Tag:Russell Wilson
Posted on: March 8, 2012 10:26 am
 

WR Toon highlights "impressive" Wisconsin Pro Day

Senior wide receiver Nick Toon shaved more than a tenth of a second off of the 4.54 second time he had posted at the Scouting Combine, ran crisp routes and plucked the ball out of the air easily, highlighting what one veteran NFL scout called an "impressive group overall" at the Wisconsin Pro Day. 

The 6-2, 215 pound Toon was clocked at 4.43 seconds Wednesday. The improved time is important as average straight-line speed is considered to be Toon's biggest shorting. He also improved upon his vertical jump (39") from the Combine (37.5) and registered a 10'10" broad jump, as well. Toon is currently rated by NFLDraftScout.com as a 3rd round prospect and the No. 100 player on our board, overall.

Toon was hardly the only Wisconsin standout to enjoy a strong day. 

Quarterback Russell Wilson not only completed 59 of 63 passes, according to Tom Mulhern of the Wisconsin State Journal, he also improved on the one element that scouts question the most -- his height. 

After being measured at 5-11 even at the Senior Bowl and Scouting Combine, Wilson inexplicably came in 3/8 of an inch taller at the Pro Day. Conspiracy theorists know this, pro scouts are the ones doing the measuring at each event. 

Wilson, according to the scout, was poised throughout the workout and demonstrated "the same touch and arm strength we'd all seen on tape -- whether here [at Wisconsin] or before [at North Carolina State]."

“He’s a very impressive fellow,” Green Bay Packers' general manager Ted Thompson said of Wilson, “articulate, knowledgeable, confident, and he projects that confidence. He’s going to be a good get for somebody.”  Wilson is currently rated as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 10 quarterback. His size is the biggest factor keeping outside of the top five at the position and thus a team willing to cater their offense around his ability to throw on the run could grade him significantly higher.

While the skill position players got most of the buzz, scouts believe the Wisconsin tradition of producing quality offensive linemen could be proven yet again with one or two Badger blockers the first players drafted from the school in 2012.

Offensive guard Kevin Zeitler was "efficient and powerful" during positional drills. Junior Peter Konz was unable to fully participate due to the fact that he's still recovering from the dislocated ankle that sidelined him for much of the second half of the regular season in 2011. He did do the snapping to Wilson in drills, however. Scouts like Konz's size and mobility enough that some view him as possible convert to guard or even right tackle in the NFL. More than a few scouts are concerned with a lack of ideal strength shown during the bench press drill at the Combine, where Konz lifted the bar "only" 18 times. Zeitler, by comparison, had 32 reps.

One relatively unheralded prospect that caught the scout's eye Wednesday was defensive lineman Louis Nzegwu. Nzegwu didn't take the step up as a senior some had expected after emerging in his junior season with 46 tackles, including 7.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. Though his sack total increased (4.5), Nzegwu's tackles (34) and tackles for loss (six) dropped and he wasn't invited to the Combine. Measuring in at 6-3, 254 pounds, he demonstrated "some wow athleticism" by being clocked at 4.57 seconds in the 40-yard dash and recording a 41.5" vertical jump. Nzegwu is currently rated as a free agent prospect by NFLDraftScout.com but his athleticism certainly warrants scouts taking a closer look.
  

Posted on: January 12, 2012 10:34 am
Edited on: January 12, 2012 12:02 pm
 

Wilson aims for NFL, to bypass MLB for now

Russell Wilson's gamble paid off last season, telling Major League Baseball and the Colorado Rockies they could wait while he completed his eligibility as a transfer, and instant starter, at Wisconsin.

Wilson is rolling the dice again, telling the New York Times he's committing to a professional football career. Wilson informed the Rockies, who drafted Wilson while he was a two-sport star at North Carolina State in 2010, and general manager Dan O'Dowd of his decision Tuesday.

"I want to put all my focus in football and see where it takes me," Wilson told the Times on Wednesday. "I know that I have the talent, aptitude and leadership to succeed on the next level."

Wilson will begin training at the IMG Academy with Chris Weinke, who tutored No. 1 overall draft pick Cam Newton last spring, next week. First, he'll be married this weekend.

Evaluators told NFLDraftScout.com's Len Pasquarelli that Wilson would be one of the most intriguing passers available in the draft. He'll have a lot to prove -- and potentially much to earn -- by participating in the Senior Bowl.

Entering the Rose Bowl, NFLDraftScout.com rated Wilson 185th overall and 10th among quarterbacks, primarily because of his partial commitment to baseball. There are also concerns about his height, but Wilson had a school-record efficiency rating of 191.6 with 31 touchdowns and three interceptions in 13 games with the Badgers. He also had 31 touchdown passes as a sophomore at N.C. State.

Ryan Tannehill of Texas A&M is the top-ranked senior on the NFLDraftScout.com board, followed by Nick Foles (Arizona), who is ranked 48th overall and Kirk Cousins (Michigan State), who is ranked 62nd overall.

Wilson said he was told he'd be a middle-round pick by the NFL Draft Advisory Board. Gil Brandt of NFL.com graded Wilson as a fourth-rounder.

   

Posted on: October 21, 2011 10:59 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 Andre Ellington, Clemson:  Considering the success of Clemson’s passing attack, Ellington hasn’t received a great deal of national attention. That could change, however, with a strong game against an exceedingly talented and fast North Carolina defense. Ellington has already rushed for 740 yards and seven touchdowns and is thought to be among the underclassmen running backs strongly considering making the early leap to the NFL. This game begins at noon ET and will be televised by ESPN.

