Tag:LaMichael James
Posted on: December 16, 2010 7:10 pm
 

Ole Miss' Bolden among young RBs checking stock

The annual migration of junior and redshirt sophomore running backs to the NFL may begin with Mississippi's Brandon Bolden, who according to this report from Kyle Veazey of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, has requested a grade from the NFL Advisory Committee.

Bolden flashed on tape last year as a complimentary option behind Dexter McCluster. This season Bolden emerged as the Rebels'best running back, rushing for 976 yards and 14 touchdowns for an offense that struggled with consistency. Despite his production, some will be surprised that Bolden is looking into his pro grade. He certainly hasn't generated the hype of a Mark Ingram or LaMichael James.

Just because Bolden requested his grade does not mean, of course, that he'll elect to leave school early. While the 5-11, 225 pound Bolden has a combination of agility, speed and power to translate well at the NFL level and has proven successful against top SEC competition, pro teams are going to be as hesitant as ever to invest high round picks in running backs when two undrafted free agents -- the Bucs' LeGarrette Blount and the Saints' Chris Ivory -- have been more impressive this season than any of the other rookie runners, including first rounders C.J. Spiller (Bills), Ryan Mathews (Chargers) and Jahvid Best (Lions).

This fact may cause NFL teams to push running backs down the board, but don't expect it to slow down the exodus of underclassmen runners. In fact, with a relatively weak class of seniors, some league insiders believe we could see several young running backs enter the 2011 draft.

Rumors are swirling around Ingram, Illinois' Mikel LeShoure, Cal's Shane Vereen, Oregon State's JacQuizz Rodgers, UCONN's Jordan Todman, and Clemson's Jamie Harper as junior backs who may make the jump. Even some lesser known junior runners like Eastern Washington's Taiwan Jones are looking into their options.

Redshirt sophomore like James, Virginia Tech's Ryan Williams and Washington's Chris Polk are also expected to request grades.

The reason behind their moves is simple. Running backs absorb so much punishment that they're wise to begin earning money for their production as soon as possible.

As is always the case, any underclassmen considering making the jump to the pros should only do so after first consulting with the NFL Advisory Committee.

As always, remember that for complete draft coverage, be sure to check out NFLDraftScout.com or simply click here.

Posted on: December 11, 2010 10:09 pm
 

Underrated prospects prove worth in FCS playoffs

On a day when most of the college football world was focused on four players dressed in suits in New York City, there was some exciting on-field action and legitimate pro prospects also on display.

Reviewing all of the quarterfinal FCS games this weekend, there were several standout performances.

The most impressive, not surprisingly, came from Villanova wide receiver and Wildcat quarterback Matt Szczur. Szczur, my reigning Diamond in the Rough as the best small school prospect of the week, scored five touchdowns -- rushing for three, passing for one and catching -- in the Wildcats' 42-24 victory over No. 1 ranked Appalachian State.

Szczur, who battled a high ankle sprain for much of this season, clearly has regained his explosiveness, impressing not only with his agility and speed, but with improved route-running from just last week (when he accounted for 196 yards as a runner and receiver and scored a touchdown against Stephen F. Austin.

Draft Slant fans know precisely how high I am on Nova's "other" draft prospect, left tackle Ben Ijalana. His quick feet and good balance again stood out against the Mountaineers.

Szczur and Ijalana have already been invited to the Senior Bowl, the most prestigious all-star game in college football and one usually reserved for FBS prospects.

Friday night, scouts got their first nationally televised opportunity to see Delaware quarterback Pat Devlin, who also led his team to a victory.

Devlin wasn't flashy, but the 6-3, 220 pound Penn State transfer shook off a slow start to complete 27 of 38 passes for 261 yards and the Blue Hens' two touchdowns in their 16-3 victory over New Hampshire. Scouts like Devlin's mobility, short to intermediate accuracy and poise in the pocket. Delaware's spread offense is quarterback-friendly and rarely asks Devlin to make deep throws, but he showed better zip than he's often been given credit for. He, too, could wind up with an invitation to the Senior Bowl.

