Posted on: June 9, 2011 4:59 pm
Edited on: June 21, 2011 11:03 am
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Posted on: April 21, 2011 7:42 pm
Each week CBSSports.com's Lauren Shehadi and I have discussed the top prospects and a few sleepers at a different position leading up to the NFL Draft.
This week, appropriately enough given all of the hype about them right now, we talked about the quarterbacks. We discussed everyone you'd expect - including presumptive No. 1 overall pick Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett and also touched upon three lower-rated quarterbacks who I believe could also find success in the NFL with some fine-tuning.
Here is how NFLDraftScout.com currently rates the quarterbacks.
Here is the link to the video.
Posted on: January 23, 2011 6:00 pm
NFL scouts, front office executives and coaches are heading to Mobile, Alabama today to scout every one of the prospects in the 2011 Senior Bowl.
Much of their attention, however, will be focused on two positions -- quarterback and offensive tackle.
As two of the premium positions in today's NFL, quarterback and offensive tackle are typically among the areas to focus on. The 2011 class is especially competitive at these positions, however, making the battles between the top-rated passers and blockers all the more intriguing.
Consider that while Washington quarterback Jake Locker remains a likely first round prospect, I've spoken to scouts whose teams currently rank other seniors just as highly. For some teams, a strong week by TCU's Andy Dalton or Iowa's Ricky Stanzi could vault them ahead of Locker.
The "second tier" quarterback talent available in this draft, in fact, is one of the year's hidden strengths. Considering the risk I see in Locker, Auburn's Cam Newton and Arkansas' Ryan Mallett, it might prove wiser for teams with quarterback needs to look elsewhere in the first round and grab a Dalton or Stanzi (or Devlin, Ponder, Enderle) a frame or two later.
The competition is perhaps even more intense at offensive tackle. Having spoken to representatives from four clubs in the past two weeks about the tackle class, I've yet to find any consensus as to the order they will (or should) be drafted.
If there is a "favorite" it is probably Colorado's Nate Solder. I, however, have serious reservations about his technique, especially against speed rushers. He's expected to work out very, very well and therefore build some momentum as the draft approaches, but he certainly has flaws.
Unfortunately, for teams needing tackles, so too do the other top rated tackles. Boston College's Anthony Castonzo lacks the bulk most teams prefer. He may be the best pass blocking left tackle in the draft, but he's struggled to generate movement in the running game. Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi is the opposite. He can dominate as a drive blocker, but gets too high in pass protection and doesn't have the footwork, in my opinion, to remain on the left side in the NFL. I've rated Mississippi State's Derek Sherrod as the top tackle throughout much of the year, but his wide shoulder, narrow hip makes him top-heavy and therefore inherently vulnerable to bull rushes and good double-moves. He, too, might be best served as a right tackle. USC junior Tyron Smith has the feet and wingspan teams want in a left tackle, but he's quite raw and remains a projection, having played right tackle throughout his abbreviated career with the Trojans.
The beauty of any all-star game is that strong performances there can impact player rankings.
For this year's Senior Bowl, the rankings of senior prospects - especially at quarterback and offensive tackle -- could wind up completely re-shuffled.
Category: NFL Draft
Tags: Andy Dalton, Anthony Castonzo, Arkansas, Boston College, Cam Newton, Christian Ponder, Colorado, Delaware, Derek Sherrod, Gabe Carimi, Iowa, Jake Locker, Mississippi State, Nate Solder, Nathan Enderle, NFLDraftScout.com, Pat Devlin, Ricky Stanzi, Ryan Mallett, Senior Bowl, TCU, Tyron Smith, USC, Wisconsin
Posted on: January 13, 2011 9:59 pm
Heisman Trophy winner and national champion Cam Newton made the announcement Thursday we all knew was coming -- he's forgoing his senior season at Auburn and declaring early for the 2011 NFL Draft.
