Tag:Arizona
Posted on: March 27, 2011 1:50 pm
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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 4, 2011 1:35 pm
 

Was Brooks Reed Combine's Top Performer?

We all know by now that Oregon State's Stephen Paea showed record-breaking strength with 49 repetitions of 225 pounds. We also know that Miami cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke was the fastest player in Indianapolis this year, unofficially being recorded at 4.28 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

As teams have had a few days to digest all of the numbers coming out of the Combine, however, one player's workout that is gathering momentum as one of the truly elite is Arizona pass rusher Brooks Reed's .

Consider that Reed, who measured in at 6024 (6'2 and a 1/2) and 263 pounds and worked out with the defensive linemen, was nonetheless faster than most linebackers. His 4.65 second time in the 40-yard dash, in fact, was faster than 18 of the 24 linebackers tested there.

Perhaps his most impressive total came in the most important test for defensive linemen (and, some would say, linebackers) in the ten-yard split. Reed was timed at 1.54 seconds over the first ten yards, demonstrating a degree of explosiveness typically reserved for much smaller men. Reed's 1.54 seconds not only was the fastest of all defensive ends (North Carolina's Robert Quinn was second at 1.61), his split was also faster than some of the more highly touted athletes of the Combine, including Nevada OLB Dontay Moch, Tennessee-Chattanooga CB Buster Skine, Kentucky WR Randall Cobb, Georgia WR AJ Green, Troy WR Jerrel Jernigan, and Texas A&M OLB Von Miller.

Each of these players weighed in at less than 250 pounds and all ran the 40-yard dash faster at 4.48 or faster, but weren't as explosive in their initial start as Reed.

The initial start, is of course, a highly valued trait for pass rushers. Reed was a star defensive end for the Wildcats out of the 4-3 alignment. Teams operating out of the 3-4, however, will be just as impressed. That type of scheme and positional versatility makes Reed one of the more attractive pass rushers in the draft.

Reed is currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 5 rated outside linebacker and the 49th rated player, overall.
Posted on: January 6, 2011 1:02 pm
 

James Rodgers granted med RS = Jacquizz staying?

Oregon State senior wideout James Rodgers was granted a medical redshirt for the 2010 season and will return to the Beavers next year , according to the school's official website.

Rodgers suffered a gruesome knee injury while being tackled in the endzone against Arizona October 2. Rodgers had caught a 56-yard touchdown pass - but an OSU penalty nullified the score.

Rodgers, the older brother of Beavers' junior running back Jacquizz Rodgers, has been a bit overshadowed by his sibling during their respective college careers, but is a legitimate NFL talent, in his own right.

Though certainly shorter than scouts would prefer (5-7), James' versatility and toughness as a receiver and returner make him a very similar prospect to former Hawaii and Texas standouts' Davone Bess and Quan Cosby -- two undrafted free agents who have carved out careers with the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals.

Despite the lack the height, scouts don't have to look hard to find either of the Rodgers brothers on tape. James already is Oregon State's career all-purpose leader with 5,784 yards, based largely on his record-breaking 2009 season. As a junior, Rodgers set OSU's single game (303 yards against Oregon) and single season (2,328) all-purpose yardage records records. Futhermore, he broke the Beavers' single season record for most receptions in 2009 with 91 grabs for 1,034 yards and nine scores earning First Team all conference honors.

James' return to the Beavers is likely to fuel speculation that Jacquizz will return for his senior season. It is hardly a secret in the scouting community that Rodgers - like most savvy and talented underclassmen technically draft eligible -- has explored his draft options, but the diminutive runner has adamantly denied reports that he's leaving early .


Posted on: December 27, 2010 4:30 pm
 

All-star games improving selection process

Having attended senior all-star games such as the Senior Bowl, East-West Shrine Game and Hula Bowl since 2001, I'm typically very impressed with the scouting departments in charge of locating the talent for these contests. There was a time not too long ago when I'd attend a senior all-star game and see prospects whose production was very obviously a result of their scheme or their invitations just as obviously due to playing on a high profile team.

As technology improves, however, their talent scouts have become even better at recognizing gaudy statistics as an indicator of talent, but not necessarily as the end-all, be-all way to find diamond in the rough prospects.

Take Hawaii wideout Greg Salas as an example. Salas caught 106 passes for 1,590 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior, earning All-WAC recognition and even some Biletnikof Award hype. Like many Warrior receivers before him, his production is enhanced by Hawaii's dynamic offense.

Still, whenever I speak to scouts about underrated prospects, Salas' name comes up. He once again was statistically dominant in 2010. In fact, Salas led the FBS with 1,675 receiving yards this season and has an eye-popping 4,345 yards over his career. More important that stats, however, is Salas' size (6-2, 210) and underrated combination of speed and elusiveness. I've spoken to teams who rate Salas among the top three senior wideouts in the draft -- as I'm sure has the Senior Bowl -- who invited Salas to their game back in October.

