Tag:Boston College
Posted on: January 23, 2011 6:00 pm
 

QBs, OTs ones to watch in Mobile

NFL scouts, front office executives and coaches are heading to Mobile, Alabama today to scout every one of the prospects in the 2011 Senior Bowl.

Much of their attention, however, will be focused on two positions -- quarterback and offensive tackle.

As two of the premium positions in today's NFL, quarterback and offensive tackle are typically among the areas to focus on. The 2011 class is especially competitive at these positions, however, making the battles between the top-rated passers and blockers all the more intriguing.

Consider that while Washington quarterback Jake Locker remains a likely first round prospect, I've spoken to scouts whose teams currently rank other seniors just as highly. For some teams, a strong week by TCU's Andy Dalton or Iowa's Ricky Stanzi could vault them ahead of Locker.

The "second tier" quarterback talent available in this draft, in fact, is one of the year's hidden strengths. Considering the risk I see in Locker, Auburn's Cam Newton and Arkansas' Ryan Mallett, it might prove wiser for teams with quarterback needs to look elsewhere in the first round and grab a Dalton or Stanzi (or Devlin, Ponder, Enderle) a frame or two later.

The competition is perhaps even more intense at offensive tackle. Having spoken to representatives from four clubs in the past two weeks about the tackle class, I've yet to find any consensus as to the order they will (or should) be drafted.

If there is a "favorite" it is probably Colorado's Nate Solder. I, however, have serious reservations about his technique, especially against speed rushers. He's expected to work out very, very well and therefore build some momentum as the draft approaches, but he certainly has flaws.

Unfortunately, for teams needing tackles, so too do the other top rated tackles. Boston College's Anthony Castonzo lacks the bulk most teams prefer. He may be the best pass blocking left tackle in the draft, but he's struggled to generate movement in the running game. Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi is the opposite. He can dominate as a drive blocker, but gets too high in pass protection and doesn't have the footwork, in my opinion, to remain on the left side in the NFL. I've rated Mississippi State's Derek Sherrod as the top tackle throughout much of the year, but his wide shoulder, narrow hip makes him top-heavy and therefore inherently vulnerable to bull rushes and good double-moves. He, too, might be best served as a right tackle. USC junior Tyron Smith has the feet and wingspan teams want in a left tackle, but he's quite raw and remains a projection, having played right tackle throughout his abbreviated career with the Trojans.

The beauty of any all-star game is that strong performances there can impact player rankings. 

For this year's Senior Bowl, the rankings of senior prospects - especially at quarterback and offensive tackle -- could wind up completely re-shuffled.
Posted on: December 31, 2010 10:02 pm
 

My Favorite Draft Stories of 2010

The 2010 season has been overrun with stories of scandal, sanctions and distractions from the competition and passion that makes college football great.

So, with so much of the year focused on negative stories that occurred off the field, I thought it appropriate to highlight some of the positive off-field stories, as well.
The following are links to my 10 favorite draft stories of 2010.
 
Did I miss some? I hope so. Feel free to chime in with some of yours too.


These last four stories are obviously not as heart-wrenching or important as the first six. They do, however, serve as reminders as to what is right about college football in a year when so many devoted so much time to what is wrong with it.

On behalf of everyone at NFLDraftScout.com, have a happy and safe New Year!
Posted on: October 15, 2010 1:46 pm
 

5 Senior Prospects to Focus On Saturday

Each weekend I list the five senior prospects I'll be focusing on. These are players who appear to have challenging matchups that will help determine how well they'll be able to make the transition to the pro game.

A noteworthy performance (either positive or negative) can result in the player being profiled in our upcoming edition of Draft Slant, NFLDraftScout.com's weekly PDF file for premium subscribers.

Last week I profiled Michigan State inside linebacker Greg Jones, Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder, Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller, LSU defensive tackle Drake Nevis and UCLA defensive tackle David Carter. Nevis enjoyed a spectacular game against Florida and earned my Prospect of the Week honors. Miller wasn't as impressive as his statline would lead you to believe -- something I went over in detail in the current issue of Draft Slant.

