with the Bearcats but turned some heads with his few opportunities Monday... Boise State's Shea McClellin (6-3, 248) lined up at defensive end for the Broncos but practiced at outside linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings' staff Monday. He showed good footwork in the bag drills early...
Category: NFL Draft
Posted on: January 23, 2012 2:37 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 1:59 pm
MOBILE, Ala. -- It might seem silly to think that lasting impressions can be made on scouts when athletes strut on stage for the weigh-ins prior to various all-star games but talent evaluators can take a lot from the height, weight, hand size, arm length, and general build of the athletes.
Each football position carries with it certain ideal measurements. This, of course, does not mean that players can't be successful in the NFL despite being shorter, heavier or physically less impressive than expected. It does, however, give scouts an idea as to where a prospect might project in the pros, as well as his dedication to the weight-room, etc.
At no all-star game is this more important, of course, than the Senior Bowl, the most prestigious and talent-filled all-star game in college football.
The Senior Bowl weigh-in took place this morning and there were some surprises.
First, there were a few players unable to attend the game. Of the notables is Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright and Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still. Wright suffered an ankle injury and was unable to attend. Still is nursing a sprained big toe.
Clemson defensive end Andre Branch is scheduled to play in the game but was not yet in Mobile this morning to be measured. There was only one addition to the roster so far, Arkansas State outside linebacker Demario Davis was not yet in Mobile but was announced as a player coming in to participate. Davis is NFLDraftScout.com's No. 23 rated outside linebacker for the 2012 draft.
Perhaps the most significant element of the weigh-in proceedings is simply comparing the so-called "small school" prospects to the BCS players. Fortunately for Appalachian State wide receiver Brian Quick, Furman cornerback Ryan Steed, Massachusetts H-back/fullback Emil Igwenagu and Cal Poly cornerback Asa Jackson, their impressive physiques certainly passed the eye-ball test as legitimate pro prospects.
Quick, in fact, was one of the more physically impressive players on either roster. He measured in at 6-3 (1/2) and a rock-solid 222 pounds. His 33 1/2 inch arms were only slighter shorter than North Carolina's Dwight Jones (33 5/8) and Texas A&M's Jeff Fuller (34 1/8) -- two receivers who have generated a great deal more national attention than Quick.
The most impressive builds of the day were sported by Utah State inside linebacker Bobby Wagner (6-0 and a 1/4, 241 pounds), Boise State running back Doug Martin (5-09, 219), Michigan defensive tacke Mike Martin (6-1 and a 1/2, 307 pounds) and Florida State linebacker Nigel Bradham (6-1 and 5/8, 237 pounds).
Of the offensive linemen, hand size and arm length are of extreme importance. Due to this fact, Iowa State's Kelechi Osemele (10 3/8" inch hands, 35 1/4" arms), Georgia's Cordy Glenn (10, 35 1/8), Florida State's Zebrie Sanders (11, 34 5/8), Ohio State's Mike Adams (11, 33 3/4) showed the big hands and long arms to help convince scouts that they should remain outside at offensive tackle rather than move inside to guard.
With some prospects impressing with their athletic frames, there will naturally be some disappointments. It is worth repeating that the NFL is full of prospects who appeared too small, too heavy or too thin in shorts only to prove Pro-Bowlers on the field. Still, the relatively soft builds for Washington running back Chris Polk, Alabama center William Vlachos, Boise State defensive lineman Billy Winn and Marshall defensive end Vinny Curry were a bit surprising. So too was the fact that North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples, NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated prospect in Mobile for this game, measured in lighter than expected at 281 pounds. Coples measured in at just under 6-6 (6-5, 3/4") and had been listed by the Tar Heels at 285 pounds and some expected him to measure closer to 295. Clearly, Coples is attempting to prove he's lean and athletic enough to remain at defensive end rather than move back inside to defensive tackle.
Following the player weigh-ins is the first practice of the week. On every day of the week the North and South teams will alternate practicing at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile per day. Today, however, the North team will practice at Ladd-Peebles whereas the South team will be practicing simultaneously in nearby Fairhope.