The most impressive player on the field in Eastern Washington's thrilling overtime victory over North Dakota State was the Eagles' junior running back Taiwan Jones.

Generously listed by Eastern at 6-1, 200 pounds, Jones looks a bit smaller, but scouts won't quibble about his size after this contest. The junior star rushed for a career-high 230 yards demonstrating a degree of explosiveness that simply is rarely seen at the FCS level. Perhaps most impressive is that Jones enjoyed his strong game in snowy conditions, which limited his effectiveness late in this contest. His lean build is similar to that of NFL star Chris Johnson and Oregon's Heisman finalist LaMichael James.

There has been some talk in the scouting community that Jones will consider leaving the Eagles early for the NFL. Considering the weak senior class of running backs, he could surprise as a middle round pick based on his big play ability.

Without an all-star game, however, to test his game against the FBS' bigger, stronger athletes level of competition questions will dog him, likely resulting in low enough grade from the NFL Advisory Committee to send him back to Eastern for another season.
Posted on: December 10, 2010 10:25 pm
Edited on: December 11, 2010 11:23 am
 

Heisman Favorites a Menagerie of Pro Prospects

Auburn quarterback Cam Newton enters Saturday's Heisman Ceremony as the prohibitive favorite to take home the award, but he's hardly the only one of the four finalists with a bright NFL future.

In fact, some scouts believe Newton, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck , Oregon running back LaMichael James and Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore – all underclassmen – all have a chance at NFL success, reversing a recent trend of Heisman candidates whose games simply didn't translate to the pros.

Newton, who led the country with 49 touchdowns and has carried Auburn to its first BCS Championship Game, is the most polarizing NFL prospect of the group.

There is no denying Newton possesses first-round tools. In joining 2008 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow as the only players in FCS history to have scored 20 touchdowns passing and rushing in the same season, Newton has dazzled scouts with his athleticism and strong arm. 

Scouts remain split, however, on how well the junior will be able to make the transition from Gus Malzahn's spread option offense to a pro-style scheme. After all, his success has come in an offense that emphasizes his athletic strengths and simplifies his reads. For as dominant as he's played, Newton has only this season's 13 starts at the FCS level, quite a small sample set for scouts to determine his pro readiness.

These concerns don't extend to the redshirt sophomore Luck, whose recognition of defenses and pinpoint accuracy have made him the favorite to be the first pick of the 2011 draft should he declare early.  The Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year broke John Elway's Cardinal record with 28 touchdown passes this season.

Newton and Luck will hear their names called in the first round should they leave for the pros following this season.

James is also highly regarded by pro scouts, though at 5-feet-9 and 185 pounds, he lacks the bulk to hold up as a full-time starter in the NFL. James' production for the Ducks has been staggering. He broke the Pac-10 freshman rushing record last year with 1,546 yards and promptly broke the sophomore record this season with 1,682 yards, which led the FCS. While James offers dynamic playmaking skills due to his agility and speed, teams will have a hard time justifying a pick earlier than the third round on a situational back.

At first glance, Moore lacks the size to be considered an elite pro prospect. The Broncos list their record-breaking passer at 6-feet, 191 pounds. Perhaps not surprisingly, scouts question if Moore has the arm strength to compete in the NFL, as well.

Moore has shown remarkable accuracy throughout his career, however, and is a virtual coach on the field. He reads defenses quickly and shows great anticipation, completing 71 percent of his passes for 3,506 yards and an eye-popping 33 touchdowns against only five interceptions this season.

Moore doesn't possess the measureables to warrant high-round consideration, so he may be the most likely of this group to return in 2011.

Should he do so - and enjoy similar success with senior receivers Titus Young and Austin Pettis moving on to the NFL - Moore could force scouts to look past his physical shortcomings and instead focus on his moxie and ball placement; traits that could earn him at least a late round selection.

