Tag:Justin Blackmon
Posted on: September 8, 2011 3:36 pm
 

WR showdown tonight loses luster without Criner

While many of the football-loving community is eagerly anticipating the kickoff to the NFL season tonight, there are sure to be plenty of scouts focusing on another game -- the showdown between two of the most explosive offenses in college football in Arizona and Oklahoma State.

One of the primary reasons for scouts attending the game in Stillwater this evening was to watch Wildcat wideout Juron Criner. Unfortunately, rather than be able to compare and contrast him to Cowboys' star Justin Blackmon, scouts will have to focus their attention elsewhere, as Criner did not make the trip due to an "illness."

The 6-4, 215 pound Criner missed about a month of off-season workouts this past year dealing with "personal and family issues," according to Arizona head coach Mike Stoops. However, when he returned to the practice field, onlookers reported that he looked fit and every bit the playmaker he'd been in the past. Last season Criner enjoyed one of the greatest seasons in the school's history, catching 82 passes for 1,233 yards and 11 touchdowns and earning First Team All Pac-10 accolades.

He seemed ready to put all of the distractions behind him with a strong opening performance last week, as well, catching six passes for 151 yards and a touchdown against Northern Arizona. Criner's impressive stat line was enough to earn him a spot on my fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter's Risers list for the first week.

While Criner's play last week was impressive, the ambiguity of his malady and absence from this game will cause scouts to question exactly what is going on with the Arizona wideout.

There are plenty of rumors circulating as to why Criner mised so much off-season time. Whether this latest absence has anything to do with his previous departure from the program will almost certainly be a question scouts ask when they see him next -- whether that be on campus, at a post-season all-star game or at the Combine.



Posted on: June 20, 2011 1:38 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 6:17 pm
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Posted on: May 26, 2011 12:51 pm
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Posted on: February 11, 2011 2:37 pm
 

Amukamara surprised his speed is in question

I spoke to Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara yesterday in preparation for an upcoming feature for NFLDraftScout.com . He was very open and honest as to why he elected not to play in the Senior Bowl, how difficult it was to remain at Nebraska when they asked him to switch from running back to cornerback and what happened on the 80-yard touchdown reception he gave up to Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon.

Perhaps his most interesting comments, however, came when I asked him he wasn't focusing a great deal of his pre-Combine training on the all-important 40-yard dash.

"I realize the importance of the 40," Amukamara told me, "I just don't anticipate any problems in that area. My speed has never been an issue before and I don't expect that it will be now either."

It is that kind of confidence one might expect from the All-American, who cited his record-breaking track career at Apollo High in Arizona as one of the reasons why he might be a little better prepared than some athletes for the Combine.

Amukamara won the Class 4A state titles in both the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes in 2007. His times in the 100 (10.78) and 200 (21.91) were both the fastest of any high school track athlete in Arizona.

Amukamara is working out at Athletes Performance in Tempe, Arizona in preparation for the upcoming Combine. He is planning to participate in every drill there.
Posted on: February 7, 2011 1:24 pm
 

Prince Amukamara plans to do all Combine workouts

Like his former Nebraska teammate Ndamukong Suh, Prince Amukamara is not going to rest on his laurels at the Combine. He plans to participate fully, according to source close to him.

The 6-0, 205 pound Amukamara turned down an opportunity to partipate in the Senior Bowl, but his level of play wasn't questioned. The All-American provided lock-down coverage and physical run support in 2010. Like Suh, Amukamara entered the  year as the top-rated senior prospect by several scouting organizations, including National Football Scouting which helps NFL teams coordinate the annual Combine and NFLDraftScout.com.

Despite his reputation, Amukamara has a lot riding on his workout. Questions about his true speed have been rampant ever since Oklahoma State redshirt sophomore Justin Blackmon beat him for five catches, 157 yards and two touchdowns in a showdown between the two stars October 23. See the video here.

