Posted on: August 21, 2010 11:05 pm
I learned a long time ago that players are often the best scouts. Who knows better than they how good another player really is?
I'll give you an example. Two years ago I spoke to former Ole Miss offensive tackle Michael Oher about some of the unheralded prospects on the Rebels' squad. He told me safety Jamarca Sanford would surprise in the NFL and that a smallish running back named Dexter McCluster was going to "shock the world" in 2009.
Sanford, the 231st pick in the 2009 draft, played in 14 games for the Minnesota Vikings as a rookie and even started Week Four against Dallas. He finished with 29 tackles and a forced fumble on the year.
McCluster rushed for 1,169 yards and eight touchdowns and caught 44 passes for another 520 yards and three scores in earning All-SEC honors. He is the first player in the long and storied history of the SEC to have rushed for over 1,000 yards and caught passes for over 500 yards in one season.
Clearly, Oher knew what he was talking about with these two players.
With this in mind, I asked North Carolina outside linebacker Bruce Carter to break down some of his highly regarded teammates during a phone interview yesterday. Carter, our top-rated outside linebacker prospect for the 2011 draft, will be featured in an article I wrote as part of NFLDraftScout.com and CBSSports.com's preview of the ACC.
The following is Bruce's thoughts, along with NFLDraftScout.com's current grade for each player.
Marvin Austin is our top-rated North Carolina prospect. The defensive tackle is our No. 2 rated player at the position and the 4th best senior prospect overall. Says Carter: "Marvin is a guy who likes to talk trash. He's very explosive. He's a great competitor."
Greg Little is NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior wide receiver and the No. 31 overall senior prospect for the 2011 draft.
Says Carter: "He [Little] is a great athlete and so big for a receiver. He's explosive coming off the line and going up to get the ball. He's got great hands."
Quan Sturdivant , who has seen action at inside and outside linebacker, is currently rated by NFLDraftScout.com as the No. 2 ILB and No. 41 overall. Says Carter: "Quan is an instinctive linebacker. He's got a great head for sniffing out screens and draws."
Deunta Williams is our top-rated free safety and currently ranks as the No. 38 senior prospect overall.
Says Carter: "Deunta Williams is a great communicator who makes sure we're all lined up correctly. He's a great athlete too."
Kendric Burney has started all 38 games of his career at cornerback for UNC and earned First Team All-ACC honors last year with five interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown. Still, despite his consistency and production, I believe he's being one of the more underrated cornerback prospects for the NFL simply because he's only 5-09. He's currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 8 rated senior cornerback and viewed as a 2nd-3rd round prospect. I characterized him as "underrated" to Bruce, who didn't agree.
Says Bruce: "I don't know that he's underrated. He's a lockdown corner in my mind and gets the credit [First-Team All-ACC] he deserves for doing such a great job. He's got great versatility and can really jump high to make the big play."
Charles Brown doesn't get the attention that Burney has earned, but as our No. 15 rated senior cornerback, is certainly on our radar. Carter thinks we should have him rated higher.
Says Bruce: "He's a lockdown corner too, but he doesn't get the attention he deserves just yet. He's good, though, and will be getting more attention soon."
Perhaps Carter's most interesting comments were reserved for junior defensive end Robert Quinn . NFLDraftScout.com typically does not comment on the NFL potential of underclassmen, but in the case of Quinn -- who is already drawing comparisons from NFL scouts to former Tar Heel great Julius Peppers, acknowledging his talent is easy. Quinn, who finished second last year in the ACC Defensive Player of the Year voting as a true sophomore with 19 tackles for loss and 15 sacks, looks like a potential top ten prospect.
Says Carter: "Man, Rob[ert] is just a monster. Everybody knows he's a freak of nature. He does such a great job of rushing the passer that people don't always recognize that he plays the run well too. He does a great job. "
Posted on: August 9, 2010 8:24 pm
NFLDraftScout.com will soon be continuing our series of articles previewing the top ten prospects for each of the major conferences. My fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter began the process by listing the top ten prospects of non-BCS conferences in an article here.
I drew the SEC among my four conference previews. As part of the previews, we decided to do a feature article on one senior prospect from each conference that we felt were not only potentially top prospects for the 2011 NFL draft, but interesting stories, as well. Chad featured Troy wideout Jernell Jernigan , a quality slot receiver prospect with verified 4.3 speed, for the non-BCS story.
