Tag:Tyson Alualu
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: October 22, 2010 6:24 pm
 

Five seniors to focus on this weekend

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.


Posted on: September 17, 2010 5:36 pm
 

Sleeper pass rushers tonight in Cal-Nevada game

Their high power offenses are sure to be the focus of tonight's California-Nevada game (10 pm EST, ESPN2), but NFL scouts will be just as curious to watch two underrated pass rushers also playing in this contest.

I listed California defensive end Cameron Jordan among the top ten senior prospects in the Pac-10 heading into the year and, thus far, he's proving to be every bit worth the early attention.

Jordan was a consideration for Player of the Week honors for his performance last Saturday against highly touted Colorado offensive tackle Nate Solder. Jordan, 6-4 and 285 pounds, earned Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 accolades last year with 43 tackles, eigh tackles for loss and five sacks. His solid game was often overshadowed by Tyson Alualu, who, of course, was the surprise No. 10 overall pick of the draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Jordan, like Alualu, plays defensive end in Cal's 3-4 scheme. While he doesn't possess elite speed off the edge, he uses his hands well and plays with very good power. He projects nicely as a base end in the 4-3, or could simply remain as a five-technique in the 3-4 at the next level.

Nevada's Dontay Moch is the more explosive pass rusher of the two. At 6-2, 236 pounds, he lacks the bulk to remain at defensive end in the NFL, but he proved to scouts the overall athleticism to handle the transition to outside linebacker by clocking in at a verified 4.25 seconds in spring drills.

Moch operated last year opposite Kevin Basped. You might remember Basped as the outside linebacker whose troublesome knees forced the Jets to cut him on an early episode of the HBO series, Hard Knocks.

Basped and Moch working in tandem gave the Wolfpack one of the more ferocious pass rushes in the entire country last year. Moch, in fact, entered his senior year with 42 tackles for loss and 22.5 sacks.

Without Basped, Moch has struggled to make the same impact thus far in 2010. Through the first two games of the season, the reigning WAC Defensive Player of the Year has only five total tackles -- though, not surprisingly, he also has a sack and a forced fumble.

Whether you watch the game for the underrated NFL prospects, or just to see an intriguing inter-conference battle between two western schools, this should be a fun game. If nothing else, it will make for interesting Friday night drama, as California enters the game as the nation's top-rated defense. Nevada is the top-rated offense.
Posted on: September 14, 2010 1:17 pm
 

KC's McCluster, Browns' Ward Rookies of the Week

Each Tuesday I'll list two first year players -- one on offense, one from the defense -- as my official NFLDraftScout.com's Rookies of the Week.

Various rookies enjoyed strong performances in Week One. On offense, the skill position players like St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford, Detroit running back Jahvid Best, and a host of receivers -- Cincinnati's Jordan Shipley, Dallas' Dez Bryant and Tampa Bay' Mike Williams certainly deserved consideration. So too did some of the lesser acknowledged players -- such as Kansas City tight end Tony Moeaki and Washington offensive tackle Trent Williams. 

In the end, however, my choice for Offensive Rookie of the Week was Moeaki's teammate, running back/receiver/returner Dexter McCluster.

McCluster was limited to only two receptions (for nine yards) and one rushing attempt (no gain), but his dazzling 94-yard punt return in the second quarter of the Chiefs upset victory over the Chargers was among the biggest plays of the opening weekend. His touchdown provided the Chiefs with the momentum (and, ultimately the deciding points) that helped them hold on to beat the AFC West favorites. 

On the defensive side of the ball, there were again several worthy candidates. Philadelphia safety Nate Allen had five tackles and an important interception of Aaron Rodgers. Pass rushers Koa Misi (Dolphins), Greg Hardy (Panthers), and Tyson Alualu (Jaguars) all made big plays for their teams.

