Posted on: February 23, 2010 6:37 pm
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Posted on: January 14, 2010 10:32 pm
Arizona junior tight end Rob Gronkowski, who missed the entire 2009 season after undergoing surgery on a herniated disk and nerve damage in his lower back in September, has scheduled a press conference for Friday morning and is expected to announce that he's entering his name in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Though he doesn't have Jermaine Gresham's big name, the 6-6, 265 pound Gronkowski could compete with the former Oklahoma star at the top of tight end rankings if he can prove he's healthy. According to sources, Gronkowski flew on January 6th to Marina del Rey, California to meet with the doctor who performed the surgery on and has since been running and working out in preparation for next season.
Whether next season is with the Wildcats or the NFL, of course, only Gronkowski knows, at this time.
Considering that his older brother, senior H-back Chris Gronkowski will be leaving after this season and the relatively weak class of tight ends, scouts expect the 2008 first-team all-Pac-10 choice to leave early -- assuming he feels secure in the health of his back.
Voted a third-team All-American in 2008 after he caught 47 passes for 672 yards and 10 touchdowns despite missing the first three games due to illness (mono), Gronkowski entered the 2009 season on the John Mackey Award watchlist. With only two seasons under his belt, he's Arizona's all-time leading tight end in various categories, including the single game, single season, and career leader in receptions (75), receiving yards (1,197) and touchdowns (16).
Blessed with great size, good athleticism and soft hands, he's a true threat on short and intermediate routes and a better blocker than most give him credit for.
Completely healthy, he'd likely earn a first round grade from teams. Considering that seriousness of his back injury and resulting surgery, however, teams could be hesitant to use a first round pick on him. That said, in a class with only one other true headliner at tight end -- and, of course, Gresham is coming off his own surgery -- and a series of specialists (receiver specialists Aaron Hernandez, Ed Dickson and blocking specialist Anthony McCoy), a spot among the Top 50 certainly seems possible.
Posted on: December 4, 2009 2:04 pm
Edited on: December 4, 2009 2:05 pm
A day after the biggest Civil War since Robert E. Lee and the NFL draft world is still buzzing about the performances of several of the Oregon-Oregon State prospects. The ironic thing is that three of the four earning the most attention post-game from scouts came from the Beavers, who, in case you missed it, were on the losing end of the 37-33 classic for the right to represent the Pac-10 against Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.
Quarterback Sean Canfield was as advertised. While the Ducks' pass rush and the frenzied home crowd proved too much for his offensive line in the 4th quarter, Canfield was poised in the pocket and accurate to all levels of the field. He threw for 307 yards and two touchdowns in the loss. He was particularly impressive in the closing seconds of the first half in leading OSU to a go-ahead touchdown and in the first drive of the 3rd quarter to extend the lead. His deep-out on Oregon State's 4th and 15 that ended the Beavers' last offensive possession was slightly underthrown, but a catchable ball correctly placed down and out and away from the defender.
Junior wideout James Rodgers (who was unable to come up with Canfield's 4th down pass) stole the show from his more hyped brother, super-sophomore running back Jacquizz, for much of the night. Though certainly shorter than scouts would like at an estimated 5-7, Rodgers, like his younger brother, plays with impressive strength and toughness. His vision, instincts and leaping ability helped him accumulate an eye-popping 10 catches for 139 yards and the go-ahead score seconds before halftime.
Though skill position players often generate the most attention, kudos to the ESPN broadcast crew for highlighting the dominant play inside by Beavers junior defensive tackle Stephen Paea. Paea (pronounced Pie-uh) posted an impressive statline (4.5 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles), but was even more impressive than his stats would indicate. His quickness, low center of gravity and explosive upper body strength made him a consistent threat inside. He's a likely first round pick, barring injury, should he enter the draft after this season or return to Corvalis for 2010.
Tight end Ed Dickson and safety TJ Ward will be drafted higher, but running back LaGarrette Blount was the Duck who helped his stock the most last night. Earning his first playing time since being reinstated following the infamous sucker-punch against Boise State, Blount showed the relatively quick feet, straight-line speed and bullish power scouts had seen flashes of last year when he led the Pac-10 in rushing touchdowns (17) despite not starting a single game (behind senior Jeremiah Johnson). Blount will have to convince scouts that he can maintain his composure to have any chance at the NFL, but Oregon head coach Chip Kelly showed his faith in Blount by inserting him into the lineup in the 3rd quarter. Blount's entry into the game seemed to rejuventate the Ducks, who outscored the Beavers 17-3 from then on.
Posted on: September 30, 2009 1:34 pm
I turned in my film review of the 10 players I'll be highlighting in the Week Five issue of Draft Slant to my editors last night.
As I'll try to do each week, here is the list of the players I focused on:
Player of the Week: WR Mardy Gilyard, Cincinnati: (Great open field player, but one concern obvious after Fresno State game)
Diamond in the Rough: RS LeRoy Vann, Florida A&M : (Dynamic return specialist with back to back 2 TD return games already in '09)
Eight Others Deserving Mention Based on Film Review:
RB Anthony Dixon, Mississippi State (bruising back should have had an opportunity to beat LSU)
TE Ed Dickson, Oregon (Did the Ducks intentionally "forget" about Dickson early in the season to exploit the Cal 3-4 scheme?)
