Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now
 
Tag:Arkansas
Posted on: October 29, 2011 11:41 am
 

Mano-a-Mano, Week Nine

In addition to the prospects Senior Analyst Rob Rang wrote about in his "five players to watch" blog post, take a look at these memorable ten one-on-one match-ups (plus a slew of honorable mention selections) while perusing this weekend's slate of college football games.

Because players move around based on different formations and what coaches see as favorable match-ups, these prospects won't go against each other on every snap. Scouts will pay attention when they do, however, because they rely on a player's film against top competition to determine their readiness for the NFL.

All times Eastern.

"*" Denotes an underclassman.

1. Stanford QB *Andrew Luck (#12/6-4/235/4.73) at Southern Cal QB *Matt Barkley (#7/6-2/220/4.74)
8:00 pm, ABC

Usually in this space I discuss players likely to literally butt heads, but the battle of two of the nation's top signal callers is too intriguing to ignore. Luck will receive higher marks than Barkley in every category on a scout's report, especially in the athleticism areas. But Barkley could actually get more of a bump from this game than Luck, from whom near-perfection is expected in every outing. League general managers will take note if the former top high school recruit does not shrink under the pressure of both facing Stanford defenders and from taking on the consensus number one pick.

Barkley's impressive performance against Notre Dame last week already showed NFL teams he is capable of making some tough throws (and avoid bad plays) in hostile venues. But as Rob Rang mentioned in his blog post yesterday, a strong outing at his home stadium where he displays the poise and movement within the pocket to avoid pressure (and outside of it to gain first downs with his feet), as well as an ability to put the ball in tight spaces when necessary, will help him shed the "game manager" moniker and lock up a top five draft slot.

2. Stanford LT *Jonathan Martin (#55/6-6/305/5.29) at Southern Cal DE *Nick Perry (#8/6-3/250/4.59)
8:00 pm, ABC

Martin isn't related to a current NFL player like USC left tackle Matt Kalil (brother, Ryan, is the highly-regarded center for Carolina), but his strength and ferociousness both in pass protection and in the run game make some scouts believe he's the top blind side player in the draft (should he decide to join Luck in entering the draft early). He does tend to play with too wide a base at times, making it difficult for him to adjust to spin and inside moves from quick rushers like Perry -- who not only needs to show explosiveness off the snap to beat Martin to the corner, but also counter rushes and consistent hustle chasing Luck and running backs inside to have scouts consider him a top 40 project as a 3-4 'backer or a 4-3 end for teams looking for more speed than size on the edge.

*Matt Kalil (#75/6-6/295/5.05) will have his own challenge holding back Stanford's DE/OLB *Chase Thomas (#44/6-4/240/4.76), who ranks in the top 20 in the FBS in tackles for loss (11.5) and sacks (5.5). Though Thomas isn't as quick or agile as Perry, he will challenge the anchor of Kalil, whose relatively svelte build belies his ability to widen his stance when necessary and stand his ground against strong bull rushes. On many plays, however, he fails to bend and move his feet quickly enough to protect the inside rush lane or mirror defenders pushing him upfield before cutting upfield.

3. Michigan State WR B.J. Cunningham (#3/6-2/216/4.59) at Nebraska CB Alfonzo Dennard (#15/5-10/205/4.49)
12:00 pm, ESPN

Cunningham ranks in the top 20 nationally in receptions and receiving yards per game, and had a nice game in the Spartans' win over previously undefeated Wisconsin (6-102, TD). Scouts like the feistiness (if not the size) of Dennard, however, who should match up regularly against QB Kirk Cousin's best downfield option. Cunningham does not have elite speed, but he has the size, quick feet, and a burst to create separation from Dennard. Plays can be had if Cousins does not stare down Cunningham so the heady Dennard can close on passes, and if Cunningham's hands are once again solid (and not inconsistent, as they were vs. Michigan). Dennard may also end up shadowing MSU's quicker receiver, Keshawn Martin (#82/5-10/190/4.44), to prevent him from making the type of back-breaking plays after the catch that he made against the Badgers.

4. Wisconsin DE Louis Nzegwu (#93/6-4/255/4.76) at Ohio State LT Mike Adams (#75/6-6/320/5.28)
8:00 pm, ESPN

The Badgers must get over that supremely disappointing defeat to Sparty State quicky, or the Buckeyes will turn one loss into two in a hurry. OSU RB Dan Herron (#1/5-10/208/4.52) will get the headlines going into the game because of the boost he gave the team against Illinois (23-114, TD), but getting Adams back from suspension was just as important. In an offensive tackle class lacking depth, his wide frame, arm length, and fluid movement will be coveted by scouts looking for pass protectors. He's been inconsistent with his effort and technique in the past, however, so Nzegwyu (who has 2.5 sacks in his last two games) will look to take advantage of any momentary lapses to stop Herron in the run game or attack QB Braxton Miller if the young passer looks unaware of backside pressure.

