Tag:Pac-10
Posted on: January 3, 2012 4:03 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:40 pm
 

Updated: ASU ILB Burfict declares early for NFL

As expected the past few days have seen a lot of underclassmen news. NFL scouts have to be pleased that virtually every position on the football field has been enhanced with junior talent.

According to multiple reports, Mississippi State defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, Rutgers wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus, North Carolina State outside linebacker Terrell Manning and a trio from Stanford -- quarterback Andrew Luck, offensive tackle Jonathan Martin and offensive guard David DeCastro have all announced their intentions for the 2011 season to be their last as amatuers.

Add to that list Arizona State inside linebacker Vontaze Burfict -- at least according to his facebook page.

The 6-3, 250 pound Burfict thanked fans and teammates for the memories he's had at Arizona State and wrote that he'll be "expanding [his] talents to the next level."

Burfict erased any doubt about his intentions Tuesday afternoon in releasing a prepared statement. The statement reads:

“After thoughtful and in-depth discussions with my family, I have decided to skip my final year of eligibility at Arizona State University and make myself eligible for the 2012 NFL Draft.  I would like to thank every one of my coaches and professors at ASU.  I plan to return to ASU and get my degree and I will always support the university and its football program.  I cherish the memories and great times I had as a student-athlete at ASU and I hope to make the university proud of my future accomplishments on and off the field.”

Outgoing head coach Dennis Erickson characterized Burfict's junior season as "average." There may not be a more accurate way of putting it.  

While Burfict certainly has the hype and talent to warrant leaving school early, quite frankly he's been a disappointment over the past two seasons.

For a player nationally known as an intimidator, Burfict only registered 69 tackles (including seven for loss) in 2011, along with one interception and one fumble recovery. He was not recognized by Pac-12 coaches as a first, second or even honorable mention player following his junior season. This is quite a drop from Burfict's 2010 season in which he led the team with 90 tackles and earned Second Team accolades. It is an even bigger disappointment considering that in 2009 he was named the Pac-10 Defensive Freshman of the Year.

Burfict is explosive. He can rock ball-carriers in the hole, is particularly adept rushing the quarterback and plays with a ferocity that could quickly make him a fan favorite. As you'll read in our official NFLDraftScout.com profile for Burfict, there are plenty of aspects about his game that translate well to the next level.

However, he has been prone to immature behavior that has cost his team penalties at critical stages of games throughout his career. He's not as instinctive as his reputation might lead you to believe, has a soft build and hasn't shown any real improvement since first stepping onto the ASU campus.

As such, he's currently ranked third in our rankings of inside linebacker prospects.

Quite frankly, I think he's as overrated a prospect as there is in the country. He may prove me wrong. He certainly has talent to do so. However, Burfict won't soon get added to my ranking of the top 32 prospects in the draft. Burfict, in fact, wouldn't make my list if the Big Board contained twice as many players.
Posted on: September 6, 2011 8:41 am
 

WR Kearse, RB Bolden escape major injuries

The University of Washington and University of Mississippi football programs are breathing collective big sighs of relief after what appeared to be potentially serious leg injuries suffered by two of their stars was ruled to be relatively minor.

Huskies wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, a 2010 Second Team All Pac-10 selection and currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 8 rated wideout for the 2012 NFL Draft, was diagnosed with just a sprained ankle, Monday. Kearse's injury was feared to be much serious when he left the field Saturday in the Huskies' season-opening win against Eastern Washington. Kearse caught only one pass for eight yards in the opener before injuring his ankle.

Kearse apparently wanted to return to the field Saturday, but head coach Steve Sarkisian wouldn't let him. Kearse has already returned to the practice field in anticipation of the Huskies' next game, this Saturday against Hawaii.

The news wasn't quite as good for Ole Miss and their star running back Brandon Bolden, but still quite a relief considering how bad the injury first appeared.

According to Rebels' head coach Houston Nutt, Bolden suffered a "slight" fracture to his left ankle and is expected to miss a few weeks. He is in a walking boot, but could return to the field in September.

The 5-11, 221 pound Bolden is NFLDraftScout.com's No. 14 rated running back for 2012. He currently ranks second in the Ole Miss record books for most touchdowns scored (28), as well as most rushing touchdowns (23).

