Tag:Michigan
Posted on: January 24, 2012 1:45 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 1:58 pm
 

DTs Reyes, Martin proving disruptive at Sr Bowl

MOBILE, Ala. -- With Penn State's Devon Still -- NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior defensive tackle -- out of the Senior Bowl due to a sprained toe scouts were curious to see which of the remaining interior defensive linemen would be able to step up their play. 

Based on Tuesday's North practice, Connecticut's Kendall Reyes and Michigan's Mike Martin are taking full advantage of the opportunity.    

Physically speaking, the two couldn't be much different. Reyes, who measured in just a shade under 6-4 and 300 pounds lined up at the three-technnique and even was split out as a five-technique defensive end. His burst off the snap and quick hands made him a tough draw for even the most athletic and experienced of the North offensive linemen. Wisconsin's Kevin Zeitler, arguably the nation's top pure guard among seniors, struggled handling Reyes one on one during drills and during the scrimmages throughout practice, as well. 

Martin, on the other hand, is a virtual bowling ball of muscle at a rocked 6-1, 307 pounds. He was able to consistently knock centers back onto their heels with his leg drive and surprisingly long arms. Though he nearly three inches shorter than Reyes, Martin's arms (31 3/4) are less than an inch shorter than Reyes' (32 5/8), who has the longest arms of any of the North's defensive tackles. Martin's long arms allow him to keep his opponents from grasping a firm hold of him. With good lateral agility, power and a relentless motor, Martin got the better of Ohio State's Michael Brewster, a possible top 100 pick, on numerous occasions. Not surprisingly, Martin was even more effective when locking horns with Zeitler (who saw some time at center) and Wake Forest's Joe Looney, who was an injury replacement Tuesday for Arizona State's Garth Gerhart.     

The duo stood in strong contrast to Washington's Alameda Ta'amu and Boise State's Billy Winn, each of whom have been disappointments, thus far. Ta'amu is a powerful run plugger sure to intrigue 3-4 teams looking for a nose guard. His power and mass (6-2, 341) makes him a classic block-eater but his lack of any type of pass rush ability is painfully apparent during drills. If his opponent has the anchor and core flexibility to handle Ta'amu's bull rush, the big Husky can offer little else. Winn, who was used inside and out while with the Broncos, may be proving himself to be a 'tweener with a lackluster performance, thus far. He hasn't shown the agility to slip blocks nor the power to push the pocket.     
Posted on: January 24, 2012 8:21 am
Edited on: January 25, 2012 1:58 pm
 

QB, WRs emerge at Monday's North Sr Bowl practice

MOBILE, Ala. -- Making a strong first impression at the Senior Bowl can send a player's stock skyrocketing and boost his rookie contract by millions of dollars.

Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins and California wide receiver Marvin Jones can't start writing checks just yet but if they continue the sparkling efforts turned in Monday during the North Team practices they could prove to be two of the big winners from this year's Senior Bowl.

Cousins out-shined Wisconsin's Russell Wilson and Boise State's Kellen Moore by attacking all levels of a talented North defense. His experience in a pro-style offense was obvious as he made quick decisions, showed accuracy short, middle and deep and thread the needle through tight spaces. Whereas his teammates struggled to find a rhythm with their new receiving corps, Cousins was hitting on all cylinders, spreading the ball all over the field and hitting his backs, tight ends and receivers on a variety of routes.

Like Cousins, Jones entered the Senior Bowl with significantly less hype that others at his position. Jones, who measured in at a shade under 6-2 and 200 pounds during the morning weigh-ins, was quick off the snap, showed burst out of his breaks to gain separation and the speed to slip past cornerbacks for big plays. He caught everything thrown his way, showing the hand strength to gather in passes thrown slightly off-target as well as the vision to track deep balls over his shoulder.

Jones wasn't the only wideout to make eye-popping plays on the day, though he was the most consistent.

A few uncharacteristic drops from Appalachian State's Brian Quick late in Monday's practice dampened an otherwise strong initial showing from the FCS All-American. Quick, who measured in at a chiseled 6-3 (and a 1/2) and 222 pounds Monday morning was the early star among receivers. Though not sudden off the line of scrimmage, his long-strides help him to quickly eat up the cushion and he showed terrific hand-eye coordination making several impressive catches out of some poor throws. Quick, in fact, arguably made the catch of the day when he snatched a quick out thrown high and wide by Moore. Quick used every bit of his height and long arms to pull the ball down while dragging both feet in bounds to secure the catch.

It took some strong catches from Jones, Quick and a few other North receivers to get Moore on track. The Boise State All-American appeared every bit as un-athletic as scouts feared when he measured in at a touch under 6-0 (5'11 and 3/4) and 191 pounds during the weigh-in. Worse, concerns about his arm strength appeared to be legitimate when he struggled connecting with his receivers on simple quick outs to open practice. As practice went on, however, Moore seemed to settle in and the accuracy and touch he demonstrated in throwing a staggering 142 touchdowns against just 28 interceptions during his record-breaking career with the Broncos were again on display. Moore is especially effective throwing down the seam, showing excellent touch to settle passes in over the linebacker and in front of the safety to slot receivers and tight ends.

Russell Wilson clearly has the arm strength to make NFL throws but was surprisingly tentative in his first Senior Bowl practice. Too often he stood flat-footed in the pocket and surveyed the field looking for easy completions. He attacked holes when he saw them, rifling in passes through tight coverage but also stared down his receivers on occasion and was nearly picked off a few times.

Of the North's receivers, Ohio State's Devier Posey provided the biggest challenge to a talented defensive backfield that included Nebraska's Alfonzo Dennard, graded by some scouts entering the year among the nation's elite senior prospects at any position. Posey's speed allowed him to slip past Dennard as well as Iowa State's Leonard Johnson and Boston College's Donnie Fletcher but too often Posey simply dropped the ball when his quarterbacks didn't place it perfectly. Posey struggled adjusting to passes slightly behind and had a couple of big play opportunities simply bounce to the ground because he allowed passes to get into his pads rather than catching the ball with his hands.

The concern was the exact opposite for his Big Ten rival Marvin McNutt from the Iowa Hawkeyes. McNutt has excellent size (6'2 1/2, 212 pounds), strength, hands and route-running to be a possession receiver in the NFL  but didn't show much in terms of elusiveness or the speed to turn short and intermediate passes into big plays. He is a savvy route-runner, however, who was consistently open despite aggressive coverage from defensive backs.

It wasn't a standout practice for any of the North's defensive backs. Dennard showed his characteristic physicality in challenging big and small receivers, alike, but also proved vulnerable to double-moves, getting beaten over the top by Jones and McNutt, alike.

Oklahoma's Jamell Fleming and Cal Poly's Asa Jackson had their moments, each demonstrating a quick, low backpedal and good burst back to the ball.

Scouts will want to see improvement from Fletcher and Penn State's D'Anton Lynn. Each struggled to keep up with the North's receivers, showing average change of direction and speed. Fletcher was turned around on several occasions early in practice before the North's quarterbacks and receivers turned their attention to Lynn. The former Nittany Lion was victimized by Cousins and Wilson often as practice wore, perhaps an indication of their comfort with his limited playing speed and awareness after having played against him in the Big Ten.

Extra Notes: The Monday morning weigh-in put the spotlight on a couple of under-the-radar prospects scouts will no doubt be keeping an eye on this week. Quick looked every bit the part of a standout NFL receiver with his impressive measurables, as did Utah State inside linebacker Bobby Wagner (6'0, 241), Boise State running back Doug Martin (5'09, 219) and Michigan defensive lineman Mike Martin (6'1, 307). Though the Martins are not related, one wouldn't know it by their compact, heavily muscled builds... Clemson defensive end Andre Branch was among those who may have been caught in the bad weather that kept several from getting into Mobile as planned. NFL officials informed scouts that Branch would be participating this week but that he was not in Mobile for Monday morning's weigh-in... Cincinnati running back Isaiah Pead got an opportunity to field punts late in Monday's practice, showing the concentration to catch the ball in traffic as well as the burst, elusiveness and vision you'd expect from the all-conference running back. Pead was rarely used in this capacity while with the Bearcats but turned some heads with his few opportunities Monday... Boise State's Shea McClellin (6-3, 248) lined up at defensive end for the Broncos but practiced at outside linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings' staff Monday. He showed good footwork in the bag drills early...

 

Posted on: January 4, 2012 1:58 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:36 pm
 

Virginia Tech loses cornerback Hosley to NFL

A year after leading the NCAA with nine interceptions, Virginia Tech cornerback Jayron Hosley is taking his ball-hawking skills to the NFL.

Hosley made the announcement following Virginia Tech's overtime loss to Michigan Tuesday night in the Sugar Bowl. 

According to Mark Giannotto of the Washington Post, Hosley had hinted that Tuesday's game might be his last as a Hokie. When Hosley was given a second round grade from the NFL Advisory Committee it made his decision to leave early. 

