Tag:TCU
Posted on: March 4, 2012 4:20 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 4:21 pm
 

Scouts identify 5 underrated Combine performers

Now that we've had a few days to fully digest the information overload that is the annual Scouting Combine, there are a few players who haven't received enough attention for strong efforts, according to my conversations with league personnel. 

Every Combine conversation I've had with scouts has started with the obvious workout warriors -- Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe, Georgia Tech wideout Stephen Hill, Central Florida cornerback Josh Robinson and other, similarly well-publicized athletes. Considering their spectacular performances, it isn't surprising to see their stocks get a bump.

According to scouts. there are plenty of others flying under the national radar whose workouts helped solidify their grades. These are five who were mentioned multiple times. 

ILB Tank Carder, TCU: Much like Boston College's Luke Kuechly, Carder has been type-cast as an instinctive, high-motor defender throughout his career but the two-time defending Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year proved to be a much better all-around athlete at the Combine than anyone expected. The 6-2, 236 pound Carder clocked in a sub 4.70 time in the 40-yard dash (4.69 seconds officially) and demonstrated his agility in the three-cone (6.89) and short-shuttle drills (4.18) that some teams place a great deal of value in when scouting linebackers. 

QB Austin Davis, Southern Miss: With NFLDraftScout.com's top four-rated quarterbacks either unable to unwilling to throw passes at the Combine, I thought one of the more fascinating elements of this year's workout would be to see which of the so-called second or third-tier passers would be able to take advantage of the extra attention. Having been one of a limited number of media members allowed inside the Lucas Oil Stadium workout for the QB workouts this year, I saw Davis pass the ball well to all levels of the field, showing surprising zip on intermediate routes and as impressive accuracy on the deep ball (a knock on his game entering the Combine) as any passer on the field.

OLB Shea McClellin, Boise State: Generally speaking, I agree with how the NFL identifies players when assigning them positions at the Combine. Several so-called 'tweeners like McClellin were asked to work out as defensive linemen. After being stunned with McClellin's progress in playing linebacker at the Senior Bowl, I was disappointed he wasn't identified as such at the Combine. His workout certainly showed off the straight-line speed (4.63) and change-of-direction skills (7.07 seconds in the three-cone drills) to handle this conversion. McClellin's speed, in fact, would have ranked him fourth among the 29 linebackers tested at the Combine -- and this is after measuring in at 6-3, 260 pounds.

RB Bernard Pierce, Temple: Pierce is one of the more interesting backs in the 2012 draft class because he's more of a finesse, zone-read back than the power option that his 6-0, 220 pound frame and school record 53 rushing touchdowns would indicate. The junior helped prove his unique athleticism with an underrated all-around performance at the Combine in which he measured in faster (4.49), quicker (7.07 seconds in the three-cone) and more explosive (123" broad jump) than some of the more highly regarded backs of this class.

CB Trevin Wade, Arizona: While officially credited with just a 4.59 time in the 40-yard dash, Wade was surprisingly cited by several league sources as having a strong Combine workout. Scouts mentioned Wade's fluidity in timed drills (4.0 seconds in the short shuttle) and position drills as more important indicators of his underrated cover-corner skills than his time in 40-yard dash. Wade was inconsistent at Arizona but finished his career on a high note with a strong senior campaign and is rated by some scouts among the top 100 prospects in the draft. 
  

Posted on: June 12, 2011 2:17 pm
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Posted on: April 29, 2011 1:13 pm
Edited on: April 29, 2011 1:14 pm
 

Could QB Ryan Mallett fall to the 3rd round?

I've spoken with representatives of three teams since last night's first round about the players they anticipated being among the earliest to go in the second round.

Among the names -- Clemson DE Da'Quan Bowers, TCU QB Andy Dalton, Illinois LB Martez Wilson, Pitt DE/OLB Jabaal Sheard and Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick.

I was surprised that none of the teams mentioned Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett and asked each source about the record-breaking Razorback passer, specifically.

"I'm telling you right now, he could slip right out of the second round, entirely," one source said.