The Rebels clearly missed Bolden in their opener, losing at home to BYU 14-13. Bolden, voted the team's Most Outstanding Offensive Player at the conclusion of spring drills, only rushed four times for four times for 21 yards before going down with the injury.
Posted on: August 19, 2011 11:21 am
 

UW junior RB Polk undergoes arthroscopic surgery

University of Washington redshirt junior running back Chris Polk underwent arthroscopic knee surgery yesterday (Thursday, August 18) morning to repair a meniscus injury apparently suffered the day before in practice.

The rehabilitation from the surgery is expected to take 3-4 weeks, which puts the Second Team All Pac-10 back in danger of missing the team's opener against FCS champion Eastern Washington September 3.

Polk has been a standout throughout his career with the Huskies, but really emerged onto the national scene last year, especially with an MVP performance in the Holiday Bowl win over heavily favored Nebraska. Polk rushed for 177 yards and a touchdown on 34 attempts against the Cornhuskers in that contest and 1,415 for the year -- second in the conference behind only Oregon's LaMichael James (who led the country with 1,731 yards).

Polk's 1,415 yards last year for the Huskies was second behind only Corey Dillon's 1,695 yards in 1996 for a single season. With two more years of eligibility, Polk appears to be well on his way towards challenging Napoleon Kaufman's record for career rushing yards. He is currently 1,546 yards behind Kaufman, who left the Huskies for the Oakland Raiders with 4,041 yards between 1991-1994. Polk is currently in sixth place on the Huskies' all-time list with 2,561 yards.

According to Huskies' head coach Steve Sarkisian (via Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times), the injury was caught early and shouldn't take long for Polk to recover.
"I don't know if it kind of lingered on him and it was one cut or not, but he knew near the end of practice that this just doesn't feel right, something isn't feeling right," he said. "When we got done we said, 'Let's go in and take a look at this thing' and (surgery) was the right thing to do. ... It's not serious but I just didn't want it to linger and I thought the doctors handled it really well, and let's just do it now so we are not dealing with this thing come October, November. It potentially could be a couple of weeks but I think he already feels good about it."
The 5-11, 215 pound Polk is among the most physical backs in the country. He possesses enough lateral agility to elude and while not boasting explosive timed speed, is rarely caught from behind. He currently rates as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 5 running back prospect in the country. Should he enjoy a strong 2011 season, Polk is thought to be very likely to explore his NFL options. Polk graduated in June with a degree in American Ethnic Studies/Anthropology.


Posted on: July 20, 2011 8:30 pm
 

Mike Stoops: WR Criner "here and ready to go"

There has been a great deal of speculation as to the health and readiness of All-American wide receiver Juron Criner during the off-season, but according to his head coach, the 6-4, 215 pound wideout is "fine" and "here and ready to go."

Criner earned First Team All Pac-10 honors this past season with a record-breaking campaign, catching 82 passes for 1,233 yards and 11 touchdowns. However, he missed a scheduled trip to ESPN's headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut during the off-season due to personal and family troubles and the rumors began to really get going after Criner was, according to a television broadcast, hospitalized after neurological testing.

Arizona head coach Mike Stoops, however, expects his star receiver to be available when  Arizona opens up fall camp August 4.

"We anticipate having Juron," Stoops said. "He had some family issues that were concerning over the summer, and those are personal. We anticipate him being the same player - or a better player - than he was a year ago."
Criner demonstrated a knack for big plays earlier in his career, notching nine touchdowns among his 45 catches (for 582 yards) as a sophomore. He took his game to another level last year, however, and obviously the Wildcats are hopeful he can make the same jump in production in 2011.

As productive as Criner has been, he rates only as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 7 senior wideout entering next season. This grade is largely based on the fact that Criner has questionable deep speed. NFLDraftScout.com estimates him as capable of running the 40-yard dash in 4.62 seconds.

Should Criner be able to return and enjoy another big season in 2011, he'll likely get plenty of opportunities to prove that his production isn't simply a by-product of Arizona's spread offense and the talent of quarterback Nick Foles, also viewed by NFLDraftScout.com as a potential NFL prospect. With a pro-caliber combination of size and overall athleticism, Criner could appeal to all-star game scouts and certainly will rank among the senior wideouts pro scouts will be most interested in putting the stopwatch to come the off-season.