The consistency of Cleveland safety T.J. Ward, in my opinion, was the most impressive of the week, however. Ward led all rookies with 11 tackles Sunday in the Browns 14-17 loss to Tampa Bay. He also forced a fumble and essentially an interception with a strong blitz that forced Bucs' quarterback Josh Freeman to throw earlier than he wanted, resulting in a pick by Browns' teammate Mike Adams.
Posted on: August 30, 2010 11:25 am
 

2010 class looks worth the hype so far

We told you prior to the draft the 2010 crop of talent looked like one of the best in a long time . Once the underclassmen came on board, the class was being compared by some to the famous 1983 group that included Hall of Famers John Elway, Eric Dickerson, Bruce Mathews, Jim Kelly, Dan Marino and Darrell Green.

Comparing this class to the 1983 crew is, of course, vastly premature.
 
At least throughout the weeks of preseason, however, the class looks every bit as good as advertised.

Most years, by this time, we've already identified a half dozen or so highly drafted rookies who are struggling to acclimate to the pros. Sure, Colt McCoy isn't setting the world on fire, but we should have known to expect that a bit considering that he slipped into the 3rd round. Most of the players drafted in the first round are already establishing themselves as either immediate starters or quality backups... exactly what first-round picks are supposed to do.
Think of the top ten this year. Sam Bradford, Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy, Trent Williams, Eric Berry, Russell Okung, Joe Haden, Rolando McClain, C.J. Spiller and even surprise top ten choice Tyson Alualu have shown flashes of brilliance for their respective teams, already.

The first round picks that have struggled have mostly been due to injuries. Tim Tebow, Demaryius Thomas, Derrick Morgan, etc. have reportedly looked good when practicing, but various injuries have, thus far, slowed their advancement.

Exciting middle, late round and even undrafted free agents have emerged already .

But don't just take my word for it. Check out the stats.

Rookie Anthony Dixon, San Francisco's 6th round pick and the No. 173 player taken overall leads the NFL with 220 rushing yards. 

Rookie Victor Cruz, an undrafted free agent for the Giants, leads the league with 251 receiving yards, as well as receiving touchdowns (4). The only player in the league with as many as three TDs? Another rookie. Patriots' tight end Rob Gronkowski, a second round pick taken No. 42 overall.

So, offensively the rookies are doing well. What about the defense, you ask?

Thanks for asking.

Rookie Pat Angerer, the Colts' second round pick and the No. 63 player taken overall leads the NFL with 24 tackles.

Defensive tackle Geno Atkins, a fourth round pick taken at No. 120, leads the league with 4.5 sacks.

I can hear the dispute already. Yeah, rookies see a lot of playing time, and therefore more opportunities to post numbers in the preseason.

True. But the facts remain the same.

This 2010 class of rookies has a chance to be special.

Posted on: August 5, 2010 4:03 pm
 

Pac-10 film room notes

Over the past few weeks I've posted notes on my impressions of the senior talent in the ACC and SEC. Perenially two of the "power" conferences, I wasn't surprised at all to see that each group boasted a high number of legitimate top 100 senior prospects.

With the exception of Washington quarterback Jake Locker and Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea, the Pac-10, however, appears relatively weak -- at least in terms of senior NFL prospects.

Here are my preseason thoughts based on watching last year's film on every team in the conference.