"It's gonna be tough walking away but I got to do what I got to do, Hosley said. "I think I handled my business pretty well."

After his nation-leading nine interceptions in 2010, the 5-10, 172 pound Hosley struggled with injuries a bit this year. He was limited by a hamstring injury and suffered a concussion in the ACC Championship game. Despite the injuries and opponents often ignoring his side of the field, Hosley still led the Hokies with three interceptions this season and nearly had two more against Michigan's Denard Robinson last night. 

On the first play it was initially ruled that Hosley intercepted the pass. After looking at the replay, however, the play was overturned and Michigan was rewarded the ball. Later, Hosley did snatch a high pass from Robinson for an interception. He was flagged for pass interference on the play, however, negating the pick. 

Hosley has terrific quickness, speed and ball skills. His lack of size, however, is certainly a detriment. Recognizing this, Hosley was more aggressive this season in run support, registering a career-high 59 tackles. 

Hosley was given a late first round, early second round grade by NFLDraftScout.com prior to news of his early departure from Virginia Tech. He was rated as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 3 underclassmen cornerback, behind only LSU's Morris Claiborne and Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick.
Posted on: November 26, 2011 12:15 pm
 

Mano-a-Mano, Week 13

In addition to the prospects Senior Analyst Rob Rang wrote about in his "five players to watch" blog post, take a look at these memorable ten one-on-one match-ups (plus a slew of honorable mention selections) while perusing this weekend's slate of college football games.

Because players move around based on different formations and what coaches see as favorable match-ups, these prospects won't go against each other on every snap. Scouts will pay attention when they do, however, because they rely on a player's film against top competition to determine their readiness for the NFL.

All times Eastern.
"*" Denotes an underclassman

1. Penn State DTs Devon Still (#71/6-4/310/5.06)/*Jordan Hill (#47/6-1/298/5.06) at Wisconsin RG Kevin Zeitler (#70/6-4/318/5.26)/C *Travis Frederick (#72/6-3/330/5.27)
Penn State DE Jack Crawford (#81/6-5/273/4.79) at Wisconsin LT *Ricky Wagner (#58/6-6/320/5.32)
Penn State DE Eric Latimore (#56/6-5/277/4.86) at Wisconsin RT Josh Oglesby (#67/6-7/330/5.38)
Saturday, 3:30, ESPN

Both Penn State and Wisconsin rank in the top ten nationally in scoring and total defense, but the Badgers' more potent offense (they rank 5th in scoring, Nittany Lions 106th) should put some pressure on PSU's talented defensive line. Still ranks 11th in the country with 16.5 tackles for loss, mostly when able jump the snap and penetrate into the B-gap. That means Zeitler, a solid top 125 talent likely to be an NFL starter due to his strength, technique, and fair mobility must be quick enough to ride Still out of the play. Once Still is stopped on his initial move, he won't necessarily bull his way in; but Zeitler and Frederick, the thick starting left guard who moved to center for the injured Peter Konz, will have to sustain blocks against the athletic Still, as he is agile enough to drag down junior RB Montee Ball from behind for short gains if given a clear path.

Crawford is also on scouts' radars as a mid-round pick because he has the size and agility to be a very capable swing end able to stand up on either side of the line. Although the London, England native is not elite with his speed off the edge, he will test Wagner's sprained MCL and the lateral movement of any of the inexperienced tackles the Badgers throw at him if their junior starter isn't healthy enough to stay on the field. Scouts will also take a look at two potential late-round picks in the hustling Latimore and the athletic but inconsistent Oglesby.

2. Alabama DE/OLBs Courtney Upshaw (#41/6-2/265/4.76)/*Dont'a Hightower (#30/6-4/260/4.74) at Auburn LT A.J. Greene (#77/6-5/298/5.18)/RT Brandon Mosley (#75/6-5/305/5.22)
Saturday, 3:30 pm, CBS

Two potential first round picks will challenge Auburn senior tackles Greene and Mosley during the Iron Bowl. Upshaw will likely rush the passer and try to contain sophomore running back Michael Dyer from the strong and weak sides of the line, though he'll more regularly likely go against the adequate Greene both standing up and his with hand on the ground. Hightower and junior DE/DT Jesse Williams (#54/6-4/320/5.28) tests the lateral agility of Mosley--the junior college transfer who has some athleticism and strength, but not elite amounts of either.

3. Clemson RT Landon Walker (#72/6-5/305/5.18) at South Carolina DE* Devin Taylor (#98/6-6/260/4.76)
Clemson DE Andre Branch (#40/6-4/260/4.77) at South Carolina LT Rokevious Watkins (#73/6-4/340/5.36)
Saturday, 7:45 pm, ESPN

Two of the top defensive lines in the country reside in this fight for the pride in the Palmetto State. Walker's one of the most underrated tackles in the country, but Taylor plays stronger than his long, lean frame would indicate. If Walker can anchor in pass pro against Taylor, or even if top freshman Jadeveon Clowney moves to that side of the line, scouts will be impressed. Branch is a potential 4-3 end or 3-4 linebacker prospect who also plays with leverage against the run despite a somewhat lean build. But scouts want to see him beat Watkins off the edge--the Gamecocks' top lineman is playing out of position at left tackle, but his toughness helps him win more battles than he loses. Still, if Branch wants to earn a second-round grade, he'll need to show the quickness and flexibility to get the corner.

4. Ohio State LT Mike Adams (#75/6-6/320/5.28)/RT J.B. Shugarts (#76/6-6/305/5.23) at Michigan DEs Ryan Van Bergen (#53/6-6/288/4.84)/*Craig Roh (#88/6-4/269/4.76)
Ohio State C Michael Brewster (#50/6-4/305/5.17) at Michigan DT Mike Martin (#68/6-1/304/4.98)
Saturday, 12:00 pm, ABC 

When the Buckeyes have the ball in the Midwest's version of "The Game", their talented offensive line must control some solid Wolverines defenders up front. Adams looked like a top ten pick at left tackle with his fluid movement and prototypical length, though he'll need to play hard every snap against the active Roh and workmanlike Van Bergen. Shugarts may not be drafted due to his average athleticism but he'll give great effort to keep those ends away from freshman quarterback Braxton Miller. Brewster's also fighting the non-athlete label from scouts, as his reaching and slow footwork could be exposed by the high-motor Martin, who is not easy to stop from penetrating into the backfield to track down Miller or Ohio State's top running back, "Boom" Herron.

5. Virginia Tech LT Andrew Lanier (#72/6-5/306/4.87) at Virginia DE Cam Johnson (#56/6-3/270/4.76)
Virginia Tech RG Jaymes Brooks (#68/6-2/308/5.05)/LG Greg Nosal (#75/6-5/298/5.27) at Virginia DTs Matt Conrath (#94/6-7/280/4.84)/Nick Jenkins (#96/6-3/276/5.14)
Saturday, 3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Like many other games today, scouts will have bouncing between multiple OL-DL match-ups in this battle for Virginia bragging rights. Cam Johnson is looking like a top 50 pick at times because of the pressure he puts on the outside shoulders of left tackles like Lanier. He'll need to prove to scouts he has a counter to his up-and-under move, however, or Lanier will negate it after the first couple of series. Conrath's long, lean frame is not typical of most college DTs; watching him against the short, stout Brooks will be interesting, though he'll be lined up across from the slimmer Nosal on most plays. Jenkins (like Clemson's Rennie Moore) has below-average size but will find his way into the backfield to chase redshirt sophomore QB Logan Thomas if Brooks/Nosal don't keep their feet moving and hands active.

6. Penn State CB D'Anton Lynn (#8/6-0/208/4.53)/Chaz Powell (#2/6-1/206/4.48) at Wisconsin WR Nick Toon (#1/6-2/220/4.52)
Saturday, 3:30, ESPN

If the Badgers are to advance to the Big Ten Championship Game, they'll need senior Russell Wilson to find his favorite receiver on their preferred out routes as well as down the sideline. One reason Toon is considered a top prospect in the 2012 draft class is that he can use his size advantage over smaller college corners. But Lynn and Powell will give no quarter at the line of scrimmage or downfield, so the son of former first round pick Al Toon must use foot quickness to separate during his routes and prove he can win 50/50 balls against Penn State's two well-built outside defenders.

7. Iowa State LT Kelechi Osemele (#72/6-5/347/5.40) at Oklahoma DE Frank Alexander (#84/6-3/255/4.82)
Saturday, 12:00 pm, FX

Iowa State would love to make it two wins over Oklahoma schools by beating the Sooners one week after upsetting Oklahoma State in Ames last weekend. The Cyclones' massive left tackle will be a big factor if they're to pull off another unexpected win. He plays with the nasty attitude NFL offensive line coaches love. Some scouts suspect he will have to move inside at the next level due to a lack of agility, and though Alexander brings more strength and hustle as a pass rusher than pure speed -- he will attempt to help them make their case.