Getting beaten by Blackmon, who won the Biletnikof Award as a redshirt sophomore, is hardly a reason for shame. Amukamara had provided his typically stellar coverage for most of the game, but was beaten for an 80-yard score in the second quarter when Blackmon fooled him with a slow release, before bursting upfield. Earlier in the game Blackmon had beaten Amukamara downfield on a go-route, forcing a pass interference penalty from the Nebraska cornerback. With college rules, the penalty gave the Cowboys 15 yards. In the NFL, of course, the penalty would have been for the yardage lost by the interference -- a difference of 35-40 yards.

Blackmon is a savvy route-runner with deceptive speed, but isn't expected to run in the 4.4s. The fact that he was able to get deep on Amukamara consistently is a concern. The two other big corners expected to be first round picks -- Peterson and Colorado's Jimmy Smith -- did not have a game this season in which they struggled as much as Amukamara did against Blackmon, making their respective speed in workouts potentially less important to their final stock.

With a strong showing in Indianapolis, Amukamara could all but lock up a spot in the top ten and perhaps even the top five. Some teams, in fact, like Amukamara more than Peterson. A poor showing, however, and he could slip behind Peterson and Smith and into the mid teens. I currently have Amukamara pegged to go to the Houston Texans with the 11th pick of the draft.

After scouts had questioned his competitiveness with the decision to not play in the Senior Bowl, they'll be pleased by his decision to participate fully at the Combine.

For the very best in NFL Draft content, be sure to keep the page refreshed at NFLDraftScout.com.
Posted on: December 29, 2010 1:15 pm
 

Prospects aplenty in today's bowl games

My fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter does a nice job of breaking down the prospects in today's bowl games in this article , but I wanted to take a few moments to highlight a few others in today's trio of bowl games.

The most exciting prospects on the field for East Carolina and Maryland in today's Military Bowl happen to play the same position in receivers Dwayne Harris (ECU) and Torrey Smith (Maryland).

Kenny Tate , a junior free safety who has made some splashy plays this season and could be peeking ahead to the NFL, will have Harris in his sights.

For those looking for a sleeper in this contest, keep an eye on East Carolina left tackle Willie Smith . His athleticism is intriguing.

By listing Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor in my current first round mock draft , you probably get the idea of how high I believe Taylor is viewed by pro scouts. The 6-4, 340 pound defensive tackle projects nicely in the 4-3 and 3-4 scheme which could see him drafted higher than infinitely more famous DTs Stephen Paea and Drake Nevis.

In the Texas Bowl, however, I'll be focusing on a trio of Illinois underclassmen, all of whom are very much exploring their draft options.

Inside linebacker Martez Wilson jumps off the tape. He's the most exciting combination of size (6-4, 250) and athleticism of any draft-eligible inside linebacker I've scouted this year. He remains a work in progress in terms of instincts, but is one of the few senior/junior ILBs I see as a potential standout in the NFL.

Wilson is certainly helped by up front by one of the faster rising DT prospects in the country in Corey Liuget . The 6-3, 300 pounder is starting to blossom and earned Second Team All-Big Ten accolades this year with 54 tackles, 8.5 TFL and 3.5 sacks.

Running back Mikel LeShoure is one of a host of backs fighting to be ranked second behind Alabama's Mark Ingram as possible 2011 franchise runners. His thick frame and surprising burst could help him achieve that status.

Finally, in the Arizona-Oklahoma State showdown of the Alamo Bowl, I'll can't wait to see these two high-powered offenses go at it. There are a host of prospects to watch (including some guy named Blackmon), most of whom Chad highlighted in his preview (again, the link is here ) but one he mentions just in passing is Wildcat receiver Juron Criner , a 6-4 210 pound vertical threat that star quarterback Nick Foles targets often. I'm not as high on Criner (or Foles, for that matter) that some others seem to be, but each is considering making the jump to the NFL and therefore I'll be watching them closely tonight -- as should you.


