Tag:Auburn
Posted on: September 23, 2011 10:23 pm
Edited on: September 23, 2011 10:25 pm
 

Mano-a-Mano, Week Four

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 nine  one-on-one 2012 NFL Draft prospect match-ups (plus a few more receiving 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. Vanderbilt CB Casey Hayward at South Carolina WR Alshon Jeffery, 7:00 pm, ESPN2

Hayward faces the same size issue every 5-foot-10, 185-pound college corner does when lining up across from the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Jeffery. But if South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia underthrows or stares down Jeffery while Hayward is in off-coverage (two things Garcia is prone to do), Vandy's next NFL zone/nickel corner will add to his total of ten career interceptions.

2. Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon at Texas A&M Coryell Judie, 3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Although Blackmon doesn't have quite the same size advantage over Judie that Jeffery has over Hayward, Blackmon's thick build, strong hands, and tough running make him no less a threat. Judie and A&M's other senior corner, Terrence Frederick, won't back down and Judie has the ball skills to make Cowboys' 28 year-old passer, Brandon Weeden, rue any poor throws. Hopefully Judie, Frederick, and their coaches watched how Weeden and Blackmon tore apart Nebraska's strong secondary last year with verticals when they did not challenge him physically.

3. Georgia LT Cordy Glenn at Ole Miss DE Kentrell Lockett/Wayne Dorsey, 11:00 am, SEC Network

Another week, another test for Glenn, a 6-foot-5, 350-pound behemoth who is trying to prove to scouts he can stay at tackle in the NFL. He seems to be improving in his lateral agility when protecting sophomore quarterback Aaron Murray's blind side, but Ole Miss' senior DE duo of Lockett and Dorsey won't give him any favors with their length and tenacity on the edge. Dorsey already has two sacks this year, and though Lockett doesn't have a tackle for loss yet, he's slowly working his way back from a knee injury that caused him miss the 2010 season.

4. Florida Atlantic DE Kevin Cyrille at Auburn RT Brandon Mosley, 7:00 pm, Fox Sports South

This could be a break-out game for Cyrille, a 6-4, 275-pound strong-side end, has not receiver a lot of pub as of yet. His production isn't remarkable (6 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 0.5 sack), but he has the NFL body and armspan to test Mosley -- whose move to left tackle was scrapped after the opener.

5. Virginia Tech RT Blake DeChristopher at Marshall DE Vinny Curry, 3:30 pm CBS Sports Network

Scouts know all about Curry, the pre-season favorite for Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year honors. His strength at the point of attack and hustle allow him to chase quarterbacks and corral running backs before they get into the open field. DeChristopher could use a strong performance against Curry whether Marshall's star lines up at five-technique (where he could play in the NFL with a few more pounds) or outside. Curry doesn't have the elite speed off the edge to turn the corner, but DeChristopher must cut off the inside lane to prevent Curry from bulling past him to reach big sophomore quarterback Logan Thomas.

6. LSU RT Alex Hurst at West Virginia DE/OLB Bruce Irvin, 8:00 pm, ABC

Watching the 6-foot-2, 230-pound Irvin take on a massive right tackle like the junior Hurst (6-6, 340) is almost laughable, but that's the job WVU coaches have given him in their 3-3-5 alignment. He has one sack on the year but three TFLs, and is playing a more well-rounded game. Hurst's athleticism will be tested, as well Irvin's stamina and hustle as the game wears on.

7. Louisiana-Lafayette CB Dwight Bentley at Florida International WR T.Y. Hilton, 6:00 pm, ESPN3.com

Two Sun Belt players? Absolutely. Hilton got himself on the national radar with a huge game against Louisville two weeks ago (seven catches, 201 yards with 74, 83-yard TDs). Bentley had three pass break-ups against Oklahoma State in 2010 then picked off OSU twice in this year's season opener. Both are destined to play inside at the next level as sub 5-11, 185-pounders, but expect them to be two of the three or four SBC players likely to be drafted this year.