  • Considering the sanctions levied by the NCAA and the relatively weak senior talent, Lane Kiffin is going to have his hands full at USC attempting to replace Pete Carroll. Sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley looks like a future first round prospect and, of course, quarterback is the game's most critical position. The difference in talent between USC's second string and some of the other top schools in the Pac-10 (Oregon, for example) had always been an underrated component in the Trojans' success. Sure, USC boasted first round talent at nearly every position on the field at one time or another, but it was their depth at every position that really stood out. When USC sent a Reggie Bush or Sedrick Ellis to the NFL, they had a Joe McKnight or Fili Moala there to pick up the slack. That, however, doesn't appear to be the case this year. One of the more intriguing USC athletes this season who could break out is senior outside linebacker Michael Morgan, a 6-4, 230 pounder with obvious athleticism. Playing time has been tough to come by considering the talent USC had at linebacker, but Morgan, like many of USC's highly rated young talent, flashes on film, but appears to be a better athlete than football player. Let me put it this way -- I'm being asked to write a Pac-10 preview soon. In the article I'll feature the top ten senior prospects in the conference. USC has more of those players than any other school -- but I wouldn't rate any of them (RBs Allen Bradford, CJ Gable, WR Ronald Johnson, C Kristopher O'Dowd, Morgan) as a top 50 prospect. Cornerback Shareece Wright may end up the highest drafted senior Trojan -- as he's a talented player -- but he's missed virtually the past two years due to injury and academic suspension. Stanley Havili is my top-rated fullback in the country, but where has USC gone if their top-rated prospect plays fullback...?
  • The face of the conference -- and perhaps the Heisman race -- is clearly Locker. Possessing a combination of arm strength, running ability and guts that have led to comparisons to John Elway, Locker simply needs to continue to develop the intricacies of the position to earn his place as NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior prospect. Locker isn't there yet, but he is capable of making the "wow" play that can't be coached. I don't actually expect Locker to win the Heisman. He's got too many things working against him -- not the least of which is a porous offensive line that will be sorely tested against Nebraska in September. But Locker is the conference's best player. And folks, it ain't even close.
  • One of the more underrated prospects in the Pac-10 is California defensive end Cameron Jordan. With Cal playing in the 3-4, Jordan (6-4, 285) didn't rack up the numbers last year (43 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 5 sacks) to warrant a great deal of national acclaim -- especially considering the attention that his teammate Tyson Alualu earned. Jordan, however, is a good athlete and possesses good strength at the point of attack, which makes him an ideal fit for this scheme. If Jordan played in the Big 12 or SEC, he'd be earning a great deal more attention. In fact, I'd rate Jordan as a very similar prospect to South Carolina's Cliff Matthews, who is earning some All-American hype.
  • There is bound to be a great deal of attention this season on Oregon linebacker Casey Matthews, considering the success of his older brother Clay Jr. with the Green Bay Packers and, of course, the earlier success of father (Clay) and uncle (Bruce Mathews). Unless Casey is able to duplicate the remarkable one-year turnaround of his older brother (who came to USC as a walk-on and turned himself into a first round pick), the lack of attention -- at least from NFL scouts -- may be surprising. Voted a Second-team All-Pac-10 choice last year with 81 tackles, Matthews breaks down well in space, but doesn't fight through blocks well enough yet to play inside and lacks the straight-line speed to beat backs to the edge. Oregon, which has often historically relied on athleticism rather than size and strength on the defensive line, is surprisingly stout up front. Senior defensive lineman Brandon Bair flashed some intriguing pass rush ability given his size (6-6, 268) and the fact that Oregon often lined him up inside, but he's older than most prospects given the fact that he took two years off for an LDS mission prior to playing for the Ducks. 
  • I typically reserve judgement on players until they are at least entering their senior season. However, with all of the attention surrounding the underclassmen quarterbacks I posted some thoughts on Arkansas' Ryan Mallett and thus, here are my thoughts after having time to scout Stanford's Andrew Luck. Some of the areas in which concerned me about Mallett (footwork, ability to read defenses) I found Luck to be surprisingly effective given his lack of experience. He certainly has the arm-strength and accuracy scouts are looking for and he has a terrific coach in Jim Harbaugh. If Luck is able to string together another season like 2009, he is a definite first round prospect and quite possibly competes with Locker, Ponder and Mallett (among others) to be the first passer selected. That said, Luck had the great fortune of playing second fiddle to Toby Gerhart last year. He's an extremely talented player, but don't count me among the shocked if there is a bit of a sophomore slump this season as defenses focus more on stopping the passing game. 
Posted on: April 22, 2010 8:54 pm
 

Jags pull the first stunner with Alualu

The Jacksonville Jaguars pulled the first stunner of the 2010 draft with the selection of California's Tyson Alualu with the tenth pick of the draft.

