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Tag:Morris Claiborne
Posted on: March 10, 2012 12:54 pm
 

Rams get bounty, but dropping to No. 6 has risk

In the wake of the bold trade up by the Washington Redskins to secure the rights to one of the two elite quarterbacks of the 2012 draft class you can expect that there will be plenty of media speculation as to whether head coach Mike Shanahan and his staff overpayed. 

The St. Louis Rams, on the other hand, are universally being lauded for their ability to pry first round picks from the Redskins in the 2013 and 2014 drafts, as well as Washington's second round pick this year for only dropping four spots. 

And while I do believe that this trade could be one of the few in which both teams appear to be "winners," it isn't fair to characterize the Redskins as the only team taking a significant risk with the move. 

Recent conversations with various league sources indicate that six prospects have pulled away as the elite talents of the 2012 draft. Though the order differs slightly per team, the general consensus seems to be that Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, Southern Cal offensive tackle Matt Kalil, Alabama running back Trent Richardson, LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, and Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon have separated from the rest of the pack. In trading out of the second pick to the sixth, the Rams are still guaranteed to see one of these prospects still available to them. Whether it is one capable of making an immediate impact, however, is the bigger question. 

With obvious needs at wide receiver and cornerback, the Rams would presumably love to see either Claiborne or Blackmon still available. The Minnesota Vikings (owners of the third pick), Cleveland Browns (four) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (five) also have signficant needs at these spots, however. With free agency looming, much will change prior to the draft but Rams fans may not be as thrilled with their options at No. 6 as they may have been when hearing of the bounty of picks their team will receive in the move.

Based on the lowered value of running backs in today's pass-happy NFL, Richardson would appear to be the most logical candidate, at this point, to slip to six. And while the Rams are expected to add a running back during the off-season to ease the burden on star Steve Jackson, adding another elite talent at one of the few positions of strength on the roster is not the recipe for success most teams would follow. 
      
Of course, if the draft works out the way Dane Brugler and I anticipate in our updated mock drafts (which reflect the trade), St. Louis could be celebrating their mighty haul of draft picks and adding a certain playmaker for Sam Bradford to boot.                
Posted on: February 28, 2012 2:06 pm
 

Top CBs fail to close gap on Claiborne

NFLDraftScout.com has four strong cornerback prospects rated as potential first-round picks, and LSU's Morris Claiborne remains at the top of the position as none of the elite prospects particularly stood out during testing drills at the Scouting Combine on Tuesday.

North Alabama's Janoris Jenkins is hovering around the top 10, and ran an impressive 4.46-second 40-yard dash, compared to Claiborne's 4.50. Alabama's 'Dre Kirkpatrick posted a 4.51, while Nebraska's Alfonzo Dennard ran a 4.55. All were very respectable times. (Combine 40 Times)

Dennard flipped the script a bit with an impressive 37-inch vertical jump, while Kirkpatrick (37), Claiborne (34.5) and Jenkins (33.5) lagged behind him a bit.

While Claiborne said he believes his speed helps separate him from the other top cornerbacks, he pointed to technique when asked to describe his game.

"More of a technician, and trying to funnel the guys instead of getting real physical with them at the line all the time," said Claiborne, who considers himself a better man coverage corner than zone.

The biggest mover of the day was clearly Central Florida's Josh Robinson, who torched the 40 in 4.33 seconds. He also led the defensive backs with a 133-inch broad jump and finished second in the position group with a 38 1/2-inch vertical. Currently projected as a fourth-round pick, Robinson figures to ride the wave up the draft board a bit leading into the pro day season.

Posted on: January 13, 2012 9:17 am
Edited on: January 13, 2012 9:20 am
 

Report: LSU losing WR Randle to pros as well

The fact that LSU only passed for 53 yards in the BCS Championship game certainly is slowing down their receivers from making the early jump to the NFL.

According to multiple reports LSU junior Rueben Randle will be joining teammates Morris Claiborne, Michael Brockers and fellow receiver Russell Shepard as an early entrant into the 2012 NFL draft.

The news was first reported by TigerSportsDigest.com, which claimed that Randle's decision was made over a family dinner Wednesday and that the papers to be filed with the NFL were sent in Thursday.

While Shepard's decision is a bit puzzling, Randle's jump to the pros had been anticpated. Listed by the official website for LSU athletics at 6-4, 208 pounds, Randle was the Tigers' most productive receiver in 2011. He led the team in catches (53), receiving yards (917), average yards per catch (17.3) and receiving touchdowns (eight) and garnered First Team All-SEC accolades from the conference coaches.