5. Arizona WR Juron Criner (#82/6-4/215/4.62) vs. Washington CB *Desmond Trufant (#6/6-0/185/4.49)
10:30 pm, FSN

The Wildcats have not played since their emotional win over UCLA last Thursday that marked the beginning of the post-Mike Stoops era. In that game, Criner connected with fellow senior QB Nick Foles (6-5/240/4.96) for three scores, using his size and hands to go over the top of Bruins defenders (who also helped him scores by falling down or letting him run by on two of his three TDs). He faces a good junior corner in Trufant (the brother of NFL CB Marcus) that is making big plays regularity this year (interceptions in the first two weeks of the year, nine other passes broken up, two forced fumbles this year) but is prone to giving up big plays, as well. And Criner isn't the only receiver prospect Trufant will face, as David Douglas (#85/6-1/205/4.64) and junior Texas transfer Dan Buckner (#15/6-3/220/4.57) are also on scouts' radars as potential later-round picks.

6. California WR Marvin Jones (#1/6-2/202/4.53) at UCLA CB *Aaron Hester (#21/6-1/206/4.49)
7:00 pm, Fox Sports Prime Ticket

It is unfortunate this game won't be seen outside of the West, as Jones and Hester should have some good battles. Hester was one of the corners beaten by Criner last week, as he gave up a score by allowing the Arizona receiver to eat up cushion and could not recover in time to prevent a fade into the end zone. Jones isn't quite as big as Criner, but he can be physical and is a superior route-runner. Hester, therefore, will have to prove to scouts his footwork is sound if he is to handle Jones -- and project as an above-average starter at the next level.

7. Purdue DT *Kawann Short (#93/6-3/310/5.22) at Michigan C David Molk (#50/6-2/288/5.18)
12:00 pm, ESPN

Short was the Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week for his work against Illinois (3.5 TFL, 2 sacks), and carries an extra 30 pounds over Molk -- even if a lot in his midsection. Molk may not be the biggest pivot man in the draft, but his ability to block on the move and to anchor against NFL-sized tackles has gained him respect from scouts. Though Short can be a pain for most college interior linemen to handle one-on-one, teams will be interested to see if he can beat a technician like Molk with strong hands on initial contact -- and if he has the, flexibility, change of direction ability, and relentless nature to chase down junior QB Denard Robinson when the speedy runner is not directly in his path. General managers considering him in the second round of the 2012 draft will also like to see how Short looks in the fourth quarter after spending the afternoon pursuing "Shoelace."

8. Arkansas Wide Receivers at Vanderbilt CB Casey Hayward (#19/5-11/188/4.53)
12:21 pm, SEC Network/ESPN3.com

No matter where the savvy Hayward lines up, he's going to be facing a potential NFL receiver because of the depth the Razorbacks have at the position. Arkansas' fastball-throwing QB *Tyler Wilson (#8/6-3/220/4.77) can challenge Hayward's ability to handle the size of Greg Childs (#85/6-3/217/4.56) and *Cobi Hamilton (#11/6-3/209/4.57) down the field -- and his ability to bring them down after the catch. The speed of the fourth-ranked interceptor in the FBS (with five picks this season after grabbing six in 2010) will also be tested if he's covering speedy Jarius Wright (#4/5-10/180/4.34) or Joe Adams (#3/5-11/190/4.38). In the end, Hayward may be battling Wilson most of all, as he is a capable zone defender willing to come off one man to attack passes in his general vicinity if the junior passer is locked onto one of his formidable targets.

9. Illinois LT Jeff Allen (#71/6-4/315/5.26) at Penn State DE Jack Crawford (#81/6-5/273/4.79)
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Allen is an underrated prospect who has a nice chance to show off his balance and fluid movement in pass protection for scouts against another potential mid-round pick in Crawford Saturday afternoon. PSU's tall, long rush end is not an elite prospect by any means, but did assist on two sacks for the Nittany Lions last week in the win over Northwestern and can be a thorn in the side of Illini junior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase if left unchecked.