Newton is entering the draft at the perfect time. With the success of Michael Vick this season (as well as rookie Tim Tebow), there is increasing evidence that a multi-purpose threat like Newton can be successful in the NFL. Furthermore, the poise he demonstrated both on and off the field this season has impressed scouts.
With Newton, however, it is best to temper our expectations of what he can do immediately at the pro level.
Newton's dominant junior campaign in Gus Malzahn's offense does not mean that he'll take the NFL world by storm. Quite the opposite is possible, in fact.
Like virtually every quarterback playing in today's college football, Newton will have to make significant adjustments to the complexities of the NFL game. The beauty of Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn's spread option offense is that it simplified Newton's reads. For most plays the quarterback only had to make one or two checks. If his options were covered up, he simply ran the football. He did most of this out of the shotgun.
In the NFL, he'll be asked to drop back from center more often, make multiple reads before and after the snap and won't have the luxury of simply running half of the time. Essentially, he'll be forced to make twice as many decisions in half the time.
The BCS Championship game perfectly encapsulated the positives and negatives of Newton's game.
On the one hand, it was clear that Newton had a long ways to go in reading defenses and in his footwork. He was badly fooled by some of Oregon's coverages, resulting in a 1st quarter interception. Of even greater concern is that Newton failed to set his feet on many of his simplest throws, diminishing his accuracy as critical moments -- such as on the 4th and goal flutter ball that died in front of fullback Eric Smith.
But for the poor plays that every armchair quarterback watching the game saw Monday night, scouts couldn't help but acknowledge his rare blend of size, arm strength and mobility. Newton showed the ability to fire the ball down the sideline to shred Cover-2. He repeatedly bought time in the pocket with his mobility. And when he left the pocket, he was a load to bring down, carrying defenders on multiple occasions for first downs.
Clearly Newton needs time to develop before he can be expected to lead an NFL team. In terms of pro-readiness, Missouri's Blaine Gabbert, Washington's Jake Locker, Arkansas' Ryan Mallett and even lesser prospects like Florida State's Christian Ponder and Iowa's Ricky Stanzi rank ahead of him.
As we've seen on so many occasions in the NFL, however, the draft is all about upside.
And in the eyes of most scouts, there isn't a quarterback in this draft who can match's Newton in that category.
If Newton is able to alleviate teams' concerns about his so-called character red-flags, he could enjoy a steady rise up the board, perhaps winding up as the first or second quarterback selected in 2011. With QB-needy teams like the Panthers, Bills, Cardinals, 49ers, Titans and Redskins all drafting in the top ten, it isn't difficult to imagine one of these clubs rolling the dice on his potential.
His rise could be very similar to the one that saw Vince Young bump Jay Cutler and Matt Leinart in 2006.
Remember, they too, were considered more pro-ready, at the time.
Posted on: December 28, 2010 3:23 pm
Edited on: December 28, 2010 3:26 pm
With all due respect to the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (Troy beat Ohio) and the Advo Care V100 Independence Bowl (Air Force beat Georgia Tech), tonight begins the real bowl season -- at least when it comes to scouting future NFL prospects.
My fellow senior analyst Chad Reuter did a fine job of pointing out which prospects you should be watching in tonight's games . I wanted to make special mention of the underclassmen who might be playing in their final collegiate games tonight, however.
In the "early" game pitting North Carolina State against West Virginia in the Champs Sports Bowl, the "battle" between Wolfpack quarterback Russell Wilson and Mountaineer free safety Robert Sands should be intriguing. Russell, 5-11 and 202 pounds, lacks the size scouts are looking for, but is a savvy and surprisingly accurate passer. Sands has spectacular size (6-4, 221), is a hard-hitter whose athleticism pops off the tape. He's allowed to freelance a great deal in WVU's 3-3-5 scheme, which could result in big plays one way or the other in this game. I listed this "one on one" matchup as one of the five I'm most looking forward to scouting in the entire bowl season.