8. South Dakota LT Tom Compton at Wisconsin DE Louis Nzegwu, 3:30 pm, Big Ten Network

Nzegwu hasn't stood out quite as much as some thought going into the year, but he still has two sacks for the Badgers. Compton's one of the top small-school prospects in this class, but the 6-foot-5, 320-pound must prove he can handle FBS speed to be a mid-round prospect. 

9. Missouri TE Michael Egnew at Oklahoma OLB Travis Lewis, 8:00 pm, FX

Egnew has just six catches for 57 yards and a touchdown in three games, a far cry from the 29 for 257 in the first three games of the 2010 season. He'll need to separate from Lewis and any other linebackers or defensive back the Sooners put on him to get targeted more regularly by sophomore quarterback James Franklin.

Honorable Mention

Kansas State ILB Arthur Brown at Miami RBs Lamar Miller/Mike James, 3:30 pm ESPNU
LSU WR Rueben Randle at West Virginia CB Keith Tandy, 8:00 pm, ABC
Cal Poly CB Asa Jackson at Northern Illinois QB Chandler Harnish, TBA
Florida RB Chris Rainey at Kentucky LB Danny Trevathan, 7:00 pm, ESPN


--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter, follow Chad on Twitter @ChadReuter   

Posted on: September 17, 2011 10:25 am
 

Reuter previews Saturday - Five Matchups to Watch

Each week my fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter has agreed to provide for NFLDraftScout.com/CBSSports.com a listing of his Five On The Spot, as well as the following Five Matchups to Watch.

Chad can also be followed on Twitter @ChadReuter. He and I often comment on the day's games as the action occurs. Should you want to scout "alongside" either of us, simply follow us there.

Five Matchups to Watch:


1. Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins vs. Notre Dame Passing Defense

Cousins' eyes probably looked the size of saucers as he watched the film of Michigan beating Notre Dame's secondary for big play after big play last week. He has the set of fine senior receivers (B.J. Cunningham, Keshawn Martin, Keith Nichol) and tight ends (Brian Linthicum, Garrett Celek) to run rough-shod over the Irish defense in a similar manner unless Irish corners Robert Blanton and Gary Gray proves themselves more capable of playing the ball in the air.

NFL teams know Cousins is able to make throws from the picket, command a huddle, and possesses the agility to bootleg and make short to intermediate throws on the run. His arm strength has never been his greatest asset, however, so this contest gives him a chance to prove he is willing and able to test cornerbacks down the field with well-placed throws to the sideline when his receivers have the one-on-one match-up they desire.

2. Pittsburgh DE Brandon Lindsey vs. Iowa RT Markus Zusevics

Lindsey was part of a strong triumvirate of defensive ends in Pittsburgh the past couple of seasons, at least when Jabaal Sheard and Greg Romeus were healthy. He now stands alone on the strong side, and in this game faces against an underratedly tough and athletic Zusevics.

Lindsey had lined up on the weak side before Sheard headed off to Cleveland in the second round of last year's draft, but the presence of future NFL starting left tackle Riley Reiff will probably keep him battling Zusevics most of the game. Riding Lindsey around the pocket and protecting the inside rush lane will show scouts Zusevics has the potential to be reliable in pass pro at the next level, while Lindsey's strength against the run answers critics' questions about his ability to play on early downs against NFL linemen.

3. Auburn LT Brandon Mosley vs. Clemson DE Andre Branch

Mosley is a former junior college defensive end and tight end who stepped into the starting right tackle spot during the Tigers' BCS championship season last year. Now on the left side, he'll face an explosive group of Clemson defensive ends led by senior Branch.

Although Mosley is quite athletic for his 6-foot-5, 305 pound build, but he'll need to be quick and fluid in his lateral movement and prove his anchor against the surprisingly strong bull rush of Branch and true freshman Corey Crawford (who looks like he could live up to wearing former Clemson star end Da'Quan Bowers' number 93 jersey) if he wants to show scouts he could stay on the blind side in the NFL.