Here are this week's Five to Watch:

OLB Mark Herzlich, Boston College: One could make the argument that Herzlich should be a focus each and every week, considering his amazing recovery from Ewing's Sarcoma. I'm particularly interested in how he does in this game considering the versatility of the Florida State offense and the weather. On the one hand, considering Herzlich's recovery, it may not be realistic to expect that he'll handle the heat and humidity of this game as well as his teammates. However, with the regular season halfway over, scouts have to be sure that Herzlich is getting back into real football shape. This game begins at noon EST and will be televised by ESPN.

RB Delone Carter, Syracuse: Carter has been impressive this season, rushing for 524 yards and five touchdowns so far. That said, his opponents have been less than impressive -- Akron, Washington, Maine, Colgate, South Florida. Without Greg Romeus, this Pitt defense isn't as dominant as we may have expected heading into the season, but Dave Wannestadt will have this team crowing the line of scrimmage to slow down the Orange rushing attack. How Carter handles the extra attention will be key. This game begins at noon EST and will be televised by ESPN.

OT Lee Ziemba, Auburn: Tiger quarterback Cam Newton has been as impressive as any young passer in the country so far this season, but his veteran offensive line, including Ziemba, have been a major contributor to his success. The biggest difference I've noted in the success this year of the Razorbacks hasn't been the improvement of their talented passer, Ryan Mallett, but greater speed and physicality of the Arkansas defense -- especially in the front seven. Ziemba, who isn't a great athlete and may have to move to OG in the NFL, will have his hands full in this contest. How he and his linemates hold up could be the determining factor in one of the best games of the week. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by CBS.

WR Niles Paul, Nebraska: Paul is one of the nation's top senior receivers. In fact, I'm convinced that the versatile athlete (WR/RS) would contend for All-American honors if he played on an offense that featured him. Instead, he's relegated to only a few receptions a game for a Cornhuskers team that has been able to beat teams only running the ball and playing their typical stellar defense. This is a proud Texas Longhorn defense that Paul and his teammates will be facing, so the running may be tough. Paul won't face a better secondary all season long (well, except in practice) than this one -- at least until he earns an invitation to the Senior Bowl. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by ABC/ESPN.

OT Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin: It is only because I list the games in chronological order that I have Carimi placed this low in the post. In reality, his one on one showdown against Ohio State's Cameron Heyward is far and away the best individual matchup of the weekend. If the Badgers can successfully run on the Buckeyes and keep Terrelle Pryor on the sideline, they have a chance to pull off the upset against Ohio State. Heyward will often line up against Carimi. At other times, he'll slide inside a bit and line up against senior guard John Moffitt, himself a solid NFL prospect. It should make for an excellent scouting opportunity for all three prospects, which is why this game is expected to have a dozen or more NFL scouts on hand. This game begins at 7:00 pm EST and will be telvised by ABC/ESPN.



Posted on: October 7, 2010 3:52 pm
Edited on: October 7, 2010 3:59 pm
 

Herzlich has broken hand

Boston College outside linebacker Mark Herzlich broke a bone in his left hand during Tuesday's practice, but is expected to play in Saturday's game against North Carolina State, according to multiple reports.

The Boston Herald reports that Herzlich practiced today (Thursday) but with his hand heavily wrapped.

The blog posting at the Herald focuses on the sprained left ankle of freshman quarterback Chase Rettig that may make him unavailable against the Wolfpack, but in the eyes of NFL scouts, Herzlich's injury is very much more newsworthy.

A broken hand may not seem like a big story, but NFL teams will be wary that Herzlich's recovery from Ewing's Sarcoma (a rare form of bone cancer) may leave him vulnerable to further injuries.

This concern could be magnified with Herzlich's new injury, especially considering that Herzlich broke his right foot during routine drills prior to the start of the season.