Posted on: January 18, 2011 2:58 pm
 

All-stars with everything on the line - DE Jordan

California defensive end Cameron Jordan is the latest prospect I'd like to feature as I continue my theme of the week on players I believe could significantly alter their stock with a strong performance in the upcoming all-star games.

Unlike North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin (who is coming off a year-long suspension) or The Citadel cornerback Cortez Allen (who is making a huge jump in competition), Jordan is, by comparison, one of the safer prospects in the draft. He's a four-year starter who played in 50 of 51 games in his career. He's improved each year, culminating this season by making the First Team All Pac-10 squad with eye-popping numbers (61 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks) despite playing defensive end in the 3-4 alignment -- a scheme that does not typically translate into big numbers for their defensive ends.

Jordan is also different from Austin and Allen in another way. He'll be playing in the Senior Bowl rather than the East-West Shrine game.

I've spoken to half a dozen teams about Jordan. All believe he's a first round prospect.

And yet, I'd still argue that despite Jordan's production, he ranks among the draft's most under-appreciated prospects.

I expect to see this change next week in Mobile.

The beauty of all-star games is that is allows scouts to compare apples to apples. Jordan will be lining up next to some of the other, more highly touted senior defensive linemen in the country. I'm a fan of Adrian Clayborn's technique, Cameron Heyward's power, and of Ryan Kerrigan's effort.

I'm a bigger fan of Jordan's versatility and feel that he ranks second behind the three senior defensive linemen I just listed in each of the catergories mentioned.

While at Cal, I've seen Jordan line up at both end positions and even on the nose in their 3-4 alignment. I've seen Cal switch to a four man front and watched Jordan moved inside to the three-technique defensive tackle position. I don't believe he can make a living playing on the nose, but I do envision success in the NFL at any other position. There isn't another defensive lineman in this draft who can boast that type of versatility.

In the days before last year's draft I posted a note on the blog highlighting five "mock-busters." These were players I thought could surprise and be first round picks. Amng them was two former Cal Golden Bears in Tyson Alualu and Jahvid Best, who, of course, did make the first round.

Unlike his former Cal teammates, Jordan wouldn't be a surprise to go in the first round. His versatility, consistency and bloodlines (father was a six-time Pro Bowl tight end with the Vikings) stand out too much in a draft blessed with talented defensive linemen -- but many of them being essentially one-year wonders.
Posted on: December 20, 2010 1:11 pm
 

USC's Smith, OSU's Paea earn 2010 Morris Trophies

USC junior right tackle Tyron Smith and Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea were recognized today as the winner's of the Pac-10's annual Morris Trophy given to the conference's top offensive and defensive linemen.

The Morris Trophy is a unique award as the only eligible voters are the Pac-10's fellow linemen. Coaches, the media and fans have no vote in the 31 year old award. The conference's starting offensive linemen are asked to vote on the defensive linemen and the defensive linemen do the same for their offensive counterparts. Who better than they, after all, to determine the best in the conference?

Smith started 12 of 13 games for the Trojans this season -- all at right tackle. The 6-5, 285 pound junior was held out of the Notre Dame game due to an injury and earned First Team all-conference accolades from the league's coaches. With USC barred from a bowl game this year, he's already announced that he'll be forgoing his senior season for the NFL.

Paea, who won the award last year, is only the third defensive lineman to win the award in consecutive seasons. The 6-1, 310 pound Paea posted 45 tackes, 10 tackles for loss and six sacks this season. He was so dominant in Oregon State's upset over USC that he earned my Prospect of the Week .

Smith and Paea are each expected to be selected within the first two rounds of the 2011 NFL Draft.
Posted on: December 15, 2010 12:07 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2010 5:18 pm
 

USC Trojans lose OT Smith, DT Casey to NFL

I argued prior to the beginning of the season that USC was less talented than we'd grown accustomed. Now, it seems that Lane Kiffin will have an even tougher time of turning this Trojan team back into a perennial BCS contender as USC's two most talented linemen are heading early to the NFL.