4. Temple LG Derek Dennis vs. Penn State DTs Devon Still/Jordan Hill

Last season Temple defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson opened eyes with his performance against the Nittany Lions, eventually leading him to declare for the draft and be selected in the first round by the New York Jets. Though not likely to be picked that high, Dennis could be the Owl whose draft stock climbs after facing talented Big Ten prospects.

His thick frame, brute strength and fair short-area quickness matches up well against both the highly-regarded, athletic Devon Still and the less-heralded but active and strong junior Jordan Hill. If Dennis can stop the advances of the Still and Hill combination early in the game, the 6-foot-3, 328-pound left guard should be able to wear them down as the contest progresses, just as Alabama's line did last weekend. Temple's tough junior running back, Bernard Pierce, will take advantage of the space Dennis can create.

5. Florida International WR T.Y. Hilton vs. Central Florida CB Josh Robinson

This battle may be a bit under the college football radar, but Hilton's seven-catch, 201-yard, two-score Friday night performance against Louisville last week did get him in the national spotlight. Robinson's talent has also been clear to scouts since he picked off six passes as a true freshman for the Golden Knights in 2009. Now a junior, he faces his strongest test yet in Hilton.

FIU will undoubtedly move their star playmaker around to try and find openings in the UCF defense. But any time Robinson lines up across from Hilton, scouts will watch whether the corner has the speed to trail the receiver effectively as well as fight for the ball or close quickly to dislodge it from Hilton's hands.

Honorable mention
Ohio State C Mike Brewster vs. Miami (Fla.) DTs Marcus Forston/Micanor Regis
Northern Illinois QB Chandler Harnish vs. Wisconsin CB Antonio Fenelus
Stanford WR Chris Owusu vs. Arizona CB Trevin Wade
Arkansas RT Grant Freeman vs. Troy DE Johnathan Massaquoi
Washington RB Chris Polk vs. Nebraska Front Seven

Posted on: September 9, 2011 4:19 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.
RB Vick Ballard, Mississippi State: Ballard served notice immediately against Memphis last week (career-high 166 yards and three TDs) that his first season for the Bulldogs (994 yards, 19 TDs) was no fluke after transferring from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. The sledding will be tougher Saturday against the defending champion Auburn Tigers, which survived a scare last week from Utah State. Ballard has good size (5-11, 220) and power, but still has to answer concerns about his speed. This game begins at 12:20 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN3 and The SEC Network.

DT Devon Still, Penn State:  At 6-4, 310 pounds, Still has the size scouts are looking for and he's shown flashes of dominant ability throughout his career. Still hasn't yet shown the consistency, however, to warrant the hype he's received, however. A strong performance against Alabama Saturday and their potential All-SEC center William Vlachos, himself a late round NFL possibility, would go a long way in boosting Still's stock. This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be televised by ABC.

OT/OG Cordy Glenn, Georgia: A dominant guard throughout much of his career with the Bulldogs, Glenn was asked to move outside to left tackle against an experienced and athletic Boise State defensive front last week and not surprisingly struggled. At 6-5, 345 pounds, Glenn may simply lack the quick feet and balance to remain outside. As I pointed out in my "Big Board," however, I am not willing to move him out of my Top 32 after one poor performance. As good as the Boise front four was, Glenn and the Bulldogs are in for an even tougher test tomorrow against South Carolina's pass rushers. The Gamecocks boast two of the better rushers in the conference in senior Melvin Ingram and rising junior Devin Taylor, who also has a place on my Top 32. I'm looking forward to all of this weekend's games, but from a scouting standpoint, this is the one to focus on. This game begins at 4:30 ET and will be televised by ESPN.

