Tag:Mario Fannin
Posted on: February 28, 2011 6:29 pm
 

Beware: "manufactured" speed doesn't translate

The Combine always produces some eye-popping test results. Some times, these results match the tape. Other times, however, they are the result of great training and so-called "workout warriors" whose speed, strength or explosiveness in workouts does not translate well onto the field.
Former Boston College pass rusher Mike Mamula is, of course, the most famous example of this phenomenon.

As the results pour in from this year's Combine, it is important to identify which players actually play with the same measureables as what they demonstrated on the Indianapolis track.

Take Alabama's Mark Ingram or Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers as prime examples. Neither tested particularly well. Ingram was clocked at 4.62 in the 40-yard dash. Rodgers came in at 4.64. Both play considerably faster than their Combine times.

The following is a list of players whose 40 times surprised me so far. I'm not claiming that they're workout warriors whose speed doesn't translate to the field. However, I've scouted each of these prospects and these times did, indeed, surprise me. I will go back to the tape and look again to see if I missed something the first time around and adjust my thoughts on them, accordingly.

  • Da'Rell Scott, RB, Maryland -- Maryland churns out speedsters, but none more surprising than Scott, who led all running backs with a 4.34 second time in the 40-yard dash.
  • Mario Fannin, RB, Auburn -- timed at 4.38 seconds, yet rarely demonstrated this type of explosiveness for the Tigers.
  • Julio Jones, WR, Alabama -- defenses weren't scared of his deep speed this season. Was he hurt or did teams not respect Greg McElroy's ability to throw the deep ball? His 4.39 second showing in the 40-yard dash was a stunner.
  • Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami -- Hankerson, himself, told me he "hoped he'd break the 4.50 mark when I interviewed him at the Senior Bowl. He made a lot of big plays, but his time (4.43) was surprising.
Posted on: September 30, 2010 1:40 pm
 

5 Most Disappointing Prospects through September

In this week's issue of Draft Slant, I list a handful of breakout prospects that scouts had graded as either late round or free agents in the preseason, but through the first month of the college season have greatly exceeded expectations and are rising fast.

Without giving away the identities of the players, themselves, I can tell you that the players listed come from a variety of conferences from the SEC to the WAC.

While that article is reserved for our premium subscribers, I thought I'd list a group of five players whose stock is going in the exact opposite direction over the first month of the season.

Players are listed alphabetically.

RB Mario Fannin, Auburn: I touted Fannin as much as anyone heading into the season as a potential breakout star and while I still maintain that he has talent, there is no denying that he's again struggling this year with the issues (injuries, fumbles) that had sidetracked him in the past. Part of a rotation for the Tigers, Fannin had seven touches for 79 yards and two touchdowns in the opener againt Arkansas State. Since, however, the Auburn coaching staff has apparently lost faith in his ability to get the tough yards and hold on to the football, as he has accumulated only eight touches for 28 total yards (and no scores) since.

QB Jerrod Johnson, Texas A&M: Despite earning preseason Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year accolades, scouts had plenty of concerns about Johnson's pro prospects before the season have even begun. Now, after an ugly four interception game against the likes of Florida International, scouts are even more concerned that Johnson, while talented, simply lacks the accuracy and football IQ to handle the adjustment to the NFL. Once considered a potential Top 50 prospect, Johnson now appears destined for the 5th or 6th round... at best.

QB Jake Locker, Washington: There are a great many jumping off Jake Locker's bandwagon after a disastrous performance against the Cornhuskers two weeks ago. In reality, Locker was struggling with accuracy and the reading of defenses in the two previous games (BYU, Syracuse, as well). Locker's No. 1 status has always been a projection that would come true IF he made similar gains under Steve Sarkisian that he made in his first year under the former USC quarterback coach. So far, Locker hasn't made those gains. Some scouts, in fact, wonder if he's regressed. Locker remains in the hunt to be the first senior QB off the board (and thus a potential high first round selection), but the time has come to stop making excuses for him. In his second year of this offense and his fourth as a starting quarterback, Locker needs to show better recognition and accuracy if he is going to be successful in the NFL.

NG Jerrell Powe, Mississippi: As proof of what a roller coaster ride scouting can be, Powe would have made my list of the "safer" prospects heading into this season. He was a standout, even dominant performer, at times times last year. This season, however, Powe has struggled mightily. Some of this can be attributed to the fact that Ole Miss rotates their defensive linemen. Some also may be due to the fact that he's playing this season as much as 60 pounds lighter than he's played in the past. Either way, the explosive power and consistency Powe had shown last year simply hasn't been there in the Rebels' first four games.

WR Terrance Toliver, LSU: Toliver was viewed by many as the top senior receiving prospect in the country heading into the season. He certainly was touted as a potential future high round pick as a prep star. Unfortunately, Toliver and the LSU offense, as a whole, has struggled this season. Toliver has only 11 catches through the first four games for 96 yards. The 6-4, 206 pounder with reported 4.4 speed has yet to catch a touchdown this season.