The Cal defender had been earning some late buzz in the weeks preceding the draft and I listed him as a player who could be a surprise first rounder. I'd even spoken to his agent, who, not surprisingly, expected Alualu to make the first round, though I don't know he anticipated that it would come this early.

Unlike many of Jacksonville's other high round gambles on defensive linemen, Alualu isn't particularly blessed with elite athleticism or upside. He might be the safest defensive lineman in this draft not named Ndamukong Suh. He played outside at defensive end in Cal's 3-4 scheme, but will likely be asked to move inside at defensive tackle for the Jaguars.

Despite the perception that he's a reach, he'll prove to be an immediate starter and I have no doubt enjoy a long and productive career.
Posted on: April 15, 2010 12:34 pm
Edited on: April 15, 2010 2:08 pm
 

Five mock-busters who could make the 1st Round

In a previous post I mentioned a few players that league sources are characterizing as overrated and could slip out of the first round entirely.

Just as important when predicting what will take place one week from today, however, is identifying players who have earned very little first round hype but could sneak in late.

There are several "bubble" players that could make the first round that I'm not discussing in this post -- Carlos Dunlap, Brian Price, Kareem Jackson, Golden Tate, some QB from Florida... You've seen them in first round mocks before and, perhaps, wouldn't be surprised if their names were called next Thursday.

This post is dedicated to the truer surprise names.

Among the biggest surprises over the past few years? Former East Carolina running back Chris Johnson, former Virginia Tech offensive tackle Duane Brown (both in 2008), former LSU wideout Craig Davis (2007), former NC State defensive tackle John McCargo (2006), former Ole Miss center Chris Spencer and former Fresno State guard Logan Mankins (both 2005).

Chris Johnson and Logan Mankins have since emerged as Pro Bowl talents for the Titans and Patriots, respectively. While Brown (Houston) and Spencer (Seattle) have developed into solid starters, Davis (San Diego) and McCargo (Buffalo) haven't met expectations.

According to scouts and front office executives throughout the league here are five players who could sneak into the 2010 first round and surprise many.

(Players listed alphabetically)

DL Tyson Alualu, California: An established force as a defensive end in the 3-4 and projecting nicely as a 4-3 defensive tackle, Alualu is scheme-versatile and a high-effort player. He lacks the athletic upside of some of the other defensive linemen of this class, but he's viewed as one of the safer players in the draft. The Steelers made a similar selection with Ziggy Hood last year.

RB Jahvid Best, California: Considering his explosiveness, Best should hardly be viewed as a surprise first round pick. However, his durability concerns are enough that most teams feel he'll be available in the second round. Considering the dramatic drop off in explosive running backs after Spiller and Best, however, a team looking for true big play potential from a 2010 rookie running back might have to gamble earlier than they'd like.

OT Vladimir Ducasse, Massachusetts: I expect there to be a run on offensive linemen in the first round similar to the one seen in 2007 -- when a league record eight offensive tackles were taken. If this were to occur, Ducasse, projected by most teams to go anywhere from 35-55, could sneak in late, just as Duane Brown did with the Houston Texans in 2008.

OLB Koa Misi, Utah: Roughly half of the NFL is now planning on operating primarily out of the 3-4 alignment. That fact makes established pass rushers like Misi ones to watch on draft day. Possessing an explosive first step as a defensive end for the Utes, the 6-3, 251 pound Misi impressed scouts in linebacker drills in workouts. Both he and Virginia Tech's Jason Worilds are viewed as locks for the second round, but an early run on the position could push either into the first round.

OLB Daryl Washington, TCU: As deep and talented as the 3-4 rush linebacker class is, there are few highly rated traditional outside linebackers in this class for the 4-3 alignment. Washington played inside for the Horned Frogs, but his 6-2, 230 pound frame makes him an ideal fit on the weakside. The explosive Washington is rated higher on some boards than Missouri's Sean Weatherspoon.

 
 
 
 
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