For complete draft coverage from NFLDraftScout.com click here: http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft

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: October 1, 2010 10:50 pm
 

Five prospects I'll be focusing on Saturday

Each week, in preparation for Draft Slant and the handing out of my weekly awards for Prospect of the Week and Diamond in the Rough, I list five prospects on the blog that I'll be focusing on.

This week is no different -- though with such a huge slate of games -- I can go back to my customary role of focusing on just senior players, rather than dabbling with some underclassmen last week.

Because I'm spending the entire day scouting, I typically don't post more than once or twice on the blog on Saturdays. I do, however, invite you to scout "alongside" me by following me on Twitter.

Without any further adieu, here are this week's big five senior prospects:

CB Ras-I Dowling, Virginia: Dowling entered the year as one of NFLDraftScout.com's top 32 seniors and I yet I elected not to include him in my recent mock draft . The reason is that Dowling has been hobbled by a nagging hamstring injury and was only able to see his first playing time of the season last week against Virginia Military Institute. Dowling was not his typically dominant self, getting beaten deep on a long pass, as well as getting flagged for pass interference. And that was against VMI. Don't put it past Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder and his aggressive head coach Jimbo Fisher to test Dowling early. This game begins at noon EST and will be televised by ESPN.

RB DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma: Murray has earned NFLDraftScout.com's top grade among senior running backs, but if he is to legitimize his standing as a potential first round pick, this is the type of game where he'll need to show up big. This game may lack the sizzle of Red River Rivalries of the past, but even with Mack Brown's Longhorns struggle offensively, they typically play stout defense -- and this year's squad looks no different. Murray's ability to break outside for long gains, as well as his reliable hands out of the backfield, should make him the focus of the Texas defensive game plan, not stopping the Sooner passing game. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by ABC.

OT Marcus Gilbert, Florida: Florida linemate Mike Pouncey has generated most of the buzz (both good and bad) thus far this season, but Gilbert's play in this SEC Championship rematch against Alabama could play a key role in determining the winner. Gilbert, the Gators' right tackle, will be matched up against talented junior Marcell Dareus. Dareus struggled last week against Arkansas with a sprained ankle, but is a legitimate first round talent when healthy. If Gilbert (6-5, 320) is able to handle Dareus, the Gators chances of moving the ball against this talented Crimson Tide defense grow significantly. This game begins at 8 pm EST and will be televised by CBS.

QB Jake Locker, Washington:
Admittedly I could justify putting Locker on here every weekend but I'm betting that you're just as curious as I am as to how he performs in this, his first game since the Nebraska debacle. Locker doesn't have to win this game to right the ship in terms of his own slipping draft grade. He does, however, have to show improved accuracy and decision-making against a Trojan team looking for revenge. Remember, it was Locker and the Huskies' upset over the Trojans last year that some say led to the "fall of Troy." With the Huskies desperate to prove that the Nebraska game was a fluke and USC just as desperate to prove they remain among the Pac-10's elite, this game has all of the drama, but so much less of the hype of the day's monster showdowns. This game begins at 8 pm EST and will be televised by ESPN2.

DT/NG Sione Pua, Stanford: The young and dynamic skill position prospects in the Oregon-Stanford will get all of the attention and rightfully so. Pua, however, is one of the draft's more underrated run stuffers. If he can control the middle of the line of scrimmage and force Oregon running back LaMichael James outside, the Cardinal could force young Duck quarterback Darron Thomas to beat them. The last two defenses that were as physical as Stanford's gave the Ducks plenty of trouble -- Arizona State gave Oregon quite a scare last week and Ohio State beat the Ducks in the Rose Bowl. The winner of this game, I believe, becomes the odds on favorite to represent the Pac-10 in the Rose Bowl this year.  This game begins at 8 pm EST 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