The questions about Mallett are, of course, more about his lack of desired intangibles for the quarterback position than they are about his physical skill-set. Most scouts believe that Mallett is the most talented passer in the draft.

Posted on: April 27, 2011 2:01 pm
 

Trade scenarios for bottom of 1st round

There has been a great deal of speculation that there will be a handful of quarterbacks selected in the first round. After the Jacksonville Jaguars (who own the No. 16 pick), however, there is only one team -- the Seattle Seahawks (No. 25) with an obvious need for a young passer.

So, unless we see several teams reach for quarterbacks in the first half of a draft loaded with talented offensive and defensive linemen, there is going to be a fair amount of trading into the second half by QB-needy teams if these predictions are to come true. One of the fascinating elements of this year's QB class is how widely disputed the ranking of the players is among NFL teams. I've spoken to clubs that see Washington's Jake Locker as the No. 3 quarterback of the class and TCU's Andy Dalton as seventh best option. Others have the two flipped, with every combination of Florida State's Christian Ponder, Arkansas' Ryan Mallett, and Nevada's Colin Kaepernick ranking 3rd-7th, as well. Auburn's Cam Newton and Missouri's Blaine Gabbert, of course, are each expected to be top ten picks.

Here is a look at the teams currently slated in the bottom half of the first round whose picks could be for sale.

Philadelphia (No. 23) -- Many throughout the league believe that the Eagles will be very tempted by Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith. While Smith is certainly a first round talent, his myriad of off-field concerns could push him out of the first. The Eagles could feel that they could land him five or ten spots lower and might be willing to trade as teams needing a QB jump ahead of Seattle.

Seattle (No. 25) -- Because Seattle has a clear need for a young quarterback, there is a belief among some that they'll reach for a quarterback at No. 25 if they have to. General manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll have noted on numerous occasions, however, their intent to beef up the offensive and defensive lines. It certainly could be smoke-screening on the part of the Seahawks, but with no third round (due to last year's trade for Charlie Whitehurst), the Seahawks will almost surely be entertaining offers to move down.

New England (No. 17, No. 28, No. 33) -- I list all three of the Patriots' picks within the top 33 selections because history tells us it is unlikely that Bill Belichick is going to keep all of them. Whether he packages some combination of the picks to move up for a pass rusher or moves down in an effort to be in the same position of power for next year remains to be seen. As I've mentioned before, one of the reasons that teams may look to trade into the late portion of the first round this year would be the longer contracts potentially available to players drafted in the first round. That will appeal to QB-needy teams like the Titans and Bengals, among others.

Posted on: April 18, 2011 11:30 pm
 

Seattle Seahawks Draft Preview

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
   2010 record: 7-9, first place NFC West
 
2011 draft rundown
   Eight total picks -- 25th overall (1st round), 57 (2nd), 99 (4th), 156 (5th), 157 (5th), 173 (6th), 209 (7th), 242 (7th)
 
Top needs
   Offensive Line -- With 10 different starting offensive line combinations last year, coach Pete Carroll said improving the talent up front remains a priority this offseason. The only player guaranteed to return to his starting role of a year ago is left tackle Russell Okung, who flashed the ability to be a standout player during his ten games last season. Former starting guard Max Unger could slide over to center , if the Seahawks elect to allow free agent Chris Spencer leave. Right tackle Sean Locklear is also a free agent who may play elsewhere in 2011.
   Quarterback -- Former Pro Bowler Matt Hasselbeck is 35 and expected to test the free agent waters. Both he and the team have expressed interest in his finishing his career in Seattle, though it is unknown if the team is willing to spend big dollars on an aging quarterback when the club is clearly rebuilding. The Seahawks paid dearly for backup Charlie Whitehurst in an off-season trade last year, but the veteran showed little during his limited opportunities. Regardless of how the Seahawks feel about Whitehurst, adding a young quarterback to groom for the future is a priority. 
   Defensive Line -- The Seahawks' defensive line played surprisingly well early last season, but the unit's lack of ideal depth was exposed when injuries to starting defensive end Red Bryant and defensive tackles Colin Cole and Brandon Mebane occurred. Mebane is a free agent and was surprisingly only given a third round tender by the club.
   Cornerback -- The Seahawks gave up 31 touchdowns through the air last season, tied for third-worst in the league, and allowed an average of 250 passing yards during last year's regular season, 25th overall. Veteran cornerback Marcus Trufant turns 31 this year, he struggled with injuries for a second straight season in 2010 and is due to make $5.8 million in base salary this season. Seattle's other starting corner from last season, Kelly Jennings, is a free agent this year.
 
