Tag:NC State
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: June 28, 2011 11:19 am
 

QB Wilson may bring Badgers roses, but not scouts

The Wisconsin Badgers officially signed former North Carolina State standout quarterback Russell Wilson yesterday.

The two-time All-ACC pick was released from his committment to the Wolfpack after he elected to focus on his baseball career. Apparently Wilson, the Colorado Rockies' fourth round pick last summer, hasn't been happy with his development with the Class A Asheville Tourists, where he's played second base and hit a disappointing .228. Because of the fact that he graduated during his four years at NC State, Wilson has one more year of football eligibility remaining and will take graduate classes at Wisconsin. The Badgers and reigning BCS champs Auburn were considered the two favorites to land Wilson, who led the ACC with 3,563 passing yards last season.

At 5-11 and 190 pounds, Wilson's best chance at a pro future might be with baseball. Despite his lack of preferred size for the NFL, however, Wilson is a terrific college quarterback. His statistics and wins against rival North Carolina (3-0 in his career) are impressive, but don't due him justice. Elusive, intelligent and possessing a strong enough arm to take advantage of Wisconsin's aerial targets -- including Nick Toon -- NFLDraftScout.com's No. 4 rated senior wideout for the 2012 draft, Wilson could be a coup for Bret Bielema and his staff. In three seasons as the Wolfpacks' starting quarterback, Wilson threw for 8,545 yards and a nearly 3-1 TD to INT ratio (76 touchdowns with 26 interceptions). In 13 games last season, Wilson completed 58.4% of his passes for 3,563 yards with 28 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He also rushed for 435 yards and nine touchdowns last season.

Wilson's lack of size won't bring NFL scouts crawling out of the woodwork this fall as much as his success on the field might lead one to believe. For the Badgers, however, who were struggling in the spring to find a replacement for Scott Tolzien, Wilson could be the perfect addition. In fact, his addition to the team could make Wisconsin the favorite to repeat as the Big Ten representative in the Rose Bowl.

At this point, Wilson is graded as an undrafted free agent prospect and is NFLDraftScout.com's No. 23 rated senior quarterback in the 2012 draft. 
Posted on: December 25, 2010 1:19 pm
 

Holiday presents - best 5 Bowl 1 on 1 matchups

On this winter holiday for many, I thought I've provide my readers with my own gift, of sorts.

The following are the five individual matchups I'm most looking forward to scouting over the upcoming bowl games.

West Virginia FS Robert Sands vs. NC State QB Russell Wilson: The 6-4, 221 pound Sands is considering leaving WVU after this, his junior season. Sands is allowed to freelance a bit in the Mountaineers' 3-3-5 defense, but is a natural playmaker who can bring the thunder as a hitter. His instincts and coverage skills will be tested against Wilson. A strong game by Sands could push him into the 2011 draft, where he'd rate among the best free safeties in a weak class needing help from the juniors if there are to be many candidates worthy of a top 75 grade.  This game is scheduled for 6:30 pm EST on Tuesday, December 28th.

Washington WR Jermaine Kearse vs. Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara: Many will point to Husky quarterback Jake Locker as the player to watch in this contest and for good reason. His 4 of 20 performance in the team's first matchup in October is considered by some to be the game that sent his stock sliding this year. (Loyal readers know that is not necessarily the case.) The reality is, without sudden and massive improvement by Washington's offensive line, Nebraska's defense should again be too much to provide Locker a chance in this game. If the 6-2, 205 pound Kearse, however, is able to shake free early for some big plays against Amukamara, Locker and the Huskies have a chance. Locker relies on the junior as his favorite target. When Kearse has been shut down, so too (generally) has Locker -- making this one on one battle a key in the most anticipated rematch of the bowl season.  This game is scheduled for 10 pm EST on Thursday, December 30th.

Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd vs. Miami CB Brandon Harris: Both the 6-3, 228 pound Floyd and the 5-11, 195 pound Harris are expected to leave for the NFL following this game. Harris has the agility, speed and physicality to eliminate most receivers, but Floyd's significant size advantage makes this an intriguing test for the Canes' star. Though teams are often hesitant to move around their corners to match up all game long against wide receivers, eliminating the big play Floyd from Notre Dame's arsenal might be the easiest way of crippling Brian Kelly's offense. This game is scheduled for 2 pm EST on Friday, December 31st.

