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Tag:Muhammad Wilkerson
Posted on: March 24, 2011 12:41 pm
 

Don't sleep on First Rd DTs after Dareus, Fairley

Many in the media have lauded this year's defensive end class as one of the best in recent years.

While that may be true, I'd argue that the defensive tackle group is not only more talented at the top, it is deeper as well.

Like last year, when attention on the defensive tackles centered around the top two players Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy, this crop of run-stuffers is largely described elsewhere as Marcell Dareus, Nick Fairley and a bunch of other guys.

Those other guys may not wind up as top ten picks like Dareus and Fairley, but draft fans may wind up surprised by how high the next three defensive tackles could go.

I've spoken to representatives of teams operating out of the 4-3 and 3-4 that see the next three defensive tackles -- Illinois' Corey Liuget , Baylor's Phil Taylo r and Temple's Muhammad Wilkerson -- as all potential Top 20 picks.

To put that in perspective, the last time there were five defensive tackles drafted within the Top 20 was ten years. Teams can only hope this year's crop winds up as good as 2001, when Richard Seymour (No. 6, Marcus Stroud (No. 13) and Casey Hampton (No. 19) began their standout careers. Unfortunately, the first defensive tackle in 2001 -- Gerard Warren -- was the most disappointing of the group, especially considering his high draft selection. Damione Lewis (No. 12) never panned out for the Rams, either.

I've written before about the raving reviews I've heard of Liuget . As a classic penetrating three-technique defensive tackle, he could hear his name called as early as No. 14 to the St. Louis Rams. I'd be surprised to see him get past the trio of Philadelphia, New Orleans and Seattle with picks No. 23-25.

Unlike Liuget, who could play in the 3-4, but projects best inside in a four-man front, Taylor is more scheme versatile. He's the unquestioned top nose guard prospect in this draft at 6-4, 337 pounds, but has the rare athleticism at that size to also split gaps and remain at defensive tackle. Most teams operating out of the 3-4 alignment will tell you that the toughest part of fielding a 3-4 defense is finding a nose guard. That fact could boost Taylor's stock much higher than most believe. The Washington Redskins at No. 10 and Houston Texans at No. 11 could be intrigued by Taylor's ability to immediately improve their interior run defense. I'd be surprised to see Taylor fall out of the first round with the Jets at No. 30 in need of reinforcements behind oft-injured NG Kris Jenkins.

Like Taylor, Wilkerson is scheme-versatile. He's also position-versatile, having starred at defensive tackle at Temple and having the long frame (6-5, 305) and strength (27 reps) to handle the conversion outside as a five-technique defensive end. Wilkerson had the widest wingspan (85 1/4") of all the defensive tackles measured at the Combine and second among all defensive linemen (Oklahoma State DE Ugo Chinasa measured 86 1/8").

That position and scheme versatility, coupled with his impressive production at Temple (70 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks) could see Wilkerson drafted as high as the Patriots' No. 17 overall pick. The fact that Wilkerson's production came against questionable competition in the MAC could be enough to push him into the mid or late 20s, but I'd be surprised if the Steelers or Packers with the final two picks of the first round, respectively, didn't pounce on his upside should he fall into their laps, respectively.


Posted on: March 14, 2011 2:08 pm
 

Rising Above the Competition

After the 2006 draft, I spoke with a college scouting director about why receiver Marques Colston fell to the seventh round of that year's event. Colston did have surgeries on both shoulders, but had a great week at the East-West Shrine Game and worked out very well at the Combine--I figured he would be a fourth or fifth round selection.

The scout's answer was quite surprising to me: "my GM said, 'I'm not taking a wideout from Hofstra." 

That sort of thinking is wasn't necessarily prevalent throughout the league at that time, and certainly his two 1,000-yard seasons the past two years has made teams more willing to overlook a player's level of competition if they see enough raw talent to select them high in the draft.

As I've often said (and heard said by others): "either a guy can play or he can't play."

Despite some administrators' biases, the first round every draft since at least 1976 included a player from outside the traditional Bowl Championship Series conferences (using current alignments, and including Notre Dame).