The supremely talented SEC is always fertile grounds for quality prospects. I considered LSU linebacker Kelvin Sheppard, as well as offensive tackles Demarcus Love (Arkansas) and Derrek Sherrod (Mississippi State), but instead elected to go with the player I felt was the most physically dominant prospect in the conference -- Mississippi defensive tackle Jerrell Powe.
The 6-2, 313 pound (weighed yesterday) Powe was an entertaining interview. His enthusiasm for improving his own game and that of the Ole Miss football team, as a whole, was obvious and clearly heart-felt.
I can't give away all of the details of the story here. His past academic and weight struggles, relationships with former Ole Miss stars Michael Oher, Peria Jerry and Jamarca Sanford and why he elected to come back for his senior season are all covered in the story.
Perhaps the most interesting element of the interview, however, came when I asked him about former Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli signing with Ole Miss. Some have questioned Houston Nutt's decision to add Masoli. Some believe Masoli's checkered past will be just another distraction for a team that struggled last year amid big expectations.
Powe, however, could hardly contain his excitement.
"I'm excited. Very excited," he told me in a phone interview this morning prior to practice. "We just got done with a team run and some of the other guys on the team had been on Twitter and Facebook and all that mess and they were saying that Jeremiah Masoli was going to be coming here. I got a chance last year a couple of times to watch him play and I've never seen anyone run the zone-read the way he runs it. So me and some of the other seniors, went to the coaches like, 'Hey, we've got to go get this guy.'"
The articles -- my SEC preview and the feature on Powe -- are currently scheduled to run on NFLDraftScout.com Thursday.
Posted on: March 26, 2009 9:37 pm
Michael Oher had been characterized as slipping down draft boards after only a so-so performance in drills and interviews while at the Combine.
His teammate, defensive tackle Peria Jerry, likewise was slipping after not being able workout in Indianapolis due to a pulled left hamstring.
Both boosted their stock with impressive showings Thursday at the Mississippi Pro Day. Oher and Jerry's rare foot quickness stood out to scouts on film and on the field at the Senior Bowl. It did on Thursday in front of an estimated 65 scouts -- representing every team in the league -- as well.
Oher, despite working out at the Combine, was characterized by one scout attending the workout as "the star of the show." Oher, 6-5, 306 pounds shaved nearly two-tenths of a second off of his 40-yard dash time from Indianapolis, going from a 5.32 to a 5.14, according to the watch of the scout. Oher also lifted the 225 bar 25 times, though two of the attempts were not allowed by scouts because he didn't lock-out. Still, the 23 repetitions was two more than he had lifted at the Combine.
Peria Jerry was still hampered a bit by the hamstring injury and only ran the 40-yard dash once Thursday, but the 4.94 time he recorded (according to the scout) was faster than any defensive tackle as heavy as Jerry (6-2, 290) at the Combine. Jerry was just as impressive in the short shuttle (4.64) and 3-cone drill (7.30), demonstrating the agility and burst that caused him to be one of the most talked-about prospects in Mobile. Jerry also recorded a 31-inch vertical jump and a 9-foot, 6-inch broad jump. His 28 bench press reps were also impressive.
Ole Miss has several other NFL prospects of note. Wide receiver Mike Wallace elected not to perform any timed drills Thursday, after proving his unique blend of size and speed at the Combine. The 6-0, 199 pounder was timed in the 4.3s in Indianapolis and had a 40" vertical there, but did help his cause Thursday by running surprisingly crisp routes, according to the scout, and catching every pass thrown to him in drills. One of the knocks on Wallace is that he remains a bit of a track guy in pads, so catching the ball cleanly is sure to boost his stock with scouts.
Safety Jamarca Sanford (5-10, 209) showcased better speed (4.45) Thursday than he had in Indianapolis (4.50) and again proved his rare strength, lifting the bar 26 times. Sanford finished behind only USC safety-linebacker hybrid Kevin Ellison at the Combine with 29 reps.
One more note on Oher... NFLDraftScout.com ranked Oher as the top senior prospect in the country for much of the 2008 season and despite other analysts questioning if he'll even make the first round, I've stuck with him. The lowest I've had him go in any mock draft is 13th overall. There is a possibility that the questions about his consistency will drop him lower, but Oher's size, athleticism and dominance against what I believe to be the most talented conference in the college football makes him an underrated talent in my book. I believe he is a potential Pro Bowl left tackle -- and those players deserve high early first round consideration.