Tag:June Jones
Posted on: February 20, 2011 6:43 pm
 

Combine Countdown -- Hawaii RB Alex Green

Between today and the beginning of the NFL Combine Thursday, I'm going to list one player per position who I see as having the most riding on their performance. That means multiple updates each day, so keep tuning in.

You'll see a couple of overriding themes with the players I select. Many are underclassmen - as many of them have more to prove to scouts - and many are players with either off-field or medical concerns.

Unlike at quarterback, where Ryan Mallett fit all of these characteristics, I see a potential diamond in the rough at running back with the most to gain (or lose) at the Combine. Hawaii's Alex Green is a senior with no known off-field or medical issues and certainly lacks the name recognition of some of this year's top backs, but I like his combination of size (6-0, 220), burst and hands out of the backfield.

The 2011 class of running backs is a very solid group. There is only one surefire first round pick in my opinion -- Alabama's Mark Ingram -- and two others I see as possibly sneaking into the top 32 (Illinois' Mikel LeShoure and Virginia Tech's Ryan Williams). Because either LeShoure and Williams could leap into the first round conversation with a dynamic showing in Indianapolis, I strongly considered listing them here. I believe entirely too much draft analysis is spent on the top 40-50 players, however. Real scouting begins in the middle rounds and extends into free agency, which is one of the reasons why I'll be watching Green closely.

Consider these three facts.

1. There were 12 running backs selected in the 2010 draft.
2. NFLDraftScout.com currently rates 27 running backs as potential draft picks in 2011.
3. Green is rated 20th and a 6th-7th round pick.

As a junior college transfer playing for the most geographically remote team in the country, scouts haven't seen a lot of Green despite the fact that he led the country with a gaudy 8.2 yards per carry this season. Now, before you dismiss his numbers as a product of the Warriors' dynamic offense, recall that Hawaii's spread attack is pass-heavy, inflating the numbers of their quarterbacks and wideouts, but deflating the production of their running backs. In fact, since former head coach June Jones implemented Hawaii's spread offense in 1999, Green is the first back to ever surpass the 1,000 yard mark. Hawaii's historical struggles running the football go back even further. They haven't seen a 1,000 yard runner in nearly 20 years (1992). Green rushed for 1,199 yards this season.

Scouts were impressed with Green's build and burst at the East-West Shrine Game. Ultimately, however, to remain at running back and not be thrown upon that heap of "oversized running" fullbacks, Green will need to perform well this week in athletic drills. He's been estimated to run in the mid 4.6s. If he runs that slow in Indianapolis, he'd better get used to the idea of blocking -- and that is if a team gives him a shot as a utility fullback.

If, however, he can run in the low 4.5s and show some explosiveness in the jumps and shuttle drills, he'll reinforce the positive impressions he made in Orlando.

I argued that the Combine could prove very important for Ryan Mallett. How he performs in drills and interviews could dictate whether he's a first or third round pick.

The week could be even more important for Green. If he performs well, I could see him being drafted as high as the middle rounds. A poor performance, however, could see him slip right on out of the draft entirely. 





Posted on: December 24, 2010 2:28 pm
 

Hawaii RB Green moving up boards

Fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter did a great job of highlighting the prospects to watch in the upcoming bowl games , but scouts tipped me off just last night of another talent that is quietly shooting up draft boards.

It just so happens that he plays tonight.

Hawaii running back Alex Green (6-1 and 230 pounds) is coming off as dominant a two-game stretch as you'll see in college football. Over the past two games (New Mexico State, UNLV), he's averaged 231.5 yards and two touchdowns.

Now, before you dismiss his numbers as a product of the Warriors' dynamic offense, recall that Hawaii's spread attack is pass-heavy, inflating the numbers of their quarterbacks and wideouts, but deflating the production of their running backs. In fact, since June Jones implemented Hawaii's spread offense in 1999, Green is the first back to ever surpass the 1,000 yard mark. Hawaii's historical struggles running the football go back even further. They haven't seen a 1,000 yard runner in nearly 20 years (1992).

Scouts are encouraged by the fact that Green, who is surprisingly agile and explosive for a back his size, is playing better as the season ends. When others were struggling down the stretch, he's getting stronger.

Some of the reason for that is he's fresh. Green has rushed for 1,168 yards this season despite getting only 10 carries a game (133 carries in 13 games). That equates to an average of 8.78 yards per rush, far and away the highest production of any qualified runner in the FBS.

The JUCO transfer only saw 86 rushes (for 453 yards, two touchdowns) in his first season at Hawaii. With "only" 219 carries during that time, he has more tread on his tires than many of the other big backs available in 2011. Consider the rushes just this season from some of the other top rated big backs like Kansas State's Daniel Thomas (276), Anthony Allen (217) and Evan Royster (188). 

Tonight's showdown in the Hawaii Bowl should be the highest scoring bowl game of the year. Both offenses rank in the top ten in the country. Hawaii ranks 9th, averaging 39.9 points per game. Tulsa is just a tick behind, averaging 39.7. On an evening when many of us will be enjoying the bright lights around the tree, the offensive fireworks in Hawaii could be even more spectacular display. 

Hawaii head coach Greg McMackin surely recognizes this fact. As such Green could be a focus of the Warriors' attack tonight, as McMackin reverts back to his defensive roots, (he's the former defensive coordinator of Hawaii, the Seattle Seahawks, etc.). Don't be surprised if McMackin puts the ball in Green's hands to make time of possession more of a factor than it might normally be for his team. 

In doing so, Green's production and draft stock should continue its late season rise.

Remember that for complete draft coverage, be sure to check out NFLDraftScout.com or simply click here. 

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