Though statistics say that he won't be a huge component of the Wolfpack's offense, junior tight end George Bryan is another underclassman to key in on in this contest. The 6-5, 265 pounder has "only" caught 32 passes for 344 yards and three scores on the year, but NFL scouts are already paying very close attention to him due to the fact that he's considering leaving early for the NFL. It isn't just because his size and ability to compete as a receiver and blocker intrigue scouts, Bryan recognizes that in this year's weak senior class of tight ends, his stock may never be higher than it is right now.
The more intriguing young talent won't be on the field until the second game tonight, however. Considering the talent Iowa boasts among its seniors -- including first round cinch Adrian Clayborn (as well as Senior Bowl invites Ricky Stanzi and Christian Ballard) it might surprise you that scouts are actually more interested in the talent that will be playing this game with the Missouri "M" on their helmets during tonight's Insight Bowl.
The focus will, of course, be on quarterback Blaine Gabbert . Possessing an ideal combination of size (6-5, 235) and arm strength, Gabbert certainly looks the part of a first round pick and has the quick release and downfield accuracy scouts are looking for, as well. Among Gabbert's weapons is junior tight end Michael Egnew , himself a potential early entry candidate, who at 6-6, 235 pounds certainly has the size potential scouts are looking for and, unlike Bryan from the Wolfpack, does have the production. In fact, Egnew led all FBS tight ends with 83 receptions for 698 yards and four scores this year.
Considering that Gabbert takes virtually all of his snaps out of the shotgun, he'll be better protected than most in dealing with Iowa's fearsome defensive line, but should they create pressure on him, it will be interesting to see how well Gabbert is able to move in and out of the pocket. At times, when his feet haven't been set, Gabbert's trademark accuracy has suffered. A strong game against Iowa, however, could springboard Gabbert into the draft.
I'm ever more curious to see how Missouri's pass rushing star Aldon Smith , only a redshirt sophomore, is able to get after Iowa's quarterback. Smith, who earned First Team All-Big 12 honors despite missing the first three games with a broken leg, is a dynamic playmaker (44 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks) who rates as one of the more intriguing rushers potentially available in 2011.
Under the tutelage of Kirk Ferentz, Iowa is as well coached along the offensive line as any team in the country. Like his teammate Gabbert, if Smith puts together an eye-popping performance, it may force him to strongly consider leaving school early.
If you'd like to scout "alongside me" during these and the other bowl games throughout the rest of the college football season, you can follow me on Twitter @RobRang.
Or, if you just want to follow the preeminent draft coverage available, simply click here for NFLDraftScout.com.
Posted on: November 1, 2010 11:42 pm
Week Nine of the college football season saw some spectacular individual performances. Many of them came from skill position players in high profile contests.
Nebraska running back Roy Helu, Jr. ran for an FBS season-high and Cornhusker school record 307 rushing yards and three touchdowns against then No. 7 Missouri.
Tennessee wideout Denarius Moore, who I listed as one of five senior prospects I'd be focusing on , certainly came through with six receptions for 228 yards and a touchdown against South Carolina.
Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi was sparkling in his efficiency by completing 11 of 15 passes for 190 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions in the showdown with undefeated Michigan State.
I reviewed the game film of all three, writing about each of them in either my Weekend Review soon to be published on NFLDraftScout.com or Draft Slant , our weekly PDF file for premium subscribers. During the film review for these articles, I couldn't help but notice the stellar play of Mississippi State left tackle Derek Sherrod.
Sherrod, 6-5 and 305 pounds, earned SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week honors for his dominating effort against Kentucky. It is the third time he's earned the award in the last five weeks.
Possessing rare foot quickness and balance for a man his size, Sherrod easily protected the edge when in pass protection. At times, he'd extend his left arm out to slow the pass rush of his primary assignment, while leaning inside to help the Bulldogs' young left guards.
His nimble footwork and good upper body strength made him equally effective as a run blocker. I've spoken to scouts who would like to see Sherrod finish his blocks with a nastier demeanor. Some of this issue might simply be due to the fact that the game appears to come easy to him.