10. Missouri WRs *T.J. Moe (#28/5-11/195/4.49)/Wes Kemp (#8/6-4/220/4.47)  Texas A&M at CB Coryell Judie (#5/5-11/190/4.48)/Terrence Frederick (#7/5-10/187/4.52)
12:00 pm, FX

Another both teams' coaches will be preaching defense before the game, this one will likely end up just another Big 12 passing shoot-out. Judie and Frederick are two Aggies corners with NFL aspirations, but soph QB James Franklin is capable of finding his multiple targets if given sufficient protection up front. Kemp has a similar size/speed combination to current St. Louis Rams receiver Danario Alexander, though his production hasn't always reflected it since Chase Daniel left Columbia. Moe doesn't look like a big-time playmaker on the hoof, but his crisp routes, underrated quicknessm, awareness in zones, and strong hands making defenses pay for coverage breakdowns. Both Judie and Frederick will fight the larger Kemp on sideline throws and jump balls despite his height advantage, but they must he disciplined in their footwork against Moe or the junior find a seam or leave them behind on a strong cut.

Honorable Mention

Bowling Green WR Kamar Jorden (#19/6-1/203/4.68) at Kent State CB Josh Pleasant (#2/5-10/190/4.41)
1:00 pm, MAC-Sports.com Live Streaming

West Virginia CB Keith Tandy (#8/5-10/199/4.54) at Rutgers WR *Mohamed Sanu (#6/6-2/215/4.57)
3:30 pm, ABC

Oklahoma DE Frank Alexander (#84/6-3/255/4.82) at Kansas State LT Zach Hanson (#70/6-8/303)
3:30 pm, ESPN

Iowa CBs Shaun Prater (#28/5-10/185/4.49)/*Micah Hyde (#18/6-1/185/4.53) at Minnesota WR Da'Jon McKnight (#6/6-1/212/4.54)
3:30 pm, Big Ten Network

West Virginia DE Julian Miller (#97/6-3/268/4.76) at Rutgers LG Desmond Wynn (#70/6-5/295/5.14)
West Virginia LT Don Barclay (#64/6-4/310/5.27) at Rutgers DE Manny Abreu (#51/6-2/260/4.76)
3:30 pm, ABC 

Virginia Tech CB *Jayron Hosley (#20/5-10/172/4.52) at Duke WRs *Conner Vernon (#2/6-1/195/4.53)/Donovan Varner (#26/5-08/175/4.53)
12:30 pm, ACC Network/ESPN3.com 

Wake Forest CB *Kenny Okoro (#6/6-0/190/4.49) at North Carolina WR Dwight Jones (#83/6-4/225/4.53)
3:30 pm, ESPNU

Purdue LT Dennis Kelly (#68/6-8/306/5.32) at Michigan DE *Craig Roh (#88/6-4/269/4.76)
3:30 pm, Big Ten Network

Florida LG Dan Wenger (#56/6-3/295/5.28) at Georgia DT DeAngelo Tyson (#94/6-2/306/5.02)
3:30 pm, CBS

Baylor DT Nicolas Jean-Baptiste (#90/6-2/335/5.06) at Oklahoma State C Grant Garner (#74/6-2/292/5.36)
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Illinois WR A.J. Jenkins (#8/6-0/190/4.49) at Penn State CBs Chaz Powell (#2/6-1/206/4.48)/D'Anton Lynn (#8/6-0/208/4.53)
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Kansas RT *Tanner Hawkinson (#72/6-5/295/5.04) at Texas DE *Alex Okafor (#80/6-4/260/4.62)
7:00 pm, Longhorn Network

Ole Miss DE Kentrell Lockett (#40/6-5/248/4.79) at Auburn LT A.J. Greene (#77/6-5/298/5.18)
7:00 pm, ESPNU 

California DE Trevor Guyton (#92/6-3/280/4.86) at UCLA RT Mike Harris (#65/6-5/326/5.32)
7:00 pm, Fox Sports Prime Ticket 

Mississippi State RB Vick Ballard (#28/5-11/220/4.58) at Kentucky OLB Danny Trevathan (#22/6-0/232/4.68)
Mississippi State DT *Fletcher Cox (#94/6-4/295/4.96) at Kentucky RG *Larry Warford (#67/6-3/336/5.34)
7:00 PM, Fox Sports South

Wisconsin DT Patrick Butrym (#95/6-3/285/5.14) at Ohio State C Michael Brewster (#50/6-4/305/5.17)
Wisconsin OLB *Mike Taylor (#53/6-2/230/4.64) at Ohio State FB *Zach Boren (#44/6-0/252/4.68)
8:00 pm, ESPN

Arizona CB Trevin Wade (#24/5-11/192/4.56) at Washington WR Jermaine Kearse (#15/6-1/208/4.50)
10:30 pm, FSN 

--Contributed by Senior Analyst Chad Reuter  Follow him on Twitter at @ChadReuter

Posted on: October 1, 2011 11:32 am
Edited on: October 1, 2011 12:03 pm
 

Mano-a-Mano, Week Five

In addition to the five players NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Rob Rang mentioned in his weekly preview, you may want take a look at these ten one-on-one 2012 NFL Draft prospect match-ups (plus a few more worth an honorable mention) while perusing this weekend's slate of college football games.

