Tag:Heisman
Posted on: February 28, 2011 6:44 pm
 

Cam Newton "struggled" in some team interviews

Cam Newton's struggles in the throwing session at the Combine Sunday has already been well documented. His strategy of reading a prepared statement and refusing to acknowledge the extent of the "mistakes" he made earlier in his career while at Florida has been hotly contested.

Even more of a concern, however, is that the reigning Heisman winner is also struggling answering football questions during team interviews at the Combine.

NFLDraftScout.com has learned that at least two teams gave Newton poor grades for his "football character" following interviewing him at the Combine. Newton, according to league sources, had a difficult time drawing up plays and how to react to different defensive schemes when asked to work on the white board.

There is no denying Newton's potential, but his success in spread option offense much simpler than anything he'll see in the NFL continues to be his greatest challenge. Not all teams are convinced he has the ability to make the adjustment to the complex defensive schemes he'll see at the pro level.

Posted on: January 13, 2011 9:59 pm
 

Newton's upside could result in a Top 10 pick

Heisman Trophy winner and national champion Cam Newton made the announcement Thursday we all knew was coming -- he's forgoing his senior season at Auburn and declaring early for the 2011 NFL Draft.

Newton is entering the draft at the perfect time. With the success of Michael Vick this season (as well as rookie Tim Tebow), there is increasing evidence that a multi-purpose threat like Newton can be successful in the NFL. Furthermore, the poise he demonstrated both on and off the field this season has impressed scouts.

With Newton, however, it is best to temper our expectations of what he can do immediately at the pro level.

Newton's dominant junior campaign in Gus Malzahn's offense does not mean that he'll take the NFL world by storm. Quite the opposite is possible, in fact.

Like virtually every quarterback playing in today's college football, Newton will have to make significant adjustments to the complexities of the NFL game. The beauty of Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn's spread option offense is that it simplified Newton's reads. For most plays the quarterback only had to make one or two checks. If his options were covered up, he simply ran the football. He did most of this out of the shotgun.

In the NFL, he'll be asked to drop back from center more often, make multiple reads before and after the snap and won't have the luxury of simply running half of the time. Essentially, he'll be forced to make twice as many decisions in half the time. 

The BCS Championship game perfectly encapsulated the positives and negatives of Newton's game.

On the one hand, it was clear that Newton had a long ways to go in reading defenses and in his footwork. He was badly fooled by some of Oregon's coverages, resulting in a 1st quarter interception. Of even greater concern is that Newton failed to set his feet on many of his simplest throws, diminishing his accuracy as critical moments -- such as on the 4th and goal flutter ball that died in front of fullback Eric Smith.

But for the poor plays that every armchair quarterback watching the game saw Monday night, scouts couldn't help but acknowledge his rare blend of size, arm strength and mobility. Newton showed the ability to fire the ball down the sideline to shred Cover-2. He repeatedly bought time in the pocket with his mobility. And when he left the pocket, he was a load to bring down, carrying defenders on multiple occasions for first downs.

Clearly Newton needs time to develop before he can be expected to lead an NFL team. In terms of pro-readiness, Missouri's Blaine Gabbert, Washington's Jake Locker, Arkansas' Ryan Mallett and even lesser prospects like Florida State's Christian Ponder and Iowa's Ricky Stanzi rank ahead of him.

As we've seen on so many occasions in the NFL, however, the draft is all about upside.

And in the eyes of most scouts, there isn't a quarterback in this draft who can match's Newton in that category.

If Newton is able to alleviate teams' concerns about his so-called character red-flags, he could enjoy a steady rise up the board, perhaps winding up as the first or second quarterback selected in 2011. With QB-needy teams like the Panthers, Bills, Cardinals, 49ers, Titans and Redskins all drafting in the top ten, it isn't difficult to imagine one of these clubs rolling the dice on his potential.

His rise could be very similar to the one that saw Vince Young bump Jay Cutler and Matt Leinart in 2006.

Remember, they too, were considered more pro-ready, at the time.

Posted on: September 10, 2010 9:49 pm
 

Five seniors I'll be scouting closely Saturday

With three DVD burners running around the clock, I'll be recording nearly every televised college football game throughout the year. There is only so much time in the day, so I have to put some careful thought into picking the games (and more specifically, the prospects) each Saturday in which to scout live.

For most of the football-watching world, this weekend will be all about the NFL. I understand that. I'm as excited as anyone for the rest of the beginning of the opening weekend -- especially after the Saints and Vikings looked a bit rusty on Thursday night.

The NCAA season really amps up this weekend, however, with some of the more exciting matchups of the season scheduled. I'm particularly intrigued by the Ohio State-Miami, Florida State-Oklahoma, Penn State-Alabama matchups. A couple of others that haven't received the national hype they normally would due to the "Big Three" but that I'm verrrry interested to scout include Georgia at South Carolina, Colorado at California, Oregon at Tennessee and Stanford at UCLA.

Each Friday night/Saturday morning throughout the rest of the season I'll put up a similar post as this one. Should you like to scout "alongside" me, follow me on Twitter @ RobRang

These are five senior prospects I'll be watching closely:

QB Christian Ponder, Florida State: Ponder looked every bit the part of a high first round pick last Saturday, completing 14 of 16 passes for 169 yards and four touchdowns in the season opener. That, however, was against Samford. Needless to say, he might find the going a bit tougher in Norman, Saturday. Considering that the Sooners struggled defensively against a weaker opponent (Utah State), themselves, Ponder will certainly have Oklahoma's undivided attention. With a win and a strong performance, Ponder could move into the upper echelon of Heisman contenders. How he handles the noise and pressure of Oklahoma's aggressive defense will go a long way in proving to scouts that he's progressed from the poor decisions that ended his last road game. In that contest, at Clemson last year, Ponder threw four interceptions (he'd thrown only three in his previous eight games) and hurt his shoulder making a tackle of safety DeAndre McDaniel (on an interception return), ending Ponder's 2009 season. 