Posted on: November 30, 2010 12:28 am
 

AFCA All-American Team Announced

As an NFL draft analyst, I'm not always a big fan of All-American teams. All too often, members of the media voting on these awards concentrate solely on statistics or players from national title contending teams.

For this reason, the All-American team I've traditionally found to be the fairest is the one annually produced by the AFCA -- the American Football Coaches' Association.

As the article from the official AFCA website notes , coaches have been compiling this list since 1945.

2010 AFCA Coaches’ All-America Team
Offense
Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. School Coach Hometown (High School)
WR Justin Blackmon 6-1 205 So. Oklahoma St. Mike Gundy Ardmore, Okla. (Plainview)
WR Alshon Jeffery 6-4 233 So. South Carolina Steve Spurrier St. Matthews, S.C. (Calhoun County)
TE Lance Kendricks 6-4 241 Sr. Wisconsin Bret Bielema Milwaukee, Wis. (Rufus King)
OL Lee Ziemba 6-8 319 Sr. Auburn Gene Chizik Rogers, Ark. (Rogers)
OL Rodney Hudson 6-2 282 Sr. Florida St. Jimbo Fisher Mobile, Ala. (B.C. Rain)
C Chase Beeler 6-3 285 Sr. Stanford Jim Harbaugh Jenks, Okla. (Jenks)
OL Stefen Wisniewski 6-3 306 Sr. Penn St. Joe Paterno Bridgeville, Pa. (Pittsburgh Central Catholic)
OL Gabe Carimi 6-7 327 Sr. Wisconsin Bret Bielema Cottage Grove, Wis. (Monona Grove)
QB Cam Newton 6-6 250 Jr. Auburn Gene Chizik College Park, Ga. (Banneker)
RB Kendall Hunter 5-8 200 Sr. Oklahoma St. Mike Gundy Tyler, Texas (John Tyler)
RB LaMichael James 5-9 185 So. Oregon Chip Kelly Texarkana, Texas (Liberty-Eylau)

Defense
Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. School Coach Hometown (High School)
DL Da’Quan Bowers 6-4 275 Jr. Clemson Dabo Swinney Bamberg, S.C. (Ehrhardt)
DL Adrian Clayborn 6-4 285 Sr. Iowa Kirk Ferentz St. Louis, Mo. (Webster Groves)
DL Jabaal Sheard 6-4 260 Sr. Pittsburgh Dave Wannstedt Hollywood Hills, Fla. (Hollywood Hills)
DL Ryan Kerrigan 6-4 263 Sr. Purdue Danny Hope Muncie, Ind. (Central)
LB Luke Kuechly 6-3 235 So. Boston College Frank Spaziani Cincinnati, Ohio (St. Xavier)
LB Greg Jones* 6-1 240 Sr. Michigan St. Mark Dantonio Cincinnati, Ohio (Archbishop Moeller)
LB Tank Carder 6-3 237 Jr. TCU Gary Patterson Sweeny, Texas (Sweeny)
DB Reggie Rembert 5-8 185 Sr. Air Force Troy Calhoun Flower Mound, Texas (Flower Mound)
DB Patrick Peterson 6-1 222 Jr. LSU Les Miles Pompano Beach, Fla. (Ely)
DB Prince Amukamara 6-1 205 Sr. Nebraska Bo Pelini Glendale, Ariz. (Apollo)
DB Quinton Carter 6-1 200 Sr. Oklahoma Bob Stoops Las Vegas, Nev. (Cheyenne)

Specialists
Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. School Coach Hometown (High School)
P Kyle Martens 6-6 200 Jr. Rice David Bailiff Spearfish, S.D. (Spearfish)
PK Will Snyderwine 5-11 190 Jr. Duke David Cutcliffe Potomac, Md. (Landon School)
AP Owen Marecic 6-1 244 Sr. Stanford Jim Harbaugh Tigard, Ore. (Jesuit)


Posted on: November 26, 2010 1:03 pm
 

Five Prospects I'll be Focusing on This Weekend

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.