8. Virginia Tech WR Jarrett Boykin (#81/6-2/218/4.64)/Danny Coale (#19/6-0/200/4.43) at Virginia CB Chase Minnifield (#13/6-0/185/4.49)
Saturday, 3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

The son of former NFL cornerback Frank Minnifield obviously has the length, quickness, height, and ball skills (13 INT, 18 PBU) to be an NFL corner, but will be closely watched by scouts to see if he has strength to handle larger receivers like Boykin downfield as well as the foot work and instincts to stay with the savvy Coale. Virginia Tech's receivers also have something to prove against their in-state rivals, as Boykin's large hands don't always make the big catches when needed and Coale looks to show scouts he is more of a play-maker than pure possession receiver.

9. Rutgers LG Desmond Wynn (#70/6-5/295/5.14) at Connecticut DT Kendall Reyes (#99/6-4/296/4.99)
Saturday, 12:00 pm, ESPN2

Reyes is the sort of athletic big man coveted by NFL defensive coordinators preferring three or four man fronts -- and especially those using a mix of both because of his versatility. After putting up big numbers against non-conference foes (9 TFLs, 4 sacks), he has a grand total of two tackles for loss and a half-sack in the past five games. But that doesn't mean he isn't active, as he has managed to rack up 14 tackles in the two weeks. Wynn will therefore have to not only prevent Reyes from knifing into the backfield, but also sustain his block to ensure the probable All-Big East tackle won't shed to grab freshman running back Lyle McCombs.

10. Louisiana-Lafayette CB Dwight Bentley (#5/5-10/180/4.49) at Arizona WRs Juron Criner (#82/6-4/215/4.62)
Saturday, 4:00 pm, TBA

Arizona quarterback Nick Foles suffered bruised ribs against Arizona State, but he is expected to play in this game. Bentley has gotten close looks from scouts this year due to his toughness and ball skills, especially when he intercepted two passes against Oklahoma State in the season opener. He'll face strong competition from the 6-4 Criner on the outside, as the senior has had three 100-yard games in the last five games even after tweaking his knee a couple of weeks ago. And Criner isn't the only one able to stretch defenses vertically, or go over the top of Bentley with his six-inch height advantage, as will Foles' other targets: *Dan Buckner, David Douglas and Gino Crump.

Honorable mention

Georgia CBs CB Brandon Boykin (#2/5-10/183/4.44)/*Branden Smith (#1/5-11/176/4.39) at Georgia Tech WR *Stephen Hill (#5/6-4/206/4.57)
Saturday, 12:00 pm, ABC

Rutgers DE Manny Abreu (#51/6-2/260/4.76) at Connecticut LT Mike Ryan (#71/6-5/335/5.38)
Saturday, 12:00 pm, ESPN2

Michigan State WRs B.J. Cunningham (#3/6-2/216/4.59)/Keshawn Martin (#82/5-10/190/4.44) at Northwestern CB Jordan Mabin (#26/5-10/180/4.57)
Saturday, 12:00 pm, Big Ten Network

Iowa State WR Darius Reynolds (#7/6-1/208/4.54) at Oklahoma CB Jamell Fleming (#32/5-11/192/4.54)/*Demontre Hurst (#6/5-09/182/4.46)
Iowa State RG Hayworth Hicks (#75/6-2/336/5.37) at Oklahoma DTs *Casey Walker (#53/6-1/308/5.09)/* Jamarkus McFarland (#97/6-1/296/4.97)
Saturday, 12:00 pm, FX

Cincinnati LT Alex Hoffman (#59/6-6/298/5.28) at Syracuse DE *Chandler Jones (#99/6-5/265/4.86)
Saturday, 12:00 pm, MASN/SNY/ESPN3.com

Rice DE Scott Solomon (#35/6-3/270/4.79) at SMU LT Kelvin Beachum (#70/6-3/306/5.52)
Saturday, 12:00 pm, FSN

Tennessee DE/DT Malik Jackson (#97/6-5/270/4.82) at Kentucky RG *Larry Warford (#67/6-3/336/5.34)
Saturday, 12:21 pm, SEC Network/ESPN3.com

Nevada DT Brett Roy (#47/6-3/280/4.88) at Utah State OG Phillip Gapelu (#68/6-2/300)
Saturday, 2:00 pm, ALT/Comcast

Wyoming CB Tashuan Gipson (#4/6-0/203/4.57) at Boise State WR Tyler Shoemaker (#89/6-1/212/4.50)
Wyoming DE Gabe Knapton (#52/6-3/252/4.79) at Boise State LT Nate Potter (#73/6-6/298/5.18)
Saturday, 3:00 pm, MTN

Kansas RT *Tanner Hawkinson (#72/6-5/295/5.04) vs. Missouri DE Jacquies Smith (#3/6-3/255/4.62)Kansas C Jeremiah Hatch (#77/6-2/308/5.48) vs. Missouri DTs Dominique Hamilton (#90/6-5/305/5.24)/*Sheldon Richardson (#34/6-3/290/4.86)/Terrell Resonno (#93/6-3/295/5.08)
Saturday, 3:30 pm, FSN 

Maryland CB Cameron Chism (#22/5-10/190/4.52) at North Carolina State WR T.J. Graham (#6/5-11/180/4.36)
Saturday, 3:30 pm, ACC Network/ESPN3.com

Illinois CB Tavon Wilson (#3/6-0/205/4.54) at Minnesota WR Da'Jon McKnight (#6/6-1/212/4.54)
Saturday, 3:30 pm, Big Ten Network

Alabama CBs Dre Kirkpatrick (#21/6-2/192/4.49)/*DeQuan Menzie (#24/5-11/198/4.65) at Auburn WR *Emory Blake (#80/6-1/197/4.58)
Saturday, 3:30 pm, CBS

Duke WRs Conner Vernon (#2/6-1/195/4.53)/*Donovan Varner (#26/5-08/175/4.53) at North Carolina CB Charles Brown (#12/5-09/205/4.49)
Saturday, 3:30 pm, FSN

Virginia Tech CB *Jayron Hosley (#20/5-10/172/4.52) at Virginia WR Kris Burd (#18/6-0/200/4.53)
Saturday, 3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Penn State WR Derek Moye (#6/6-4/210/4.54) at Wisconsin CB Antonio Fenelus (#26/5-08/190/4.49)
Penn State LT Quinn Barham (#67/6-3/305/5.34) at Wisconsin DE Louis Nzegwu (#93/6-4/255/4.76)
Saturday, 3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Oregon State WRs James Rodgers (#1/5-07/188/4.48)/*Markus Wheaton (#2/6-0/178/4.47) at Oregon CB Anthony Gildon (#18/6-0/182/4.57)
Oregon State LT Mike Remmers (#50/6-4/305/5.26) at Oregon DE Terrell Turner (#45/6-2/265/4.86)
Saturday, 3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Florida WR Deonte Thompson (#6/5-11/200/4.44) at Florida State CB Mike Harris (#1/5-10/195/4.52)
Saturday, 7:00 pm, ESPN2

Washington State WR Jared Karstetter (#84/6-3/210/4.64) at Washington CB *Desmond Trufant (#6/6-0/185/4.49)
Saturday, 7:30 pm, Versus

Clemson RG Antoine McClain (#74/6-5/335/5.34) at South Carolina DT Travian Robertson (#42/6-4/303/5.08)
Saturday, 7:45 pm, ESPN

Notre Dame CBs Gary Gray (#4/5-10/195/4.49)/Robert Blanton (#12/6-0/200/4.53) at Stanford WR Griff Whalen (#17/6-0/187)
Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd (#3/6-3/224/4.54) at Stanford CB Johnson Bademosi (#27/6-1/200)
Saturday, 8:00 pm, ESPN

UCLA OT Mike Harris (#65/6-5/326/5.32) at Southern Cal DE *Devon Kennard (#42/6-3/250/4.72)
UCLA C Kai Maiava (#51/6-1/318/5.12) at Southern Cal DT Christian Tupou (#44/6-2/300/5.06)/DaJohn Harris (#98/6-4/310/5.16)
Saturday, 10:00 pm, FSN

San Diego State CB Larry Parker (#29/5-11/170) at UNLV WR Phillip Payne (#4/6-3/205/4.62)
Saturday, 11:00 pm, MTN

Tulsa LT Tyler Holmes (#78/6-4/302/5.29) at Houston OLB Sammy Brown (#8/6-2/240/4.67)
Saturday, 11:00 pm, ESPN3.com


--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter   Follow him on Twitter @ChadReuter  

Posted on: November 26, 2011 11:15 am
 

Five Prospects I'll Be Scouting Closely Saturday

Each Friday I list my "Five prospects" that I'll be focusing on for the upcoming weekend. 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. 