DE Alex Okafor, Texas: Like Still for the Nittany Lions, Okafor has generated more press than production early in his career. It is important to note that unlike Still, Okafor is only a junior and he was miscast last season as a defensive tackle. This season, the 6-4, 260 pounder is back outside rushing the passer. Okafor only registered two tackles last week against Rice, though one of them was a tackle for loss. Okafor will have plenty of opportunities to rush the quarterback against BYU Saturday. The Cougars could give Okafor and the Longhorns more than they bargained for, however, as they are coming off an impressive win last week at Mississippi. This game begins at 7 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN2.

ILB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame: Some believe Te'o will prove to be the first Notre Dame defender to be drafted in the first round since Renaldo Wynn (1997). What is very clear is that Te'o is an instinctive, physical defender very capable of dictating the action in the middle. Against an athletic and versatile Michigan offense, however, Te'o speed to the flanks will be tested. Considering that he finished with 133 tackles last year -- the most from any Irish defender since 1983 -- it wasn't surprising that Te'o led Notre Dame last week against South Florida with nine stops. He'll have to be even better this week if Brian Kelly's group is to get into the win column. This game begins at 8:00 pm EST and will be televised by ESPN. 
Posted on: July 15, 2011 12:15 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 12:23 pm
 

Some surprises in Coaches Preseason All-SEC team

For the purposes of scouting for the NFL, whether a player makes an all-conference team or not is less important than how I personally grade a player off tape, how a player performs in an all-star game, and many other factors.

It is, however, a tool that scouts can and often do use to ascertain which players rival coaches feel are legitimate difference-makers.

This is especially true in the SEC. The reasons are simple. There is a great deal of individual talent in the conference and a high number of the elite talent leaves early for the NFL as underclassmen, often creating quite a turnover on the all-conference list.

The SEC announced their official Coaches Preseason First, Second and Third all-conference lists this week. There were some surprises.

Here were the five that raised my eyebrow...
  1. Alabama cornerback 'Dre Kirkpatrick, a Second Team All-SEC pick last year, only made the Third Team preseason polling this summer. Kirkpatrick, entering his junior season, is considered a potential elite prospect for the NFL and is currently NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated CB for the class of 2013.
  2. True sophomore Aaron Murray from Georgia was named the First-Team quarterback. This is a reflection of two things. For one, Murray flashed some serious talent last year and looks like he could be the next big thing at the position from this conference. Secondly, he has little proven competition. 
  3. Some will find it interesting that defending national champion Auburn and perennial talent hotbed Florida had zero 1st team selections. LSU, another annual contributor to the NFL, had only one player (junior CB Morris Claiborne) make the team. Quite frankly, after reviewing tape this summer of these three teams, I'm not surprised. While the schemes that have made each of these teams successful in recent years remain intact, the plethora of elite talent that had resulted in recent national championships simply isn't there... or at least hasn't proven itself yet.
  4. Don't look now but Steve Spurrier's South Carolina Gamecocks are loaded. They boast four first-team All-SEC picks in running back Marcus Lattimore, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, defensive end Devin Taylor and cornerback Stephon Gilmore. None of whom are seniors. Each looks like a potential high round NFL prospect.
  5. The talent at running back in this conference is staggering. Typically, all-conference teams feature two running backs per team. There must have been a tie among voters, however, as the SEC lists three running backs for the Second-Team (only two for the First and Third teams, respectively). Hard to blame the coaches when you take into consideration the three backs that made the Second Team are Arkansas' Knile Davis, Florida's Jeff Demps and Auburn's Michael Dyer. Each of those who be a shoo-in for First-Team honors in most other conferences, though I agree with the coaches that South Carolina's Lattimore and Alabama's Trent Richardson deserve top-billing. 


Posted on: July 11, 2011 10:42 am
Edited on: July 12, 2011 4:40 pm
 

UGA RB Caleb King opts for Supplemental

University of Georgia running back Caleb King -- once an extremely highly-touted prospect -- will petition the NFL for eligibility into this summer's supplemental draft rather than transfer to a lower division school, according to Seth Emerson's "Bulldogs Blog" of the Ledger-Enquirer.

