Tag:Big 12
Posted on: June 7, 2010 7:25 pm
 

Only 4 realistic options for No. 1 entering 2010

The two scouting organizations that most NFL teams rely on for off-season scouting of college prospects -- National Scouting and BLESTO -- held their annual spring meetings just a few weeks ago. From these meetings come the rankings of senior prospects which NFL teams then use as a "starting point" from which to narrow the field of tens of thousands of collegiate players who would love an opportunity to play professional football to the relatively low number of 1,000 (or so) senior players who actually have enough athleticism and size to warrant taking a closer look.

Though much will be made of the player(s) who earn the highest preseason grades, take the cautionary tales of former top-rated prospects Michael Johnson (3rd round), Greg Hardy (6th round), Quentin Moses (3rd round) -- athletic pass rushers who slipped to mid rounds or later after disappointing senior campaigns.

The 2010-11 reports haven't yet made the rounds. However, after a beginning my scouting of senior prospects for the 2011 draft, there are only four players that I feel deserve consideration for the right to be called the "best senior prospect" entering next season.

Considering that the first eight players selected in the 2010 draft came from the Big 12 or SEC, these traditional powerhouse conferences could take a step back this year.... at least in terms of producing extremely highly rated preseason senior prospects.

Washington quarterback Jake Locker is my highest rated prospect. As I mentioned in this introductory 2011 article , however, Locker is far from the sure thing he's been labeled by some. We all know that quarterbacks often end up being selected No. 1 overall due to the value of the position, but for the National and BLESTO rankings, position value isn't necessarily taken into account. I'd be surprised, quite honestly, if Locker is the top-rated senior prospect for either organization.

The most NFL-ready of the top prospects and the player I believe to be the likeliest to have earned the top billing is Ohio State defensive lineman Cameron Heyward . Explosive enough to play defensive end and large enough to project inside at defensive tackle, the late Ironhead Heyward's son really came on down the stretch last season and due to his size and athleticism will be viewed by some as possessing unparalled upside.

It would be a bit ironic if Heyward earned the top mark in either list as another Big Ten defensive lineman, Iowa's Adrian Clayborn was unquestionably the better, more consistent player in 2010. At 6-3, 285, however, Clayborn may lack the size and upside NFL scouts require for a supremely high grade at this time. History has proven that the National and BLESTO scouts have often been more interested in elite athletes with a high upside rather than consistent football players.

Due to the upside conversation, yet another Big Ten standout has a chance to be the surprise top senior prospect. Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi has been compared to Joe Thomas since he arrived on campus. Though he's prone to mental lapses, there is no denying the 6-8, 315 pound Carimi has the athleticism to handle the blindside in the NFL. His fluidity and aggression could result in a high grade -- though he'll need to play with more consistency to ultimately earn this high of a draft selection.




Posted on: December 7, 2009 6:22 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2009 6:25 pm
 

No surprise -- Clausen, Tate, Briscoe leave early

The news that Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen and wide receiver Golden Tate and Kansas wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe have elected to come out after their junior seasons and head to the NFL is not at all surprising. Each is gifted enough athletically to warrant at least second round consideration and, more importantly, none have a head coach in place to try to convince them to return for their senior season.

In fact, as I pointed out in last week's issue of Draft Slant , you can expect more -- perhaps a record-breaking number -- of underclassmen to come out early. There are several reasons to expect such a large exodus.
  • If no new agreement is made in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, as is widely expected, we can expect that the new one will contain a rookie cap. NFL owners have long grumbled (publicly and privately) that too much money is being spent on unproven rookies. Agents are telling underclassmen that if they want the big rookie contract they'll need to leave now -- and in some examples, they're right.
  • As has been widely reported, the NFL has had an ongoing battle with many of college football's BCS conferences and companies XOS Technologies and DVSports, two companies that digitalize the teams' game film from these conferences. The SEC, Big 12 and Pac-10 are among the conferences that have not yet provided NFL scouts with film. Underclassmen have until mid January to decide if they want to leave school early. Unless an agreement is made soon, NFL scouts simply won't have enough time to grade junior (and redshirt sophomore) film. Therefore, the NFL Advisory Committee, as we've come to know it, may not be able to exist properly. Players with marginal pro grades, but inflated media hype, may come out soon only to fall stunningly far on draft day.
  • Finally, the high profile injuries of Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford and Jermaine Greshman is certain to push out some players. Some, for example, will make the argument that a player like Cal junior running back Jahvid Best should go for the "guaranteed" money now, rather than return for his senior season. One more concussion, some would argue, could ruin his chances for a Top 100 grade.
Expect to see as strong an influx of underclassmen entering the 2010 NFL Draft as we've ever seen... an influx that should make this a uniquely talented class.



Posted on: October 10, 2009 4:01 pm
 

Okung battles, beats Big 12 sack leader Miller

One of the reasons I was particularly intrigued with Oklahoma State left tackle Russell Okung's play today was that he'd be matched up with speed rusher Von Miller, the Big 12's leading pass rusher this season.

Miller, a 6-3, 240 pound junior who projects best as an outside linebacker at the next level, has posted 9 sacks over his first four games, ranking among the elite totals across the entire country.

At nearly 70 pounds more than Miller, I expected Okung to struggle with the Aggies' speed. He did. Okung lacks the elite explosiveness off the snap that typifies most offensive tackles drafted in the top ten. He does, howeve, compensate well with a deep kick-step, long arms and good balance to re-direct.

On this day Miller beat Okung to the outside on several occasions and occasionally was able to catch the big man leaning outside and spinning back inside to generate pressures. However, at the end of the day, Okung kept his passer's jersey clean, not allowing a sack to Miller and limiting him to only a handful of tackles (4 thus far).

As one would expect from a tackle with this kind of size advantage, Okung consistently knocked opponents (Miller and others) off the ball. Okung has been unfairly characterized as a finesse blocker perhaps because of the backlash that comes from Oklahoma State's spread offense. In reality, he is quite physical at the point of attack, using his hands well to engage the defender and generating good push. Again, his lack of elite athleticism shows up when blocking on the move, but while a bit of a plodder, Okung keeps his feet and tracked secondary level defenders effectively. On many of the Cowboys' best running plays, Okung had released to the second level and eliminated the linebacker, often pancaking them.

Okung may not have the unique athletiticism of a Jason Smith or Michael Oher, but he's the most impressive senior offensive tackle I've scouted this year. I feel confident in our high to mid first round grade on him.

 
 
 
 
 
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