First-round focus
   25th overall
   -- With holes throughout their roster and a stated goal from head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider to improve along both lines, the Seahawks have plenty of options at No. 25, which could lead them to trade down. The team is likely to strongly consider any of the top offensive or defensive linemen available, with defensive tackles Corey Liuget and Phil Taylor especially attractive considering the precarious status of Brandon Mebane. Cornerback Jimmy Smith is also an intriguing option considering that the 6-2, 210 pound Colorado star is a perfect schematic fit for Carroll's press coverage scheme. Depth along the offensive line is good enough in the 2011 draft that the Seahawks may be able to get away with waiting until the middle rounds before addressing this concern -- though the OL might just be the team's biggest need. Quarterback is also a critical need and the team may feel free pressured to nab one of the top West Coast Offense quarterbacks like TCU's Andy Dalton or Florida State's Christian Ponder with their first round pick. Neither is likely to be available when the Seahawks draft in the second round.
 
Five names on the Falcons' board
   CB Jimmy Smith, Colorado
   OT Nate Solder, Colorado
   DT Corey Liuget, Illinois
   DT Phil Taylor, Baylor
  QB Andy Dalton, TCU

Posted on: March 27, 2011 1:50 pm
 

Five quietly creeping into 1st round conversation

Over the past week, I've spoken to representatives of nearly a third of the league's teams in an effort to nail down which 32 players will hear their name called out during the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft.

At this point, there appears to be some consensus on roughly 25 players as first round picks. There are another 15, however, vying for those final eight spots.

We all know that Washington quarterback Jake Locker and Maryland wide receiver Torrey Smith are among those players on the bubble. But there are several other players who have generated significantly less buzz but who are quietly earning serious first round consideration from some clubs.

Here are five surprising names you could wind up hearing on April 28.

(Players are listed alphabetically)

DT Marvin Austin, North Carolina : There are still plenty of teams who remain nervous about Austin's intangibles, but of the five listed here, the former UNC defensive tackle is the most talented football player. Teams are as willing to gamble on size and athleticism on the defensive line as any position in football (other than perhaps QB). If the anticipated early run on defensive linemen transpires, don't be surprised if a 4-3 team drafting in the mid 20s to low 30s gambles on Austin's upside.

QB Andy Dalton, TCU : I know of plenty of teams who grade Dalton as a late 2nd to mid 3rd round pick, but most believe he'll come off the board sooner than that. The belief among many, in fact, is that Dalton will be off the board by the mid portion of the second frame. That could push a team like Seattle to take him at No. 25 or for another club to trade back into the late portion of the first round to secure his services, similar to how Detroit traded up (with the Vikings) last year to nab running back Jahvid Best.

OC Rodney Hudson, Florida State
: Florida's Mike Pouncey is getting most of the attention of draft fans and what little remains is generally being dedicated to Baylor's Danny Watkins -- at least when it comes to interior offensive linemen as possible first round picks. There do appear to be clubs with contingency plans involving Hudson, however. The former Seminole is an exceptionally safe player capable of contributing immediately.

OLB Brooks Reed, Arizona : After a rather ho-hum senior season at defensive end for the Wildcats, Reed's stock skyrocketed with a strong Senior Bowl and Combine. Add to this the fact that roughly half of the league's teams are now running a 3-4 base and this outside linebacker prospect is getting a lot of late first round attention.