Sometimes it also leads to the player being featured in Draft Slant , NFLDraftScout.com and CBSSports.com's weekly NFL Draft preview. In each PDF issue of Draft Slant Senior Analyst Chad Reuter breaks down six more players in Filmroom Notes, updates our Top 64 prospects overall and offers extensive previews of the next week's action. Here is the link to this week's issue of Draft Slant. Or for the entire season click this link . Looking for a specific week? Download past issues from the past three years here. 

Without any further adieu, here are the five prospects, as well as the cable provider and time you can expect to see them.

RB Dan "Boon" Herron, Ohio State: Herron appeared poised to enter this season as one of the Big Ten's few superstars at the skill positions. After all, he'd shown an NFL-caliber combination of size, power and speed and had already rushed for over 2,000 yards and scored 29 touchdowns on the ground. Suspended for the first five games of the season due to Tattoo-Gate, however, this has been a lost year for the senior, who enters the annual showdown with Michigan having only rushed for 556 yards and two touchdowns this season. Michigan has a solid run defense and know the Buckeyes are going to try to control the clock to keep Denard Robinson off the field. Other than a senior all-star game, this may be Herron's best chance this season to impress scouts. This game begins at noon ET and will be televised by ABC.

ILB Audie Cole, North Carolina State:  For all of the talk this season about underclassmen inside linebackers Manti Te'o, Luke Kuechly and Vontaze Burfict (among others), Cole is quietly earning top 75 grades from some scouts. Big (6-4, 239) and athletic enough to move back to outside linebacker, Cole is viewed as one of the more versatile linebackers in a relatively weak senior class. He's getting plenty of Senior Bowl buzz and should perform well in his final home game against a Maryland team that features the run. This game begins at 12:30 pm ET and will be broadcast by ESPN3.

ILB Donta Hightower, Alabama: As you can tell from my Top 32 "Big Board," of the so-called elite Alabama defenders, I'm lowest on Hightower. In terms of their ability to play in the NFL I rank the top draft-eligible Crimson Tide defenders as Dre' Kirkpatrick, Courtney Upshaw and Mark Barron over Hightower, a 6-4, 260 pound redshirt junior. Hightower is clearly more explosive this year than last as he further heals from the torn ACL that ended his 2009 season prematurely, but still doesn't have the lateral agility and straight-line speed most teams operating out of 4-3 are going to be looking for at linebacker. A move to defensive end is possible. Teams operating out of the 3-4 will certainly like Hightower's bulk and explosive hitting in their scheme, however. I'm curious to see Hightower have to defend in the open field, something I expect an Auburn team currently averaging 183.5 yards on the ground to force him to do. This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be televised by CBS. 

TE Coby Fleener, Stanford: All of the hype in this contest is going to revolve around Andrew Luck and the possibility that this is his last game in Palo Alto -- as it should. We all know Luck is a terrific prospect, so I'm going to focus my attention elsewhere, including with Luck's senior tight end, Fleener, who despite being rated by most scouts as the top senior tight end in the country virtually all season long, he's received very little national attention. One can certainly understand why the scouts love him. While not a legitimate in-line blocker at the next level, the 6-6, 245 pound Fleener has rare speed and soft hands and is averaging a guady 19.7 yards per catch. Fleener will be matched up much of this game against another legitimate NFL prospect in Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith, so this should be a battle worth keeping an eye on. This game begins at 8:00 pm ET and will be televised by ABC. 

DE Devin Taylor, South Carolina: In reality, I could have listed several of the Gamecocks' and Tigers' defensive linemen in this game as this is definitely the area scouts will be closely watching in this game. Without a doubt, in terms of pure talent, this game features the best collection of defensive line talent of the day. At 6-6, 260 pounds the redshirt junior Taylor has as much physical upside as any of them, though he's not the same consistent difference-maker as his senior teammate Melvin Ingram. I'll be spending a lot of time watching the Clemson defensive line, as well, as end Andre Branch and defensive tackle Brandon Thompson (both seniors) are each capable of taking this game over, themselves.  This game begins at 7:45 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN2.


Posted on: November 19, 2011 11:40 am
 

Mano-a-Mano, Week 12

In addition to the prospects Senior Analyst Rob Rang wrote about in his "five players to watch" blog post, take a look at these memorable ten one-on-one match-ups (plus a slew of honorable mention selections) while perusing this weekend's slate of college football games.

Because players move around based on different formations and what coaches see as favorable match-ups, these prospects won't go against each other on every snap. Scouts will pay attention when they do, however, because they rely on a player's film against top competition to determine their readiness for the NFL.

All times Eastern.
"*" Denotes an underclassman

1. Virginia DE Cam Johnson (#56/6-3/270/4.76) at Florida State LT Zebrie Sanders (#77/6-5/307/5.25)
Virginia LT *Oday Aboushi (#72/6-6/310/5.20) at Florida DE *Brandon Jenkins (#49/6-3/265/4.69)
7:30 pm, ESPN2

Whether the Cavaliers or Seminoles have the ball, NFL scouts get to see a good pass rush prospect testing the resolve of a quality left tackle. Sanders has the athletic look of a blind-side protector, and has played well since moving over from the right side after four-year starter Andrew Datko decided to end his season to have shoulder surgery. Johnson brings a constant upfield push, which Sanders has the lateral agility and anchor to handle despite that svelte build. This means Johnson must use some counter moves against Sanders instead of relying solely on his up-and-under move to win the edge.

When the teams switch sides, Jenkins will be looking to convince scouts he's worth a top 40 pick by consistently turn the corner against the long, lean Aboushi. His production (7.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks) has dropped from 2010 (21.5, 13.5) but he's still smooth off the line and capable of tracking down Virginia QB Michael Rocco if the Cavs' junior left tackle cannot prove he has NFL-caliber anchor, bend, and the quick feet to mirror in pass protection.

2. Boston College CB Donnie Fletcher (#4/6-1/195/4.53) at Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd (#3/6-3/224/4.54)
4:00 pm, NBC

Fletcher intercepted his first pass of the season last week against North Carolina State (after picking up five in 2010), but gets his toughest test of the year in Floyd. Neither prospect will be among the fastest in their groups at the Combine, but Floyd's quick cuts will test Fletcher's ability to transition and drive short routes to prevent completions or limit yards after the catch. Scouts will also look to see if Fletcher has the recovery speed to handle double-moves from Floyd, or if he's best off moving to safety in the NFL to utilize his length and ball skills with the play in front of him.

3. Cal DEs Trevor Guyton (#92/6-3/280/4.86)/Ernest Owusu (#95/6-4/270/4.87) at Stanford LT *Jonathan Martin (#55/6-6/305/5.29)/RG *David DeCastro (#52/6-5/312/5.22)
Cal LT Mitchell Schwartz (#72/6-5/318/5.36) at Stanford DE/OLB *Chase Thomas (#44/6-4/240/4.76)
10:15 pm, ESPN

Right now Cal is best known in NFL circles for producing a defending Super Bowl champion and 2011 MVP candidate in Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. But they've also had defensive linemen go in the first round in the last two drafts: Tyson Alualu (Jacksonville, 2010) and Cameron Jordan (New Orleans, 2011). And though Guyton and Owusu are not likely to be top 50 picks, they will give Stanford's top 20 prospects Martin and DeCastro all they can handle. Guyton has 9.5 tackles for loss despite playing mostly inside, but DeCastro's strength and footwork make him very difficult to beat. Owusu plays a lot like another current Packer, Jarius Wynn, with length, power, and impressive agility for a 3-4 end. Stanford's junior left tackle Martin plays with the wide base and nasty attitude to stop Owusu's advances, but he'll also have to keep his feet moving and hands active after initial contact to protect quarterback Andrew Luck -- while keeping an eye on Cal linebackers like senior Mychal Kendricks coming off the edge.

And like the Virginia/Florida State contest, this year's Big Game also features a good LT/DE scouting opportunity when the Bears are on offense. A four-year starter at left and right tackle for Cal, Schwartz's size is what scouts love -- but he is a bit more nimble than you would expect looking at his tall, long frame. Thomas can test that agility with a strong upfield-to-inside lane move, and will try to get his hands on Schwartz's numbers off the snap to see what sort of pass set and anchor the big man possesses.

4. Penn State DT Devon Still (#71/6-4/310/5.06) at Ohio State C Michael Brewster (#50/6-4/305/5.17)
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN

Scouts expected Still to step up his game as a senior after a strong outing against Florida in last year's Outback Bowl (3.5 TFLs). He has not disappointed, using his elite combination and size and athleticism to rank sixth in the country with 16.5 tackles for loss. The tall, sturdy Brewster must help sophomore guards with Still and active junior DT Jordan Hill whenever possible, though both will undoubtedly line up in the B-gap to penetrate into the backfield before senior RB Dan "Boom" Herron even gets the handoff (which Still has been known to do) and while freshman QB Braxton Miller drops back to pass. Scouts won't just be looking at Still's highlight plays, though -- he needs to put forth play-to-play effort and keep his pads low enough to prevent Brewster and others from standing him up off the snap.

