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Tag:Luke Stocker
Posted on: January 28, 2011 3:51 pm
 

Risers-Fallers from the Senior Bowl

The Senior Bowl is like any other all-star game in sports - it is designed to acknowledge celebrated athletes with the fan in mind.
Coaches' first priority is to get every player on the field, not necessarily win the game.

For this reason, the highly competitive practices serve as a greater opportunity to scout prospects than the Senior Bowl, itself. As such, some NFL teams send their entire coaching staffs, as well as their scouting departments, to Mobile, Alabama to gauge the talent. By Saturday's game, 90% of them will have already left the city limits.

With Thursday and Friday's practices essentially glorified walk-throughs, Wednesday is the last time most NFL personnel will see these prospects under a helmet until the draft, itself.

Scouts will have you believe that players can't hurt their stock by participating in an all-star game. That, of course, is untrue. More players, however, improved their grade than harmed it this week.

These are the 15 players whose performance in Mobile altered their stock the most. Ten helped themselves. Five are hoping that scouts will trust the tape and not allow three disappointing days at the Senior Bowl to harm their stock too much.

Ten Risers:

Vincent Brown, WR, San Diego State: Possessing a burst off the line, explosiveness out of his cuts and sticky hands to catch everything in sight, Brown may have made the biggest jump of any prospect this week in Mobile.

James Brewer, OT, Indiana: Overshadowed by this year's crop of high profile offensive tackles, Brewer's massive frame (6-6, 323) and athleticism might ultimately help him enjoy a comparable NFL career as any of his Senior Bowl teammates.  

Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State: Explosive, elusive and showing the strength and aggression in pass protection uncommon of backs of his 5-07, 199 pound frame, Hunter this week looked like the back that led the Big 12 with 1,555 rushing yards in 2008.

Cameron Jordan, DE, Cal: Simply dominant at right defensive end and when moved inside at defensive tackle, Jordan would have racked up the sacks and tackles for loss numbers this week had he been able to take ball-carriers to the ground. His position and scheme-versatility could see his stock skyrocket just as it did with former Cal teammate Tyson Alualu after a similarly strong effort in Mobile.

Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada:   Displaying the arm strength, accuracy and touch to be an early round pick, Kaepernick played side by side with Washington's Jake Locker... and was the more impressive thrower.

Jeremy Kerley, WR, TCU: Coming from TCU's spread offense, there were questions about Kerley's route-running. His quick feet, however, separated him from the rest of the South's receiving corps just as fast as he did the South's defensive backs.

Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M: NFLDraftScout.com's highest rated prospect in this game, Miller not only demonstrated his spectacular pass rushing skills, but his ability to blanket running backs in coverage, as well. The Butkus Award winner could wind up the first senior prospect drafted.

Luke Stocker, TE, Tennessee: Despite absorbing some hellacious hits, Stocker didn't drop a pass all week long. At 6-5, 255 pounds he has the bulk to contribute as an-line blocker. He may accomplish what former Vol tight end Jason Witten did not - hear his name called in the second round. 

Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor: A left tackle for the Bears, Watkins made a seamless transition inside to guard, belying the fact that he has only four years of experience in organized football.

Shareece Wright, CB, USC: With his senior season Wright's only one as a starter, the Trojan needed a strong performance in Mobile to emerge as a Top 100 pick. He provided exactly that, showing the agility and speed for coverage while measuring in at a respectable 5-11, 182 pounds.

Five Fallers:

Jeremy Beal, DE, Oklahoma: Lacking explosiveness off the snap and the strength to push tackles into the pocket, this Sooner superstar may have been exposed as a high-motor player with limited athleticism and upside.

Mark Herzlich, OLB, Boston College: Everyone respects Herzlich's successful recovery from bone-cancer, but the reality is the Eagle linebacker was the No. 1 rated senior prospect just two years ago and now is no guarantee to be selected in the draft's first two rounds - and that is before teams worry themselves about the possibility of his disease's recurrence. Herzlich was routinely beaten in coverage and proved surprisingly ineffective rushing the passer this week.