Emerson cites a person close to King and expects King to make a more formal announcement regarding his decision soon.

King was ruled academically ineligible last week and had been known in scouting circles to be considering making this move. However, after three mostly disappointing seasons on the field for the Bulldogs, he might have been better off showcasing his skills at a lower level. Each of the past two seasons King had been unable to secure the starting tailback job, recording 1,024 yards and nine touchdowns in 10 starts (18 games).

King signed with Georgia rated by recruiting websites as high as the No. 3 prep running back in the country. The 5-11, 219-pounder was often compared to Georgia great Herschel Walker, but saw his game appearances shrink from 11 games as a redshirt freshman in 2008 to 10 in 2009 and eight last year.

His most impressive statistical season came in 2009 when he rushed for 594 yards and seven touchdowns, including two fourth-quarter touchdowns against Auburn (see video below) that helped the Bulldogs beat the Tigers.

As you can see in the video, King has some talent. He has good burst to and through the hole and the lateral agility to elude defenders. What you appear to see on the video below -- but, unfortunately, you rarely see on actual game tape -- is the ability to seperate from defenders. King doesn't have top-end speed. He struggles to get to the edge and is too often caught from behind. Considering he has the size scouts are looking for, however, and is a nice interior runner who is a physical player in pass protection, he does have enough talent to warrant a late-round selection (6th-7th round).

According to Evan Silva of ProFootballTalk.com, King received a 1.60 from BLESTO Scouting and a 4.9 from National Football Scouting. These scores, according to the report, equate to a 6th round and priority free agent grades from the two respective scouting organizations.

Ultimately, teams are likely to struggle with the fact that King wasn't able to ever truly make his mark at Georgia despite multiple opportunities. While he was expected to once again share the load this year, King was in prime position for significant playing time with Washaun Easley, the Bulldogs' leading rusher last year having left the school in May following two suspensions for misbehavior off the field.

King has also struggled with off-field problems. He was not allowed to participate in Georgia's stunning Liberty Bowl loss to Central Florida last year after skipping five academic meetings. He was suspended for two regular-season games earlier in the year for failing to appear in court to deal with a speeding ticket.

While talented enough for teams to consider using a draft pick on, King has his work cut out for him if he is going to be able to convince a club he has the work ethic and maturity worthy of a selection in the supplemental draft (whenever that should come) when there are several other similarly-gifted backs who will be available for signing as undrafted free agents. Teams will ask themselves why give up a pick for King when they could sign Auburn's Mario Fannin, Miami's Graig Cooper or Virginia Tech's Darren Evans (among others).

Despite the talent to be rated higher, King's unreliability is concerning enough that he is currently NFLDraftScout.com's 30th rated running back of the 2012 draft class.





Posted on: June 28, 2011 11:19 am
 

QB Wilson may bring Badgers roses, but not scouts

The Wisconsin Badgers officially signed former North Carolina State standout quarterback Russell Wilson yesterday.

The two-time All-ACC pick was released from his committment to the Wolfpack after he elected to focus on his baseball career. Apparently Wilson, the Colorado Rockies' fourth round pick last summer, hasn't been happy with his development with the Class A Asheville Tourists, where he's played second base and hit a disappointing .228. Because of the fact that he graduated during his four years at NC State, Wilson has one more year of football eligibility remaining and will take graduate classes at Wisconsin. The Badgers and reigning BCS champs Auburn were considered the two favorites to land Wilson, who led the ACC with 3,563 passing yards last season.

At 5-11 and 190 pounds, Wilson's best chance at a pro future might be with baseball. Despite his lack of preferred size for the NFL, however, Wilson is a terrific college quarterback. His statistics and wins against rival North Carolina (3-0 in his career) are impressive, but don't due him justice. Elusive, intelligent and possessing a strong enough arm to take advantage of Wisconsin's aerial targets -- including Nick Toon -- NFLDraftScout.com's No. 4 rated senior wideout for the 2012 draft, Wilson could be a coup for Bret Bielema and his staff. In three seasons as the Wolfpacks' starting quarterback, Wilson threw for 8,545 yards and a nearly 3-1 TD to INT ratio (76 touchdowns with 26 interceptions). In 13 games last season, Wilson completed 58.4% of his passes for 3,563 yards with 28 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He also rushed for 435 yards and nine touchdowns last season.