CB Morris Claiborne, LSU:  The suspension of Tyrann Mathieu (as well as fellow cornerback Tharold Simon and running back Spencer Ware) is going to put that much more pressure on an LSU defense in the battle of Tigers. Claiborne has been even more impressive this season than he was last year starting opposite Patrick Peterson, recording three interceptions already. He’ll be asked to slow down Auburn’s top wideout, junior Emory Blake. This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be televised by CBS.

RB Lamar Miller, Miami: Like Ellington, Miller, a redshirt sophomore, is thought to already be considering making the leap to the pro level. Miller has rushed for 706 yards already this season, more than he did all of last year. He’s toting the rock more than 18 times a game, proving that he has the toughness to handle a full-time role at the pro level. Blessed with speed and  legitimate NFL size (5-11, 212), Miller could join the long list of former backs from The U to earn a top 64 grade. This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN.

QB Russell Wilson, Wisconsin: With all due respect to a Nebraska defense limited by injuries to stars Alfonzo Dennard and Jared Crick, Saturday’s tilt on the road against Michigan State could be the toughest test for Wisconsin all season long. Wilson has the benefit of playing behind one of the nation’s elite offensive lines, but Jerel Worthy and the top-rated MSU defense could pose problems. Lucky for Wilson, one of the Spartans’ top pass rushers, defensive end  William Gholston, was suspended for this game due to throwing a punch a week earlier at a Michigan player. Scouts wish Wilson was taller, of course, but can’t help but acknowledge how quickly he’s adjusted to the Wisconsin offense, as well as his strong arm and mobility.   This game begins at 8:00 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN.

OG David DeCastro, Stanford: I’ve spoken to scouts who characterize DeCastro as the best guard prospect in the past 20 years. That’s pretty damn lofty praise. DeCastro will get his stiffest test of the season against Washington’s defensive tackle, Alameda Ta’amu, a potential first round pick, himself. If Ta’amu can get pressure on Andrew Luck, the 5-1 Huskies could surprise The Cardinal. This game begins at 8:00 ET and will be televised by ABC.

Posted on: September 1, 2011 4:05 pm
 

Who to watch tonight in Wisc/UNLV

The beginning of the college football season is finally upon us with 14 games taking place this evening. The most intriguing matchup from a scouting perspective happens to be the one on television, as Wisconsin hosts UNLV.

UNLV doesn't feature a great deal of prospects, but Wisconsin is loaded.

The Rebels' top prospect is senior receiver Phillip Payne, a standout for UNLV since the local prep star signed with the team four years ago. The 6-3, 207 pounder doesn't possess elite speed (estimated at 4.60), but has a knack for the big play. He enters his senior season within reach of the school's career touchdown receiving record (24) with 19 scores. A broken foot during the summer limited Payne throughout the fall camp so he may be a little rusty. If he can make a big play or two against a talented Wisconsin defense, however, he'll certainly earn some respect from pro scouts on hand or watching on television. Payne is currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 37 rated receiver and viewed as a possible 6th-7th round pick.

Wisconsin has a talented receiver of their own in senior Nick Toon, Jr. The son of the former New York Jet great, Junior hasn't yet played with the consistency teams are looking for. However, he does possess very good athleticism for a 6-2, 220 pounder. Toon will be anxious to put his injury-marred junior season behind him and now has a quarterback in NC State-transfer Russell Wilson with the deep ball to flourish.

Wilson, at approximately 5-11 and 210 pounds, lacks the size scouts are looking for. As mentioned, he does possess plenty of arm strength and flashes good accuracy to all levels of the field. He's a terrific athlete for the position and can elude defenders when pressured. With a strong senior season, some team will give him a shot late or in free agency.

The Badgers routinely churn out top quality offensive linemen and this year is no different. The top senior is right guard Kevin Zeitler, who is now the Badgers' most experienced offensive lineman with Gabe Carimi and John Moffitt now playing for the Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahawks, respectively. 

The two players who used to play around him are actually the two prospects I'm most interested in scouting this evening. Redshirt junior Peter Konz is the best looking center prospect I've seen on tape this summer. Listed at 6-5, 315 pounds, he has a rare combination of size and agility for the position. Of course, he was flanked by Zeitler and Moffitt last year, so it will be interesting to see how Konz performs with more defenders focusing on him, rather than his peers -- especially with Zeitler missing significant time during the fall due to a sprained ankle.

Zeitler used to be flanked by right tackle Ricky Wagner, but the 6-6, 320 pound behemoth is flipping over to the left side now that Carimi is gone. Wagner has good athleticism to handle the move, though he might be moved right back to the strongside in the NFL. He has a tendency to come off the ball too high, which negates his strength, but uses his hands well to turn and control his opponent. He is a patient, technically sound pass blocker, who is surprisingly light on his feet. Wagner hasn't received the attention of Matt Kalil, Jonathan Martin or Riley Reiff... yet.

Though the Badgers lost a star in defensive end JJ Watt to the Houston Texans, one could make the argument that cornerback-turned-safety Aaron Henry was nearly as critical to the Badgers' success last season. In his first  year at the position, Henry led the Badgers with three defensive touchdowns, scoring two on interception returns and another on blocked kick. I like the coverage skills he brings to the table and feel he can emerge as one of safety prospects of this senior class with a little more seasoning.

The game begins at 8 pm Eastern and will be televised by ESPN.
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 28, 2010 3:23 pm
Edited on: December 28, 2010 3:26 pm
 

Final games for juniors Gabbert, Smith, Sands?

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