Tag:Mark Herzlich
Posted on: February 18, 2012 11:37 am

Why wait? Kuechly doing everything at Combine

The unfortunate reality about the Scouting Combine is that too many of the elite prospects choose not to work out in Indianapolis but instead wait until their Pro Day. 

Boston College's Luke Kuechly -- the consensus top rated inside linebacker in the 2012 draft and reigning Butkus, Nagurski, Lombardi and LOTT Impact Trophy award winner -- told me that he certainly won't be passing up on the opportunity to compete. 

"Yes, I'll be doing everything at the Combine. I'm looking forward to it," Kuechy told me in a phone interview this week. 

Kuechly has been hard at work at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida preparing for the work out since shortly after his January 6 announcement that he'd be bypassing his senior season and heading to the NFL. 

Kuechly is one of 33 NFL hopefuls training in Bradenton. With him are several other potential first round prospects, including Georgia offensive lineman Cordy Glenn, Wisconsin offensive lineman Peter Konz and Rutgers wide receiver Mohamed Sanu.  Kuechly elected to attend IMG partially due to recommendations from two former BC standouts who trained there last year -- offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo (the Indianapolis Colts' first round pick last April) and outside linebacker Mark Herzlich (New York Giants).  

The Boston College product told me that he's primarily been working on speed and explosiveness drills in preparation for the Combine and is currently measuring in at 6-3 and 240 pounds. 

Kuechly currently ranks No. 19 overall on my personal player rankings for the 2012 draft. He seems an obvious candidate for the Philadelphia Eagles considering their woes at middle linebacker and is projected by Dane Brugler and I to be the Eagles' choice with the No. 15 overall pick.

    Luke Kuechly working the bags in preparation for the 2012 Scouting Combine. Photo courtesy of IMG  
Posted on: April 25, 2011 1:45 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2011 7:41 pm

NFL's PR play will create awkward draft viewing

The public relations digs from both sides in the labor dispute have hit full tilt since the lockout began, with neither side wanting to miss an opportunity to win additional public sentiment.

You can almost feel the NFL and the players looking at the invisible pendulumn swinging and just waiting for an opportunity to push gravity in their favor.

The NFLPA immediately retreated amid strong backlash when word leaked out that the union would encourage prospects invited to the draft to skip the event at Radio City Music Hall and instead attend union-sponsored events in NYC.

Sensing the momentum, the NFL is going to squeeze every ounce of PR juice out of the door opened by the NFLPA's slip up. The league announced that a record 25 prospects have accepted invitations to attend Thursday night's first round festivities in primetime.

That's not including several who were invited but have chosen to stay home to watch the first round with their families, including quarterbacks Jake Locker and Colin Kaepernick. But it does include a host of players considered fringe first-round prospects by NFLDraftScout.com.

It could make for an uncomfortable scene late in the stanza as 5-6 prospects will likely be sitting in the "green room" as commentators discuss what a great value they'll make 24 hours later. Among those could be Kentucky WR Randall Cobb, UCLA S Rahim Moore, Baylor NT Phil Taylor, Baylor OL Danny Watkins and Virginia Tech RB Ryan Williams. And a few others could slide into the category as the night wears on.

Boston College LB Mark Herzlich will also be in attendance, but the cancer survivor has an inspirational story and isn't expected to be selected until at least the middle rounds (he's projected as a sixth-round value by NFLDraftScout.com.

Update: The NFL Network's Jason La Canfora reported that Herzlich will be announced with the others and take part in a group photo, but then will be allowed to stay as long as he likes or leave to be with friends and family. That's a sensible approach for a compelling prospect who likely won't hear his name called until Saturday - if at all.

--Derek Harper, NFLDraftScout.com Executive Editor
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: December 31, 2010 10:02 pm

My Favorite Draft Stories of 2010

The 2010 season has been overrun with stories of scandal, sanctions and distractions from the competition and passion that makes college football great.

So, with so much of the year focused on negative stories that occurred off the field, I thought it appropriate to highlight some of the positive off-field stories, as well.
The following are links to my 10 favorite draft stories of 2010.
Did I miss some? I hope so. Feel free to chime in with some of yours too.

These last four stories are obviously not as heart-wrenching or important as the first six. They do, however, serve as reminders as to what is right about college football in a year when so many devoted so much time to what is wrong with it.

On behalf of everyone at NFLDraftScout.com, have a happy and safe New Year!
Posted on: October 15, 2010 1:46 pm

5 Senior Prospects to Focus On Saturday

Each weekend I list the five senior prospects I'll be focusing on. These are players who appear to have challenging matchups that will help determine how well they'll be able to make the transition to the pro game.

A noteworthy performance (either positive or negative) can result in the player being profiled in our upcoming edition of Draft Slant, NFLDraftScout.com's weekly PDF file for premium subscribers.