DeMarcus Love, OT, Arkansas: A First-Team All-SEC selection at offensive tackle, Love's poor posture forced him to lunge at pass rushers at the Senior Bowl, turning him into a virtual turn-stile. To rectify the situation Love may have to be moved inside to guard.   

Pernell McPhee, DE, Mississippi State: Having signed with Mississippi State as one of the nation's highest touted JUCO prospects, McPhee struggled to make an impact as a pass rusher in the SEC. His inability to do the same at the Senior Bowl - or even keep his feet - could see his stock slide into the middle rounds.

Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State: Demonstrating the burst and power during Monday's practice that earned him back to back Morris Trophies as the Pac-10's most dominant defensive lineman, Paea appeared well on his way to an impressive week at the Senior Bowl. Instead, the discovery of a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee ended Paea's week early and put any chance at being Oregon State's first defensive lineman selected in the draft's opening frame in doubt. 

NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter contributed to this article.

Posted on: January 27, 2011 4:12 pm
 

My All-Senior Bowl (practice) team

Today and tomorrow's practices at the Senior Bowl are essentially walk-throughs, making Monday-Wednesday's practices far and away the most important ones for evaluating prospects.

Prospects at every position stood out. Fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter and I put together an expanded Risers-Fallers article soon to be released on NFLDraftScout.com based on these practices. In the mean time, here is my All-Practice team.

QB: Colin Kaepernick, Nevada
RB: Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State
FB: Owen Marecic, Stanford
WR: Vincent Brown, San Diego State
WR: Jeremy Kerley, TCU
TE: Luke Stocker, Tennessee
OT: Nate Solder, Colorado
OG: Danny Watkins, Baylor
C: Kris O'Dowd, USC
OG: John Moffitt, Wisconsin
OT: Anthony Castonzo, Boston College

DE: Cameron Jordan, California
DT: Phil Taylor, Baylor
DT: Ian Williams, Notre Dame
DE: Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue
OLB: Von Miller, Texas A&M
ILB: Casey Matthews, Oregon
OLB: Lawrence Wilson, Connecticut
CB: Johnny Patrick, Louisville
CB: Shareece Wright, USC
S: Da'Norris Searcy, North Carolina
S: Ahmad Black, Florida


Posted on: January 25, 2011 10:32 pm
 

South Team Tuesday afternoon practice report II

This is Chad Reuter's report from the South Team's Tuesday afternoon practice:



Typically college football fans look to a team's wide receivers to move the ball down the field for their team to be successful, and therefore spend most of their time watching players on the outside during Senior Bowl practices.

The success of New England's two tight-end offense in 2010, however, means teams will be looking to this year's South squad in Mobile, however, for tight ends to cause similar mismatches next season in the copy-cat world of the NFL.

Tennessee's strapping young tight end, Luke Stocker, today looked exactly like the clone of former Volunteer and current Dallas Cowboys starter Jason Witten. The 6-foot-5, 255-pound Stocker stood out as a blocker and a receiver, standing up Mississippi State K.J. Wright when setting the edge on the run then catching everything thrown his way when out on routes.

Stocker does not have exceptional straight-line speed, but finds openings between linebackers in which he can sit down, and also between the second and third levels of the defense. His one-handed grab down the left seam was impressive, even more so considering he held on after taking a shot from Clemson safety DeAndre McDaniel in supposed light-contact seven-on-seven drills.

Arkansas' D.J. Williams had his best year for the Razorbacks in 2010, leading the team with 54 receptions for 627 yards and four touchdowns--a lot of which came after junior receiver Greg Childs was lost to injury mid-way through the year. He measured in at slightly less than 6-foot-2 and 236 pounds, which is not much different than successful H-backs like Aaron Hernandez, Dustin Keller, and Bo Scaife.