Wilson's lack of size won't bring NFL scouts crawling out of the woodwork this fall as much as his success on the field might lead one to believe. For the Badgers, however, who were struggling in the spring to find a replacement for Scott Tolzien, Wilson could be the perfect addition. In fact, his addition to the team could make Wisconsin the favorite to repeat as the Big Ten representative in the Rose Bowl.

At this point, Wilson is graded as an undrafted free agent prospect and is NFLDraftScout.com's No. 23 rated senior quarterback in the 2012 draft. 
Posted on: May 3, 2011 8:35 pm
 

Finding the Fits -- The Quarterbacks


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.

Considering their importance to the game and the number of high profile passers who went early in the 2011 Draft, I'm starting off with the quarterbacks.

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

Good Fits:

Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers:
I will be the first to admit that I have not been as high on Kaepernick as many others are, but there is no denying that he was drafted into an ideal scenario with the 49ers and head coach Jim Harbaugh. Kaepernick has rare physical tools, as well as the intelligence and work ethic to be successful. Kaepernick's elongated throwing motion, however, is a concern of mine. I had reservations about it and know that some teams did too. I believe that when a club asks a quarterback to significantly alter their throwing motion it lessens the likelihood of the quarterback ever having success, which is one of the reasons why Kaepernick's fit with an NFL team was so important. The 49ers and Harbaugh, however, don't appear concerned with the hitch in his delivery . Harbaugh is widely credited with developing Andrew Luck's natural talents and preaches an offense that spreads the field and occassionally allows the quarterback the freedom to run -- all of which bode well for the former Nevada passer. Perhaps best of all, as a 2nd round pick, Kaepernick might be afforded the luxury of time to develop.

Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans: Assuming the Titans re-sign veteran Kerry Collins or add another veteran quarterback, Locker is in a position to succeed. Though a four-year starter at UW, he is not yet ready to make the jump into the NFL, as only his final two seasons were in a pro-style offense. His time spent at Washington under then-head coach Tyrone Willingham, was essentially spent as a running back taking snaps from center -- just as it was for him in high school. However, Locker has shown improvement in his technique since the season, leading many to believe that he is just scratching the surface of his potential. Furthermore, he is a nice fit in this scheme. Think about what the Titans do well... They feature the ultra-athletic Chris Johnson on the stretch play. A quarterback capable of bootlegs and play-action off of Johnson's runs will be successful.

Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings: While many jumped on the Christian Ponder bandwagon following the Senior Bowl or the Combine, I've been touting the FSU passer for quite some time and believe that he was the most pro-ready passer in this draft. It doesn't surprise me, quite frankly, that Minnesota head coach Leslie Frazier believes Ponder could be his opening day starter. Ponder has the intelligence to pick up Bill Musgrave's offense quickly, especially since many of Musgrave's West Coast Offensive principles tie in with what Ponder played with at FSU. Though Ponder doesn't have a big arm, his short to intermediate level accuracy, touch down the seam, and confidence in play-action make him a good schematic fit for the Vikings' run-heavy attack and focus on quick screens to take advantage of Percy Harvin's unique talent.