Because players move around based on different formations, these prospects won't go against each other on every snap. Scouts will pay attention when they do, however, because they rely on a player's film against top competition to determine their readiness for the NFL.

All times Eastern.

1. Michigan State DT *Jerel Worthy at Ohio State C Mike Brewster
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN

Scouts hoped that the flashes of talent Worthy showed in his first two seasons portended a break-out 2011 junior year. However, he failed to make an impact in his only game against a BCS-quality team (Notre Dame). Worthy's first step can challenge Brewster, who also needs a big performance for scouts to consider him worthy of a pick in the top half of the draft. But the key for both players comes after initial contact; Worthy will be looking to shed to close on ballcarriers, while Brewster tries to mirror and extend  in order to protect freshman quarterback Braxton Miller when he's in the pocket, as well as when he takes off to utilize his fleet feet.

2. Auburn LT A.J. Greene/RT Brandon Mosley at South Carolina Defensive Ends
3:30 pm, CBS

Mosley started off the year as the Tigers' left tackle, but was replaced by Greene and moved back to the right tackle spot at which he excelled in 2010. Both players will have significant challenges taking on an extremely talented defensive end group for the Gamecocks. They could match up pretty well against 6-foot-7 ends junior Devin Taylor and freshman Jadeveon Clowney, who rely on strength and length to make plays rather than elite speed to turn the corner. Greene will also face end/tackle/linebacker prospect Melvin Ingram, who always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Ingram will attempt an outside rush vs. Greene, but can also take the inside lane -- he'll also move to tackle in passing situations to use his patented spin move.

3. Nebraska DT Jared Crick at Wisconsin C *Peter Konz
8:00 pm, ABC

There are several one-on-one match-ups worth watching when the Cornhuskers take on the Badgers in a prime-time battle of top-ten teams. Scouts will most closely be watching any time Crick, a two-time All-Big 12 pick, and Konz meet in the middle. The Badgers' junior could be the top center selected if he decides to declare due to his mobility (despite having to snap the ball, he pulls outside in front of runs quite often). But Crick's relentless pressure will force Konz and redshirt sophomore left guard Travis Frederick to play through the whistle whether he bull rushes or loops inside or outside into the backfield. Showing a strong anchor vs. Crick in addition to that athleticism at 6-foot-5, 315 pounds could expedite his entrance into the NFL. Other battles in the trenches scouts will be watching: Wisconsin junior LT Ricky Wagner vs Nebraska DE Cameron Meredith, Wisconsin RG Kevin Zeitler vs. Nebraska junior DT Baker Steinkuhler, Nebraska LT Jermarcus Hardwick vs. Wisconsin DEs Louis Nzegwu.

4. Arkansas Wide Receivers va. Texas A&M Coryell Judie/Terrence Frederick (in Arlington)
12:00 pm, ESPN

The Aggies missed Judie in their loss to Oklahoma State last week, as their top corner was out due to a hamstring injury. But even if he's healthy, the Razorbacks face even a bigger challenge with Razorbacks junior quarterback Tyler Wilson throwing to four NFL prospects. Two have great size with Cobi Hamilton and Greg Childs measuring at around 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, and the others sub-4.4 speed in Joe Adams and Jarius Wright. Neither Judie or Frederick hit the six-foot mark, so any time they can outfight Hamilton or Childs (who is still not fully back from a 2010 knee injury) for the ball would be a plus for scouts. NFL defensive coordinators looking at either Aggies corner as a nickel or dime player inside would also like to see them effectively trail Adams or Wright. Consistent hands and yards after the catch are what the Hogs' receivers need to separate themselves not only from A&M defenders, but the overload of mid-round receiving prospects available in this draft. 

5. Alabama LG *Chance Warmack at Florida DT Jaye Howard
8:00 pm, CBS

Reigning SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week Howard is easy to spot - he wears jersey number six despite lining up in the trenches. He has a chance to creep up draft boards with a strong performance against Warmack, who anchors quite well against bull rushes with natural bend and great length for the position. (Also watch how well he blocks on the move.) Howard moves like a linebacker even though he tipped the scales at over 300 pounds over the summer, but needs to improve his hand usage and show multiple pass rush moves to beat Warmack (and senior center William Vlachos, sophomore right guard Anthony Steen) and chase A.J. McCarron and junior Heisman candidate running back Trent Richardson.

