Tag:Prospect of the Week
Posted on: December 6, 2010 1:41 pm

USC RB Bradford earns Prospect of the Week

With NCAA sanctions taking away any chance at a bowl game, USC's final game of the season was their rivalry contest Saturday night against UCLA.

Trojans' senior running back Allen Bradford made the most of it, gashing the Bruins on a career-high 29 carries for 212 yards and a touchdown and catching a 47 yard pass for another score. Both of Bradford's scores came in the fourth quarter, proving to be the winning margin in USC's 28-14 victory.

Bradford, 5-11 and 235 pounds, entered the season as one of the more intriguing big backs in the country, but found himself in and out of Lane Kiffin's doghouse this year as the Trojans split carries between he, Marc Tyler and C.J. Gable.

Against the Bruins, Bradford ran like a man who realized this was his last game in a Trojan uniform. He repeatedly ran through would-be tacklers, and showed off the lateral agility and breakaway speed uncommon among backs of his size.

Bradford ran well against a UCLA defense boasting two of the top junior prospects in the country (outside linebacker Akeem Ayers, free safety Rahim Moore), but it was his fourth quarter 73-yard run that sealed the game and my vote as the Prospect of the Week.

Bradford, running out of the I-formation, quickly got to and broke through the line of scrimmage. He made a subtle fake to his left that got Bruins' strong safety Tony Dye to bite, lowered his shoulders (and protected the ball with both hands) as he got through traffic and exploded through the defense. Again, his breakaway speed might be the characteristic that will most impress scouts on this play.

Bradford's inconsistent senior season (and career, for that matter) won't earn him a high draft selection come April. He's demonstrated the natural running and receiving skills throughout his career, however, to warrant middle to late round consideration, especially for an NFL club looking for a bruiser to match up with a speed back.
Posted on: October 26, 2010 1:48 pm

Okla St RB Kendall Hunter is Prospect of the Week

The Oklahoma State Cowboys may have lost the game against Nebraska on Saturday, but their senior running back certainly answered some questions about his ability to play well against a physical and aggressive defense. In doing so, he earned my Prospect of the Week.

Kendall Hunter ran for 201 yards on 26 attempts against a proud Cornhusker defense, shredding them for a 7.7 yard average gain and scoring two touchdowns.

Scouts have often argued that grading running backs out of the spread offense is difficult and has led to some of Hunter's success. Some have even claimed that Oklahoma State's backups could post similar numbers if given the opportunity. That certainly was not the case against the Cornhuskers. OSU backups had eight rushing attempts against the Cornhuskers and produced a total of 26 yards (3.25 average) and a score (from two yards out).

Though shorter than scouts would prefer at 5-08, Hunter sports a well-proportioned 200 pounds. He is every bit as quick and elusive as one might anticipate a back of this size being, but the qualities that make him such an intriguing NFL prospect are his vision, explosive burst and surprising strength.

On many of Hunter's best runs against the Cornhuskers, he'd burst through the initial hole, read the hard-charging linebackers and defensive backs and cut against the grain. The explosiveness he showed in the second cut helped him break into the open field on many occasions. The power and determination with which he ran surprised the Cornhuskers on many occasions.

Perhaps his most impressive run came in the second quarter for an eight-yard touchdown.

Hunter, lined to the right of Cowboy quarterback Brandon Weeden (who was in shotgun) took the handoff and jetted to the left, showing very good speed to beat the linebackers to the edge. 

Nebraska's secondary read the play, however, and flowed left to contain him. Showing the vision and cutback ability that makes him such a productive runner, Hunter recognized the cutback opportunity inside and broke through the middle when he was met at the 3-yard line by 6-2, 210 pound free safety P.J. Smith. Rather than dance around him, Hunter drove through Smith, bulldozing him into the endzone.

There is no denying that Oklahoma State's spread attack forces the defense wide, opening up some rushing lanes for Hunter. One could also make the argument, however, that the Cowboys' focus on the passing game has limited Hunter's opportunities. Either way, his production in this game (201 rushing yards), this season (3rd in nation with 1,031 rushing yards) and over his career (3,664) speak for themselves.

By the way, Hunter's 146 rushing yards in the first half against Nebraska put him moved him up to 4th on OSU's record for most career rushing yards.

Who did he pass? Some guy named Barry Sanders. 

Posted on: October 11, 2010 8:00 pm

LSU DT Drake Nevis earns Prospect of the Week

LSU defensive tackle Drake Nevis was a one-man wrecking crew Saturday night against the Florida Gators.

Though his teammate, senior wide receiver Terrance Toliver has earned much of the attention for his standout performance (six catches for 111 yards and two TDs, including the game-winner with six seconds left), Nevis was arguably the bigger thorn in the side for the Gators. Certainly considering the fact that the Gators feature one of the SEC's best and most experienced offensive lines, Nevis' ability to dominate the action early and force Florida to alter their game plan deserves special acknowledgement.

Nevis, moved all over the defensive line, finished with seven tackles (all solos), including 4.5 tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble. As I explain in the profile below, he very nearly was credited with a safety in the opening moments of the game, as well.

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).

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 - October 9, 2010
DT Drake Nevis 6-1 / 285 / 5.04 --
opponent: Florida

Scouts who had never seen Nevis play were given a treat by the LSU defensive tackle early in the Florida contest. He showed exactly what he is and is not in the Gators first offensive possession. When he times the snap count right, Nevis has explosive burst through the hole. An experienced and talented Gator offensive line, (including highly touted OL Mike Pouncey), was unable to cope with Nevis speed on back to back plays during the Gators second and third plays from scrimmage. With the Gators backed up at their own endzone, Nevis exploded through, nearly sacking QB John Brantley for a safety and forced fumble. Nevis left hand inadvertently caught Brandtley s face mask, however, and so the Gators caught a break. The next play, Nevis again broke through the line, shrugged off a block from LT Marcus Gilbert and stopped RB Emmanuel Moody for a loss of one. The next play, however, showed why scouts can t fall in love with Nevis. Late off the snap and thus caught too high by 6-5 OG Carl Johnson, Nevis was popped, lifted and pounded into the turf for a classic pancake block. Again late off the snap on the next play, Nevis attempts a spin move against Johnson and is stoned. Nevis burst gave the Gators problems all night long, helping him accumulate an eye-popping seven tackles, including 4.5 for loss, a sack and the forced fumble. Nevis burst inside reminds me of former Georgia Bulldog Geno Atkins who has flashed as a rookie 4th round pick for the Bengals this year. Nevis lined up directly on the nose (0-technique), as well as in the gaps and man-up on the guards. He doesn t have the power to hold up consistently, but his quickness off the snap makes him an nice option as a gap-splitting under-tackle for the 4-3 alignment.

Posted on: October 11, 2010 7:03 pm
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