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Tag:Houston
Posted on: January 25, 2012 6:29 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 6:36 pm
 

Arizona WR Criner quieting critics at Senior Bowl

MOBILE, Ala -- Arizona wide receiver Juron Criner saw his stock slip before his senior season even began amid concerns about family and personal health issues. 

While those issues will still need to be investigated fully by NFL teams, the playmaking skills that he demonstrated throughout an record-breaking career with the Wildcats have helped him stand out this week for the South Team at the Senior Bowl.    

Though I still have reservations about Criner's straight-line speed, he's shown enough in that category to eat up the cushion against off-man coverage supplied by a cornerback group for the South that is as strong as any position playing in the 2012 Senior Bowl. Criner runs precise routes and has excellent body control to adjust to the ball while it is in flight. He demonstrated this in beating North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins, my 21st overall rated prospect in the 2012 draft on a deep ball midway through Wednesday's practice.    

Criner's ability to track the ball and make big plays haven't ever been the question. After all, he caught 75 passes for 956 yards and 11 touchdowns in just 12 games as a senior and this was a drop-off from the year before when he earned All-American honors with 82 catches for 1,233 yards and 11 scores. Though he certainly doesn't possess the big play speed of Arkansas' Joe Adams or Houston's Patrick Edwards, he's frankly been a more reliable target this week than either of the other two big possession receivers NFLDraftScout.com currently rates ahead of him -- North Carolina's Dwight Jones and Texas A&M's Jeff Fuller.
      
I spoke to a high-ranking team official who recently met with Criner to get a better gauge as to the level of concern he, personally, had with Criner's off-field issues.

"I'm not concerned at all," the official said. "That stuff was overblown by the media. The coaches there [Arizona] say he is a good kid.  He's gone through some tough stuff but I don't know of anything that would cause his stock to be impacted by it."

Posted on: December 3, 2011 11:54 am
 

Five Prospects to Watch -- Championship Weekend

Each weekend 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.

QB Case Keenum, Houston: Considering that the Houston Cougars are the only other FBS team other than No. 1 ranked LSU to have finished the regular season undefeated, I understand the pressure to rank them highly. That said, there are a host of teams currently ranked inside the top 20 that I'd pick to beat Houston, currently ranked No. 6. The biggest reason for Houston's success this season has been the stellar play of Keenum and this explosive offense. At 6-1, 210 pounds Keenum lacks prototypical size for the NFL and scouts question whether his arm strength and accuracy is exaggerated in an offense that relies so much on timing and short to intermediate routes. Keenum has faced one defense this season that ranks in the top 50 in stopping the pass, so his NCAA-leading 4,726 yards may be a mirage -- at least when it comes to the NFL. Still, his production and toughness are undeniable. A strong performance against an athletic and physical Southern Miss defense could help Keenum get an opportunity in a big-time all-star game. This game begins at noon ET and will be televised by ABC.

QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor*:  The fact that RGIII has shot up to No. 15 in my latest Big Board tells you that I am on board with his projection to the NFL. That said, Griffin will be facing a tough test against the Longhorns, who boast the top pass defense in the Big 12. Texas put a damper on Texas A&M Ryan Tannehill's stock last week. Can they do the same to Griffin this time? The matchup is especially interesting considering that Griffin may still be feeling some of the lingering effects of a concussion suffered last week against Texas Tech. A big game here could vault Griffin even higher up scouts' draft boards and make him an obvious finalist for the Heisman Trophy. This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be broadcast by ABC.

TE Orson Charles, Georgia*: At 6-3, 242 pounds Charles doesn't possess the traditional size scouts are looking for at tight end. However, his agility, speed and reliable hands make him one of the country's most dangerous receivers at the position and he's a much stouter blocker than you might expect. I've ranked him as the top tight end in the country for much of the season, though strong play by Stanford senior Coby Fleener and a couple of other underclassmen make the position one of the year's most competitive. LSU is in the position they are largely due to their extraordinary collection of talent in their defensive backfield. They haven't faced many combinations of quarterback (Aaron Murray) and receiver talent as what Georgia brings. If Georgia is to pull off the upset, Charles will have to have a strong game. This game begins at 4:00 pm ET and will be televised by CBS. 