6. North Carolina WR Dwight Jones at East Carolina CB Emanuel Davis
8:00 pm, CBS College Sports Network

NFL scouts thought Davis could be one of the tough but wiry non-BCS cornerbacks typically landing in the third round of each draft. He had two interceptions and nine pass break-ups last year for the Pirates, but missed the opener for disciplinary reasons and hasn't made many big plays yet this fall. He'll give up about six inches in height to Jones, who will try to use his 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame on slants and go over the top of Davis if matched up downfield. Davis is not a contact-shy cover corner, but must do more than throw his shoulder into Jones if lined up well off the line to prevent big plays, or else the Tar Heels' big receiver will shed the tackle and eat off a chunk of yards.

7. Clemson NT Brandon Thompson at Virginia Tech RG Jaymes Brooks
6:00 pm, ESPN2

Two 4-0 teams meet in Blacksburg in a potential preview of the ACC Championship Game. Thompson and Brooks are two of their more unheralded players, but NFL scouts will match their battles very closely. Both are stout players, each listed at about 6-foot-2, 310 pounds. Thompson has the athleticism advantage over Brooks, showing the quickness off the snap and hustle to pressure redshirt quarterback sophomore Logan Thomas. The 2010 second-team right guard must not only prove himself agile enough to mirror Thompson in pass protection, but also seal him off to create running lanes for junior RB David Wilson. Brooks will disappoint scouts if he leans on sophomore center Andrew Miller to stop Thompson from disrupting plays.

8. Mississippi State DT *Fletcher Cox at Georgia C Ben Jones
12:00 pm, Fox Sports South/ESPN3.com

Jones is a sturdy four-year starter who is expected to take the same role at the next level but he should not overlook Cox, who flashed athleticism, length and some pop against Auburn and LSU. The 6-foot-4, 295-pound Cox isn't making a ton of plays yet (1.5 tackles for loss, no sacks), but scouts noticed his ability to penetrate in those early games -- especially when he planted LSU left guard T-Bob Hebert in the backfield early in the second half of that contest. Jones will, therefore, need to maximize his athleticism when facing Cox, as well as coordinate the young guards playing on either side.

9. Northwestern DE Vincent Browne at Illinois LT Jeff Allen
12:00 pm, ESPN2

Allen is a four-year starter and 2010 honorable-mention All-Big Ten pick, and his Fighting Illini have gotten off to a 4-0 start this season. Northwestern is the fifth straight team to visit Champaign this fall, but Browne won't be bringing a dish to pass. The 6-foot-5, 265-pounder has just one sack this year, after bringing down the quarterback seven times in 2010. Scouts have concerns about both players' agility on the edge, so if Allen keep Browne from making his typical hustle plays or if Browne can beat Allen off the snap, they may force NFL teams to re-evaluate them.

10. Nevada ILB James-Michael Johnson at Boise State RB Doug Martin
2:30 pm, Versus

I don't include a lot of running back vs. linebacker match-ups in these articles because the battle in the trenches should not be ignored. But Martin really hasn't had a big game yet this season; scouts know he can use his low center of gravity and quick feet to run through tackles if holes are made available to him, but it would be helpful to his draft stock if he proved the elusiveness and vision to make something out of nothing. Johnson is a very intriguing 4-3 Mike linebacker that deserves more pub. His length and athleticism allow him to cover some ground, even outside the tackles. NFL scouts will take notice if he manages to defeat Boise linemen blocks with strong hands, instincts, and speed to keep Martin from reaching the 100-yard mark that has eluded him so far this year.

 

Honorable Mention:
Washington CB *Desmond Trufant at Utah WR *DeVonte Christopher, 7:00 pm FSN
Bowling Green WR Kamar Jorden at West Virginia CB Keith Tandy, 3:30 pm MASN/ESPN3.com
Northwestern CB Jordan Mabin at Illinois WR A.J. Jenkins, 12:00 pm, ESPN2
North Carolina CB Charles Brown at East Carolina WR Lance Lewis, 8:00 pm, CBS College Sports Network
Kent State CB Josh Pleasant at Ohio University WR LaVon Brazill, 2:00 pm, None


--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter -- find him on Twitter @ChadReuter   

Posted on: September 23, 2011 3:43 pm
 

Five prospects I'll be scouting closely Saturday

Each Friday I list my "Five prospects" that I'll be focusing on for the upcoming weekend. 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.