5. Oklahoma CBs Jamell Fleming (#32/5-11/192/4.54)/*Demontre Hurst (#6/5-9/182/4.46) at Baylor WR Kendall Wright (#1/5-10/190/4.42)8:00 pm, ABC

Robert Griffin III faces his toughest test of the season in a Sooners defense that, though far from stout, has playmakers on the outside like Hurst and Fleming that can challenge receivers. Wright doesn't have the size advantage here, but will attempt to help his quarterback move the ball through the air with his quickness and savvy in routes and strong hands. Hurst and Fleming aren't easy to shake off the line of scrimmage or after the catch on short throws, though their aggressive games can be used against them. But if Griffin and Wright can connect on timing routes and the occasional extended play in order to keep up with the yardage likely to be put up by Oklahoma junior QB Landry Jones, they will only increase the respect scouts already feel for their skills.

6. Southern Cal DE *Nick Perry (#8/6-3/250/4.59) at Oregon LT Darrion Weems (#74/6-5/302/5.40)
8:00 pm, ABC

Most of the hype surrounding the third major Pac-12 showdown in the last four weeks involves juniors USC quarterback Matt Barkley and Oregon running back LaMichael James. But Weems' play against Stanford's defensive line last week did not escape scouts, and he'll get another chance to impress them against Perry -- who had his own big game with 2.5 sacks against Washington last Saturday. Weems must prove his agility to prevent Perry from forcing quarterback Darron Thomas into hurried decisions, as well as continue to show his strength and knowledge of blocking angles when walling off any Trojans defender in his path so James and the Ducks' other speedy backs have room to run.

7. Nebraska CB Alfonzo Dennard (#15/5-10/205/4.49) at Michigan WR Junior Hemingway (#21/6-1/222/4.54)/*Roy Roundtree (#12/6-0/178/4.43)
12:00 pm, ESPN

If Michigan threw the ball more often (and more efficiently), this would be a higher-ranked matchup. And when Wolverines quarterback junior Denard Robinson and sophomore Devin Gardner do put it up, they'll probably try to stay away from Dennard. But scouts will have interest any time these talented players get their chance to prove themselves. Hemingway and Roundtree are legitimate NFL prospects, however, even if their statistics aren't among the NCAA leaders. Hemingway averages nearly 20 yards a catch with strong hands and physical play, and he'll most likely partake in hand-play with Dennard on the outside more often than will the wiry, quick Roundtree. Scouts appreciate that Dennard has five pass break-ups over the past three games, but would like to see him intercept his first pass of the year after he picked off four in 2010.

8. Cincinnati DT Derek Wolfe (#95/6-5/300/5.16) at Rutgers OG Desmond Wynn (#70/6-5/295/5.14)
12:00 pm, ESPNU

Cincinnati lost their starting quarterback, Zach Collaros, in the team's loss to West Virginia last weekend so the Bearcats' defense will need to step up to re-start the team's winning ways. Wolfe ranks seventh in the FBS with 14.5 tackles for loss and 15th in sacks with seven. Though not an elite athlete, he uses hustles and length to work past most college guards and even lines up at defensive end at times. Wynn, however, has the athleticism to cut off Wolfe's kniving moves inside and the strength to handle bull rushes from any of the UC defenders. So although this battle of mid-round prospects may not rank high on the "sexy meter", it will be worth a look for scouts and NFL draft fans.

9. Wisconsin CB Antonio Fenelus (#26/5-8/190/4.49) at Illinois WR A.J. Jenkins (#8/6-0/190/4.49)
3:30 pm, ESPN2 

Illinois' four-game losing streak has not made scouts sour on Jenkins' talent. He can snatch the ball from the air with his hands and make plays on shallow crosses and deep posts from the outside, even if his average size makes him more inclined to play in the slot at the next level. Fenelus' size is below-average, but his physicality at the line and downfield are not. He'll fight with Jenkins for deep balls, but will also have to prove to scouts he can make plays in trail coverage over the middle if they are to overlook his short stature.

10. Furman ILB Kadarron Anderson (#46/6-0/235/4.78) at Florida RBs Chris Rainey (#1/5-8/175/4.36)/Jeff Demps (#28/5-8/191/4.26)
Furman CB Ryan Steed (#1/5-11/190/4.52) at Florida WR Deonte Thompson (#6/5-11/200/4.44)
1:00 pm, ESPN3.com

Because the SEC schedules conference contests in early-to-mid September, Football Championship Subdivision (the former Division 1AA) foes get their chance at "the big boys" in November. The final score of this game may not be competitive, but NFL scouts hope two of the top senior prospects from the FCS will be. Steed has interceptions in four straight games, and although the Gators do not have an elite outside receiver prospect the speed and experience of Thompson could test him. Anderson ranks 11th in the FCS in tackles (11/game), but his ability to get off the blocks of Florida linemen and handle the elite speed of Rainey and Demps in the open field could go a long way in his final draft grade.

Honorable Mention

Cincinnati OT Alex Hoffman (#59/6-6/298/5.28) at Rutgers DE Manny Abreu (#51/6-2/260/4.76)
12:00 pm, ESPNU

Nebraska LT Jermarcus Hardrick (#50/6-7/320/5.32)/RT Marcel Jones (#78/6-6/320/5.29) at Michigan DEs *Craig Roh (#88/6-4/269/4.76)/Ryan Van Bergen (#53/6-6/288/4.84)
12:00 pm, ESPN

Minnesota WR Da'Jon McKnight (#6/6-1/212/4.54) at Northwestern CB Jordan Mabin (#26/5-10/180/4.57)
12:00 pm, Big Ten Network

Maryland DTs *A.J. Francis (#96/6-4/295)/*Joe Vellano (#72/6-2/285) at Wake Forest LG Joe Looney (#78/6-3/320/5.02)
3:00 pm, FSN 

SMU LT Kelvin Beachum (#70/6-3/306/5.52) at Houston OLB Sammy Brown (#8/6-2/240/4.67)
3:30 pm, FSN

Miami (Fla.) WRs Travis Benjamin (#3/5-10/175/4.36)/*Tommy Streeter (#8/6-4/215/4.62) at South Florida CB Quenton Washington (#2/5-10/195/4.50)
3:30 pm, ESPNU

Mississippi State CB *Johnthan Banks (#13/6-1/185/4.52) at Arkansas WRs *Cobi Hamilton (#11/6-3/209/4.57)/Greg Childs (#85/6-3/217/4.56)/Jarius Wright (#4/5-10/180/4.34)/Joe Adams (#3/5-11/190/4.38)
3:30 pm, CBS

Clemson DE Andre Branch (#40/6-4/260/4.77) at North Carolina State LT *R.J. Mattes (#79/6-6/305/5.19)
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN

Washington CB *Desmond Trufant (#6/6-0/185/4.49) at Oregon State WR *Markus Wheaton (#2/6-0/178/4.47)/James Rodgers (#1/5-07/188/4.48)
3:30 pm, Fox Sports Pacific

Wisconsin RT Josh Oglesby (#67/6-7/330/5.38) at Illinois DE *Whitney Mercilus (#85/6-4/265/4.68)
Wisconsin DE Louis Nzegwu (#93/6-4/255/4.76) at Illinois OT Jeff Allen (#71/6-4/315/5.26)
Wisconsin WR Nick Toon (#1/6-2/220/4.52) at Illinois CB Tavon Wilson (#3/6-0/205/4.54)
3:30 pm, ESPN2

Miami (Fla.) DT Micanor Regis (#54/6-2/305/5.20) at South Florida LG Jeremiah Warren (#55/6-3/330/5.34)
3:30 pm, ESPNU

Louisiana Tech CB Terry Carter (#28/5-10/190/4.43) at Nevada WR Rishard Matthews (#15/6-1/215/4.54)
4:00 pm, TBA

Central Florida CB *Josh Robinson (#20/5-10/192/4.47) at East Carolina WR Lance Lewis (#1/6-1/209/4.50) -- if Lewis' right foot is healthy
7:00 pm, FSN

Virginia WR Kris Burd (#18/6-0/200/4.53) at Florida State CBs Mike Harris (#1/5-10/195/4.52)/*Greg Reid (#5/5-8/186/4.48)
7:30 pm, ESPN2

Boise State LT Nate Potter (#73/6-6/298/5.18) at San Diego State OLB Miles Burris (#9/6-2/235/4.73)
Boise State WR Tyler Shoemaker (#89/6-1/212/4.50) at San Diego State CB Larry Parker (#29/5-11/170)
8:00 pm, CBS Sports Network

Southern Cal DT DaJohn Harris (#98/6-4/310/5.16)/Christian Tupou (#44/6-2/300/5.06) at Oregon LG *Carson York (#77/6-5/292/5.20)/RG Mark Asper (#79/6-7/325/5.30)
8:00 pm, ABC


--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter    Follow him on Twitter @ChadReuter  

Posted on: November 5, 2011 11:43 am
 

Mano-a-mano, Week Ten

In addition to the prospects Senior Analyst Rob Rang wrote about in his "five players to watch" blog post, take a look at these memorable ten one-on-one match-ups (plus a slew of honorable mention selections) while perusing this weekend's slate of college football games.