He leaves LSU having started 24 of a possible 39 games and with 94 catches for 1,621 yards and 13 touchdowns over his career.

Though Randle was limited by sticky coverage from Alabama's 'Dre Kirkpatrick throughout much of the team's two battles in 2011 (combined five catches for 32 yards), ironically enough it was Randle's a three-catch, 125 yard effort against the Tide in 2010 that served as his "breakout game." Randle scored a 75 yard touchdown in that contest, the longest of his career. Kirkpatrick was one of three Alabama juniors to announce that they too are leaving the SEC early for the NFL.

Due largely to his rare combination of size and speed, Randle is currently ranked as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 6 receiver for the 2012 draft with a second round grade.

Posted on: January 12, 2012 5:45 pm
 

LSU DT Brockers joining Claiborne, Shepard in NFL

Earlier today the LSU Tigers announced that junior cornerback Morris Claiborne would be heading off to the NFL.

A little later, another junior -- wideout Russell Shepard -- made the surprising decision to join him.

Les Miles' chances at the Tigers winning the SEC again in 2012 was made significantly more difficult with the news that yet another LSU player is finishing his collegiate career early and heading off to the pros.

Redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Michael Brockers is also making the jump. He told the assembled media during his press conference Thursday that he'd received feedback that he'd be a late first round to early second round pick.

"I heard my progression and my physical build would put me high in the draft," Brockers said. "You only get this opportunity once, so I wanted to take advantage of it."

"I was focused on winning a national championship," Brockers said. "After the game was over, we lost and it was a nasty taste in my mouth, but I can move on from that and focus on the future…It was a family decision. We came together and we thought about the pros and cons about every situation. We just thought about every detail and this is the conclusion we came up with."

Brockers signed with LSU as a 250 pound defensive end. He's grown into a 6-6, 306 pound monster for the Tigers and earned Second Team All-SEC pick in 2011, recording 54 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, two sacks, a forced fumble, an interception and blocked a field goal against Alabama in Monday's BCS Championship loss.

Brockers' strength and length make him an ideal candidate to return to defensive end for a 3-4 club. His power, quickness and growing frame are sure to intrigue 4-3 teams, as well. It is this versatility and Brockers' obvious upside that had him rated as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 2 defensive tackle in the class of 2014. Though he'll be joining a talented group of defensive linemen in the 2012 draft and certainly could have improved his stock with two more years of collegiate eligibility, don't think NFL scouts will mourn his decision to enter the league early. Brockers, after all, was as impressive as any LSU Tiger in the BCS Championship game (seven tackles, tackle for loss, blocked kick) and appears to be just scratching the surface of his significant potential.
Posted on: January 12, 2012 1:45 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2012 2:44 pm
 

Claiborne, Shepard leave for NFL. More to come?

With the two most talented teams in the country not playing their final game until Monday night, scouts expected to see a late flurry of underclassmen from Alabama and LSU announce their NFL decisions this week. The deadline for early entry into the 2012 draft, after all, is Sunday.

Sources close to LSU junior cornerback Morris Claiborne confirmed to NFLDraftScout.com this morning that the 2011 Thorpe Award winner has played his final season for the Tigers and will be heading to the NFL.

The news comes on the heels of a significantly more surprising defection from another LSU underclassman. Junior wide receiver Russell Shepard took to Twitter to announce that he's submitting his name into the NFL lottery, as well.

Claiborne's early entry was anticipated. NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated cornerback since October, Claiborne is silky smooth in coverage and possesses rare ball skills for the position. Claiborne started opposite eventual No. 5 overall pick Patrick Peterson in 2010 and led the Tigers with five interceptions. Opponents challenged him early in 2011 with Peterson now a member of the Arizona Cardinals and Claiborne was even better as a junior, again leading the team in pass thefts (six) and also serving as a big play specialist as the team's kickoff returner.

The decision by Shephard, on the other hand, was a stunner and may have more to do with Shephard's frustration with LSU than his standing with NFL scouts.

Shephard, a highly recruited quarterback and wide receiver prospect out of high school, flashed some big play ability throughout his career with the Tigers but had been passed up on the depth chart and only saw three snaps in the BCS title game. Shephard caught just 14 passes in 2011 for 190 yards and four touchdowns.

He was NFLDraftScout.com's No. 12 ranked receiver in the class of 2013 but will fall significantly lower than that in our 2012 rankings due to a strong senior class of receivers and the number of talented underclassmen at the position who had already announced their intentions to enter this April's draft.

"Thanks for your support Tiger Nation...but I have to do what's best for my family and myself...Geaux Tigers," served as Shephard's Twitter announcement that he's heading off to the NFL.