Because I'm scouting them in real time these players make an early impression, often leading to consideration as my Prospect of the Week or Diamond in the Rough.

Sometimes it also leads to the player being featured in Draft Slant , NFLDraftScout.com and CBSSports.com's weekly NFL Draft preview. In each PDF issue of Draft Slant Senior Analyst Chad Reuter breaks down six more players in Filmroom Notes, updates our Top 64 prospects overall and offers extensive previews of the next week's action. Here is the link to this week's issue of Draft Slant. Or for the entire season click this link . Looking for a specific week? Download past issues from the past three years here.

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

QB Ryan Lindley, San Diego State: Throughout Brady Hoke's tenure as the Aztecs' head coach, Lindley demonstrated the live arm and understanding of defenses to help turn around the San Diego State program. Now, with Hoke on the opposite sideline, the pupil will have his opportunity to show up the teacher. Lindley is a bit of a gun-slinger. He's shown a willingness to throw off his back foot and into coverage a bit more than I'd like, but he does possess the size, arm and accuracy to be a legitimate NFL prospect. He currently ranks 8th on NFLDraftScout.com's QB board for the 2012 draft. Michigan isn't loaded defensively, but they are certainly a step up athleticism-wise from anything the Aztecs will see this season. Furthermore, I want to see how Lindley handles the noise and pressure in such a hostile environment.  This game begins at 12:00 pm ET and will be televised by The Big Ten Network.

WR Greg Childs, Arkansas:  Ryan Mallett and Knile Davis received much of the attention last season, but the most consistent performer last season for Bobby Petrino was his high-flying junior wideourt, Childs. Childs, of course, suffered a knee injury that robbed him of any thought of coming out early. He was hobbled early this season coming back from the injury and missed last week's game due to a death in the family. Against what I believe is the best coached and most talented secondary in the country, Childs will definitely have his work cut out for him. However, when healthy, Childs has shown a combination of size, speed and body control to rank as a legitimate top 50 prospect. This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be televised by CBS.

QB Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M: A former wide receiver who only made the switch to quarterback last season after the incumbent starter struggled, Tannehill has made as much progress as an NFL prospect as any player in the country. The improvements he's made in reading coverages, setting up and delivering passes and simply understanding the nuances of Mike Sherman's pro-style attack in less than a full season operating at quarterback have been impressive, leading some scouts to view Tannehill as this year's out-of-nowhere first round pick. Tannehill certainly isn't coming out of nowhere in my mind, nor that of NFLDraftScout.com. We've rated him the top senior QB prospect in the country since August. Tannehill and his Aggies face their first real test this weekend, however, as they host Oklahoma State, who boasts their own legitimate pro QB prospect in Brandon Weeden and his Biletnikof-winning receiver Justin Blackmon. Sure, I want to scout this game because it pits two top ten teams, but don't fool yourself, this is a huge showdown for the quarterbacks. This game begins at 3:30 ET and will be televised by ABC/ESPN.

DE Andre Branch, Clemson: Quite frankly, I wasn't impressed with the play of Florida State's left tackle Andrew Datko in last weekend's game against an athletic Oklahoma defense. Branch boasts the combination of size, strength and speed that could also give Datko troubles, which is why I want to focus on him. Those wanting to see one of the better senior prospects at any position in the country can simply look to Branch's left, as senior defensive tackle Brandon Thompson has been impressive, thus far. In past games that I've wanted to focus on Branch, Thompson has stolen my attention. We'll see if Branch can't steal back some thunder in this exciting ACC matchup. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by ESPN. 

CB Cliff Harris, Oregon: Heisman finalist LaMichael James was the primary reason for Oregon's rise to the BCS Championship game last season, but Harris was arguably the most dominant player on the team, earning All-American honors as a returner and ball-hawking cornerback. His well-documented off-field troubles have hurt his stock, as has his spindly frame (5-11, 168). Harris hasn't seen much time yet this season as he works his way back into head coach Chip Kelly's good graces. The Ducks will be sure that Harris is on the field against an explosive Arizona offense, however, that features their own talented pro prospects in QB Nick Foles and WR Juron Criner. How the slim Harris matches up with Criner (6-4, 215) should give scouts a good idea as to how well he'll handle the bigger, more physical receivers of the NFL. This game begins at 10"15 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN2.

p.s. At the request of some diehard Seahawk fans, I'm also including the QBs to watch this weekend. They are:

Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State visiting Texas A&M. 3:30 pm ET on ABC/ESPN
Landry Jones, Oklahoma hosting Missouri. 8 pm ET on FX.
Nick Foles, Arizona hosting Oregon. 10:15 pm ET on ESPN2.
Matt Barkley, USC visiting Arizona State. 10:15 pm ET on ESPN.*

*As well as Lindley and Tannehill, mentioned above.