Because players move around based on different formations and what coaches see as favorable match-ups, these prospects won't go against each other on every snap. Scouts will pay attention when they do, however, because they rely on a player's film against top competition to determine their readiness for the NFL.

All times Eastern.
"*" Denotes an underclassman.

1. LSU Back Seven at Alabama RB *Trent Richardson (#3/5-11/224/4.52)
8:00 pm, CBS

If the talented Alabama offensive line and LSU defensive line negate each other in the run game on Saturday night, this year's "Game of the Millenium" could be determined by whether Heisman hopeful Richardson can defeat Tigers' linebackers at the second level. Thick weak side 'backer Ryan Baker (#22/6-0/236/4.77), fast Sam LB Stefoin Francois (#23/6-1/223/4.58), and inside guys former strong safety Karnell Hatcher (#37/6-1/223/4.64) and solid sophomore Kevin Minter, must keep their feet and wrap securely if they want to bring down Richardson before he turns a three-yard plow into a 10 or 20-yard gain. But let's face it -- few college defenders can chop down Richardson on first contact because of his thick frame, natural aggression and constantly-churning legs. That means the Tigers must swarm to the ball, with strong safety Brandon Taylor (#18/5-11/195/4.57), sophomores nickel corner Tyrann "Honey Badger" Mathieu and leading tackler free safety Eric Reid helping out the linebackers to stop the Alabama run game.

2. North Carolina Defensive Ends Quinton Coples (#90/6-6/285/4.76)/*Donte Paige-Moss (#98/6-4/260/4.67) at North Carolina State OT *R.J. Mattes (#79/6-6/305/5.19)
12:30 pm, ACC Network/ESPN3.com

North Carolina's defensive line is among the deepest -- and hyped -- in the country. Coples has the size/length to start on three or four-man fronts in the NFL, while Paige-Moss has the size and athleticism that made former Tar Heels DE Robert Quinn a top 15 pick last April. They've combined for just 10.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks in nine games (7.5, 4.5 for Coples), however, after putting up 29 and 17 (15.5, 10 for Coples) last season. Facing an All-ACC candidate in Mattes is not an easy way to increase that production; the redshirt junior left tackle is looking to prove his overall athleticism to scouts after showing strength and tenacity while starting at right guard and right tackle in his first two seasons on the field (though a torn ACL cost him the last four games of 2009).

3. Texas A&M CBs Coryell Judie (#5/5-11/190/4.48)/Terrence Frederick (#7/5-10/187/4.52) at Oklahoma WR Ryan Broyles (#85/5-10/188/4.52)Texas A&M WRs Jeff Fuller (#8/6-3/220/4.52)/*Uzoma Nwachukwu (#7/6-0/195/4.42) at Oklahoma CBs Jamell Fleming (#32/5-11/192/4.54)/*Demontre Hurst (#6/5-9/182/4.46)
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

This week's version of "Luck vs. Barkley" is A&M's athletic and strong-armed QB Ryan Tannehill (#17/6-4/222/4.65) against Oklahoma's junior pocket passer QB Landry Jones (#12/6-4/230/4.74). Scouts for teams needing a quarterback could use this game as a tie-breaker of sorts for the second or third spot in their rankings.

But NFL teams with a young passer already on the roster will be checking out this game, as well,since both Big 12 squads have legitimate NFL prospects at cornerback and receiver. Judie's hamstring has been a problem this year, and he'll need to be healthy to handle Broyles' crisp routes and elusiveness after the catch. The NCAA's all-time leader in receptions will also face stiff competition from Frederick, an ascending talent who gives no quarter to receivers of any size. When Tannehill is leading A&M's offense, he'll look for Fuller to use his size advantage and Nwachukwu his speed against Sooners corners Fleming and Hurst -- both of whom can take advantage of sideline and comeback throws Tannehill leaves too far inside.

4. South Carolina CB *Stephon Gilmore (#5/6-1/193/4.52) at Arkansas Receivers
7:15 pm, ESPN

Gilmore will be able to show NFL teams all of his skills no matter which of the Razorbacks' gaggle of receivers he may be facing Saturday night. He has the size and attitude to handle big receivers junior Cobi Hamilton (#11/6-3/209/4.57) and Greg Childs (#85/6-3/217/4.56) -- who has struggled coming back from last season's knee injury -- at the line of scrimmage or down the sideline. But scouts will be more interested to see if Gilmore can also handle the straight-line speed and quickness Jarius Wright (#4/5-10/180/4.34) and Joe Adams (#3/5-11/190/4.38) if in trail coverage or trying to chase them down after the catch in zone.

5. Missouri Defensive Tackle at Baylor C Philip Blake (#74/6-2/320/5.26)
7:00 pm, FSN

Danny Watkins took a circuitous route to NFL first round draft status, growing up in Canada, playing his first football in junior college before starting at left tackle for Baylor. Blake won't be selected that high and has played football for some time, but was also born in Canada and is advanced in age for a future rookie (Watkins turns 27 years old Sunday, Blake turns 26 later this month). He'll need to use his wide body and long arms to handle Missouri's trio of pro DT prospects: long and strong Dominique Hamilton (#90/6-5/305/5.24), athletic junior Sheldon Richardson (#34/6-3/290/4.86) and active DT Terrell Resonno (#93/6-3/295/5.08). The Bears have another big body up front, RG Robert T. Griffin (#79/6-6/330/5.38), who protects the team's athletic playmaking quarterback Robert Griffin III (who was actually born in Japan, where his father served for the U.S. Military). And no, that's not a typo -- the mammoth guard and unrelated 6-2, 220 pound quarterback have the same name.

6. Oregon Cornerbacks at Washington WR Jermaine Kearse (#15/6-1/208/4.50)
10:30 pm, FSN

The Huskies are one of college football's best stories that doesn't get talked about nearly enough. Washington fans can tell you that Kearse isn't the most consistent receiver in terms of his hands or physicality, but is a threat down the sideline to elude defenders after the catch when his game is on. Oregon's secondary has scoured by scouts for prospects over the years, but the 2011 group is a bit different. Three of the top four cornerbacks on the depth chart for this game are freshmen, and senior CB Anthony Gildon (#18/6-0/182/4.57) is erratic in his discipline outside. The wild card is junior CB Cliff Harris (#13/5-11/168/4.49), who packs a punch in press coverage that belies his wiry build, and also has the ball skills to knock away or intercept passes and had four punt returns for TDs in 2010. He may not play in this game, however, if unable to get out of head coach Chip Kelly's dog house because of an excessive speeding citation this summer and another traffic stop two weeks ago.

7. Michigan DEs *Craig Roh (#88/6-4/269/4.76)/Ryan Van Bergen (#53/6-6/288/4.84) at Iowa OTs *Riley Reiff (#77/6-6/300/4.94)/Markus Zusevics (#56/6-5/300/5.08)
12:00 pm, ESPN

Even though the Hawkeyes are coming off a brutal loss to Minnesota and the Maize-and-Blue is on top of the Legends Division of the Big Ten, Iowa still has games against the three teams tied atop the division in the Wolverines, Michigan State and Nebraska. To win any of those games, including Saturday's match-up, the team's two tackles must protect junior QB James Vanderberg. Reiff will face Roh (pronounced Row) on the weak side of the line on most plays; the more athletic pair should have good battles as Reiff tries to cut off Roh trying to use his length to turn the corner and anchors against the junior's relentless aggression. Van Bergen won't test the lateral movement of Zusevics (ZOOZ-uh-vicks) as much as the two-year starter's ability to hold his ground as the high-motor end attempts to push him into the pocket  a part of the somewhat lean right tackle's game in which he does not always excel. Both tackles will also have to seal their men inside or outside in order for bruising sophomore RB Marcus Coker (252 yards vs. Minnesota last week) to move the ball against an improved Michigan defense (ranks 35th in the FBS in total defense, ranked 110th after the 2010 season).

8. Purdue DT *Kawann Short (#93/6-3/310/5.22) at Wisconsin Interior Offensive Line
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Short was the Big 10 Co-Defensive Player of the Week against Illinois two weeks ago (3.5 TFL, 2 sacks), and played well in a loss to Michigan going up against senior center David Molk. This weekend, however, he really gets a chance to show NFL scouts he is a legitimate top 75 pick by taking on future pro starters junior C Peter Konz (#66/6-5/315/5.16), RG Kevin Zeitler (#70/6-4/318/5.26) and redshirt sophomore LG Travis Frederick (#72/6-4/330/5.27). Michigan State's Jerel Worthy found a bit of success against this group a couple of weeks ago, but was also redirected out of plays when unable to use his hands to disengage. Short will have to be more consistently quick off the snap to pressure QB Russell Wilson and agile/strong enough to maintain his gap discipline against the Wisconsin running game to be considered an elite prospect this year or next.

9. Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd (#3/6-3/224/4.54) at Wake Forest CB *Kenny Okoro (#6/6-0/190/4.49)
8:00 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Floyd's talents are well-known, as he's used his NFL size and strong hands to rank in the top 20 nationally in receptions and receiving yards per game. The Irish have not always fed him as often as they should, as Pittsburgh and USC kept him under 30 yards on four catches. Okoro's an under-the-radar talent at corner with good size, speed and aggressiveness for the position. A big game against Floyd could draw the notice of scouts looking forward to the 2013 draft.

10. Minnesota WR Da'Jon McKnight (#6/6-1/212/4.54) at Michigan State CB *Johnny Adams (#5/5-11/175/4.42)- Junior
12:00 pm, Big Ten Network

McKnight has been an underappreciated talent playing for a lowly Gophers squad, but last week's big win over Iowa gave him and junior QB MarQueis Gray (#5/6-4/240/4.56) a bit of a boost with scouts. Adams' competitive nature allows him to test McKnight's ability to get off press coverage and separate from/make plays against NFL-caliber corners downfield. In a deep senior receiver class, Minnesota's leading pass-catcher needs to have a big game against a good corner like Adams to get drafted come April.

Honorable Mention:

Vanderbilt CB Casey Hayward (#19/5-11/188/4.53) at Florida WR Deonte Thompson (#6/5-11/200/4.44)
12:21 pm, SEC Network/ESPN3.com

Virginia WR Kris Burd (#18/6-0/200/4.53) at Maryland CB Cameron Chism (#22/5-10/190/4.52)
12:30 pm, ACC Network/ESPN3.com

Wyoming CB Tashuan Gipson (#4/6-0/203/4.57) at TCU WRs Antoine Hicks (#13/6-2/212/4.57)/*Josh Boyce (5-11/203/4.54)
2:00 pm, MTN

Northwestern LT Al Netter (#75/6-4/310/5.26) at Nebraska DE *Cameron Meredith (#34/6-4/260/4.79)- Junior
3:30 pm, Big Ten Network

Cincinnati WR WR D.J. Woods (#3/6-0/182/4.49) at Pittsburgh CB Antwuan Reed (#22/5-10/190/4.54)
Cincinnati LT Alex Hoffman (#59/6-6/298/5.28) at Pittsburgh DE Brandon Lindsey (#7/6-2/250/4.68)
7:00 pm, ESPNU

Houston OLB Sammy Brown (#8/6-2/240/4.67) at UAB LT Matt McCants (#71/6-6/295/5.26)
7:00 pm, CBS Sports Network

Arizona State DE Jamaar Jarrett (#92/6-5/262/4.90) at UCLA RT Mike Harris (#65/6-5/326/5.32)
Arizona State WRs Gerell Robinson (#8/6-3/222/4.58)/Mike Willie (#1/6-2/212/4.59) at UCLA CB *Aaron Hester (#21/6-1/206/4.49)
7:30 pm, Versus

Kansas State CB David Garrett (#27/5-8/175/4.58) at Oklahoma State WR *Justin Blackmon (#81/6-1/215/4.54)
8:00 pm, ABC/ESPN2

LSU CB *Morris Claiborne (#17/6-0/185/4.45) at Alabama WR Marquis Maze (#4/5-8/184/4.49)
LSU WR *Rueben Randle (#2/6-3/208/4.57) at Alabama CB *Dre Kirkpatrick (#21/6-2/192/4.49)
LSU RT *Alex Hurst (#72/6-6/340/5.22) at Alabama DE/OLB *Dont'a Hightower (#30/6-4/260/4.74)
8:00 pm, CBS

Louisiana Tech CB Terry Carter (#28/5-10/190/4.43) at Fresno State WR Devon Wylie (#7/5-10/185/4.38)
10:30 pm, ESPNU

--Contributed by Senior Analyst Chad Reuter   Follow him on Twitter @ChadReuter 

Posted on: October 29, 2011 11:41 am
 

Mano-a-Mano, Week Nine

In addition to the prospects Senior Analyst Rob Rang wrote about in his "five players to watch" blog post, take a look at these memorable ten one-on-one match-ups (plus a slew of honorable mention selections) while perusing this weekend's slate of college football games.

Because players move around based on different formations and what coaches see as favorable match-ups, these prospects won't go against each other on every snap. Scouts will pay attention when they do, however, because they rely on a player's film against top competition to determine their readiness for the NFL.

All times Eastern.

"*" Denotes an underclassman.

1. Stanford QB *Andrew Luck (#12/6-4/235/4.73) at Southern Cal QB *Matt Barkley (#7/6-2/220/4.74)
8:00 pm, ABC

Usually in this space I discuss players likely to literally butt heads, but the battle of two of the nation's top signal callers is too intriguing to ignore. Luck will receive higher marks than Barkley in every category on a scout's report, especially in the athleticism areas. But Barkley could actually get more of a bump from this game than Luck, from whom near-perfection is expected in every outing. League general managers will take note if the former top high school recruit does not shrink under the pressure of both facing Stanford defenders and from taking on the consensus number one pick.

Barkley's impressive performance against Notre Dame last week already showed NFL teams he is capable of making some tough throws (and avoid bad plays) in hostile venues. But as Rob Rang mentioned in his blog post yesterday, a strong outing at his home stadium where he displays the poise and movement within the pocket to avoid pressure (and outside of it to gain first downs with his feet), as well as an ability to put the ball in tight spaces when necessary, will help him shed the "game manager" moniker and lock up a top five draft slot.

2. Stanford LT *Jonathan Martin (#55/6-6/305/5.29) at Southern Cal DE *Nick Perry (#8/6-3/250/4.59)
8:00 pm, ABC

Martin isn't related to a current NFL player like USC left tackle Matt Kalil (brother, Ryan, is the highly-regarded center for Carolina), but his strength and ferociousness both in pass protection and in the run game make some scouts believe he's the top blind side player in the draft (should he decide to join Luck in entering the draft early). He does tend to play with too wide a base at times, making it difficult for him to adjust to spin and inside moves from quick rushers like Perry -- who not only needs to show explosiveness off the snap to beat Martin to the corner, but also counter rushes and consistent hustle chasing Luck and running backs inside to have scouts consider him a top 40 project as a 3-4 'backer or a 4-3 end for teams looking for more speed than size on the edge.

*Matt Kalil (#75/6-6/295/5.05) will have his own challenge holding back Stanford's DE/OLB *Chase Thomas (#44/6-4/240/4.76), who ranks in the top 20 in the FBS in tackles for loss (11.5) and sacks (5.5). Though Thomas isn't as quick or agile as Perry, he will challenge the anchor of Kalil, whose relatively svelte build belies his ability to widen his stance when necessary and stand his ground against strong bull rushes. On many plays, however, he fails to bend and move his feet quickly enough to protect the inside rush lane or mirror defenders pushing him upfield before cutting upfield.

3. Michigan State WR B.J. Cunningham (#3/6-2/216/4.59) at Nebraska CB Alfonzo Dennard (#15/5-10/205/4.49)
12:00 pm, ESPN

Cunningham ranks in the top 20 nationally in receptions and receiving yards per game, and had a nice game in the Spartans' win over previously undefeated Wisconsin (6-102, TD). Scouts like the feistiness (if not the size) of Dennard, however, who should match up regularly against QB Kirk Cousin's best downfield option. Cunningham does not have elite speed, but he has the size, quick feet, and a burst to create separation from Dennard. Plays can be had if Cousins does not stare down Cunningham so the heady Dennard can close on passes, and if Cunningham's hands are once again solid (and not inconsistent, as they were vs. Michigan). Dennard may also end up shadowing MSU's quicker receiver, Keshawn Martin (#82/5-10/190/4.44), to prevent him from making the type of back-breaking plays after the catch that he made against the Badgers.

4. Wisconsin DE Louis Nzegwu (#93/6-4/255/4.76) at Ohio State LT Mike Adams (#75/6-6/320/5.28)
8:00 pm, ESPN

The Badgers must get over that supremely disappointing defeat to Sparty State quicky, or the Buckeyes will turn one loss into two in a hurry. OSU RB Dan Herron (#1/5-10/208/4.52) will get the headlines going into the game because of the boost he gave the team against Illinois (23-114, TD), but getting Adams back from suspension was just as important. In an offensive tackle class lacking depth, his wide frame, arm length, and fluid movement will be coveted by scouts looking for pass protectors. He's been inconsistent with his effort and technique in the past, however, so Nzegwyu (who has 2.5 sacks in his last two games) will look to take advantage of any momentary lapses to stop Herron in the run game or attack QB Braxton Miller if the young passer looks unaware of backside pressure.