DE Andre Branch, Clemson: At 6-4, 270 pounds Branch has the size to remain at defensive end in the NFL, but what could really boost his stock is the fact that he appears to have the athleticism to translate to 3-4 outside linebacker, as well. Branch's teammate, defensive tackle Brandon Thompson, has generated most of the hype this season, but it is Branch who has enjoyed the better year. Branch leads the ACC in both tackles for loss (16) and sacks (10.5). He'll be facing an exciting young quarterback in Logan Thomas, who at 6-6, 254 pounds is nearly as big as Branch and also athletic enough to avoid him. A strong game by Branch in this game and I'll have a tough time continuing to keep him out of my top 32. This game begins at 8:00 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN. 

DT Jerel Worthy, Michigan State*:  Due to Michigan State's improbable comeback Hail Mary victory against Wisconsin earlier in the year, this game is one of the most intriguing of Championship Weekend. Despite the fact that Worthy enjoyed a solid performance in Round One (three tackles, including a tackle for loss), he wasn't dominant. Two factors may make him considerably more so in the rematch. For one, Worthy will be fortified by the return of sophomore defensive end William Gholston, who was suspended for the first game against Wisconsin. Secondly, Worthy likely won't have to play against Peter Konz, the Badgers' center who isn't expected to play due to an ankle injury. Worthy has first round talent, but his inconsistency troubles me. If he isn't a factor throughout this game, the junior could slip out of my top 32 prospects. This game begins at 8:17 pm ET and will be televised by FOX.


Posted on: June 12, 2011 2:17 pm
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Posted on: April 24, 2011 4:28 pm
 

Houston Texans Draft Preview

HOUSTON TEXANS

   2010 record: 6-10, third place AFC South

2011 draft rundown

   Eight total picks (round): 11 (1), 42 (2), 73 (3), 105 (4), 138 (5), 178 (6), 214 (7), 254 (7)\ 

Top needs:

   Outside linebacker: The Texans must find a weak-side outside linebacker that can rush the quarterback in their new 3-4 scheme. They have Connor Barwin for the strong side and DeMeco Ryans and Brian Cushing inside. The perfect prospect is Texas A&M's Von Miller, but they'd have to pay dearly to move up high enough to get him. If they stay at 11, other first-round candidates are North Carolina's Robert Quinn and Missouri's Aldon Smith. Georgia's Justin Houston is a candidate if they trade down. If they waited until the second round, Nevada's Dontay Moch or Texas' Sam Acho will be considered.

   Cornerback: In a perfect world, the Texans would use free agency to fill their second-biggest need. Because of the labor unrest, free agency might not happen anytime soon, so the Texans will need to get a corner in one of the first two rounds. If Prince Amukamara is available in the first round, they won't be able to pass him up.

   Free safety: Because starter Eugene Wilson was released after a terrible season, this became a priority. Ideally, the Texans will get a starting cornerback and move their best corner, Glover Quin, to free safety. If they don't get a corner and Quin stays at home for his third season, they could use a second-round pick on Rahim Moore of UCLA.

   Strong safety: Bernard Pollard, the team's leading tackler, wasn't tendered. He was told he didn't fit into Wade Phillips' system. They have Troy Nolan and Dominique Barber as veterans for this position, but neither is a big-time playmaker like Phillips wants. 

First round focus

   11th overall

   --New defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will have a big say in this draft because of the dire needs on that side of the ball--maybe a larger say than he did while he was head coach in Dallas. The move to the 3-4 scheme portends the addition of a rush linebacker and nose tackle, with the primary value at 13 being in converting an athletic defensive end to the position. Their secondary has major issues, as well, so selecting a cornerback in back-to-back years is not out of the question if Prince Amukamara is available.