Posted on: August 15, 2011 10:23 am
 

Mallett, Ridley impress in Patriots rout of Jags

Over the past few days, I've played catch-up, watching as much preseason tape as possible to get a feel how the rookies played in their first NFL games.

There were some impressive performances from rookies across the league. The Rams may have a young star at tight end in Lance Kendricks. The Seahawks' young right side of the offensive line (RT James Carpenter, RG John Mofffitt) effectively cleared holes against the Chargers. Wideout Dwayne Harris, one of my favorite "steals of the draft," certainly looked the part against Denver in his preseason opener, catching five passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns.

Despite Tom Brady not taking a snap, there were plenty of highlights for the Patriots in a dominating 47-12 victory over the Jaguars. Among them was the play of the team's two third round picks -- former LSU running back Stevan Ridley and Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett.

The Patriots leaned heavily on Ridley, giving the rookie 16 rushing attempts (for 64 yards, two touchdowns) and also completing seven passes to the 5-11, 225 pounder for another 47 yards. Ridley showed enough burst laterally to escape defenders and showed off the leg drive to get the tough yards.

Mallett's stat line is impressive (12 of 19 for 164 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions), but even moreso was Mallett's poise. The rookie played the entire second half and led the Patriots to touchdowns on each of his first four drives.  Of course, the tall quarterback proved that the strong and accurate right arm he had shown while at Arkansas (and previously at Michigan) was very much still there. Mallett took the vast majority of his snaps out of the shotgun, but also showed some mobility in escaping the pocket, even scrambling when the pocket broke down around him. Most impressive, of course, was his velocity. Mallett recognized holes in the defense and zipped passes through narrow gaps. Fans often equate arm strength with the deep ball. Mallett certainly has that skill, as well, but was most impressive about his ability to drive the football was on slants and crossing routes -- critical routes in the Patriots' offense.
 
Posted on: May 4, 2011 8:24 pm
 

Finding the Fits -- Running Backs

Over the next two weeks I will be highlighting a different position each day in an attempt to Find the Fit -- identifying 2011 prospects who are a particularly good schematic fits for the club that selected him. I'll also highlight one player per position who I believe could struggle in his new NFL role. Too often in the past rookies who have struggled in the NFL have done so because they were simply drafted into schemes that didn't fit their individual strengths.

With quarterbacks the focus yesterday , I'll move to the next highest profile prospect on the offensive side of the football with the running backs.

Before I break down a few backs that I believe are great (or in the case of one, troubling) fits with their respective NFL franchises, I did want to point out the statistical anamoly that was last year's running back class. There were 24 running backs selected in 2011 -- exactly double the number of runners who were drafted a year ago. The 12 true running backs selected in 2010 was the lowest total in modern league history.

Anyway, back to the point. Here are a few backs whose fit in their NFL schemes I believe could result in surprising success.

Players are listed alphabetically, not in the order in which I see their fit with their respective teams.

Good Fits:

Jamie Harper, Tennessee Titans: The Titans boasted one of the more exciting 1-2 punches in football just a few short years ago with Chris Johnson and LenDale White. White's penchant for trouble, however, led to his trade to Seattle and ultimately his falling completely out of the NFL. Harper, at 5-11 and 233 pounds, has a similar powerful build as White and might possess the softest hands of any back in this draft.

Roy Helu, Washington Redskins: Mike Shanahan is well known for his ability to find late round diamonds in the rough at running back and in Helu, he may have scored yet another one. Helu is an upright runner who didn't always run with the toughness and physicality some teams would prefer. He does, however, possess the ability to stick his foot in the ground and get downhill quickly. With very good straight-line speed (4.40), he is an ideal fit in Shanahan's zone scheme.

Kendall Hunter, San Francisco 49ers:
The 49ers obviously boast one of the league's best all-around backs in Frank Gore, so Hunter isn't about to win the starting job here. However, the 49ers best back-up to Gore is another powerful runner in Anthony Dixon. Hunter's agility, speed and hands out of the backfield make him a nice fit for the 49ers, especially considering the fact that the sooner they play rookie quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the more likely they are going to need secure outlet receivers.