5. Arizona WR Juron Criner (#82/6-4/215/4.62) vs. Washington CB *Desmond Trufant (#6/6-0/185/4.49)
10:30 pm, FSN

The Wildcats have not played since their emotional win over UCLA last Thursday that marked the beginning of the post-Mike Stoops era. In that game, Criner connected with fellow senior QB Nick Foles (6-5/240/4.96) for three scores, using his size and hands to go over the top of Bruins defenders (who also helped him scores by falling down or letting him run by on two of his three TDs). He faces a good junior corner in Trufant (the brother of NFL CB Marcus) that is making big plays regularity this year (interceptions in the first two weeks of the year, nine other passes broken up, two forced fumbles this year) but is prone to giving up big plays, as well. And Criner isn't the only receiver prospect Trufant will face, as David Douglas (#85/6-1/205/4.64) and junior Texas transfer Dan Buckner (#15/6-3/220/4.57) are also on scouts' radars as potential later-round picks.

6. California WR Marvin Jones (#1/6-2/202/4.53) at UCLA CB *Aaron Hester (#21/6-1/206/4.49)
7:00 pm, Fox Sports Prime Ticket

It is unfortunate this game won't be seen outside of the West, as Jones and Hester should have some good battles. Hester was one of the corners beaten by Criner last week, as he gave up a score by allowing the Arizona receiver to eat up cushion and could not recover in time to prevent a fade into the end zone. Jones isn't quite as big as Criner, but he can be physical and is a superior route-runner. Hester, therefore, will have to prove to scouts his footwork is sound if he is to handle Jones -- and project as an above-average starter at the next level.

7. Purdue DT *Kawann Short (#93/6-3/310/5.22) at Michigan C David Molk (#50/6-2/288/5.18)
12:00 pm, ESPN

Short was the Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week for his work against Illinois (3.5 TFL, 2 sacks), and carries an extra 30 pounds over Molk -- even if a lot in his midsection. Molk may not be the biggest pivot man in the draft, but his ability to block on the move and to anchor against NFL-sized tackles has gained him respect from scouts. Though Short can be a pain for most college interior linemen to handle one-on-one, teams will be interested to see if he can beat a technician like Molk with strong hands on initial contact -- and if he has the, flexibility, change of direction ability, and relentless nature to chase down junior QB Denard Robinson when the speedy runner is not directly in his path. General managers considering him in the second round of the 2012 draft will also like to see how Short looks in the fourth quarter after spending the afternoon pursuing "Shoelace."

8. Arkansas Wide Receivers at Vanderbilt CB Casey Hayward (#19/5-11/188/4.53)
12:21 pm, SEC Network/ESPN3.com

No matter where the savvy Hayward lines up, he's going to be facing a potential NFL receiver because of the depth the Razorbacks have at the position. Arkansas' fastball-throwing QB *Tyler Wilson (#8/6-3/220/4.77) can challenge Hayward's ability to handle the size of Greg Childs (#85/6-3/217/4.56) and *Cobi Hamilton (#11/6-3/209/4.57) down the field -- and his ability to bring them down after the catch. The speed of the fourth-ranked interceptor in the FBS (with five picks this season after grabbing six in 2010) will also be tested if he's covering speedy Jarius Wright (#4/5-10/180/4.34) or Joe Adams (#3/5-11/190/4.38). In the end, Hayward may be battling Wilson most of all, as he is a capable zone defender willing to come off one man to attack passes in his general vicinity if the junior passer is locked onto one of his formidable targets.

9. Illinois LT Jeff Allen (#71/6-4/315/5.26) at Penn State DE Jack Crawford (#81/6-5/273/4.79)
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Allen is an underrated prospect who has a nice chance to show off his balance and fluid movement in pass protection for scouts against another potential mid-round pick in Crawford Saturday afternoon. PSU's tall, long rush end is not an elite prospect by any means, but did assist on two sacks for the Nittany Lions last week in the win over Northwestern and can be a thorn in the side of Illini junior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase if left unchecked.

10. Missouri WRs *T.J. Moe (#28/5-11/195/4.49)/Wes Kemp (#8/6-4/220/4.47)  Texas A&M at CB Coryell Judie (#5/5-11/190/4.48)/Terrence Frederick (#7/5-10/187/4.52)
12:00 pm, FX

Another both teams' coaches will be preaching defense before the game, this one will likely end up just another Big 12 passing shoot-out. Judie and Frederick are two Aggies corners with NFL aspirations, but soph QB James Franklin is capable of finding his multiple targets if given sufficient protection up front. Kemp has a similar size/speed combination to current St. Louis Rams receiver Danario Alexander, though his production hasn't always reflected it since Chase Daniel left Columbia. Moe doesn't look like a big-time playmaker on the hoof, but his crisp routes, underrated quicknessm, awareness in zones, and strong hands making defenses pay for coverage breakdowns. Both Judie and Frederick will fight the larger Kemp on sideline throws and jump balls despite his height advantage, but they must he disciplined in their footwork against Moe or the junior find a seam or leave them behind on a strong cut.

Honorable Mention

Bowling Green WR Kamar Jorden (#19/6-1/203/4.68) at Kent State CB Josh Pleasant (#2/5-10/190/4.41)
1:00 pm, MAC-Sports.com Live Streaming

West Virginia CB Keith Tandy (#8/5-10/199/4.54) at Rutgers WR *Mohamed Sanu (#6/6-2/215/4.57)
3:30 pm, ABC

Oklahoma DE Frank Alexander (#84/6-3/255/4.82) at Kansas State LT Zach Hanson (#70/6-8/303)
3:30 pm, ESPN

Iowa CBs Shaun Prater (#28/5-10/185/4.49)/*Micah Hyde (#18/6-1/185/4.53) at Minnesota WR Da'Jon McKnight (#6/6-1/212/4.54)
3:30 pm, Big Ten Network

West Virginia DE Julian Miller (#97/6-3/268/4.76) at Rutgers LG Desmond Wynn (#70/6-5/295/5.14)
West Virginia LT Don Barclay (#64/6-4/310/5.27) at Rutgers DE Manny Abreu (#51/6-2/260/4.76)
3:30 pm, ABC 

Virginia Tech CB *Jayron Hosley (#20/5-10/172/4.52) at Duke WRs *Conner Vernon (#2/6-1/195/4.53)/Donovan Varner (#26/5-08/175/4.53)
12:30 pm, ACC Network/ESPN3.com 

Wake Forest CB *Kenny Okoro (#6/6-0/190/4.49) at North Carolina WR Dwight Jones (#83/6-4/225/4.53)
3:30 pm, ESPNU

Purdue LT Dennis Kelly (#68/6-8/306/5.32) at Michigan DE *Craig Roh (#88/6-4/269/4.76)
3:30 pm, Big Ten Network

Florida LG Dan Wenger (#56/6-3/295/5.28) at Georgia DT DeAngelo Tyson (#94/6-2/306/5.02)
3:30 pm, CBS

Baylor DT Nicolas Jean-Baptiste (#90/6-2/335/5.06) at Oklahoma State C Grant Garner (#74/6-2/292/5.36)
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Illinois WR A.J. Jenkins (#8/6-0/190/4.49) at Penn State CBs Chaz Powell (#2/6-1/206/4.48)/D'Anton Lynn (#8/6-0/208/4.53)
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Kansas RT *Tanner Hawkinson (#72/6-5/295/5.04) at Texas DE *Alex Okafor (#80/6-4/260/4.62)
7:00 pm, Longhorn Network

Ole Miss DE Kentrell Lockett (#40/6-5/248/4.79) at Auburn LT A.J. Greene (#77/6-5/298/5.18)
7:00 pm, ESPNU 

California DE Trevor Guyton (#92/6-3/280/4.86) at UCLA RT Mike Harris (#65/6-5/326/5.32)
7:00 pm, Fox Sports Prime Ticket 

Mississippi State RB Vick Ballard (#28/5-11/220/4.58) at Kentucky OLB Danny Trevathan (#22/6-0/232/4.68)
Mississippi State DT *Fletcher Cox (#94/6-4/295/4.96) at Kentucky RG *Larry Warford (#67/6-3/336/5.34)
7:00 PM, Fox Sports South

Wisconsin DT Patrick Butrym (#95/6-3/285/5.14) at Ohio State C Michael Brewster (#50/6-4/305/5.17)
Wisconsin OLB *Mike Taylor (#53/6-2/230/4.64) at Ohio State FB *Zach Boren (#44/6-0/252/4.68)
8:00 pm, ESPN

Arizona CB Trevin Wade (#24/5-11/192/4.56) at Washington WR Jermaine Kearse (#15/6-1/208/4.50)
10:30 pm, FSN 

--Contributed by Senior Analyst Chad Reuter  Follow him on Twitter at @ChadReuter

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