Since 2000, 2.6 players from non-BCS schools (including all lower divisions) have snuck into the first, including four in last year's draft: RB Ryan Matthews (Fresno State, #12, San Diego), OG Mike Iupati (Idaho, #17, San Francisco), CB Kyle Wilson (Boise State, #29, New York Jets), DE/OLB Jerry Hughes (TCU, #31, Indianapolis).

This year, however, may more closely resemble the 2009 class, where only one player from the "have-nots" of college football made it into the initial stanza (DE/OLB Larry English, Northern Illinois, #16, San Diego). Even in that year, however, six non-BCS conference prospects were selected in the second round: very close to the 6.3 average for 2001-2010 period.

As for players from outside the Football Bowl Subdivison like Colston, most drafts over the last decade did not include a first-round pick from "small schools" but one or two are picked in the second round.

The addition of TCU to the Big East and Utah to the Pac-10 over the next couple of seasons will change the regularity of intrusion by talented players from lesser-hyped programs in the top two rounds (8.9 average from 2001-2001)--but for now, expect this year's group to hover around the recent average.

I'll be watching for the following prospects to be picked early:

Possible first/easy second round picks:

1. DL Muhammad Wilkerson (Temple)
The junior played well for the Owls, then excelled at the Combine (4.96 40, 27 reps, 4.59 short shuttle). Teams looking for a five-technique in the late first could snap him up.

2. OL Marcus Cannon (TCU)
Cannon could be the surprise first round pick if power-blocking teams like Pittsburgh or Philadelphia feel strongly he fits their system as a guard or tackle--and don't want to wait until the late second to bring him in.

Solid second round picks:

3. WR Jerrel Jernigan (Troy)
Though he measured in a shade under 5-9, 185 pounds, Jernigan's quickness, toughness over the middle, and return ability give him an excellent shot to be a second-round pick.

4. CB Davon House (New Mexico State)
Teamed with Kyle Wilson on the 2009 All-WAC first team, and was named all-conference again in 2010. Though he isn't quite the player Wilson was in college, measuring over six-foot, 200-pounds with a 4.44 40 cemented his spot in the second round.

5. OL Ben Ijalana (Villanova)
If Ijalana were not dealing with a sports hernia, people would be discussing the versatile player (who is more athletic than former UMass Vlad Ducasse, last year's second round pick of the Jets) more frequently as a top 64 selection.

6. DL Kenrick Ellis (Hampton)
Another massive athlete with very good athleticism, Ellis' past may prevent him from going as high as his talent indicates--but 3-4 teams looking for an athletic 340-pounder who could play on the nose and at five-technique should jump on his talent in the mid-to-late second.

Possible second rounders:

7. QB Andy Dalton (TCU)
Dalton's excellent win-loss record and solid character could earn him a spot in the second round, but his lack of size and arm strength could make him available to teams early in the third--not unlike Colt McCoy last spring.

8. CB Brandon Burton (Utah)
Burton did not rip up the Combine, but he has enough size, speed, change of direction ability and toughness to be selected by New England, Pittsburgh or Chicago late in the second.

9. OLB Dontay Moch (Nevada)
We all knew Moch's 4.4 speed would show itself at the Combine, but he will take time to translate to the linebacker position at the next level. Unless Raiders owner Al Davis loves Moch's speed enough to pick him early in the second or the Colts, Seahawks, or another team fine with a 6-1 3/8, 248-pound rush end takes a shot late in the second, teams may wait until the third to see if he can develop.

Could be outside looking in:

10. WR Titus Young (Boise State)
Since the player to which Young is most often compared, Philadelphia Eagles star receiver DeSean Jackson, fell into the second round due to off-field concerns, Young's own issues and slightly-less explosive game could land him in the third.

11. QB Colin Kaepernick (Nevada)
Athleticism and arm strength aren't questions; longish pitcher delivery, need to clean up footwork, and thin frame are. He could sneak into the second round because of the need for QBs, but often fans and media overestimate teams' willingness to use a valued second on a player not likely to be ready to contribute for two or three years.

12. OLB Chris Carter (Fresno State)
His exceptional Combine (4.58 40, 27 reps, 6.88 3-cone) and production for the Bulldogs could make him a late second-round pick. Carter's tape does not portend great consistency, however, so a top 64 slot is no sure thing.