TCU OT Marcus Cannon vs. Wisconsin DE J.J. Watt: Last year it was the one on one matchup between Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan and Iowa left tackle Bryan Bulaga that in my mind was the elite battle of the bowl season. This year it is Cannon and Watt. Watt is moved all over the Badgers' defensive line and it is this versatility that has been maddening for opponents to protect against and left NFL scouts salivating at his versatility in the pros. Watt, however, will have his hands full when playing against the Horned Frogs' left tackle, a 6-5, 350 pound behemoth with shockingly quick feet. Bulaga shut down Morgan last year, cementing his place in the first round. I have Cannon firmly in the second round, at this point, but if he's able to slow down Watt, arguably the most dominant defensive lineman in the country, he'll skyrocket up draft boards. This game is scheduled for 5 pm EST on Saturday, January 1st.

Auburn QB Cam Newton vs. Oregon ILB Casey Matthews:
Opponents have tried to keep a "spy" in to protect against Cam Newton's running all game long. The strategy has largely failed despite the fact that defenses have often resorted to their most athletic linebackers or physical safeties to do the job. Matthews isn't a spectacular athlete or terribly physical, but he might be the most instinctive linebacker in the country and among the surer tacklers. This one on one battle could dictate how well Newton is able to move the Auburn offense with his legs -- which could wind up as the key to the BCS Championship. This game is scheduled for 8:30 pm EST on Monday, January 10th.


On behalf of the entire NFLDraftScout.com crew of analysts Chad Reuter and Chris Steuber, editors Derek Harper and Jeff Reynolds, website tech expert Brian Hitterman and publisher Frank Cooney I wish you and your loved ones a very safe, happy and (hopefully football-filled) holiday season.


As always for the very best in pro football draft coverage, check out NFLDraftScout.com or simply click here.
Posted on: November 9, 2010 1:09 pm
 

Cover story star Miller is Prospect of the Week

The famed "Wrecking Crew" moniker can't realistically be applied to the 2010 Texas A&M defense after one dominant showing, but Von Miller and his Aggie teammates' play against Oklahoma Saturday night was reminiscent of the type of play that made College Station one of the most feared stadiums in college football during the early 1990s.

Considering that I already acknowledged Miller's play in my Weekly Rewind , I watched plenty of tape on other seniors to find a similar performance worthy of Prospect of the Week. Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi shut down Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan, who entered the game as the nation's leading TFL artist and deserves some mention. So too does LSU's defensive tackle Drake Nevis and his impressive game against Alabama. TCU's Andy Dalton and Clemson safety DeAndre McDaniel also played critical roles in their team's victories.

In the end, however, it was Miller's speed off the edge that gave Texas A&M an upset victory over the Sooners that I felt justified the award.

Perhaps most impressive about Miller's game -- and something I left out of the Weekly Rewind piece -- is that Miller, who had been struggling with an ankle injury all year, actually aggravated the injury and missed some time in the game. He was back on the field late, however, racking up one of his three tackles for loss with a stop of running back Demarco Murray near the goal-line on the Sooners' final possession.

Miller, who plays the joker position for the Aggies, projects as a pass rushing OLB for the NFL. He's smaller at 6-2, 235 that what 3-4 teams usually require for the position, but has such an explosive burst off the snap and the flexibility to dip under the reach of pass blockers, that some scouts working for 3-4 clubs I've spoken to are making an exception with him.

Miller isn't often asked to drop into coverage in this scheme, but his ability to change directions and speed give 4-3 teams reason to believe he might be able to make the transition to their scheme as a traditional OLB.

His ultimate "best" position may not be determined for most scouts until Miller plays in a senior all-star game and/or works out for scouts at the Combine.