Williams is not going to be a best of an in-line blocker, but consistently ran solid routes to free himself of linebacker coverage over the middle or to the outside. Like Stocker, Williams have allowed no catchable balls to hit the ground this week, extending outside their frame to snatch passes and tuck them in. He's also given good effort as a blocker, but it's difficult for him to sustain against better linebackers outside. He'll be best as a mobile tight end/H-back prospect walling off defenders on the move.

Stocker and Williams are likely second or very early third round picks, and although Alabama's Preston Dial is the "other" tight end in the group and a late-round prospect, the 6-foot-2, 238-pound H-back also showed strong run blocking skills in addition to solid hands. His ability to tap both feet in-bounds while grabbing a pass on the right sideline displayed awareness , hands, and agility scouts weren't sure he had coming into the week.

When watching tight ends, it is nearly impossible not to also watch a team's linebackers, both in their ability to hold up against run blocking, as well as in coverage.  The top linebacker on the field today was Texas A&M star Von Miller--and that's not even considering his work as a pass rusher in one-on-one drills.

Miller surprised scouts at Monday's weigh-in with his thick lower body, which he used to hold up Williams and Stocker when man-up on run plays. His coverage skills are what really stood out, though, as the quick Williams could not separate from Miller on out routes because of the former Aggie's own lateral agility and speed.

A linebacker with Miller's closing speed to the quarterback, who also can be effective in coverage, is destined for a slot in the top 20 overall selections.

Another linebacker who looked quite adept in coverage and stopping the run was Miami's Colin McCarthy. Though a bit smaller than hope at 6-foot-1, 235 pounds, scouts liked his physicality on the line of scrimmage against the tight ends here and ability to stay low and balanced while running with them on crossing and wheel routes (McCarthy ran with West Virginia Noel Devine down the sideline in Monday's practice). His ability to play all three linebacker positions, probably starting on the strong side, make him a potential top 100 pick.

McCarthy was apparently making strong enough contact in this practice that he needed to get his helmet pumped up by training staff while kneeling on the field.

 The South team has two linebackers in this game, OLB K.J. Wright and ILB Chris White. Neither looked as fluid as Miller and McCarthy in coverage, and Stocker consistently stoned them at the line of scrimmage in pass protection and run blocking. Wright was also victimized by Stocker in coverage, with the Tennessee receiver using an overarm move to get inside position down the seam.

Frankly, judging linebackers during all-star game practices is extremely difficult. Tackling is what they do best, and they're not allowed to do that before game time.

But showing the fluidity, strength and agility to cover talented tight ends like Stocker and Williams (who may be seen as similar to the Patriots' rookie tight end duo of Rob Gronkowski and Hernandez) here in Mobile can be a major feather in a linebacker's cap come draft day.

Posted on: November 12, 2010 8:59 pm
 

Five Prospects I'll Be Scouting Closely Saturday

Each week I list the five prospects that I'll be focusing on. 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.

As a side note, I initially planned to include Auburn junior quarterback Cam Newton (heard of him?) on this list. With speculation Friday evening that he may not play, I elected to leave him off this list of five. Needless to say, he's among the prospects I'll be scouting closely if he plays Saturday (and any future games).

Those interested in scouting "alongside" me can follow me on Twitter @RobRang.

Without any further adieu, here are the five prospects, as well as the cable provider and time you can expect to see them.
TE Luke Stocker, Tennessee: Entering the season the Volunteer receiver I expected to be highlighting so far this season would have been Stocker and not wideout Denarius Moore. The Vols simply haven't passed the ball enough to Stocker (24 grabs for 264 yards and one TD) for him to post the type of numbers that generate much media attention, but at 6-5, 253 pounds and possessing good hands and feet for the position, he remains one of the better senior prospects at tight end. There are several highly touted, but so far disappointing prospects on the Tennessee and Ole Miss rosters. I'm looking forward to this game to see which of them (if any) can shake out of their season-long funk. This game begins at 12:00 pm EST and will be televised by CBS.

QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri*: Though he's only a junior, scouts are starting to take a long look at Gabbert and the rest of the underclassmen quarterbacks simply because this year's seniors at the position have been so underwhelming. Gabbert has the production (2,193 passing yards, 12 TDs-3 INTs), size (6-5, 240), and efficient delivery that scouts are looking for in a high-ranking prospect, but after a hot start to the season, he (and Missouri, as a whole) has struggled over the past two weeks, suffering losses to Nebraska and Texas Tech. Scouts want to see if Gabbert can bounce back this week against a quality opponent in Kansas State. This game begins at 12:30 pm EST and will be regionally televised by the FOX Sports Network.  

CB Brandon Burton, Utah*: Burton, only a junior, is considered by some scouts to be the best draft-eligible cornerback in the west. While he's played very well throughout his career with the Utes, Burton was beaten for a 93-yard touchdown reception by wideout Josh Boyce last week in the humbling 47-7 home loss to TCU. Scouts like Burton's size (6'0, 185) and speed (estimated at 4.45), but want to see if he can come back with a strong performance this week. That will be tougher than it sounds, as at times he'll match up with Notre Dame's Michael Floyd, himself highly touted NFL prospect (though also only a junior) who at 6-3, 225 pounds is a much different assignment than Boyce and the rest of the Horned Frog receivers were last week. This game begins at 2:30 pm EST and will be televised by NBC.

OT Danny Watkins, Baylor: Quarterback Robert Griffin III and even defensive tackle Phil Taylor have each received their share of media attention as a result of Baylor's 7-3 season. It was Watkins, however, whose draft stock has risen the most this season. Draft Slant readers know full well how high Watkins' stock has risen as I wrote about his performance in last week's game against Oklahoma State. This week, however, Watkins will be facing an entirely different opponent in Texas A&M pass rusher Von Miller, my reigning Prospect of the Week. Watkins' quick feet and use of leverage have been impressive this season, but he'll be sorely tested by Miller. This game begins at 7:00 pm EST and will be regionally televised by Fox Sports Network.

DE Cameron Jordan, California: Those surprised with how high former Cal Golden Bear Tyson Alualu was drafted last year may want to start paying attention to Jordan, who, himself is earning top 20 grades from some talent evaluators. Jordan won't beat No. 1 Oregon on his own, but he and his Cal teammates will present the Ducks with a different look, considering that they are one of the few teams that operates out of a base 3-4 defense. Jordan has always been productive for Cal, earning all-conference recognition after each of the past two seasons. He enjoyed arguably his best game to date last week against an overmatched Washington State club, totaling 12 tackles, including four tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. Scouts love his size (6-4, 285), versatility and blood lines. His father, Steve Jordan, played in six Pro Bowls in 13 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. This game begins at 7:30 pm EST and will be televised by Versus.


Posted on: July 27, 2010 10:19 am
Edited on: July 27, 2010 6:35 pm
 

As promised, my SEC notes after film review

After a short hiatus to the coast of Washington State to chase the elusive chinook salmon, here are the SEC film room notes I had promised.

Again, I fully recognize that there have been many off-field stories that have broken recently -- the ongoing NCAA investigations , important rookie signings and, unfortunately, the terrible accident that fractured the skull of Baltimore pass rusher Sergio Kindle, thereby endangering his rookie season and perhaps even his NFL career. 
There are so many off-field news stories right now that I am trying to focus on the action that takes places between the white lines. I posted my thoughts on what surprised/disappointed/impressed me after my initial review of ACC prospects a few days ago.

Here are my thoughts after scouting the top senior prospects in the SEC.

