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Tag:Arizona Wildcats
Posted on: December 10, 2010 12:14 pm
 

OLB Reed, CB Marsh flying up board

With the FBS regular season coming to a close many scouts are finally getting a break from the road. As such, I've been able to catch up with them and get the names of some of the country's hottest rising prospects.

I have several other contacts that I'll be speaking with this weekend and want to do some film work, myself, before finalizing the article.

Here are two players, however, that numerous scouts have touted highly over just the past 24 hours who, because they play in the West, I'm familiar with already.

I've previously mentioned Arizona pass rusher Brooks Reed as a player rising up draft boards, but after speaking to scouts this week it is clear that I've still been underrating him. Reed's statistics are good (44 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks) but his production would be even gaudier if he operated as a strongside linebacker, as 4-3 teams are projecting him to be at the pro level. Reed, 6-3 and 262 pounds, earned First Team All Pac-10 honors this year lining up as a defensive end for the Wildcats. He's shown the ability to rush the passer from the stand-up position, as well as from the three-point stance.

There are two elements to Reed's game that scouts are particularly intrigued by -- his nonstop motor and surprising fluidity. Many "undersized" collegiate defensive ends lack the flexibility to make the transition to a true outside linebacker role. This is precisely the area where scouts believe Reed will impress, as his agility and short area burst are expected to make him one of most impressive athletes during workouts.

Utah State cornerback Curtis Marsh is another example of a player skyrocketing up draft boards. A former running back, the 6-1, 195 pound Marsh entered the season barely a blip on scouts' radar. He's steadily risen up charts this season, however, finishing second in the WAC with 15 passes broken up and improving game by game.

Marsh was particularly impressive in the season finale against Boise State's Titus Young, a wideout that some scouts believe is the No. 1 senior at the position and certainly among the nation's fastest. Marsh helped limit Young to four receptions for a season-low 34 yards.

Scouts tell me that strong performances from Reed and Marsh in post-season all-star games could ultimately push both into the Top 100.


Posted on: December 3, 2010 12:55 pm
 

Elmore stars for Arizona in tough loss

With many sports fans tuning into LeBron's return to Cleveland or the Eagles-Texans game, an impressive showing by Arizona Wildcats' senior defensive end Ricky Elmore won't get the national attention it deserves.

While the Wildcats suffered a heart-breaking overtime loss to their state rival ASU Sun Devils, Elmore, playing in his final home, posted eight tackles (including six solos) and three sacks.

The Wildcats' duo of Elmore and fellow senior Brooks Reed put constant pressure on Arizona State quarterback Brock Osweiler, who was forced to vacate the pocket and demonstrated much better running skills than one might anticipate given his 6-8, 242 pound frame.

Elmore hasn't generated a great deal of national attention throughout his career despite the fact that he's led the Pac-10 in sacks each of the past two seasons. Last season, Elmore racked up 9.5 sacks. With his three sacks against the Sun Devils, Elmore now has 11 this year with a bowl game still to go.

Elmore, 6-5 and 260 pounds, reminds me in some ways of former Washington Husky defensive end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim. Like Te'o-Nesheim, Elmore has been productive throughout his career and achieves many of his sacks based on a relentless motor and good technique rather than an elite first step.

He is quick enough off the snap, however, to generate consistent pressure. If he's able to impress in post-season all-star games and/or workouts as Te'o-Nesheim did last year, Elmore could see a similar late rise up draft boards.

Te'o-Nesheim was drafted in the third round (No. 86th overall) last April by the Eagles.


Posted on: December 2, 2010 5:23 pm
 

Lots of underclassmen to watch tonight in ASU-ARI

For fans who don't have NFL Network but still need their football fix there is a good scouting opportunity tonight at the collegiate level.

On the one hand, Arizona State at Arizona doesn't offer a great deal of senior talent. The Wildcats' pass rushing duo of Brooks Reed (6-3, 262) and Ricky Elmore (6-5, 260) are the only seniors in this game that I believe are surefire NFL draft selections at this time.

There is, however, a great deal of underclassmen talent on these two sidelines.

Most of the attention will, of course, be heaped upon Arizona junior quarterback Nick Foles. While I have reservations about Foles' downfield passing ability, there is no denying the 6-5, 245 pound quarterback has the ideal stature pro scouts are looking for.

The Wildcats also boast one of the better young cornerbacks in the Pac-10 in 5-11 182 pound Trevin Wade.

Perhaps to the surprise of some, the more intriguing talent (at least in my opinion) actually lies with the unranked Sun Devils.

Dennis Erickson has fielded a talented young defense in Tempe. Defensive tackle Lawrence Guy (6-5, 300) and cornerback Omar Bolden (5-10, 195) may lack for name recognition outside of the Pac-10, but each is a legitimate pro talent. Scouts expect each of the two juniors to at least consider leaving school early due to the marginal talent at their positions among the senior class.

The Sun Devils also feature one of the more explosive inside linebacker prospects in the country in sophomore Vontaze Burfict. The 6-3, 245 pounder is a natural playmaker with the size and athleticism that NFL teams are looking for, but he's struggled with composure throughout his career, drawing personal fouls in several games and often at the worst possible times for Erickson's team.

This game begins at 8:00 pm EST and will be televised by ESPN. 


Posted on: February 25, 2010 3:11 pm
 

Arizona TE Gonkowski "100%" but won't workout

Arizona Wildcat tight end Rob Gronkowski characterized himself as "100 percent" and "feeling as great as I've felt in a long time" and yet still won't work out for scouts this week at the Combine.

