Posted on: April 29, 2011 1:13 pm
Edited on: April 29, 2011 1:14 pm
I've spoken with representatives of three teams since last night's first round about the players they anticipated being among the earliest to go in the second round.
Among the names -- Clemson DE Da'Quan Bowers, TCU QB Andy Dalton, Illinois LB Martez Wilson, Pitt DE/OLB Jabaal Sheard and Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick.
I was surprised that none of the teams mentioned Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett and asked each source about the record-breaking Razorback passer, specifically.
"I'm telling you right now, he could slip right out of the second round, entirely," one source said.
The questions about Mallett are, of course, more about his lack of desired intangibles for the quarterback position than they are about his physical skill-set. Most scouts believe that Mallett is the most talented passer in the draft.
Posted on: March 16, 2011 10:51 pm
Edited on: March 17, 2011 12:15 am
Having been given a 3rd round grade from the NFL Advisory Committee and posting a rather ho-hum workout at the Combine, Illinois defensive tackle Corey Liuget was a player some scouts perceived to be a little bit overrated, considering the fact that he's been featured in many first round mock drafts.
With representatives from nearly every NFL franchise on hand for his Pro Day, however, Liuget turned in a workout that one long-time scout characterized as "one of the best workouts I've ever seen from a defensive lineman."
Liuget, 6-2 and 303 pounds, didn't run, jump or lift at the workout, but demonstrated great explosiveness, hip flexibility and quick feet during defensive line drills conducted by Chicago Bears' defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, according to the scout.
"A lot of [team representatives] went to this workout to see what kind of shape [Liuget] was in. He answered that in the workout. I'm not sure the kid broke a sweat. He had [Marinelli] working, not the other way around. I'm telling you, it was an impressive workout."
Also impressing scouts on hand was running back Mikel LeShoure. Weighing in at 232 pounds, LeShoure demonstrated very quick feet and soft hands catching passes. Like Liuget, LeShoure did not do any of the measureable drills Wednesday.
As good as his teammates workouts were -- and considering that he looked fantastic in the measureable drills at the Combine -- expectations were high for linebacker Martez Wilson.
Unfortunately, those expectations were dashed when Wilson struggled in positional drills, run by the Bengals' Jeff FitzGerald.
The scout, who works for a team unlikely to select a linebacker in the first half of the draft, didn't pull any punches.
"Everyone left that workout disappointed with [Wilson]. His footwork was bad, his hands were bad, even his countenance was bad. The other kids were having fun and seemed to enjoy the competition. He didn't look like he wanted to be there," the scout said.
"It wasn't a good workout for him - but one more indicative of how he actually plays. He looked great in the measureables at the Combine and everyone was talking about him, but he's not a very instinctive player so that speed doesn't translate onto the field."
While most of the attention was heaped upon Illinois' three stars, a few unheralded players caught the eyes of scouts.
Cornerback Travon Bellamy (5-11 3/4, 198 pounds) was timed at 4.52 in the 40-yard dash and looked "dynamite" in the shuttle drills and position workout.
Defensive end Clay Nurse checked in at 6-2 (3/8) and 261 pounds and was slower than scouts would like at 4.95-5.0 in the 40-yard dash, but looked very good in defensive line drills.
There were several decision-makers at the workout, including Jets' head coach Rex Ryan. Also present were Chicago Bears' Director of Player Personnel Tim Ruskell, New England Patriots' Director of Pro Personnel Jason Licht and New York Giants' defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. The St. Louis Rams were strongly represented with three scouts attending the workout, including Director of College Scouting John Mancini.
Posted on: March 10, 2011 12:47 pm
Edited on: March 10, 2011 12:47 pm
Each year at least one top ten selection surprises even those who follow the draft process very closely. Last year's draft included two such picks, with Buffalo picking running back C.J. Spiller and Jacksonville selecting California defensive lineman Tyson Alualu. The Chiefs took DE Tyson Jackson with the third pick in 2009, the Patriots ILB Jerod Mayo at #10 in 2008.