Arizona pass rusher Brooks Reed is another example. At 6-3, 262 pounds he doesn't have the bulk to remain at defensive end -- which in the past may have, in itself, been enough to keep him from earning a post-season invite to an all-star game. With half of the NFL playing the 3-4 scheme, there will be no shortage of teams looking at Reed as a rush linebacker. I'm not sure I agree with the comparisons some insiders had made between Reed and Packers' star Clay Matthews, Jr. but I do believe Reed's burst, hands and tenacity are enough to make him effective off the edge in the NFL. The senior all-star game -- in this case the Senior Bowl -- is doing its job of providing prospects an opportunity to demonstrate what they can do. 

Each year, however, there are a few prospects who slide under the radar that I believe should get the attention of the all-star game's talent evaluators. It is entirely possible that any and all of these (and other) all-star games are considering these prospects. However, with the bowl games increasingly turning towards technology (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) to release their rosters, the invitation process is much more transparent than in the past.

Here are three prospects that I have not yet seen be recognized with an invitation to the primary senior all-star games venues. I believe if they are, they'll impress there.

TCU OT Marcus Cannon : I listed Cannon a few days ago as one of the combatants in the five individual matchups I'm most looking forward to scouting during the bowl games. It remains to be seen how often Wisconsin elects to line up their star defensive lineman JJ Watt against Cannon. If they're wise, they'll pick their spots carefully. At 6-5, 350 pounds Cannon's athleticism is jaw-dropping. Andy Dalton gets most of the attention for TCU, but in terms of pro prospects, Cannon is the Horned Frogs' top talent... and folks, it ain't even close.

California FS Chris Conte : In a weak year for senior safeties, Conte's size (6-3, 212) and athleticism stand out. We all know that NFL teams love to move collegiate offensive tackles inside to guard. I feel that just as natural a transition can be made in moving big collegiate corners (who can tackle in space) to the safety position. Conte has already done it, earning First Team Pac-10 honors in his first full year at free safety this season after backing up at corner throughout his career.

New Mexico OT Byron Bell : NFL and all-star game scouts alike may be a little late in noticing Bell due to the fact that he entered this season characterized by New Mexico as a redshirt junior. The NCAA, however, ruled against his request that his 2007 season be ruled a medical hardship, meaning that Bell's career with the Lobos is over. At 6-5, 325 pounds Bell has surprising lateral agility and flexibility and will soon be flying up boards. Remember how shocked we all were when the Minnesota Vikings took former Lobo Ryan Cook in the second round in 2006? With an invitation to an all-star game, I believe Bell could make a similar leap.

For the best in NFL draft coverage, be sure to check back frequently at NFLDraftScout.com or by simply clicking here.

Posted on: November 5, 2010 9:59 pm
 

Five Prospects I'll Be Focusing On Saturday

Each week I list the five prospects that I'll be focusing on. 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.

Those interested in scouting "alongside" me can follow me on Twitter @RobRang.

Without any further adieu, here are the five prospects, as well as the cable provider and time you can expect to see them.

WR Julio Jones, Alabama : For some, the one on one showdown between Randy Moss and Darrelle Revis was the best wide receiver-cornerback battle of the year. For me, this is the matchup I've been waiting to see. Jones and Peterson each played well in their matchup last year. Jones may have had the more impressive statistics (four catches for 102 yards, including a 73 yard touchdown), but none of these grabs came against Peterson, who finished with three tackles and three passes broken up despite battling cramps. The fact that I have Peterson going No. 2 overall in my first round mock draft (higher than any cornerback has ever gone) gives you an ideal as to how high the LSU corner ranks on my board. That said, I'm higher than most on Jones, as well. He isn't as polished as some of the other highly touted wideouts due to Alabama's reliance on the running game, but I've seen improvements in his route-running this season and I love the size, strength and toughness he brings to the position. The toughest adjustment most collegiate receivers have to make when going to the NFL is handling the added physicality of the pro grame. I characterized Hakeen Nicks (over the more highly touted Crabtree, Maclin, Harvin, etc.) as the rookie wideout likeliest to have the greatest immediate impact two years ago due to his physicality and body control. I see a similiar skill set in Jones. This game will be televised by CBS and will begin at 3:30 pm EST.