Posted on: October 20, 2010 9:06 am
 

Strong individual performances highlight weekend

Some of you may have noticed that my fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter took over the blog for the past few days. He did an admirable job with a detailed breakdown of Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn as the Prospect of the Week and Slippery Rock center Brandon Fusco as our Diamond in the Rough .

Chad took over because I was on a short deer-hunting trip in Washington state with my father, brother and a few close friends. The annual trip is one of the reasons I have not accepted an NFL scouting position. I love football, but my family and our annual trips together come first.

Getting back yesterday, I spent much of the evening reviewing film and talking to contacts within the league. While I absolutely agree with selection of Clayborn as our senior prospect of the week, here are several other players that caught my (and scouts') attention with strong performances on Saturday.

OLB/DE Chris Carter, Fresno State : Carter registered nine tackles, including four tackles for loss and three sacks and forced two fumbles in the Bulldogs' 33-10 win over New Mexico State.

DT Guy Miller, Colorado State: The 6-3, 302 pounder broke the CSU record with 4.5 sacks against UNLV Saturday. He'd been rated as a likely free agent prior to the contest and had only two sacks to this point, but the dominating effort left a strong impression on two league insiders I spoke to who attended/viewed this game.

WR/RS Jerrel Jernigan, Troy : Jernigan, previously highlighted as Diamond in the Rough , deserved consideration again this week after a 188 all-purpose yard, two touchdown performance in the 31-24 win over Louisiana-Lafayette. Jernigan caught six passes for 77 yards, including the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. He also returned a punt for a 75-yard touchdown. Jernigan has been invited to the Senior Bowl .

WR/RS Dwayne Harris, East Carolina: Against quality ACC competition, Harris exploded for a career-high 260 all-purpose yards Saturday versus North Carolina State. Harris caught nine passes for 91 yards in ECU's thrilling 33-27 victory and contributed another 95 on kick returns and 75 on punt returns.

WR Armon Binns, Cincinnati: Binns caught a career-high eight passes for 175 yards and three scores in the Bearcats exciting come-from-behind win over Louisville Friday night. For his efforts Binns also was recognized as the Big East's Offensive Player of the Week.

S Mark Barron, Alabama: Scouts love Barron's instincts and versatility and both were on display Saturday against Ole Miss. Barron registered seven tackles, including five solos, an interception, tackle for loss and a quarterback pressure.

ILB Chris White, Mississippi State: White was all over the field for the Bulldogs in their impressive 10-7 win over Florida, Saturday. He earned SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors with 11 tackles (including nine solos), as well as 4.5 tackles for loss against the Gators. White is among the conference leaders with 57 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and five sacks so far this season.

OLB Blake Sorensen, Wisconsin: Sorenson's game-clinching interception with only a few minutes remaining sealed the Badgers upset bid over Ohio State Saturday, but was only part of his impressive game. Sorensen also registered a career-high 10 tackles, including a tackle for loss.





Posted on: September 27, 2010 6:00 pm
 

NC State ILB Nate Irving Prospect of the Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Irving's instincts, agility and physicality were all on display in the impressive defensive showing against the Yellow Jackets' triple option offense. Irving stoned B-back Anthony Allen on Georgia Tech's second offensive play from scrimmage and it was a scene that would be replayed over and over throughout the contest. On the play, Irving dipped his shoulder to avoid the oncoming block from the center to take on the 6-0, 232 pound Allen in the hole. For being an undersized linebacker, Irving plays with terrific explosiveness reminiscent of former Florida State standout (and current Philadelphia Eagle) Ernie Sims. Like Sims, Irving has good speed to beat the back to the edge and to catch ball-carriers in pursuit. He is clearly comfortable playing in the middle, locating the football quickly despite his lack of preferred size for the position. Irving's explosive burst is also evident when Irving is allowed to rush the passer. Irving was simply too quick for Georgia Tech's offensive line on multiple occasions, Saturday. This despite the fact that the Yellow Jackets feature smaller and generally more athletic offensive linemen than most teams. The concern with Irving is that he is very aggressive and will attack the line of scrimmage, presenting big play opportunities for the offense when he reads incorrectly. Irving flashes an physical pop when forced to take on blockers, but prefers to elude them, showing good flexibility and agility in doing so. Unlike many athetic linebackers, Irving doesn't rely on just his athleticism. He shows good hand technique, including a swim move to avoid blockers, which he used on several occasions when rushing the passer. Irving rarely blitzed, but burst upfield when he saw that 'Tech quarterback Josh Nesbitt was beginning to get happy feet after scanning the field for a receiver. An explosive hitter, scouts would nonetheless like to see Irving wrap up ball-carriers more securely. At times, the athletic linebacker likes to lead with his shoulder. This resulted in some big pops Saturday, but NFL runners will be able to shrug off some of his hits.
Posted on: January 7, 2010 7:54 pm
Edited on: January 8, 2010 10:27 am
 