For obvious reasons, Herzlich is likely to be the most heavily scrutinized player during the medical testing at this year's Scouting Combine.

Posted on: September 27, 2010 6:00 pm
 

NC State ILB Nate Irving Prospect of the Week

Stop me if you've heard this before -- an award winning ACC linebacker, having overcome life-threatening ailments, makes a triumphant return to the field.

Much has been written about Boston College's Mark Herzlich, who, of course, is back to starring at strongside linebacker after Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, robbed him of the 2009 season.

Much less has been written about NC State inside linebacker Nate Irving, who missed the entire 2009 season after suffering through a horrific car accident that left him with a collapsed lung and broken leg, among other injuries.

Irving looked back to his former self with a dominating performance at Georgia Tech, Saturday. Irving was acknowledged today with the Walter Camp Defensive Player of the Week for his 16 tackle, 4.5 tackle for loss, two sack performance in the team's 48-25 victory.

Some will argue that "Player of the Week" is a misnomer. I don't pretend that I've already scouted every prospect throughout the country and that my choice (Irving, in this case) was unquestionably the best.

However, part of the coverage that we, at NFLDraftScout.com, have provided to our readers as part of our Draft Slant feature, is a Player of the Week. In picking one out each week, I tend to focus on Top 50 senior prospects for this honor and adhere to certain guidelines in terms of the level of competition the player faced.

Player of the Week, along with The Diamond in the Rough (small school prospect), used to be features of Draft Slant . This PDF file can be purchased as an individual issue or one can purchase the entire year (16 issues). Or, if you just want to see an example, you can download this free sample of Week One here .

We thought that the Player of the Week and Diamond in the Rough deserved more acknowledgement, however, and thus, every Monday, I'll post my picks for each award.

Player of the Week - September 25, 2010
ILB Nate Irving, NC State 6-1 / 235 / 4.68 -- opponent: Georgia Tech

Irving's instincts, agility and physicality were all on display in the impressive defensive showing against the Yellow Jackets' triple option offense. Irving stoned B-back Anthony Allen on Georgia Tech's second offensive play from scrimmage and it was a scene that would be replayed over and over throughout the contest. On the play, Irving dipped his shoulder to avoid the oncoming block from the center to take on the 6-0, 232 pound Allen in the hole. For being an undersized linebacker, Irving plays with terrific explosiveness reminiscent of former Florida State standout (and current Philadelphia Eagle) Ernie Sims. Like Sims, Irving has good speed to beat the back to the edge and to catch ball-carriers in pursuit. He is clearly comfortable playing in the middle, locating the football quickly despite his lack of preferred size for the position. Irving's explosive burst is also evident when Irving is allowed to rush the passer. Irving was simply too quick for Georgia Tech's offensive line on multiple occasions, Saturday. This despite the fact that the Yellow Jackets feature smaller and generally more athletic offensive linemen than most teams. The concern with Irving is that he is very aggressive and will attack the line of scrimmage, presenting big play opportunities for the offense when he reads incorrectly. Irving flashes an physical pop when forced to take on blockers, but prefers to elude them, showing good flexibility and agility in doing so. Unlike many athetic linebackers, Irving doesn't rely on just his athleticism. He shows good hand technique, including a swim move to avoid blockers, which he used on several occasions when rushing the passer. Irving rarely blitzed, but burst upfield when he saw that 'Tech quarterback Josh Nesbitt was beginning to get happy feet after scanning the field for a receiver. An explosive hitter, scouts would nonetheless like to see Irving wrap up ball-carriers more securely. At times, the athletic linebacker likes to lead with his shoulder. This resulted in some big pops Saturday, but NFL runners will be able to shrug off some of his hits.
Posted on: September 25, 2010 3:37 pm
 

Herzlich plays well, whole game vs. VTech

The inspiritational tale of Boston College outside linebacker Mark Herzlich began a new chapter Saturday with his starting -- and finishing -- his first conference game after missing the entire 2009 season while recovering from Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer of that strikes approximately two out of a million people under the age of 30.