Offensive tackle Tyron Smith and defensive tackle Jurrell Casey , each First Team All Pac-10 picks this season, are heading to the NFL, according to a report last night from Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times.

Smith, 6-5 and 285 pounds, is the higher rated prospect of the two. Scouts love his upside, as he possesses the prototype athleticism to man the blindside position in the NFL. Of concern, however, is the fact that Smith has struggled to add weight during his career and will likely be asked to make the transition from right tackle (where he's started each game of his career with the Trojans) to the left side in the pros. That fact could push Smith into the middle to late portion of the first round despite the fact that he boasts as much upside as any of the senior offensive tackles.

Listed at 6-1, 305 pounds, Casey doesn't have the frame to fit inside or out for the 3-4, but possesses good strength and quickness to collapse the pocket as a 4-3 under-tackle. He registered 67 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks this season and was recognized Sunday as the Trojans' Most Valuable Player. Casey also earned USC's Defensive Lineman of the Year award, the second consecutive year in which he's won the award.

The two-year starter is highly active and could earn a similar grade as former cross-town rival (and similarly built) Brian Price had last year coming out of UCLA. Price, 6-1 and 303 pounds, was the third pick of the second round, going No. 35 overall to the Bucs.

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

Posted on: December 10, 2010 10:25 pm
Edited on: December 11, 2010 11:23 am
 

Heisman Favorites a Menagerie of Pro Prospects

Auburn quarterback Cam Newton enters Saturday's Heisman Ceremony as the prohibitive favorite to take home the award, but he's hardly the only one of the four finalists with a bright NFL future.

In fact, some scouts believe Newton, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck , Oregon running back LaMichael James and Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore – all underclassmen – all have a chance at NFL success, reversing a recent trend of Heisman candidates whose games simply didn't translate to the pros.

Newton, who led the country with 49 touchdowns and has carried Auburn to its first BCS Championship Game, is the most polarizing NFL prospect of the group.

There is no denying Newton possesses first-round tools. In joining 2008 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow as the only players in FCS history to have scored 20 touchdowns passing and rushing in the same season, Newton has dazzled scouts with his athleticism and strong arm. 

Scouts remain split, however, on how well the junior will be able to make the transition from Gus Malzahn's spread option offense to a pro-style scheme. After all, his success has come in an offense that emphasizes his athletic strengths and simplifies his reads. For as dominant as he's played, Newton has only this season's 13 starts at the FCS level, quite a small sample set for scouts to determine his pro readiness.

These concerns don't extend to the redshirt sophomore Luck, whose recognition of defenses and pinpoint accuracy have made him the favorite to be the first pick of the 2011 draft should he declare early.  The Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year broke John Elway's Cardinal record with 28 touchdown passes this season.

Newton and Luck will hear their names called in the first round should they leave for the pros following this season.

James is also highly regarded by pro scouts, though at 5-feet-9 and 185 pounds, he lacks the bulk to hold up as a full-time starter in the NFL. James' production for the Ducks has been staggering. He broke the Pac-10 freshman rushing record last year with 1,546 yards and promptly broke the sophomore record this season with 1,682 yards, which led the FCS. While James offers dynamic playmaking skills due to his agility and speed, teams will have a hard time justifying a pick earlier than the third round on a situational back.

At first glance, Moore lacks the size to be considered an elite pro prospect. The Broncos list their record-breaking passer at 6-feet, 191 pounds. Perhaps not surprisingly, scouts question if Moore has the arm strength to compete in the NFL, as well.

Moore has shown remarkable accuracy throughout his career, however, and is a virtual coach on the field. He reads defenses quickly and shows great anticipation, completing 71 percent of his passes for 3,506 yards and an eye-popping 33 touchdowns against only five interceptions this season.

Moore doesn't possess the measureables to warrant high-round consideration, so he may be the most likely of this group to return in 2011.

Should he do so - and enjoy similar success with senior receivers Titus Young and Austin Pettis moving on to the NFL - Moore could force scouts to look past his physical shortcomings and instead focus on his moxie and ball placement; traits that could earn him at least a late round selection.

For complete draft coverage from NFLDraftScout.com click here: http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft

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