QB Nathan Enderle, Idaho:
Enderle entered the year as one of the more intriguing senior quarterbacks in the country. Long prior to scouts buzzing about former Vandal Mike Iupati, there were whispers that the Vandals had a legitimate NFL passing prospect. I'm certainly not expecting to see Enderle lead Idaho to an upset of Nebraska in Lincoln, but if the 6-4, 234 pound Enderle is to prove to NFL scouts that he has the moxie and arm strength to handle the pro game, he'll need to show something Saturday. The Cornhuskers are a bit of a step up in competition from last week's opponent, North Dakota. In that game, Enderle completed 24 of 37 passes for 311 yards, two TDs and an INT.

ILB Colin McCarthy, Miami: The great Miami teams of the past all seemingly boasted instinctive, athletic linebackers. In McCarthy, the 'Canes have one of the more intriguing and versatile linebackers in the ACC -- and that is saying something considering the talent in this conference. Wearing the same No. 44 that the legendary Dan Morgan starred with, McCarthy will have to enjoy a strong game against Ohio State if his defense is going to handle this multi-faceted offense. McCarthy doesn't necessarily have to post Morgan-like eye-popping statistics to help his grade in my eyes. He will, however, have to show great instincts and athleticism to contain Terrelle Pryor's running. That, in reality, might be the tougher assignment.

OC/OG Stefen Wisniewksi, Penn State: The play of Heisman-winner Mark Ingram and wideout Julio Jones might have earned many of the headlines, but anyone who watched the Tide throughout last year knows that Nick Saban's bunch won the National Championship based largely on the physicality and depth of their defense. Wisniewksi, the nephew of former Raider great, Steve, will have his hands full with this defensive line. He'll start at right guard, but we currently view his best pro position at center.

OT Nate Solder, Colorado: The Buffs have struggled through some lean years recently, but with Solder, the team boasts its highest rated offensive prospect since tight end Daniel Graham was the 21st overall pick of the 2002 draft (Patriots). Solder, who despite the presence of No. 4 and No. 6 overall picks Trent Williams and Russell Okung, earned First Team All-Big 12 honors from conference coaches last year, is currently rated as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 2 senior offensive tackle. The veteran of 29 starts, Solder possesses rare size (6-8, 302) and yet is still quite nimble. He'd be better be Saturday, considering the variety of pass rushers he'll face against California's unique (at least for college) 3-4 scheme. Among those pass rushers is Cal's Cameron Jordan. Their individual battle could be one of the country's best, if most unheralded, of the day.


Posted on: January 7, 2010 7:54 pm
Edited on: January 8, 2010 10:27 am
 

Which Kindle shows up tonight?

One of the more hotly contested prospects in the entire country, Texas DE/OLB Sergio Kindle, will have an opportunity tonight to establish himself as a legitimate first round pick -- or potentially slip in the mid to late portion of the second round.

The 6-4, 255 pound Kindle is as quick off the snap as any defensive end in the country and generates even greater momentum around the corner due to his straight-line speed. He's effective against the run, especially when chasing down ball-carriers from the backside. He's fluid enough that teams operating out of the 3-4 alignment are intrigued not only by speed as a pass rusher, but his agility in coverage, as well.

However, for as athletic as he is, Kindle is a frustrating player to scout, as he doesn't locate the ball well enough or use his hands to fight through blocks. This is one of the primary reasons why Texas credits him with 31 QB hurries entering this contest, but only 3 sacks.  He's like several other potential DE-OLB converts in this class (Clemson's Ricky Sapp and NC State's Wille Young are others) who can dominate for a play or two, only to disappear for long stretches.

With their focus on the run game, Alabama likely won't give Kindle as many opportunities to show off his speed rushing the passer as many of the pass-heavy Big 12 teams have this season. How Kindle is able to handle Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram and the Tide's power running game -- especially when they elect to run directly at him -- could be the hidden factor that determines the National Championship, as well as how NFL scouts project Kindle at the next level.

Posted on: September 17, 2009 7:31 pm
 

Don't Read Too Much into Weaver's Tebow Talk

In some circles the comments from Jacksonville Jaguar owner Wayne Weaver about the possibility of drafting Florida quarterback Tim Tebow is being taken as an indication that the club has already established the former Heisman winner and current National Champion as a first round pick.

In reality, there remains considerable debate as to Tebow's upside as a pro-style quarterback. I've spoken to scouts who feel he'll never make it as a quarterback and have Tebow rated as a middle round prospect at tight end or fullback. Others, of course, feel he'll acclimate to a pro offense once given time to practice it on a daily basis.

Weaver's most telling quote in the AP story was:

"The game is such an important part of this community, and Tebow is such an iconic figure that people would legitimately think, 'Wouldn't it be great if he was a Jaguar..." I'd be silly to sit here and think that's not going to be a huge thing. Clearly there's going to be a groundswell for Tebow, and we'll have to make that evaluation if we have a draft pick that's going to be anywhere near him." Weaver is no dummy. He owns a franchise that is struggling to sell out games. They have lost a reported 17,000 season ticket holders from last season and may struggle to sell out any game this year. Pumping up local hero Tebow is a way to indicate to his fans that he's disappointed, as well, and eagerly looking forward to bringing in new, exciting talent. 

However, in the words of one Jacksonville scout about pegging Tebow as the future of the franchise "Man, we're a long, long way from that..."


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