Sherrod will certainly get the opportunity to prove his physicality in the Bulldogs' next game. With the upcoming week off for a bye, the Bulldogs travel to Alabama on November 13.
Posted on: October 29, 2010 5:01 pm
As I mentioned in the previous post, I'll be attending the Stanford-Washington game Saturday afternoon primarily to scout quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Jake Locker.
That said, while gone, the DVDs will be burning away on the games featuring these five "other" intriguing prospects, as well.
WR Denarius Moore, Tennessee: True sophomore wideout Alshon Jeffrey for the Gamecocks will receive most of the attention (as well he should), but scouts are intrigued by the flashes from Moore. The 6-1, 195 pounder with 4.4 speed has impressed in the past with his playmaking ability and has emerged in this, his senior season, just as former Vols Montario Hardesty and Dan Williams did last year. Moore was knocked out of the Alabama game last week after taking a wicked hit, but is expected to be fine for this matchup. I'm interested to see how he does against a typically stingy and athletic South Carolina secondary. This game begins at 12:20 pm EST and will be televised by ESPN.
QB Ricky Stanzi, Iowa: I pointed out the improved play of Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins earlier in the week, but his counterpart in this contest deserves every bit as much acknowledgement. Stanzi has always flashed the skill set scouts were looking for, but the strong-armed quarterback had been besieged with costly turnovers. Last year Stanzi completed 56.3% of his passes and threw for an unacceptable 17-15 TD to INT ratio. This season Stanzi's improved play (68.1% completion rate, 16/2 TD-INT ratio) is a major factor in Iowa's 5-2 beginning. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by ABC.
CB Janoris Jenkins, Florida* : I typically only highlight senior prospects in this preview, but this is the game I've circled all year long in grading Jenkins. At times, he'll be matched up against Georgia star A.J. Green and that pairing offers scouts an opportunity to see how the playmaking, but undersized Jenkins might hold up in the NFL. Jenkins started off the season with a huge interception and return for a score in the opener against an overmatched Miami (Ohio) club, but hasn't done nearly as well since. If he is to consider leaving early for the NFL, as is the belief among many scouts, he'll need to step up his game soon. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by CBS.
CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska : In case you missed it, Amukamara was beaten up a bit by sophomore Justin Blackmon during last weekend's showdown against Oklahoma State. Blackmon, the nation's leading receiver with 62 grabs for 1,112 yards and 14 TDs already caught five passes for 157 yards and two scores, including a dazzling 80-yard score matched up one on one against Amukamara. I pointed out Cornhusker Niles Paul last week as a player who enjoyed a strong bounce-back performance after a prime-time meltdown. Scouts would like to see how Amukamara reacts Saturday after his uncharacteristic struggles. Amukamara and the rest of the 'Huskers will certainly have their hands full against a dynamic Mizzou offense led by junior quarterback Blaine Gabbert. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by ABC.
DL Brandon Bair, Oregon: With the Ducks' offense seemingly scoring points at will, it has been hard for any Oregon defender to gain much attention, but with a conference-leading 13 tackles for loss, the 6-6 268 pound Bair certainly deserves it. Bair, who sees action at both defensive end and defensive tackle for the Ducks, could prove key in the big Pac-10 matchup Saturday night against USC. Several are just tuning into Bair's play now. I noticed Bair's play during preseason film review of last year, but as I mentioned then, Bair will have a hard time moving up boards too much considering his age. Bair, who will turn 27 in November, spent two years on an LDS mission prior to beginning his play with the Ducks. This game begins at 8:00 pm EST and will be televised by ABC.
Posted on: October 22, 2010 6:24 pm
Each weekend I list the five senior prospects I'll be focusing on. These are players who appear to have challenging matchups that will help determine how well they'll be able to make the transition to the pro game.