Questionable Fit:

Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers: Okay, you may have seen this coming, considering the fact that many have concerns about how well the No. 1 overall pick will be able to transition from a spread-option offense that was so perfectly suited to his wonderful athletic tools to Rob Chudzinski's multiple-formation, vertical-passing attack. I have no doubt that the Panthers already have a plan in place to cater their offense around Newton's unique skill-set, but this is a complicated scheme for any quarterback to master, much less a rookie. I do not have the concerns about intelligence or leadership that some others seem to have about Newton. I understand the physical comparisonst to Vince Young, but believe the mental toughness Newton demonstrated in fighting through all of the off-field distractions this season more than prove his ability to focus on game-day. I also like the talent around Newton in Carolina -- along the offensive line, running back and at receiver. I just have real reservations about any passer with only one year of starting experience at the D-I level making the jump to the NFL... and unlike the other players mentioned in this post, Newton won't have the luxury of time. The high price and attention of the No. 1 overall pick will almost certainly force the Panthers to play him immediately.
Posted on: April 26, 2011 10:14 pm
 

Cincinnati Bengals Draft Preview

Cincinnati Bengals 2010 record: 4-12, fourth place AFC North

2011 draft rundown - Eight total picks (round): 4 (1); 35 (2); 66 (3); 101 (4); 134 (5); 167 (6); 207 (7); 246 (7)

Top needs:   

Quarterback: With Carson Palmer stating that he is done playing in Cincinnati, the Bengals have to address the position early. Jordan Palmer and Dan LeFevour are on the roster but they have thrown a combined 15 passes in regular-season games and are not the long-term answer. Whoever they draft, it won't be a situation like 2003 where Carson Palmer got to sit for a year and learn the offense. He will be expected to play immediately.

Wide receiver: Cincinnati needs to draft a young playmaker who can stretch the field because Chad Ochocinco, Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell are all entering the final year of their contracts. With Ochocinco's production declining the past three years and scheduled to make $6 million this year, the odds of him being on the opening-day roster are slim. The Bengals haven't drafted a receiver in the first round since 2000 but they have squandered nearly $25 million in free agency the last two years in trying to find someone to line up opposite Ochocinco.

Safety: The Bengals could go into the season with Chris Crocker and Reggie Nelson as the starters (Roy Williams is an unrestricted free agent), but could get caught short for the third straight year due to injuries. They could find a safety or two in the middle rounds but Lewis has already said that the quality in this year's class is not good.

Offensive line: Guard is an immediate need with Bobbie Williams entering the final year of his contract and Nate Livings inconsistent. Depending on if Andre Smith can come back from his third foot surgery since being drafted two years ago, there could also be a need at right tackle. Offensive line coach Paul Alexander has done a solid job developing linemen, but those have been mostly undrafted players.


First-round focus  4th overall -- Like the Buffalo Bills picking immediately before them, the Bengals are in the unenviable position of reading the tea-leaves with their current quarterback. Should the Bengals take Carson Palmer at his word and believe that he will never play for them again, they'll feel the pressure to select either Blaine Gabbert or Cam Newton, should either be available to them at No. 4. If neither is, the Bengals are expected to select Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green with the fourth pick. Not only would he help the Bengals' passing game (and potentially help convince Palmer to come back), he also would provide Cincinnati with some flexibility at the receiver position -- something they need desperately considering the precarious status of their current receiving corps. Alabama's Julio Jones is a more physical blocker and ran faster at the Combine. He is viewed by some as a better in the West Coast Offense due to his size and strength, but isn't nearly as consistent as Jones in the all-important categories of route-running and catching passes with his hands. Though the Bengals have rarely moved on draft day (they've been apart of only three first round trades since 1992), this could be the year to do it. There will be plenty of interest in Green and LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson, as well as Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller should he still be on the board. The Bengals may be forced to trade back into the late portion of the first round if they're unable to trade back from No. 4 as they desperately need a quarterback -- and potentially one who could contribute immediately. Most view Florida State's Christian Ponder and TCU's Andy Dalton as the most pro-ready quarterbacks of this year's draft. There is no guarantee that either will be available when the Bengals select in the second round (No. 35 overall).

Five names on Bengals' board:   
QB Cam Newton, Auburn
QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
WR A.J. Green, Georgia
WR Julio Jones, Alabama
CB Patrick Peterson, LSU

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