QB Andy Dalton, TCU
: The fact that No. 3 TCU is heading to No. 5 Utah for a game with legitimate BCS implications and yet only minimal television coverage is precisely what is wrong with the inequity of today's college football system. If this were a showdown among two undefeated teams in an automatic qualifier conference like the Big Ten, ACC or SEC this would unquestionably be the biggest game of the weekend. Instead, only those of us fortunate enough to have CBS' College Sports channel will get to watch what could be an instant classic. TCU has based a great deal of their success over the years on their defense, but if they are to win this game, Dalton will have to play well. He didn't last year in the Fiesta Bowl loss to Boise State. This game is particularly interesting for Dalton due to the fact that his favorite receiver, senior Jeremy Kerley will often be covered by Utah junior cornerback Brandon Burton -- one of the best, if underrated young corners in the country. This game will be televised by CBS College Sports and will begin at 3:30 pm EST.

SS Shiloh Keo, Idaho: Some questioned our sanity when NFLDraftScout.com rated former Vandal guard Mike Iupati as a potential first round pick before last season even began. Their safety, Shiloh Keo also popped off the tape and began this year among our top five prospects at the position. Like many of you, I haven't seen much of Keo thus far this season. That is because I've been waiting to see him in coverage against a dynamic offense. With Colin Kaepernick and the No. 3 nationally rated Nevada offense coming to town, Keo will have the opportunity to answer questions about his coverage skills. This game won't get mentioned by many, but in terms of a player's stock, few games will be bigger than this one is for Keo. This game will be televised by televised by ESPN and will begin at 5:00 pm EST.

OLB Akeem Ayers, UCLA:
At 6-4, 254 pounds, Bruins' junior outside linebacker Akeem Ayers is as gifted an outside linebacker prospect as there is in the entire country. The Bruins have struggled with consistency this season, but Ayers has been one of the few bright spots. His numbers (45 tackles, seven tackles for loss, three sacks) aren't eye-popping, but scouts love his versatility and upside. I'm very interested to see how Ayers performs against Oregon State this weekend. The Beavers may lack the big play offense of their arch rival Ducks, but their pro-style offense and the excellent running of junior back Jacquizz Rodgers will be a truer test of Ayers' talents. This game will be televised by Versus and will begin at 7:00 pm EST.

QB Nick Foles, Arizona: Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck will get all of the hype leading up to this contest and for good reason. However, I've spoken to NFL scouts that are very intrigued with Foles, as well. Foles, a junior, was leading the Pac-10 in passing yards per game before sustaining the knee injury that kept him sidelined for the past two weeks. Like most quarterbacks operating out of the spread offense, most of Foles' passes are in the short to intermediate range -- precisely the areas that Stanford's 3-4 defense is designed to counter. If Arizona is going to beat Stanford this week, Foles will have to play well and he may have to attack downfield. How he performs in that test may determine if he is a legitimate top 50 prospect or just another product of the spread offense. This game will be televised by ABC/ESPN and will begin at 8:00 pm EST.


Posted on: October 25, 2010 12:00 am
 

Big updates coming this week

This weekend's games marked the halfway point in college football's regular season.

As such, you can expect significant updates on NFLDraftScout.com over the next few days. My fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter and I submitted our updated rankings of the Top 5 Seniors Per Position. We also each updated our mock drafts.

I also wrote a Weekend Review of five prospects whose stock changed with their performances Saturday. I can't tell you who all is included in the article, but I will say that the weekend's biggest games are strongly represented, as well as my writeup of the junior quarterback I'm personally higher on than either Arkansas' Ryan Mallett or Missouri's Blaine Gabbert.

Think I'm referring to Arizona's Nick Foles? Guess again.


Posted on: October 14, 2010 1:49 pm
 

Notre Dame TE Kyle Rudolph to undergo surgery Fri

Notre Dame junior tight end Kyle Rudolph will undergo season-ending surgery Friday to repair his hamstring.

The surgery is a significant one. Rudolph, who had been gutting it out by playing through a pulled hamstring originally injured over the summer, had the tendons in his right leg snap, separating the muscle from the bone against Pittsburgh, Saturday.

Though only a junior, Rudolph is widely considered to be among the top eligible tight end prospect in the country. The injury and resulting surgery, however, could put a damper on any plans that the 6-6, 260 pounder had on entering the NFL draft after this season. Rudolph's rehabilitation is expected to last six months, meaning that he may not be able to fully workout for scouts prior to the draft.

As alarming as that might be for scouts, Rudolph's ability to impact the game stands out on film. It should also be noted that the two tight ends selected highest in last year's draft -- Jermaine Gresham and Rob Gronkowski -- each missed the entire 2009 season prior to being selected with the No. 21 and No. 42 overall picks of last April's draft, by the Bengals and Patriots, respectively.

Should he elect to leave school early for the draft, scouts have plenty of film on Rudolph. A standout since taking over for John Carlson (now a starter for the Seattle Seahawks), was on pace to shatter his previous career highs in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns.
Through six games this year, Rudolph had caught 28 passes for 328 yards and three touchdowns.

He has caught 90 passes for 1,032 yards and eight touchdowns for his career.