As surprising as Shephard's decision is, it may not be the last for the Tigers. Several other talented LSU underclassmen are thought to be considering making the jump to the NFL, including another receiver Rueben Randle and two supremely talented defensive linemen -- defensive tackle Michael Brockers and Sam Montgomery, each of whom are redshirt sophomores.

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 25, 2011 11:42 am
Edited on: November 25, 2011 2:57 pm
 

Prospects aplenty to watch in LSU vs. Arkansas

The battle between No. 1 LSU and No. 3 Arkansas hasn't received nearly the same hype as the clash LSU had with Alabama just a few weeks ago.

It certainly should, however. The game carries just as much BCS implications and features several high ranking pro prospects, as well.

Here are the top prospects for both sides. This game begins today at 2:30 pm Eastern Time on CBS.

LSU Tigers:

CB Morris Claiborne, 6-0, 185, junior
Overshadowed last season by Patrick Peterson, Claiborne has emerged as the elite cover corner in the country in 2011 and a potential top five pick. He leads the team with four interceptions, including a pivotal one in LSU's win over Alabama.

WR Rueben Randle, 6-3, 208, junior
Despite his lanky frame, Randle has emerged as the Tigers' best big play threat, averaging 19 yards a catch. He leads the team in catches (39), receiving yards (755) and receiving touchdowns (eight), though he has become less of a factor in recent weeks with Jordan Jefferson and his running skills from the quarterback position taking a larger role in LSU's offense.

OT Alex Hurst, 6-6, 340, junior
A mountain of a man who has contributed significantly to LSU's power running game, Hurst entered the season having already been recognized by SEC coaches and media as a likely all-conference pick.

OLB Ryan Baker, 6-0, 236, senior
An undersized weakside linebacker, Baker devoted himself to the weight room in the offseason with Kelvin Sheppard leaving for the Buffalo Bills (via the third round) and gained 12 pounds of muscle.

TE DeAngelo Peterson, 6-3, 236, senior
With only 15 receptions for 163 yards and a single touchdown this season it might be hard to imagine Peterson as an draft-worthy prospect, but scouts are intrigued by the former wide receiver's combination of size and speed.

SS Brandon Taylor, 5-11, 195, senior
The younger brother of former LSU standout safety (and San Francisco 49ers' 2009 draft pick) Curtis Taylor, Brandon has emerged as one of the Tigers' most dependable defenders, leading the team with 61 tackles and earning the right to wear jersey No. 18 -- an honor bestowed upon the player teammates and coaches feel best exemplifies what a Tiger is supposed to be on and off the field.

RB Spencer Ware is a bulldozing back who I anticipate playing a critical role in this game for the Tigers against a vulnerable Arkansas run defense. He, like star defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, is a true sophomore however, and therefore ineligible for early admission into the NFL draft. The NFL only allows players at least three years removed from their high school graduation eligibility.

Arkansas Razorbacks:

WR Joe Adams, 5-11, 190, senior
A speedster who is equally dangerous as a punt returner and out of the slot, Adams is flying up draft boards. He leads the country with three punt returns scored on touchdowns, including this dazzling one against Tennessee a few weeks ago.

DE Jake Bequette, 6-5, 271, senior
Having secured eight of Arkansas' 20 sacks this season, Bequette has essentially been a one-man wrecking crew for the Razorbacks. Blessed with good size and athleticism he was developed into one of the better middle round defensive end prospects in the draft. A strong showing on this national stage could help him secure a spot on one of the top all-star game rosters.

WR Greg Childs, 6-3, 217, senior
Childs entered the year among the most highly touted senior receivers in the country, but he's been slow to recover from the damaged patella tendon that ended last season prematurely. Childs has excellent size, body control and hands, but is running out of time to prove his speed has returned and that he's healthy.

ILB Jerry Franklin, 6-1, 245, senior
A Second Team All-SEC pick last year, Franklin is once again pacing the Razorbacks in tackles this season with 87 stops, including 10 tackles for loss. The Tigers' downhill power running and the lateral agility of LSU's option runners is going to put a lot of pressure on Franklin and Arkansas front seven defenders in this contest. I expect a strong game with a gaudy stat line.

TE Chris Gragg, 6-3, 235, junior
A former wide receiver, Gragg still lacks the bulk most teams are looking for at tight end, but he's flashed this year as a mismatch threat down the seam, actually entering this game as the reigning Mackey Award Tight End of the Week based off his eight catch, 119 yard (and a score) performance last week against Mississippi State.