Which Kindle shows up tonight?

One of the more hotly contested prospects in the entire country, Texas DE/OLB Sergio Kindle, will have an opportunity tonight to establish himself as a legitimate first round pick -- or potentially slip in the mid to late portion of the second round.

The 6-4, 255 pound Kindle is as quick off the snap as any defensive end in the country and generates even greater momentum around the corner due to his straight-line speed. He's effective against the run, especially when chasing down ball-carriers from the backside. He's fluid enough that teams operating out of the 3-4 alignment are intrigued not only by speed as a pass rusher, but his agility in coverage, as well.

However, for as athletic as he is, Kindle is a frustrating player to scout, as he doesn't locate the ball well enough or use his hands to fight through blocks. This is one of the primary reasons why Texas credits him with 31 QB hurries entering this contest, but only 3 sacks.  He's like several other potential DE-OLB converts in this class (Clemson's Ricky Sapp and NC State's Wille Young are others) who can dominate for a play or two, only to disappear for long stretches.

With their focus on the run game, Alabama likely won't give Kindle as many opportunities to show off his speed rushing the passer as many of the pass-heavy Big 12 teams have this season. How Kindle is able to handle Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram and the Tide's power running game -- especially when they elect to run directly at him -- could be the hidden factor that determines the National Championship, as well as how NFL scouts project Kindle at the next level.

Posted on: September 3, 2009 1:58 pm
 

FBS Season Begins: South Carolina vs NC State 7pm

The FBS season officially begins today with the a full slate of games, including as many as five televised contests, depending on your location and cable provider.

South Carolina travels to North Carolina State in an intriguing regional and SEC/ACC conference battle. Each team offers plenty of talent for NFL scouts and fans to pay attention to; not the least of which are a pair of pass rushers in South Carolina's Eric Norwood and NC State Wolfpack defensive end Willie Young. Norwood is a well known commodity after earning back to back All-SEC accolades after the past two years. Young is not quite as well known across the country, but I think the 6-4, 250 pound pass rusher could turn in a big senior campaign. With the Gamecocks losing Jamon Meredith to the Green Bay Packers last April, Young could flash some of his intriguing burst off the snap to harass talented sophomore quarterback Stephen Garcia and put a damper on Steve Spurrier's passing attack. The game will begin at 7 pm (EST) on ESPN.

Following the opener is a very intriguing west coast battle between Oregon and Boise State. The Ducks are looking for payback after losing 37-32 in Eugene to the Broncos last season. Oregon features one of the more intriguing running backs in the country in senior LaGarrette Blount, a 6-1, 240 pound back who led the Pac-10 and broke the school record with 17 rushing touchdowns last season despite starting zero games behind Jeremiah Johnson. With Johnson off to the NFL, however, Blount, a JUCO transfer, will have this season to shine. Tight end Ed Dickson is another intriguing Duck to keep an eye on. The Broncos have their share of NFL prospects, as well. The most exciting being cornerback and return specialist Kyle Wilson, who considered leaving school last year after posting 5 INTs and 3 returned punts for touchdowns. This game, also on ESPN, is slated to start at 10:15 EST.

Other potentially televised games are:

North Texas at Ball State (ESPNU) at 7:30
Eastern Kentucky at Indiana (Big Ten Network) at 8:00
Utah State at Utah (The Mountain) at 9:00

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