--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Chad Reuter

Posted on: January 1, 2011 11:46 am
 

Temple's Wilkerson on the Move

Temple junior defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson told the Philly Sports Daily Report on New Year's Eve that he will enter the NFL draft.

The departure of Owls head coach Al Golden to Miami (Fla.) certainly had a part in Wilkerson's decision, but NFL scouts would have been interested in the versatile 6-5, 300-pound talent in any case. He ranked third on the team's defense with 70 tackles, which included 13 for loss, and 9.5 sacks.

Wilkerson's combination of size and athleticism are obvious to anyone watching the first-team All-MAC pick this season. His agility is impressive for his size, as is his hustle to close on ballcarriers in the backfield or track them down from behind (his 70 tackles are a high number for a defensive lineman). He also has the versatility to play as either a 3-4 DE or 4-3 three-technique tackle. Though still needing to get stronger and raw in his abiliity to get off blocks with his hands against better offensive lineman, NFL coaches can't wait to work with him.

Last spring, East Carolina junior tackle Linval Joseph brought a similar skill set to the draft a year early. The Giants selected him with the 46th overall selection. Other scouts may compare Wilkerson to former first-round pick Kentwan Balmer. Therefore, there's no reason to expect this young, promising talent to be available after the second round has closed.

--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter
Posted on: December 22, 2010 11:55 am
 

Five Top 75 Prospects You Don't Know

The Bowl season is always one of my favorite times of the year for scouting. The biggest reason is simply time management. With only a few games a day or week to scout, I have time to catch up on some of the film that I'd glossed over earlier.

The same applies to NFL scouts. With many home for the holidays, they're easier to get on the phone and exchange notes.

It is during this time that I'm usually able to pinpoint a few prospects across the country that are viewed as legitimate 2nd or 3rd round prospects by scouts but are perhaps not getting the media attention you'd expect for players with such high grades.

Here are five players that are earning these high grades but aren't yet generating a buzz in the mainstream media.

Learn these seniors' and juniors' names now. You'll be hearing them a lot more often soon.

WR Tandon Doss, Indiana: I listed the five prospects alphabetically, but it is appropriate that Doss leads off the list. With the likes of A.J. Green, Justin Blackmon, Julio Jones and so many other top underclassmen receivers generating all of the attention there are a host of talented wideouts not getting enough hype. At the top of that list in my opinion is the Hoosiers' Doss, a 6-3, 200 pound junior who quietly led the Big Ten with 175.8 all-purpose yards per game. How disrespected is Doss? The Big Ten media only recognized him as a Second Team all-conference player. The league's coaches, on the other hand, made him a First Team choice. 

RB Jamie Harper, Clemson:
With NFL teams increasingly moving towards a committee of running backs, big backs are finding more opportunities to run and catch rather than just be relegated to blocking duties. Running and catching is precisely what the 5-11, 235 pound junior does well. Scouts on hand for Harper's 197 all-purpose yards in the win over Florida State left gushing about his power, quick feet and soft hands... 

CB Curtis Marsh, Utah State: Marsh might just be the hottest senior defensive prospect in the country right now. Switching from running back to cornerback only two years ago, Marsh has shown rare agility and straight-line speed for a man of his size (6-1, 200). The Senior Bowl has noticed, reportedly inviting Marsh to the game. 

CB Johnny Patrick, Louisville: Patrick wasn't on my original list (BYU OT Matt Reynolds was), but his standout performance last night in the Beef O'Brady's Bowl matchup against Southern Miss only confirmed what I'd seen on tape earlier in the year . Patrick was beaten for a TD early, but I love the competitiveness he showed throughout the rest of the game, forcing a fumble, blocking a kick, providing lockdown coverage and coming up aggressively in run support. The four-letter network that covered the game last night rank Patrick 35th among cornerbacks. NFLDraftScout.com ranks him 6th (among seniors).

DT Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple: Wilkerson has received some attention this year, but not nearly enough. The past two seasons Wilkerson, a junior, has averaged 65 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. If Wilkerson had enjoyed this production in the SEC or Big 12 rather than the MAC, he'd not only be considered a first round pick, he'd be in the top 20. As more scouts break down his tape, don't be surprised if he ends up there.

Remember that for complete draft coverage, be sure to check out NFLDraftScout.com or simply click here.

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