Last week I profiled Michigan State inside linebacker Greg Jones, Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder, Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller, LSU defensive tackle Drake Nevis and UCLA defensive tackle David Carter. Nevis enjoyed a spectacular game against Florida and earned my Prospect of the Week honors. Miller wasn't as impressive as his statline would lead you to believe -- something I went over in detail in the current issue of Draft Slant.

Here are this week's Five to Watch:

OLB Mark Herzlich, Boston College: One could make the argument that Herzlich should be a focus each and every week, considering his amazing recovery from Ewing's Sarcoma. I'm particularly interested in how he does in this game considering the versatility of the Florida State offense and the weather. On the one hand, considering Herzlich's recovery, it may not be realistic to expect that he'll handle the heat and humidity of this game as well as his teammates. However, with the regular season halfway over, scouts have to be sure that Herzlich is getting back into real football shape. This game begins at noon EST and will be televised by ESPN.

RB Delone Carter, Syracuse: Carter has been impressive this season, rushing for 524 yards and five touchdowns so far. That said, his opponents have been less than impressive -- Akron, Washington, Maine, Colgate, South Florida. Without Greg Romeus, this Pitt defense isn't as dominant as we may have expected heading into the season, but Dave Wannestadt will have this team crowing the line of scrimmage to slow down the Orange rushing attack. How Carter handles the extra attention will be key. This game begins at noon EST and will be televised by ESPN.

OT Lee Ziemba, Auburn: Tiger quarterback Cam Newton has been as impressive as any young passer in the country so far this season, but his veteran offensive line, including Ziemba, have been a major contributor to his success. The biggest difference I've noted in the success this year of the Razorbacks hasn't been the improvement of their talented passer, Ryan Mallett, but greater speed and physicality of the Arkansas defense -- especially in the front seven. Ziemba, who isn't a great athlete and may have to move to OG in the NFL, will have his hands full in this contest. How he and his linemates hold up could be the determining factor in one of the best games of the week. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by CBS.

WR Niles Paul, Nebraska: Paul is one of the nation's top senior receivers. In fact, I'm convinced that the versatile athlete (WR/RS) would contend for All-American honors if he played on an offense that featured him. Instead, he's relegated to only a few receptions a game for a Cornhuskers team that has been able to beat teams only running the ball and playing their typical stellar defense. This is a proud Texas Longhorn defense that Paul and his teammates will be facing, so the running may be tough. Paul won't face a better secondary all season long (well, except in practice) than this one -- at least until he earns an invitation to the Senior Bowl. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by ABC/ESPN.

OT Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin: It is only because I list the games in chronological order that I have Carimi placed this low in the post. In reality, his one on one showdown against Ohio State's Cameron Heyward is far and away the best individual matchup of the weekend. If the Badgers can successfully run on the Buckeyes and keep Terrelle Pryor on the sideline, they have a chance to pull off the upset against Ohio State. Heyward will often line up against Carimi. At other times, he'll slide inside a bit and line up against senior guard John Moffitt, himself a solid NFL prospect. It should make for an excellent scouting opportunity for all three prospects, which is why this game is expected to have a dozen or more NFL scouts on hand. This game begins at 7:00 pm EST and will be telvised by ABC/ESPN.

Posted on: October 7, 2010 3:52 pm
Edited on: October 7, 2010 3:59 pm

Herzlich has broken hand

Boston College outside linebacker Mark Herzlich broke a bone in his left hand during Tuesday's practice, but is expected to play in Saturday's game against North Carolina State, according to multiple reports.

The Boston Herald reports that Herzlich practiced today (Thursday) but with his hand heavily wrapped.

The blog posting at the Herald focuses on the sprained left ankle of freshman quarterback Chase Rettig that may make him unavailable against the Wolfpack, but in the eyes of NFL scouts, Herzlich's injury is very much more newsworthy.

A broken hand may not seem like a big story, but NFL teams will be wary that Herzlich's recovery from Ewing's Sarcoma (a rare form of bone cancer) may leave him vulnerable to further injuries.

This concern could be magnified with Herzlich's new injury, especially considering that Herzlich broke his right foot during routine drills prior to the start of the season.

For obvious reasons, Herzlich is likely to be the most heavily scrutinized player during the medical testing at this year's Scouting Combine.

Posted on: September 27, 2010 6:00 pm

NC State ILB Nate Irving Prospect of the Week

Stop me if you've heard this before -- an award winning ACC linebacker, having overcome life-threatening ailments, makes a triumphant return to the field.

Much has been written about Boston College's Mark Herzlich, who, of course, is back to starring at strongside linebacker after Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, robbed him of the 2009 season.

