Posted on: January 14, 2012 2:19 pm
Edited on: January 14, 2012 2:27 pm

Wyoming's Alexander latest RB to make NFL jump

Each year the NFL draft gets a considerable boost in talent with underclassmen. The giving is especially good this year it seems at running back as the position that many feel has become the draft's strongest got yet another boost with a surprise early declaration from Wyoming running back Alvester Alexander.

Listed by Wyoming at 5-11, 208 pounds Alexander burst onto the scene as a true freshman for the Cowboys in 2009 leading the team with 640 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. A year later, Alexander enjoyed his most productive season, breaking the school's single season (14) and single game (five) records for most touchdown scored.

Alexander's production slipped as a junior. Though he ran for 695 yards and six touchdowns in 2011, the Wyoming offense was built around quarterback Brett Smith, who led the team with 710 rushing yards and 10 scores.

An upright runner with only average elusiveness and speed, Alexander may struggle with the jump in competition at the NFL level. He was rated by NFLDraftScout.com as the No. 42 rated runnning back in the class of 2013. Considering the talent already assembled for the 2012 draft he may have an uphill fight to rank any higher this year.

Wyoming issued a statement on Alexander's behalf announcing the junior running back's decision but head coach Dave Christensen sounded less than thrilled with Alexander's move.

"“Alvester has decided that he wants to make himself eligible for the NFL Draft at this time,” said head coach Dave Christensen in a statement.  “He feels that this decision is best for he and his family.  It is his decision to make, and we can only wish him the best of luck as he pursues this next step in his career.  We thank Alvester for his contributions over the past three seasons, including helping us to earn two bowl appearances.”

Local sports anchor Jack Nokes of K2TV.com also expressed some surprise with Alexander's decision.

Posted on: April 27, 2010 1:01 pm

My all undrafted lineup -- defense

Each year there are players who slip through the cracks into undrafted free agency that, quite frankly, I'm stunned aren't drafted.

Here is my list of players who were undrafted but I feel could find a roster spot in the NFL.

Today I'm highlighting the defensive players (as well as their NFL franchise). Yesterday I listed the offensive players.

DE: Brandon Lang, Troy (signed by San Diego)
DT: Nate Collins, Virginia (signed by New York Giants)
DT: Jay Ross, East Carolina (signed by New Orleans)
DE: Mitch Unrein, Wyoming (signed by Tennessee)
OLB: Reggie Carter, UCLA (signed by Seattle)
ILB: Micah Johnson, Kentucky (signed by New York Giants)
OLB: Simoni Lawrence, Minnesota (signed by St. Louis)
CB: Patrick Stoudamire, Jr, Western Illinois (signed by San Francisco)
SS: Barry Church, Toledo (signed by Dallas)
FS: Jon Amaya, Nevada (signed by Miami)
CB: Devin Ros, Arizona (signed by Philadelphia)
Posted on: March 4, 2010 10:28 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2010 10:42 pm

Sleeper DE candidates unveiled at Wyoming Pro Day

West regional scouts from a handful of teams tipped me off about two defensive ends from Wyoming a few months ago. Though neither John Fletcher nor Mitch Unrein were invited to the Combine, both could earn late round selections in next month's draft. They are among the few defensive linemen available in this draft with experience playing in the 3-4. Both, however, appear to have enough size and athleticism to potentially see action for 4-3 teams, as well.

According to sources, fourteen teams were on hand to see the two put forth their best efforts Thursday. The Colts seemed particularly interested in Fletcher and the Titans in Unrein.

Fletcher measured in at 6-5 1/4 and 270 pounds. Fletcher was faster than expected with a 4.87 40-yard dash (despite battling a hamstring pull) and a 4.5 short shuttle. He had a 33" vertical, a 9'10" broad jump and a posted 21 reps of 225 pounds.

Unrein measured in at 6-3 3/4 and 276 pounds. He was impressive in positional drills and clocked in with a 4.84 second 40-yard dash, 4.6 short shuttle, and 7.3 long shuttle. He posted 26 repetitions of 225 pounds and measured in at 31" in the vertical and 8'10" in the broad jump.

The numbers aren't eye-popping enough to warrant a late round selections on their own. However, considering the relentless and versatile play in which both Fletcher and Unrein play,  the numbers are good enough to convince teams there is some athletic upside worthy of a late round selection.

Posted on: March 30, 2009 3:29 pm
Edited on: March 30, 2009 3:39 pm

Vols DE Ayers "Most Polarizing Defender..."