OG Mitch Petrus, Arkansas (Former FB has great feet, aggression in getting to the 2nd level)
OT Ciron Black, LSU (think Flozell Adams)
OLB Eric Norwood, South Carolina (He may not have the prototypical size and speed, but neither did Tedy Bruschi)
DT Tyson Alualu, California (At least one Golden Bear showed up to play against Oregon)
RB/WR Dexter McCluster, Mississippi (Is he a RB? Is he a WR? Is he a legitimate NFL prospect?)
SS Cody Grimm, Virginia Tech (Lacks the size and straight-line speed, but his instincts and quickness are enough to get drafted)
I hope you'll consider checking out an issue of Draft Slant . I check every outlet for draft information you can imagine -- through NFL teams, on the Web, over the air-waves, etc. If the information inside our weekly PDF isn't better than anything else you've seen in a weekly Draft perspective, I'd be stunned.
Posted on: September 26, 2009 6:18 pm
One of the missing elements of Oregon's offense over the first 3 games of the season had been big-play tight end Ed Dickson. The Cal Golden Bears, however, must be wishing Dickson hadn't discovered his game today, as the second-team All-Pac-10 pick has been unstoppable this afternoon, racking up 11 catches for 148 yards and 3 touchdowns with over 2 minutes still to go in the 3rd quarter.
Dickson has been used on a variety of routes, showcasing his unique blend of size (6-3, 245), strength, agility and speed. Blessed with soft hands and good vision in the open field, Dickson has caught everything thrown his direction and quickly turned upfield for positive yardage. His latest touchdown came off a screen, in which Dickson turned, caught the quick pass and read his blocks correctly to scoot free into the open field for a 36 yard score.
With his play today, Dickson certainly deserves consideration for Player of the Week honors in our fifth edition of the 2009-2010 Draft Slant, our weekly PDF on sale now .
Among the other early favorites to be included are:
Cincinnati WR Mardy Gilyard (Potential Player of the Week)
Cincinnati QB Tony Pike
Virginia Tech OG Sergio Render
Mississippi State RB Anthony Dixon
LSU DE Rahim Alem
LSU WR Brandon LaFell (potential Player of the Week)
Cal DT Tyson Alaalu
Alabama DT Terrance Cody
Alabama OG Mike Johnson
Arkansas OG Mitch Petrus
Michigan DE Brandon Graham
Category: NFL Draft
Tags: Cal, Cincinnati WR Mardy Gilyard (Potential Player of the Week) Cincinnati QB Tony Pike Virginia Tech OG Sergio Render Mississippi State RB Anthony Dixon LSU DE Rahim Alem LSU WR Brandon LaFell (potential Player of the Week) Cal DT Tyson Alaalu Alabama DT Terr, Draft Slant, Ed Dickson, Oregon Ducks
Posted on: September 3, 2009 1:58 pm
The FBS season officially begins today with the a full slate of games, including as many as five televised contests, depending on your location and cable provider.
South Carolina travels to North Carolina State in an intriguing regional and SEC/ACC conference battle. Each team offers plenty of talent for NFL scouts and fans to pay attention to; not the least of which are a pair of pass rushers in South Carolina's Eric Norwood and NC State Wolfpack defensive end Willie Young. Norwood is a well known commodity after earning back to back All-SEC accolades after the past two years. Young is not quite as well known across the country, but I think the 6-4, 250 pound pass rusher could turn in a big senior campaign. With the Gamecocks losing Jamon Meredith to the Green Bay Packers last April, Young could flash some of his intriguing burst off the snap to harass talented sophomore quarterback Stephen Garcia and put a damper on Steve Spurrier's passing attack. The game will begin at 7 pm (EST) on ESPN.
Following the opener is a very intriguing west coast battle between Oregon and Boise State. The Ducks are looking for payback after losing 37-32 in Eugene to the Broncos last season. Oregon features one of the more intriguing running backs in the country in senior LaGarrette Blount, a 6-1, 240 pound back who led the Pac-10 and broke the school record with 17 rushing touchdowns last season despite starting zero games behind Jeremiah Johnson. With Johnson off to the NFL, however, Blount, a JUCO transfer, will have this season to shine. Tight end Ed Dickson is another intriguing Duck to keep an eye on. The Broncos have their share of NFL prospects, as well. The most exciting being cornerback and return specialist Kyle Wilson, who considered leaving school last year after posting 5 INTs and 3 returned punts for touchdowns. This game, also on ESPN, is slated to start at 10:15 EST.
Other potentially televised games are:
North Texas at Ball State (ESPNU) at 7:30
Eastern Kentucky at Indiana (Big Ten Network) at 8:00
Utah State at Utah (The Mountain) at 9:00