Even more often, however, it 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 and I break down six more players in Filmroom Notes, update our Top 32 prospects overall, Top 10 per position, Risers/Fallers for multiple games and offer extensive previews of the next week's action. I boast about our product for a simple reason: Having seen everything else out there - it is the most complete weekly NFL draft guide on the planet. 

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 Cam Newton, Auburn : Newton has been dazzling this season and could lock up the Heisman Trophy with a strong performance against Alabama. More importantly to those of us eager to see how well he'll translate his game to the NFL is how well Newton is able to decipher the exotic blitz and coverage schemes Nick Saban and his staff have devised. In terms of Newton's pro stock, this is the most important regular season game of his life. This game begins at 2:30 pm EST Friday and will be televised by CBS.

CB Jimmy Smith, Colorado : The Buffs don't get a lot of national exposure considering their struggles recently, but this important Big 12 showdown against Nebraska will pit Smith, one of the top senior cornerbacks, against a receiver in Nebraska's Niles Paul every bit his match in terms of size and athleticism. The Cornhuskers, of course, rely mostly on their running game and should be able to do so again Friday to beat an overmatched Colorado team. How Smith is able to keep up with the multi-talented Paul, however, should give scouts a good idea as to how the 6-2, 205 pound Smith will be acclimate to the speed of the NFL. I've spoken to scouts who have compared Smith to former Pro Bowler Chris McAlister. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST Friday and will be televised by ABC/ESPN.

DE/OLB Dontay Moch, Nevada: The pre-game hype will focus on the offense, but it could be whatever defense shows up in the Boise State-Nevada showdown that gives their team the victory. Moch enters this game as the country's active career leader with 60.5 tackles for loss. The 6-1, 242 pound Moch lines up as a defensive end for the Wolfpack, but projects best as a standup pass rushing OLB in the NFL. Moch wowed scouts in the spring by clocking in at 4.25 seconds in the 40-yard dash, but there are concerns that Moch is overly reliant on his speed. While fast in a straight-line, scouts are more interested to see how well he changes directions. Moch won the WAC Defensive Player of the Year as a junior (61 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks) and is on pace to exceed those totals this season (52 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, 8 sacks). This game begins at 10:15 pm EST Friday and will be televised by ESPN.

QB Jake Locker, Washington: The Huskies have struggled with teams that are more physical on the offensive and defensive lines than they are and that is precisely what awaits them Saturday against Cal. Washington and California are each fighting for their bowl lives and the Golden Bears have revenge on their side after the Huskies trounced them 42-10 last season in Seattle. Locker entered the year rated by most (including me) as the No. 1 prospect in the country based largely on how he played down the stretch last season. His best game was his last one -- againt California -- in which he completed 19 of 23 passes for 248 yards and three TDs (0 INTs) and ran for another 77 yards and two scores. A performance like that would almost surely result in a win for the Huskies and spot back in my first round projection. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST Saturday and will be televised regionally by Fox Sports.

WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State*: With the three top-rated teams in the country playing on Friday, there hasn't yet been a great deal of focus on this year's Bedlam rivalry outside of the state of Oklahoma, but it's coming -- after all, the Big 12 South division title is riding on this game. This game features two of the elite young receiver prospects in the country in Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles and Blackmon -- the favorite to win the Biletnikof Award as the nation's best at the position. Blackmon has been spectacular this season, catching an eye-popping 94 passes for 1,560 yards and 17 touchdowns. It is his consistency that has been perhaps most impressive. Blackmon has caught at least five passes for at least 125 yards and one touchdown in every game he's played this season (he missed the Kansas State game). A redshirt sophomore, Blackmon is eligible to leave OSU early for the NFL. He hasn't faced a secondary as talented as Oklahoma's yet this season, so this game provides scouts an excellent opportunity to see him matched up against quality athletes and a sound defensive scheme.  This game begins at 8:00 pm EST Saturday and will be televised by ABC/ESPN. 


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