With the draft less than a month away most teams are settling their draft boards. One player whose stock remains very much in flux is Tennessee defensive end/outside linebacker Robert Ayers.

There appear to be two camps when it comes to Ayers. Some teams view him as a top ten prospect. Mike Mayock of the NFL Network, whose opinion I respect, recently ranked Ayers as the 5th best player in the entire 2009 draft. Other teams, however, view Ayers as a second round prospect -- and a marginal one at that.

I contacted four teams about Ayers -- two AFC teams and two NFC teams. Two of the clubs operate primarily out of the 4-3, two primarily out of the 3-4 defense. The reviews were stunningly mixed. One 3-4 team loves him. The other ranks him as the 8th best pass rushing OLB prospect of the draft. Similar results came from the 4-3 teams. Each viewed him strictly as a 4-3 defensive end in their scheme.

I respect the opinions of my contacts in the league, but ultimately, I trust my own eyes more than anyone else's. Therefore, I went back to the film. I own game-film of 6 Tennessee games (UCLA, Florida, Auburn, Alabama, Wyoming, Kentucky), as well as the Senior Bowl. After two days of reviewing these tapes, I feel comfortable with my current grade of a late first round to early second round grade.

Ayers, 6-3 (3/8), 272 pounds, primarily lined up as the right defensive end out of the 4-3 alignment in the 6 UT games viewed. This is the position he lined up throughout the week of practice at the Senior Bowl, as well. I have detailed notes from those practices, as well as the Senior Bowl, itself, in which Ayers earned Defensive MVP honors with 3 tackles, including 1.5 sacks. I thought that Ayers was arguably the most impressive player early in the week of practice in Mobile and wrote as much in my Monday and Tuesday reviews of the South practices.

Monday: The surprise was vs. Oher was Ayers, whose quickness off the snap, strength to anchor and dizzying array of counter moves enabled him to beat Oher at times and consistently proved too much for lesser pass blockers. If he can build upon his initial showing with a strong week of practice, Ayers could be the latest example of players catapulting up draft boards with a strong performance in Mobile.

Tuesday: Perhaps due to the colossal battles waged between Oher and Tennessee defensive end Robert Ayers on Monday, the two were rarely matched up against each other for this second practice. After an eye-opening initial practice, Ayers struggled with lesser blockers early Tuesday. He picked up his play as the one on ones heated up, however, and finished practice playing with the fervor he’d shown a day earlier. His final snaps of the scrimmage Tuesday, in fact, were spent bull-rushing Tulane tackle Troy Kropog onto his back during one play and using a beautiful swim move to cleanly get past the Green Wave blocker and into the backfield on the next.


The concern I and others have with Ayers is twofold. For one, he didn't establish himself as even a starting caliber player until his senior season despite signing with the Vols as one of the most highly touted preps in the country. Until this season, he was viewed by many as a bit of a bust. Secondly, even though he was as good as any defensive lineman in the SEC this season (and that is saying something) and absolutely deserved the 1st team conference honors he received this year (49 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss), he finished with only 3 sacks.

Based on the film, Ayers consistently plays to his level of competition. His most dominant game (statistically-speaking) was against Georgia, which unfortunately, I don't have film of. Against Alabama offensive tackle Andre Smith, Ayers showed good burst, impressive strength to shed, good agility and vision when redirecting and hustle. These were the same attributes I saw against Oher in the Senior Bowl practices.

Against lesser talent in the Wyoming and UCLA losses, however, Ayers disappeared too long for my taste.

Ayers' fluidity improved so dramatically from his Combine performance and Pro Day, that I can understand why some are very excited about him. Those close to the Tennessee program rave about his emergence as a senior leader and there is no denying his athleticism. While he predominately lined up at right defensive end, he also moved inside to defensive tackle, at times, to the left defensive end and was a standup pass rusher from either side, as well. He is not truly explosive off the snap, but can bend under the tackle and has very good lateral quickness to "get skinny" and beat the offensive tackle back inside after a jab-step to the outside to tackle runners for loss.

He has the versatility that every team is looking for and the opinion that he could be an ascending talent will likely push him into the first round -- but there is significant boom or bust potential here.

For these reasons, Ayers was characterized to me by a high ranking official of one of the four teams as "the most polarizing defender who's gonna go in the top 50. Some love him. Some are only luke-warm on him. He's moving up though..."


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