A noteworthy performance (either positive or negative) can result in the player being profiled in our upcoming edition of Draft Slant, NFLDraftScout.com's weekly PDF file for premium subscribers.
One of the players prominently featured in last week's "Who to Watch..." was Nebraska wideout Niles Paul . Last week in the loss to Texas, Paul demonstrated the athleticism and size combination that has led scouts to get excited about his game, but also the terribly inconsistent hands that has plagued him throughout his career. Twice, in fact, Paul dropped potential touchdowns against the Longhorns.
Scouting isn't just about touting players who play well on the big stage. It is about acknowledging those players who struggled under the bright lights. Perhaps Paul (and others) will improve once they get another opportunity. Perhaps not. Either way, how they perform in this critical situations goes a long way in determining their final grade.
Here are this week's Five to Watch:
QB Ricky Stanzi, Iowa: I mentioned in a previous blog post that NFL teams looking for help at quarterback might be forced to turn towards underclassmen as many of the senior passers have struggled so far this season. Stanzi is one of the few exceptions. The 6-4, 230 pound Stanzi has struggled with consistency in years past, but has thrown 13 touchdowns against only two interceptions while operating out of a pro style offense. He's always shown the tools to intrigue NFL scouts and could be on the verge of a monster jump up boards if he's able to continue what so far has been a magical senior campaign. That said, in unbeaten Wisconsin, Stanzi has one of the tougher, more technically sound defenses he'll see all year long. This game could prove critical in how Stanzi is viewed by scouts the rest of the year. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by ABC/ESPN.
DE Cameron Jordan, Cal: A nationally underrated prospect, Jordan has been as impressive this year as any senior defensive lineman I've scouted. His numbers aren't necessarily eye-popping. Through six games this season, he's posted 24 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and three sacks, but remember that Cal operates out of a 3-4 alignment, which doesn't put the defensive ends in position very often to make plays. Many were surprised last year when former Cal defensive end Tyson Alualu was the 10th overall pick of the draft. Jordan doesn't have that kind of upside, but he is sneaking up on scouts a bit. If he were playing in the SEC or Big 12, most college football fans would know his name by now. It will be interesting to see how Jordan performs in this game, considering the versatility and young talent on this ASU offense. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by Fox regional coverage.
RB Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State: The fifth leading rusher in the FBS, Hunter has rushed for an eye-popping 830 yards and scored 10 touchdowns on the ground over the first six weeks of the season. He'll be facing a much stouter run defense Saturday against the Cornhuskers, however. Like many smallish backs the 5-8, 197 pound Hunter is often characterized as a speedy, change of pace prospect only. If he is to have a chance at shedding that label, he could use a strong performance at home against Nebraska. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by ABC/ESPN.
ILB Kelvin Sheppard, LSU: I've characterized LSU junior cornerback Patrick Peterson as the best defensive player in the country on multiple occasions and acknowledged defensive tackle Drake Nevis as a former Prospect of the Week. Somehow, linebacker Kelvin Sheppard rarely seems to get the credit he deserves. He leads the top-rated SEC defense against Auburn's dynamic offense Saturday in what is the biggest game of the weekend. Sheppard has the speed to beat the Auburn backs (and quarterback Cam Newton) to the sideline. How he handles coverage and pass rush responsibilities could prove critical in this one. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by CBS.
DL Allen Bailey, Miami: Bailey entered the season as highly touted as any defensive lineman in the country. One look at him and it is easy to see why, as the 6-4, 285 pounder owns more of the more imposing physiques you'll ever seen on a defensive lineman. That said, through the first six games of the year Bailey has only accumulated 21 tackles and five tackles for loss. Last week, against Duke, Bailey only registered two tackles, including just his second sack of the year. Voted a team captain, Bailey may have to turn it up a notch Saturday against North Carolina to get his teammates on track. The 'Canes, after all, have lost three straight to the Tar Heels. This game begins at 7:30 pm EST and will be televised on ESPN2.