Jacquizz Rodgers, Atlanta Falcons: Rodgers is in a similar position behind Michael Turner in Atlanta as Hunter is behind Gore in San Francisco. The former OSU standout, however, is actually a very different back than Hunter, though the two are similarly sized. Rodgers is a good fit in Atlanta's drive-blocking, power-base rushing attack. Rodgers, all 5-6, 196 pounds of him, is a surprisingly powerful runner who will score his first NFL touchdown by burrowing his head into the chest of an unsuspecting defensive back rather than dancing around him. How do I know? I've watched him win First Team All Pac-10 honors all three years of his career at OSU. He'll prove a steal at the No. 145 pick.

Daniel Thomas, Miami Dolphins: It is a shame that Thomas' name is last alphabetically, as I believe he could have the most immediate impact of this year's rookie runners and therefore should be more prominently featured. The Miami Dolphins are thought likely to consider adding a significant free agent runner like DeAngelo Williams since they're likely to lose Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, but considering how much emphasis Tony Sparano places on running the football, Thomas could still impress as a rookie. Thomas runs a bit too upright for my taste, but has good vision, is surprisingly agile and possesses good acceleration for a back of his size (6-0, 230). Depending on what the Dolphins do in free agency, you could be looking at a potential Offensive Rookie of the Year in Thomas, who led the Big 12 in rushing yards his only two seasons in the conference. 

Questionable Fit:

DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys drafted Murray to potentially fill-in or replace the big play potential lost whenever Felix Jones is sidelined. While they received better value in Murray in the third round than they did with Jones as the No. 22 overall pick of the  2008 first round, the team could be getting a similarly finesse back who relies on his speed and hands to make big plays, rather than demonstrate the instincts or toughness to be a consistent force. The Cowboys, of course, boast lots of talent in the backfield and won't have to lean on Murray to be a feature back. Murray has fantastic hands out of the backfield and in that way is a nice schematic fit, but in the physical NFC East division, his role could be just that and very little more.
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 19, 2011 12:53 pm
 

Miami Dolphins Draft Preview

MIAMI DOLPHINS

2010 record: 7-9, third place AFC East

2011 draft rundown

  Eight total picks (round): 15 (1), 79 (3), 111 (4), 146 (5), 179 (6), 217 (7), 218 (7), 235 (7)

Top needs:

Running back: With their top three running backs from the past three seasons all free agents - Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams and Patrick Cobbs - there's a clear and obvious need in the offensive backfield. They seem certain to draft a running back in the first few rounds, possibly even at No. 15 overall.

Guard/Center: Only left tackle Jake Long and left guard/center Richie Incognito seem assured of a starting spot after a disappointing 2010 for this unit. Dolphins coach Tony Sparano admitted it was a mistake to keep rotating his interior line last season, so it's possible the Dolphins will spend a first-round pick on help at this important area.

Speed wide receiver: Brian Hartline is a former state champion hurdler in Ohio but he doesn't stretch defenses the way Ted Ginn Jr. once did. Someone like Julio Jones or Torrey Smith would fit nicely opposite Brandon Marshall, allowing Davone Bess more room to roam the middle as well.

Quarterback: Chad Henne has made 27 starts in the NFL but has a losing record (13-14) and lacks the full support of his bosses. The Dolphins have spent their first-round pick on a quarterback just twice in franchise history, and each time they came away with a future Hall of Famer (Bob Griese and Dan Marino).

First round focus

  15th overall

  -- Under head coach Tony Sparano, the Dolphins have built a powerful rushing attack but have had only limited success in their passing game despite the addition of star receiver Brandon Marshall. With their top two running backs scheduled for unrestricted free agency, the Dolphins may be looking to the draft as a replacement for Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. As such, Alabama's Mark Ingram is a popular choice for the Dolphins in mock drafts. Should the team elect to go in another direction, local standout Mike Pouncey would fill a clear area of need in the middle and would be a nice public relations move. The need for size and strength on the interior of the offensive line is especially important for the Dolphins considering that they face three teams operating out of the 3-4 in the AFC East division. Adding a speed receiver to compliment Marshall and to put Davone Bess in his more natural slot position could go a long way in fixing the Dolphins' passing game. On the other hand, should Miami decide that they've seen enough of Chad Henne, the team could opt instead for a new quarterback. Arkansas' Ryan Mallett, Washington's Jake Locker and Nevada's Colin Kaepernick are all thought to be high on the Dolphins' board.

Five names on Dolphins' board

  -- OC Mike Pouncey, Florida
  -- RB Mark Ingram, Alabama
  -- QB Ryan Mallett, Arkansas
  -- QB Jake Locker, Washington
  -- WR Julio Jones, Alabama



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