WR Cobi Hamilton, 6-3, 209, junior
Hamilton gets lost a bit in the shuffle of Arkansas' great receivers, but as the only underclassman of the group he's best in position to become a favorite of Tyler Wilson, who also has a year of eligibility remaining. Hamilton currently ranks fourth on the team with 29 catches, but his 15.2 yard per catch average is impressive considering his size.

FS Tramain Thomas, 6-0, 204, senior
Instinctive, athletic and possessing good ball skills, Thomas is one of the better options in a relatively weak senior crop of safeties. He leads the team with four interceptions this season, as he did last year in earning Second Team All-SEC honors. Thomas isn't likely to get tested often in this game considering how little LSU typically throws the ball, but he'll certainly have to be steady in run support.

QB Tyler Wilson, 6-3, 220, redshirt junior
Wilson stepped in for Ryan Mallett and the Razorbacks have suffered virtually no drop-off this season. Some of the credit must go to Bobby Petrino's scheme, which has proven to be effective at moving the ball at every level he's coached. A good deal of credit should go to Wilson, as well, however, as he has legitimate arm talent and is a much more mobile passer than Mallett, so the Razorbacks don't have a statue in the pocket to protect. This will be Wilson's stiffest test this year as the LSU secondary is the best in the country. Considering the other juniors likely to leave school early this season, scouts don't anticipate Wilson heading to the NFL early. Should he return, he'll certainly be among the more closely scrutinized passers for the 2013 draft. 

WR Jarius Wright, 5-10, 180, senior
Joe Adams has been getting a great deal of attention over the past few weeks due to his dazzling production, but make no mistake Wright is the go-to receiver in this offense. He leads the team with 61 receptions, has almost double the receiving yards (1,002) as Adams, Arkansas' second leading receiver (595) and has over three times as many touchdown receptions (10) as any other Razorback (Adams and Hamilton are tied with three each). Though he boasts very good speed and is a more reliable route-runner and hands-catcher than some of his teammates, Wright will have to prove to scouts that he can play special teams if he is to improve upon the 5th round grade NFLDraftScout.com has currently assigned to him. 

This game begins today at 2:30 pm Eastern Time on CBS.

Posted on: October 21, 2011 10:59 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 Andre Ellington, Clemson:  Considering the success of Clemson’s passing attack, Ellington hasn’t received a great deal of national attention. That could change, however, with a strong game against an exceedingly talented and fast North Carolina defense. Ellington has already rushed for 740 yards and seven touchdowns and is thought to be among the underclassmen running backs strongly considering making the early leap to the NFL. This game begins at noon ET and will be televised by ESPN.

CB Morris Claiborne, LSU:  The suspension of Tyrann Mathieu (as well as fellow cornerback Tharold Simon and running back Spencer Ware) is going to put that much more pressure on an LSU defense in the battle of Tigers. Claiborne has been even more impressive this season than he was last year starting opposite Patrick Peterson, recording three interceptions already. He’ll be asked to slow down Auburn’s top wideout, junior Emory Blake. This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be televised by CBS.

RB Lamar Miller, Miami: Like Ellington, Miller, a redshirt sophomore, is thought to already be considering making the leap to the pro level. Miller has rushed for 706 yards already this season, more than he did all of last year. He’s toting the rock more than 18 times a game, proving that he has the toughness to handle a full-time role at the pro level. Blessed with speed and  legitimate NFL size (5-11, 212), Miller could join the long list of former backs from The U to earn a top 64 grade. This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN.

QB Russell Wilson, Wisconsin: With all due respect to a Nebraska defense limited by injuries to stars Alfonzo Dennard and Jared Crick, Saturday’s tilt on the road against Michigan State could be the toughest test for Wisconsin all season long. Wilson has the benefit of playing behind one of the nation’s elite offensive lines, but Jerel Worthy and the top-rated MSU defense could pose problems. Lucky for Wilson, one of the Spartans’ top pass rushers, defensive end  William Gholston, was suspended for this game due to throwing a punch a week earlier at a Michigan player. Scouts wish Wilson was taller, of course, but can’t help but acknowledge how quickly he’s adjusted to the Wisconsin offense, as well as his strong arm and mobility.   This game begins at 8:00 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN.

OG David DeCastro, Stanford: I’ve spoken to scouts who characterize DeCastro as the best guard prospect in the past 20 years. That’s pretty damn lofty praise. DeCastro will get his stiffest test of the season against Washington’s defensive tackle, Alameda Ta’amu, a potential first round pick, himself. If Ta’amu can get pressure on Andrew Luck, the 5-1 Huskies could surprise The Cardinal. This game begins at 8:00 ET and will be televised by ABC.

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