Herzlich's ability to play at all is inspritational in itself. But while anyone with a heart is happy to see him returning to health, NFL scouts get to shift their attention to how well he's playing.

Herzlich wasn't the same dominant player against the Virignia Tech Hokies Saturday that earned the 2009 ACC Defensive Player of the Year. He was, however, considerably improved in terms of his conditioning and overall play than in his first two games for the Eagles.

Starting at his traditional strongside linebacker position, Herzlich showed some burst as a pass rusher, good strength in taking on and shedding blocks against the run and both athleticism and instincts while in pass coverage. Perhaps the most encouraging component of Herzlich's game was the reckless abandon with which he played. Herzlich was flying around the field Saturday, even leaving his feet to dive over the top of pass blockers to get into passing lanes.

Herzlich defended two passes, recording the ninth interception of his career in the 4th quarter. He was also in on a host of tackles. Most impressively, Herzlich made the plays that don't show up in the stat books, taking on blocks to funnel the action back inside and covering enough ground in pass defense to force Virginia Tech passer Tyrod Taylor to look elsewhere on multiple occasions.

Herzlich's Eagles lost to Virginia Tech 19-0 -- but there was definitely a silver lining in this game.

With nine more regular season games to go, here's hoping that Herzlich's game to game improvement continues.
Posted on: September 24, 2010 11:08 pm
Edited on: September 25, 2010 1:06 pm
 

Five prospects I'll be scouting closely

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on: August 21, 2010 2:40 pm
 

Best to temper expectations for Herzlich/Cooper

The advances in medicine, technology and rehabilitation of athletes has grown exponentially over the past ten years. So much so, that it is often easy to expect too much too soon of athletes recovering from severe injury.

I'm as guilty of it as anyone. I placed Boston College outside linebacker Mark Herzlich in my initial 2011 first round mock draft * before he'd taken a single snap following his successful recovery from Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.

Herzlich and Miami running back Graig Cooper -- who is attempting to play this season despite suffering a torn ACL in his right knee only six months ago in the Champs Sports Bowl -- are inspirational stories. Their dedication and spectacular talent make them two of the easiest players in the country to root for.

Herzlich, as has been widely reported , is already struggling in his return to the field. It isn't the cancer -- he recently underwent tests to confirm the cancer is gone and passed -- but a fractured right foot that is now the problem. It had been incorrectly reported elsewhere that Herzlich's broken foot was somehow connected to the cancer that had been discovered in his left leg. That isn't the case his mother, Sandy, told Steve Conroy of BostonHerald.com. 

Conroy quotes Herzlich's mother as saying, "The two (the cancer and the broken foot) are completely unrelated."

Still, the broken foot has kept Herzlich off the field. He hopes to return to the practice field the week before Boston College opens their season against Weber State September 4. The Eagles coaches will no doubt be anxious to reward Herzlich for his dedication with early playing time, but it simply isn't realistic to think he is going to step onto the field and immediately revert back to the form that helped him capture the 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Similarly, it isn't fair to assume that Miami's Cooper will have the same speed and agility this year that he'd shown throughout his impressive career with the Hurricanes. While Cooper has remained adament that he plans to play in every game this season, Miami coaches are still easing him into practice. Cooper, according to reports , has seen time on the practice field, but is limited to drills and has not participated in any true scrimmaging.

Prior to their injuries, these two ACC stars would have ranked among NFLDraftScout.com's top 32 seniors for the 2011 draft. Perhaps they'll prove - with time - worthy of that grade again.

But for now, let's simply acknowledge the spectacular recovery each has already shown and be sure that our expectations for their play in 2010 is realistic.

* One editor's note on my initial 2011 mock draft linked to above. While the date on the article says July 12, in actuality I wrote this within 48 hours of the conclusion of the 2010 draft. With significantly more scouting completed since that time, there are plenty of updates that will soon be made.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com