Category: NFL Draft
Tags: Alabama, Andre Branch, Appalachian State, Arkansas State, Asa Jackson, Baylor, Billy Winn, Boise State, Brian Quick, Cal Poly, Chris Polk, Clemson, Cordy Glenn, Demario Davis, Devon Still, Devon Still, Doug Martin, Dwight Jones, Emil Igwenagu, Florida State, Furman, Furman, Georgia, Iowa State, Jeff Fuller, Kelechi Osemele, Kendall Wright, Massachusetts, Mike Adams, Mike Martin, NFLDraftScout.com, Nigel Bradham, North Carolina, Ohio State, Quinton Coples, Ryan Steed, Senior Bowl, Texas A&M, Utah State, Vinny Curry, Washington, William Vlachos, Zebrie Sanders
Posted on: December 26, 2011 11:13 am
Quarterback Kellen Moore finished his career at Boise State with a 50-3 record. He'll get an opportunity to play in one more game with the familiar blue and orange Broncos helmet, as he and three other Boise State standouts have been invited to play in the 2012 Senior Bowl.
Running back Doug Martin, defensive lineman Billy Winn and safety George Iloka will join Moore in Mobile, Alabama for the nation's premier college football all-star game, according to a report from Chad Cripe of the Idaho Statesman.
While everyday college football fans might be surprised to see so many Broncos represented in this game, those paying attention are not. This senior class of Broncos enjoyed a spectacular run of 50 wins over the past four years, including a sparkling 6-0 record against automatic qualifying BCS teams like Oregon (twice), Oregon State, Georgia, Virginia Tech and Arizona State. Boise State finished ranked in the top 11 after each of these players' four seasons.
Kellen Moore gets all of the fanfare and rightfully so considering his gaudy statistics. He leaves Boise ranked first in wins (50) and interception percentage in college football history. Just 1.69% of Moore's 1,628 career passes were intercepted, compared to 142 passing touchdowns -- the second most in NCAA history.
At 6-0, 195 pounds, however, and possessing an adequate arm (at best), Moore is generally regarded as a late round or free agent NFL prospect. NFLDraftScout.com rates him as the 15th best quarterback likely to be available in the 2012 draft, in fact. My personal evaluation of Moore can be read here.
While Moore gets the hype, it will be Martin and Winn competing to be the first Bronco selected in the 2012 draft.
NFLDraftScout.com has ranked the 5-09, 210 pound Martin among the elite senior running back prospects in the country the entire season. I've given him a second round grade, but with the lower value most teams are now placing on running backs, NFLDraftScout.com is projecting him to go in the third. Martin, a hard-running back with arguably the most lethal spin move in college football, racked up an eye-popping 3,431 yards and 43 touchdowns over his Boise State career. Seeking a spark against Arizona State in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas last Thursday the coaches put him back to receive kickoffs, something he'd done only 26 times previously in his career. Martin promptly returned the opening kickoff 100 for a score against the Sun Devils.
Winn lined up at defensive end and defensive tackle for the Broncos and scouts are projecting the 6-3, 300 pounder to provide similar versatility in the NFL. Winn only posted one sack this season among his 30 tackles (including six tackles for loss) so it isn't fair to expect him to attack the edge, but his size and power make him a natural run defender capable of lining up outside in the 3-4 and inside in the 4-3. Scouts would have liked to see more consistency out of Winn throughout his career, but he did have a tendency to enjoy some of his best games against top competition. Considering the relative lack of top-flight defensive linemen in the 2012 senior class, some believe he has a chance to parlay his Senior Bowl opportunity into a top 40 grade. Winn is currently graded by NFLDraftScout.com as the 53rd overall prospect and sixth among defensive ends.
Of the four prospects Iloka has received the least amount of fanfare, but Boise State has consistently churned out NFL-caliber defensive backs over the past several seasons, highlighted by the New York Jets making Kyle Wilson (another Senior Bowl standout) a first round pick two years ago. Bigger and potentially faster than some of the so-called "elite" safety prospects in the country, the 6-3, 213 pound Iloka has long been a standout at free safety for the Broncos and even slid to cornerback for a few games this season as Boise State was hit hard by injuries at the position. He was held without an interception in 2011 but finished second on the team with 57 tackles and has the fluidity and size combination to project as either a strong or free safety in the NFL. Iloka is currently ranked as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 4 overall free safety prospect and third among seniors.
These four prospects could be joined by several other Boise State players to hear their name called out on draft weekend four months now. Pass rusher Shea McClellin and offensive tackle Nate Potter, in particular, are considered likely candidates to get drafted and could wind up with all-star invitations of their own shortly.