Posted on: September 24, 2010 11:08 pm
Edited on: September 25, 2010 1:06 pm
 

Five prospects I'll be scouting closely

Each week as part of my and fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter's preparation for our weekly Draft Slant feature I list five prospects that I'll be focusing on during Saturday's games.*

I list the players here, but those of you who would like to scout "alongside" me, you can follow me on Twitter @RobRang .

OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College:
There is a great deal of debate among scouts as to who is the top senior offensive tackle in the country. Castonzo has his share of supporters and it isn't difficult to understand why. Castonzo, 6-7 and 308 pounds, is light on his feet and has the strong BC reputation of producing quality NFL offensive linemen helping him. Castonzo is high cut, however, and struggles with the bull rush. He'll be facing an athletic and physical Virginia Tech defense Saturday. I'm very curious to see how he fares. Game begins at 12:00 pm EST and will be televised by ESPN.

DL Marcell Dareus, Alabama: Like most college football fans, this is the game I'm most looking forward to watching. Dareus didn't do much in his first game back from his two game suspension (one TFL against Duke) to start the season, but he and the rest of the Tide's ability to get Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett moving will be key in this game. Scouts want to see if Dareus is as dominant without Terrance Cody, Lorenzo Washington and Brandon Deaderick taking the pressure off of him. Dareus stars as a defensive end in Nick Saban's 3-4 scheme, but is being heavily scouted by 4-3 teams who like him as a defensive tackle, as well. Though Dareus is only a junior, scouts tell me he's a virtual guarantee to come out after this season. Game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by CBS.

RB Evan Royster, Penn State:
For all of his success, Royster has always struck me as a better college player than NFL prospect. He's shown enough courage, leg drive and burst to be successful in a one-cut offense (ala Arian Foster, Ryan Grant), but like these two NFL standouts, I don't see the straight-line speed or wiggle that typically earns anything higher than a mid round selection -- despite terrific production over his career. That production came in the past, however, as Royster has really struggled this season. In fact, he only eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the season last week in the Nittany Lions' third game of the year. Penn State hosts an underrated Temple squad Saturday. This will either be the game Royster gets back into the groove or truly begins to slip out of the minds of NFL scouts. Game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by Big Ten Network.

OG Andrew Jackson, Fresno State: "The President" has helped Fresno State be one of the best power rushing offenses over the past few seasons, earning All-WAC honors each of the past two seasons. (Of course, some guy named Ryan Matthews helped too). Jackson, however, has never had to face a defensive line with the strength and athleticism that Ole Miss boasts. Jackson is big (6-5, 295) and strong, but so too is NG Jerrell Powe. This game certainly isn't getting the hype of this weekend's monster games, but with the Rebels already getting upset at home once this year and Pat Hill's reputation for his team playing the big boys tough, I think this game could be a better scouting opportunity than most think. Game begins at 7:30 pm EST and will be televised by ESPN.

DT Stephen Paea, Oregon State: Boise State has defeated their share of top opponents over the years. Many across the country won't be impressed by a home victory over the Beavers. They should, however, as the Beavers feature two of the most dynamic all-purpose weapons in college football in the Rodgers Bros. and a legitimate first round caliber defensive tackle in Paea. It is Paea that might actually play the bigger role in the Beavers' upset bid Saturday night. In nearly all of Heisman contender Kellen Moore's toughest games, he's enjoyed stellar pass protection. Paea's ability to collapse the pocket from the inside could be especially troublesome for Moore, who at 6-0, 187 pounds simply doesn't have the height to throw over constant interior pressure. Paea's game has always been his ability to hold up to double-teams in the running game. There won't be a better time for him to prove to scouts that he can rush the passer than this game. Game begins at 8 pm EST and will be televised by ABC/ESPN.

* While I'm generally focus on the senior prospects, I have to admit that I'm also keeping a close eye on underclassmen quarterbacks Andrew Luck , Nick Foles and Mallett -- especially considering how poorly the top senior QBs have faired thus far this season.

Luck should continue his strong start to the season (10 TDs/O INTs) against Notre Dame. Luck could miss his underrated senior WR Ryan Whalen, but the reality is the Irish simply aren't gifted enough defensively to slow down this offense.

Foles will be facing a physical and talented Cal defense that was embarrassed last week by Nevada. This is a home game for the Wildcats, but don't be surprised if the Golden Bears give him a tougher test than he's had all year long.

I'm not as high on Mallett as others seem to be, but acknowledge that two of the primary concerns I've had for him in the past -- poise in the pocket and overall mobility -- he's shown significant improvement in thus far this season. Of course, he hasn't faced a defense like Alabama's yet. Mallett's performance against the Tide -- good or bad -- could prove every bit the story that Jake Locker's struggles against Nebraska were.

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