OT Tyron Smith to Arizona at #5:
RB Mark Ingram to San Francisco at #7, Dallas at #9
LB Martez Wilson to San Francisco at #7
DL Cameron Jordan to Dallas at #9
--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter
Posted on: February 23, 2011 12:57 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2011 12:58 pm
Continuing my week-long feature on prospects at each position that have more on the line at the Indianapolis Scouting Combine than most, I present Illinois junior inside linebacker Martez Wilson.
Wilson is NFLDraftScout.com's top rated inside linebacker for the 2011 draft. A highly touted prep star, he signed with Illinois with much fanfare, but until the 2010 season had been considered a bit of a disappointment. Wilson's production shot up in his junior season, however. He went from recording 73 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and three sacks in his first starting season to 112 stops, 11.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. He also contributed three forced fumbles, an interception and a blocked kick, earning First-Team All-Big Ten accolades.
At an estimated 6-4, 250 pounds, Wilson certainly possesses the prototypical size to man the inside linebacker position in the NFL. Athletic enough to beat the back to the sideline as a true 4-3 Mike and physical enough to take on blockers as a 3-4 ILB, Wilson is one of a scant few in this year's relatively weak class capable of starring in either scheme. Some teams even feel that Wilson has the natural pass rush skills and agility in coverage to warrant developing as an outside linebacker in either scheme.
For all of his obvious assets, however, Wilson has a lot riding on his Combine performance. Certainly scouts want to see if the burst and agility seen on tape is replicated in workouts.
More importantly, teams need to investigate the neck injury which sidelined Wilson for all but the opener of the 2009 season. Wilson registered nine tackles against Missouri, but suffered a herniated disk and was granted a medical redshirt. Considering the collisions he'll face as an NFL linebacker, pro teams' medical staffs aren't going to necessarily give Wilson medical clearance just because Illinois' did.
Teams are also going to want to talk to Wilson regarding his sudden jump in production. Is he a player coming into his own or is he motivated by the big NFL contract? Teams will attempt to find the answer to all of these questions this week in Indianapolis.
Should Wilson pass the medical, interview and athletic questions this week, he has a chance to slip into the late first round. Wilson's value could be enhanced simply because he is viewed by many clubs as the clear-cut top rated ILB. The drop to Michigan State's Greg Jones and North Carolina's Quan Sturdivant (NFLDraftScout.com's next two highest rated ILBs) is significant. Also significant is the fact that Wilson has the experience to play inside or out. He played outside for the Illini in 2008 before making the switch to the middle for his abbreviated 2009 campaign, as well as this past season.
Though inside linbebackers have traditionally dropped a bit on draft day, the Oakland Raiders made former Alabama star Rolando McClain the No. 8 overall pick last year. There have been eight inside linebackers drafted in the first round since the 2000 draft.
Posted on: February 9, 2011 8:44 pm
Edited on: February 9, 2011 8:54 pm
Today we released my initial Top 32 "Big Board" as part of NFLDraftScout.com's expanded coverage of the 2011 NFL Draft.
Though I was asked to only list 32 players, I thought it important to list the next 10 prospects who just missed the cut, which, of course, also highlights those who did not make the list.
There are some awfully good football players out there that didn't make my list. The following five are the ones I expect fans will be the most surprised by. This post is designed to explain why those players didn't make my list.
Players are listed alphabetically.
Jon Baldin, WR, Pittsburgh: If the buzz in the scouting community is accurate and Baldwin does dazzle scouts at the Combine with breathtaking speed at 6-5, 230 pounds he'll be moving up a lot of boards. Not mine, though. I don't care how fast he runs in a straight-line, I see a prospect who lacks the flexibility and balance to create explosion out of his breaks and isn't nearly as physical a receiver as his size would indicate either.
Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia: Houston was a dominant force in the SEC this season, earning First-Team honors with 67 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. He has experience as a 4-3 defensive end and a 3-4 rush linebacker. However, I believe he's a more explosive rusher with his hand in the ground than he is standing up and I haven't seen enough fluidity in his drops to make me believe he's anything more than a one-trick pass rusher. I believe he is one of the more overrated prospects in the draft to this point.
Drake Nevis, DT, LSU: I listed Nevis as a player who missed an opportunity in this recent post-all-star game wrap-up because I really believe he could have made himself some money by going to the Senior Bowl. As I noted in that article, Nevis' ability to collapse the pocket made him the SEC's best defensive lineman not named Nick Fairley. Still, at only 6-1, 285 pounds, he's a rotational player. Not many teams can justify taking a rotational player in the first round, so I think there is a very real possibility he slips out. I'd take him in the second round if I can a 4-3 defense and needed a penetrating three-technique, but not until halfway through the round.
Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech: There is a lot I like about Williams. In fact, there are elements to his game that I believe translate better to the NFL than Illinois' Mikel LeShoure, who I rated as the 33rd best prospect. However, the struggles with durability concern me as Williams is 5-11, 205 pounds. In a class with as much middle round talent at RB as this one, I believe it drops the value of good, but not special backs like Williams.
Martez Wilson, ILB, Illinois: Of the five listed here, Wilson was the closest to making my list. In fact, I currently have him as the 43rd best prospect and a solid 2nd round pick. Like most NFL teams, I struggle with stamping a first round grade on inside linebackers. Wilson is the class of the position, however, and could creep up my board if he works out and interviews well. I believe he has the upside to ultimately be a better player in the NFL than he was in college.
Posted on: December 29, 2010 1:15 pm
My fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter does a nice job of breaking down the prospects in today's bowl games in this article , but I wanted to take a few moments to highlight a few others in today's trio of bowl games.
The most exciting prospects on the field for East Carolina and Maryland in today's Military Bowl happen to play the same position in receivers Dwayne Harris (ECU) and Torrey Smith (Maryland).
Kenny Tate , a junior free safety who has made some splashy plays this season and could be peeking ahead to the NFL, will have Harris in his sights.
For those looking for a sleeper in this contest, keep an eye on East Carolina left tackle Willie Smith . His athleticism is intriguing.
By listing Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor in my current first round mock draft , you probably get the idea of how high I believe Taylor is viewed by pro scouts. The 6-4, 340 pound defensive tackle projects nicely in the 4-3 and 3-4 scheme which could see him drafted higher than infinitely more famous DTs Stephen Paea and Drake Nevis.
In the Texas Bowl, however, I'll be focusing on a trio of Illinois underclassmen, all of whom are very much exploring their draft options.
Inside linebacker Martez Wilson jumps off the tape. He's the most exciting combination of size (6-4, 250) and athleticism of any draft-eligible inside linebacker I've scouted this year. He remains a work in progress in terms of instincts, but is one of the few senior/junior ILBs I see as a potential standout in the NFL.
Wilson is certainly helped by up front by one of the faster rising DT prospects in the country in Corey Liuget . The 6-3, 300 pounder is starting to blossom and earned Second Team All-Big Ten accolades this year with 54 tackles, 8.5 TFL and 3.5 sacks.
Running back Mikel LeShoure is one of a host of backs fighting to be ranked second behind Alabama's Mark Ingram as possible 2011 franchise runners. His thick frame and surprising burst could help him achieve that status.
Finally, in the Arizona-Oklahoma State showdown of the Alamo Bowl, I'll can't wait to see these two high-powered offenses go at it. There are a host of prospects to watch (including some guy named Blackmon), most of whom Chad highlighted in his preview (again, the link is here ) but one he mentions just in passing is Wildcat receiver Juron Criner , a 6-4 210 pound vertical threat that star quarterback Nick Foles targets often. I'm not as high on Criner (or Foles, for that matter) that some others seem to be, but each is considering making the jump to the NFL and therefore I'll be watching them closely tonight -- as should you.