  • In the opinion of many NFL scouts, the essential difference between the SEC and the rest of college football is the different talent and depth the Southeastern Conference boasts along the defensive line. Though a few teams have narrowed the gap (North Carolina and Pittsburgh chief among them), the SEC again is loaded up front with run-stuffers and pass-rushers. Mississippi nose guard Jerrell Powe is currently our top-ranked prospect from the conference. He is quickly followed by pass rushers Pernell McPhee (Mississippi State) and Cliff Saunders (South Carolina). Powe has been often compared to former Boston College standout (and current Green Bay Packer) B.J. Raji for his stout presence in the middle. Like Raji, who missed the 2007 season due to academic suspension, Powe has struggled to keep his grades in check. In fact, he was deemed ineligible three consecutive years from 2005-2007. NFL teams will no doubt take Powe's academic struggles in mind when determining his final grade. What is obvious on film, however, is that he is a talented player who could physically compete immediately in the NFL.
  • The defensive line is typically what the SEC is known for, but this year the unique talent in the conference comes along the offensive line and at tight end. My fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter broke down the conference's depth up front in a feature article here . No fewer than eight senior SEC offensive linemen are currently viewed as potential draft-worhty prospects. The conference also boasts NFLDraftScout.com's top three rated senior tight ends in South Carolina's Weslye Saunders, Tennessee's Luke Stocker and Arkansas' D.J. Williams. I was a bit underwhelmed with each of them, quite frankly. Saunders (6-5, 272) has incredible size and surprising overall athleticism, but isn't the speed threat most of today's NFL teams are looking for. Williams, at 6-2, 244 pounds, has some speed and is a tenacious blocker considering his size, but simply lacks the bulk for most clubs. The most well-rounded of the bunch is the 6-5, 252 pound Stocker, though he doesn't possess any skills on film that left me wowed, either.
  • Considering that they're the defending National Champions, it might surprise you to learn how few of the SEC's highly rated prospects play for Alabama. In defense of the Crimson Tide, many of their top-rated prospects who would be seniors this year elected to leave early (ILB Rolando McClain, CB Kareem Jackson, etc.). Furthermore, their depth and coaching is so good that some seniors seeing the field extensively for the first time in 2010 will no doubt emerge as legitimate prospects. However, at this point, NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior Crimson Tide prospect is left tackle James Carpenter, currently viewed as a 3rd-4th round prospect -- and one likely to have make the transition inside to guard. Quarterback Greg McElroy, rated as a 6th-7th round prospect is next. Of course, considering the draft-eligible underclassmen on this team (Julio Jones, Mark Ingram, Marcel Dareus, etc.), the Tide rolls on.
  • Speaking of Alabama, with all due respect to Heisman winner Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson is a fabulous NFL prospect in his own right. One that I feel could have been similarly productive in Alabama's offense had been given Ingram's attempts. Luckily for Nick Saban and Tide fans, as a true sophomore, Richardson has at least two more seasons in Tuscaloosa. He flashed first round talent as a true freshman...
  • Though I wouldn't rank them among the elite prospects in the conference just yet, a few players did flash on film that haven't generated a lot national attention just yet. I mentioned Alabama's Carpenter earlier. Auburn running back Mario Fannin is a terrific receiver who has popped off the tape throughout his career, but has never been able to string together the dominant season his skill-set seems capable of producing. Fannin has struggled with fumbles and injuries early in his career, but, if over both, could enjoy a breakout campaign in 2010. Kentucky wide receiver Chris Matthews, at 6-5, 222 pounds, surprised me with good body control and enough acceleration to think he could surprise, as well.
  • One final note on the SEC prospects... I typically reserve comments for senior prospects, but Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett is an obvious NFL prospect regardless of when he leaves the Razorbacks. However, I wasn't as wowed by Mallett as some apparently are. His 6-6, 238 pound frame is considered a positive by most, though his long legs and only moderate foot speed/balance concern me. Mallett has a gun and can make some dazzling throws, but at least some of his success has to be attributed to Bobby Petrino's wide-open offense. Remember, this is the same offense that convinced many of us that former Louisville standout Brian Brohm was one day going to be an NFL star. With two years of remaining eligibility, Mallett has plenty of time to iron out some wrinkles to his game, but I, for one, feel he's being a bit overrated right now... 

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