DE Jabaal Sheard, Pittsburgh : Sheard is smaller than teams would like as a 4-3 defensive end and perhaps not quite as smooth an athlete as teams would like as a 3-4 rush linebacker. That said, I've spoken to representatives of clubs operating both alignments that feel that he could wind up a pretty solid player in either front due to Sheard's natural pass rush skills, surprising strength and high-revving motor.

Posted on: March 11, 2011 6:28 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2011 6:40 pm
 

Dalton throws well at TCU pro day

TCU’s rise to national prominence hasn’t been done through smoke and mirrors. Coach Gary Patterson has accumulated a steady stream of NFL-caliber talent, including four players ranked among NFLDraftScout.com’s top 200 prospects for the 2011 draft At the top of the list is Marcus Cannon, the sixth-ranked offensive tackle projected to be a second-round pick. He stood by his workout numbers from the scouting combine last month, but quarterback Andy Dalton put on a strong showing at the Horned Frogs’ pro day held in front of representatives from 26 NFL teams after an uneven performance in Indianapolis.

Battling for position in the quarterback group between the second and fourth rounds, Dalton threw roughly 50 passes, with most of his few incompletions being drops. Dalton, who already has private workouts scheduled with the Bears, Browns, Chiefs and Patriots, also chose not to re-do his agility testing.

New Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden was on-hand, as was 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Wide receiver Jeremy Kerley ran a 4.59-second 40-yard dash, failing to improve on his best time of 4.56 seconds at the combine – which isn’t blazing for an undersized (5-feet-10, 189 pounds) receiver. Kerley did enjoy a strong Senior Bowl and has started to ease concerns about his route-running coming out of TCU’s spread offense.

Jake Kirkpatrick, the sixth-rated center by NFLDraftScout.com, ran a 5.32 40 with a 30 ½-inch vertical. He was not invited to the combine, but his 4.69-second shuttle run and 7.69-second 3-cone drill – two important agility drills for offensive line prospects – ranked in the middle of the pack compared to those who were in Indianapolis.

--Derek Harper, NFLDraftScout.com


Posted on: March 5, 2011 12:21 pm
 

Poll of NFL sources finds gulf of opinion on QBs

Since the Combine ended Tuesday, I've been polling league sources on their rankings of the quarterbacks. I spoken or texted with seven sources (ranging from area scouts to front office executives) as of Saturday morning and have some interesting results.

In six of the seven cases, Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert were the top two rated quarterbacks. Four teams had Auburn's Newton as the top passer. Three had Gabbert. All three of the Gabbert fans noted, however, that his March 17 Pro Day would significantly impact their grade on him.

Interestingly enough, the same four teams that rated Newton No. 1 had Arkansas' Ryan Mallett ranked as the third QB -- with one exception. One of these clubs had the rankings had Mallett as the No. 2 passer behind Netwon. This source is obviously less concerned about the so-called character questions of these two SEC stars than other teams.

The wildcard of the QB rankings was Washington's Jake Locker. Three teams had Locker as the 3rd rated quarterback. The other four teams rated Locker 4th (two teams), 6th and 7th, respectively in this year's QB class.

The other QBs jumping ahead of Locker for these clubs were Florida State's Christian Ponder, TCU's Andy Dalton and Nevada's Colin Kaepernick.

Given the choice between "sure," "likely," and "unlikely" five of the seven sources thought it was "likely" that all seven of the quarterbacks made the first three rounds.

To put that in perspective, seven quarterbacks being drafted in the first three rounds has happened only twice in the past 40 years (excluding the USFL.CFL-impacted Supplemental Draft in 1984).

Teams are certainly hoping that this year's group will enjoy more NFL success than the past two classes that sent this many highly-graded quarterbacks to the pros. The 1999 class featured huge busts in Tim Couch, Akili Smith and Cade McNown, among others. Donovan McNabb and, to a lesser extent, Daunte Culpepper were the success stories of the class. With the exception of Jay Cutler (and to a lesser extent Vince Young, Tarvaris Jackson) the 2006 class has yet to establish itself, either.

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