One could make the argument that the host of players suspended or injured so far this season should also be included on this list. I have too much respect for our readers to take the easy way out and list the likes of North Carolina's DT Marvin Austin, FS Deunta Williams, WR Greg Little, South Carolina TE Wesley Saunders, West Virginia cornerback Brandon Hogan (all suspended for one or more games) or injured players like Houston QB Case Keenum, etc. and the like among this list. With serious off-field or health questions, they are certainly falling -- or at least on the cusp of falling -- in the eyes of scouts. However, the players I listed above are falling because they simply aren't producing on the field to the level scouts expected heading into the 2010 season.
Posted on: September 10, 2010 7:45 pm
 

Auburn RB Fannin struggling

As I noted in yesterday's preview of the SEC showdown between Auburn and Mississippi State, Tigers' senior running back Mario Fannin entered the year among my favorite breakout candidates .

It isn't difficult to follow my logic. Fannin, who already holds the Auburn record for most receptions by a running back, and at 5-11, 227 pounds has shown intriguing lateral agility and straight-line speed, was expected to take over this year as the Tigers' primary ball-carrier. Considering that he took over for Ben Tate, who himself, rode a breakout senior campaign to the second round of the 2010 draft, the writing on the wall seemed to have been done with a Sharpie.

Or maybe it was a pencil, as Fannin, through two games at least, is struggling.

Despite Auburn rushing for 367 yards in their opener two weeks ago against Arkansas State, Fannin only rushed three times for 14 yards. Even more troubling, Fannin fumbled. Fumbling had previously been a significant issue for Fannin, especially during his sophomore year.

Fannin has also struggled, at times, with injury over his career. Last night, with Auburn in a very physical game against Mississipi State, Fannin again caught the injury bug, going down in the early fourth quarter with an apparent left shoulder injury that knocked him out of the game.

Even prior to the injury, however, Fannin had struggled against Mississippi State's talented defense. Having rushed five times, Fannin gained only six yards against the Bulldogs. Thus, in two games, Fannin has eight attempts for 20 yards.

Meanwhile, his teammates, Onterrio McCaleb (21 rushes for 144 yards over first two games) and Mike Dyer (24-143-1 TD) have enjoyed much greater success. They're play last night against the Bulldogs strongly contributed to the Tigers' hard-fought 17-14 victory.

Fannin's build, speed and receiving skills make him an intriguing prospect. Needless to say, however, if he is to enjoy the breakout campaign that will earn him anything higher than a late round selection, he'll need to start doing it soon.
Posted on: September 9, 2010 1:24 pm
 

Not just Saints/Viks...Big SEC showdown tonight.

The majority of football fans will no doubt be glued to tonight's NFL opener between the New Orleans Saints and the Minnesota Vikings, but for those of you more interested in college football or scouting for the NFL, there are two college football games on tonight, as well.

Central Michigan at Temple (7 pm EST on ESPNU) is an interesting cross-conference matchup, but the one I'll definitely be focusing on is the SEC showdown between Auburn and Mississippi State. 

The Tigers and Bulldogs are two of the chique picks to surprise some people this year in the SEC and it isn't difficult to understand why. 

For one, Auburn and Mississippi State won by a combined margin of 101-33 over Arkansas State and Memphis, respectively, last weekend. 

More importantly, both rosters are (perhaps surprisingly) full of NFL prospects. 

Auburn is historically one of the SEC's top producers of NFL talent, but some might be surprised to learn the Mississippi State actually boasts the more intriguing lineup -- at least among seniors. 

Here are the prospects I'll be focusing on in this game: 

OT Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State: Might be the best pass-blocking left tackle in the SEC and that is saying something, as the conference is loaded with talented senior offensive linemen. I rated Sherrod as the 4th best senior prospect in the SEC conference, regardless of position entering the year. He could be the first Bulldog drafted in the first round since 1994.

DE Pernell McPhee, Mississippi State: If Sherrod doesn't make the first round, McPhee might. The highly touted JUCO prospect burst onto the scene last year with 56 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and 5 sacks, earning himself All-SEC honors from the conference coaches. McPhee posted a combined 33 sacks over his two seasons at Itawamba JC (Miss)...

OLB K.J. Wright, Mississippi State: An unsung playmaker on this defense, Wright has been one of the more consistent defenders in the SEC over the past two seasons, averaging 77 tackles and 7 tackles for loss each year. He was recognized this summer with preseason All-SEC honors from the league coaches, but he isn't getting the national attention he deserves... yet.

RB Mario Fannin, Auburn: I've lised Fannin in the past as a player I feel can enjoy a breakout senior campaign this year. Former Auburn star Ben Tate certainly catapulted up NFL boards with a fantastic senior season and I see the same thing as possible for the versatile and athletic Fannin. He's shown flashes throughout his career, but struggles with fumbles early and injuries late have hampered his progress. At 5-11, 227 pounds he might be the nation's best pass-receiver among the running backs, as his 4 receptions for 65 yards and 2 TDs in the opener against Arkansas State helped prove. He is already Auburn's career leader in receptions for a running back.  

OT Lee Ziemba, Auburn: Admittedly, I'm not as high on Ziemba (pronounced Zim-bah) as others may be, but there is no denying his production. Having started 39 games already over his career, Ziemba has earned all-conference recognition from coaches after each of his first three seasons. He's the Tigers' starting left tackle, but might be best served moving back to the right side (where he played as a freshman) or perhaps even moving inside to guard (where he's never played) in the NFL.



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