"My back is 100 percent. I just started running 2-3 weeks ago," Gronkowski told me. "I need to get conditioning back. I need to get my times back. I feel like each week my speed is improving. I feel like I need 2-3 weeks more to get back to where I was before my back surgery. My doctors and agent and I decided that it would be best if I waited until my Pro Day."

Arizona's Pro Day is March 12th, but Gronkowski stated that he'd likely have his own individual Pro Day later in March in Tuscon.


Posted on: February 21, 2010 12:29 pm
 

Gronkowski will only lift at Combine

Arizona tight end Rob Gronkowski is one of the real unknowns of the 2010 draft after missing the entire 2009 season due to a back injury and subsequent surgery.

According to Gronkowksi, interviewed last night on Sirius Radio with Howard Balzer, it seems that scouts will have to wait a bit longer to see him perform. Gronkowski is choosing to participate in the bench press only and will save all other drills for his Pro Day (tentatively scheduled for March 12).

Considering that the injury in question was his back, Gronkowski's decision to lift seems odd. Some will presume it as proof that Gronkowski feels he is healthy enough to perform all of the drills, but is electing to buy himself some more time to run the all-important 40-yard dash and go through pass-catching and route-running drills.

Of course, the biggest test Gronkowski has to answer at the Combine, he'll still undergo - proving through the exhaustive medical screening that he is, in fact, 100%.

Despite having only two seasons under his belt, the 20-year old Gronkowski is Arizona's all-time leading tight end in various categories, including the single-game, single-season, and career leader in receptions (75), receiving yards (1,197) and touchdowns (16).


When healthy, Gronkowski is the 2010 draft's best all-around tight end prospect and worthy of a first round pick. Considering the injury questions with Oklahoma's Jermaine Gresham and the size limitations of Florida's Aaron Hernandez, Gronkowski has a chance to be the first tight end selected this year. Depending on the scheme, each of these three players may be the top-rated tight end on NFL boards.
Posted on: January 14, 2010 10:32 pm
 

TE Gronkowski expected to leave early

Arizona junior tight end Rob Gronkowski, who missed the entire 2009 season after undergoing surgery on a herniated disk and nerve damage in his lower back in September, has scheduled a press conference for Friday morning and is expected to announce that he's entering his name in the 2010 NFL Draft.

Though he doesn't have Jermaine Gresham's big name, the 6-6, 265 pound Gronkowski could compete with the former Oklahoma star at the top of tight end rankings if he can prove he's healthy. According to sources, Gronkowski flew on January 6th to Marina del Rey, California to meet with the doctor who performed the surgery on and has since been running and working out in preparation for next season.

Whether next season is with the Wildcats or the NFL, of course, only Gronkowski knows, at this time.

Considering that his older brother, senior H-back Chris Gronkowski will be leaving after this season and the relatively weak class of tight ends, scouts expect the 2008 first-team all-Pac-10 choice to leave early -- assuming he feels secure in the health of his back.

Voted a third-team All-American in 2008 after he caught 47 passes for 672 yards and 10 touchdowns despite missing the first three games due to illness (mono), Gronkowski entered the 2009 season on the John Mackey Award watchlist. With only two seasons under his belt, he's Arizona's all-time leading tight end in various categories, including the single game, single season, and career leader in receptions (75), receiving yards (1,197) and touchdowns (16).

Blessed with great size, good athleticism and soft hands, he's a true threat on short and intermediate routes and a better blocker than most give him credit for.

Completely healthy, he'd likely earn a first round grade from teams. Considering that seriousness of his back injury and resulting surgery, however, teams could be hesitant to use a first round pick on him. That said, in a class with only one other true headliner at tight end -- and, of course, Gresham is coming off his own surgery -- and a series of specialists (receiver specialists Aaron Hernandez, Ed Dickson and blocking specialist Anthony McCoy), a spot among the Top 50 certainly seems possible.


Posted on: December 30, 2009 1:54 pm
 

Suh dominant, but may not be today

Let's be real clear about this from the start -- NFLDraftScout.com rated Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh as the number one senior prospect in August. He's been atop every one of the many mock drafts I've penned already this year. I see no reason why he won't be atop every other 2010 mock draft I write. I don't know of anyone who touted him as a Heisman candidate before I did.

In fact, Bo Pelini and Suh's family might be the only ones higher on this young man's ability than I am.

And yet, I think he's going to struggle to make his typically dominant impact against Arizona today in the Holiday Bowl.

The Wildcats feature a true spread offense. Rarely does quarterback Nick Foles hang on to the ball for long, one of the reasons why Arizona has allowed only 11 sacks on the year (tied for 10th fewest in the FCS).

One could make the point that many of the offenses Suh faced in the Big 12 also feature the spread offense, including Texas, who Suh so infamously ravaged in the Big 12 Championship. Those teams, however, didn't have a month to prepare.

Against top teams with more typical pro-style offenses (Virginia Tech, Colorado, Kansas State, Iowa State), Suh averaged an eye-popping 7.5 tackles, a sack, 2 PBUs and .75 blocked kicks per game.

The two Big 12 teams using a true spread offense as wide as the one the Wildcats will use today were Kansas and Texas Tech. In those two contests Suh was held relatively in check, averaging only 3.5 tackles and 1 tackle for loss.

The spread offense was designed to get the ball out of the hands of the quarterback quickly to combat dominant penetrating defensive linemen just like Suh.

If he isn't as dominant today as he has been in the past, don't chalk it up to a lack of effort or his being overrated. NFL scouts certainly be.

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