Much less has been written about NC State inside linebacker Nate Irving, who missed the entire 2009 season after suffering through a horrific car accident that left him with a collapsed lung and broken leg, among other injuries.

Irving looked back to his former self with a dominating performance at Georgia Tech, Saturday. Irving was acknowledged today with the Walter Camp Defensive Player of the Week for his 16 tackle, 4.5 tackle for loss, two sack performance in the team's 48-25 victory.

Some will argue that "Player of the Week" is a misnomer. I don't pretend that I've already scouted every prospect throughout the country and that my choice (Irving, in this case) was unquestionably the best.

However, part of the coverage that we, at NFLDraftScout.com, have provided to our readers as part of our Draft Slant feature, is a Player of the Week. In picking one out each week, I tend to focus on Top 50 senior prospects for this honor and adhere to certain guidelines in terms of the level of competition the player faced.

Player of the Week, along with The Diamond in the Rough (small school prospect), used to be features of Draft Slant . This PDF file can be purchased as an individual issue or one can purchase the entire year (16 issues). Or, if you just want to see an example, you can download this free sample of Week One here .

We thought that the Player of the Week and Diamond in the Rough deserved more acknowledgement, however, and thus, every Monday, I'll post my picks for each award.

Player of the Week - September 25, 2010
ILB Nate Irving, NC State 6-1 / 235 / 4.68 -- opponent: Georgia Tech

Irving's instincts, agility and physicality were all on display in the impressive defensive showing against the Yellow Jackets' triple option offense. Irving stoned B-back Anthony Allen on Georgia Tech's second offensive play from scrimmage and it was a scene that would be replayed over and over throughout the contest. On the play, Irving dipped his shoulder to avoid the oncoming block from the center to take on the 6-0, 232 pound Allen in the hole. For being an undersized linebacker, Irving plays with terrific explosiveness reminiscent of former Florida State standout (and current Philadelphia Eagle) Ernie Sims. Like Sims, Irving has good speed to beat the back to the edge and to catch ball-carriers in pursuit. He is clearly comfortable playing in the middle, locating the football quickly despite his lack of preferred size for the position. Irving's explosive burst is also evident when Irving is allowed to rush the passer. Irving was simply too quick for Georgia Tech's offensive line on multiple occasions, Saturday. This despite the fact that the Yellow Jackets feature smaller and generally more athletic offensive linemen than most teams. The concern with Irving is that he is very aggressive and will attack the line of scrimmage, presenting big play opportunities for the offense when he reads incorrectly. Irving flashes an physical pop when forced to take on blockers, but prefers to elude them, showing good flexibility and agility in doing so. Unlike many athetic linebackers, Irving doesn't rely on just his athleticism. He shows good hand technique, including a swim move to avoid blockers, which he used on several occasions when rushing the passer. Irving rarely blitzed, but burst upfield when he saw that 'Tech quarterback Josh Nesbitt was beginning to get happy feet after scanning the field for a receiver. An explosive hitter, scouts would nonetheless like to see Irving wrap up ball-carriers more securely. At times, the athletic linebacker likes to lead with his shoulder. This resulted in some big pops Saturday, but NFL runners will be able to shrug off some of his hits.
Posted on: September 25, 2010 3:37 pm

Herzlich plays well, whole game vs. VTech

The inspiritational tale of Boston College outside linebacker Mark Herzlich began a new chapter Saturday with his starting -- and finishing -- his first conference game after missing the entire 2009 season while recovering from Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer of that strikes approximately two out of a million people under the age of 30.

Herzlich's ability to play at all is inspritational in itself. But while anyone with a heart is happy to see him returning to health, NFL scouts get to shift their attention to how well he's playing.

Herzlich wasn't the same dominant player against the Virignia Tech Hokies Saturday that earned the 2009 ACC Defensive Player of the Year. He was, however, considerably improved in terms of his conditioning and overall play than in his first two games for the Eagles.

Starting at his traditional strongside linebacker position, Herzlich showed some burst as a pass rusher, good strength in taking on and shedding blocks against the run and both athleticism and instincts while in pass coverage. Perhaps the most encouraging component of Herzlich's game was the reckless abandon with which he played. Herzlich was flying around the field Saturday, even leaving his feet to dive over the top of pass blockers to get into passing lanes.

Herzlich defended two passes, recording the ninth interception of his career in the 4th quarter. He was also in on a host of tackles. Most impressively, Herzlich made the plays that don't show up in the stat books, taking on blocks to funnel the action back inside and covering enough ground in pass defense to force Virginia Tech passer Tyrod Taylor to look elsewhere on multiple occasions.

Herzlich's Eagles lost to Virginia Tech 19-0 -- but there was definitely a silver lining in this game.

With nine more regular season games to go, here's hoping that Herzlich's game to game improvement continues.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com