Five names on Texans' board
  --OLB Robert Quinn, North Carolina
  --OLB Aldon Smith, Missouri
  --CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska
  --OLB Akeem Ayers, UCAL
  --DE Cameron Jordan, California 

--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter

Category: NFL Draft
Tags: Houston, Texans
 
Posted on: July 12, 2010 12:40 pm
 

Luck, Kaepernick, others wow at Manning QB Camp

Each year the Mannings (Archie and sons Petyon, Eli and Cooper) hold their Manning Passing Academy for high school and collegiate "skill position" football players. Though running backs, wide receivers and tight ends are also invited to the camp, the quarterbacks always receive the most attention.

For the fifth consecutive year this year's camp was held on the Nicholls State University campus; the former home of the New Orleans Saints' training camp. This is the 14th year the Mannings have been holding their camp.

This year the collegiate quarterbacks invited read like a Who's Who of the game. Washington's Jake Locker was invited, but couldn't attend. Miami's Jacory Harris, Arkansas' Ryan Mallett and Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor were other high profile passers also unable to participate.

Among the more high profile players who did participate, however, included:

Jordan Jefferson - LSU
Jerrod Johnson - Texas A&M
Colin Kaepernick - Nevada
Case Keenum - Houston
Andrew Luck - Stanford
Greg McElroy - Alabama
Kellen Moore - Boise State
Christian Ponder - Florida State
Taylor Potts - Texas Tech
Matt Simms - Tennessee
Nathan Stanley - Mississippi
Brandon Weeden - Oklahoma State
Tyler Wolfe - Northwestern State (La.)
T.J. Yates - North Carolina

Much of the clinic is open to the public. According to sources in attendance, Stanford redshirt sophomore Andrew Luck is clearly the most gifted of the group. He showed a strong NFL-caliber arm and the accuracy to attack all levels of the field. Luck recently went on the record stating that he planned to graduate from Stanford before pursuing professional football.

Another young talent, Tennessee's Matt Simms (son of Phil, brother of Chris) also impressed, I'm told.

Kaepernick surprised some with his velocity. The 6-6, 220 pound Wolfpack quarterback is well known for his production (20 TDs/6 INTs, as well as 1,183 rushing yards, 16 TDs last year), but is viewed by many scouts as a product of coach Chris Ault's "pistol" offense.

FSU's Christian Ponder, who tied with Locker for the highest QB grade given by National scouts, was characterized as being good, but not spectacular. In Ponder's defense, he underwent shoulder surgery in the off-season and may have been still working out some of the kinks.


Posted on: March 27, 2009 8:28 pm
 

Houston OT Vollmer Draws Scouts to Pro Day

A large contingent of NFL scouts descended upon the Houston campus Friday to workout 13 former Cougars and other local prospects; most significantly OT Sebastian Vollmer.

Vollmer, 6-7, 312 pounds, was a bit of a late bloomer in terms of his football ability, but has progressed each season and has the natural tools scouts are looking for in a developmental prospect. My fellow senior analyst Chad Reuter acknowledged Vollmer's impressive play when scouting the East-West Shrine Game practices and further noted Vollmer as one of the 15 Best Prospects not invited to the Combine.Vollmer, who started at left tackle for the Cougars, was moved to the right tackle position in the Shrine Game and took to the position quickly, showcasing rare athleticism and surprising physicality.

On Friday, Vollmer showed that Chad was correct to notice him, stunning scouts with his combination of size and raw athleticism. One scout in attendance clocked Vollmer at 5.12 in the 40-yard dash and watched the former Cougar tackle post a staggering 37.5" vertical jump -- significantly better than any vertical jump recorded by an offensive tackle at the Combine.

The headlining talent at offensive tackle this season is likely to drop Vollmer lower than he'd be in a typical draft. However, come the mid portion of the second day, teams would be wise to consider him. He certainly has the size/speed combination to intrigue scouts and one can't help but be impressed by his ability to step up his performance at the Shrine Game and his Pro Day.

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