Posted on: January 16, 2011 1:51 pm
While much of the football-loving world is focusing on the NFL playoffs, scouts are preparing today for the first of a three week grind of all-star games that will have a huge impact on where (or if) dozens of players are ultimately drafted.
Over the next five days I'm going to highlight a player I believe could stand out and therefore significantly boost their stock. These players could come from the East-West Shrine Game (whose practices begin Monday), the Senior Bowl (whose practices begin Monday, January 24) and the NFLPA Game (whose practices begin Monday, January 31). The games themselves will be on succeeding Saturdays over the next three weeks. The NFLPA Game had previously been known as the Texas vs. Nation game.
One player who obviously has a great deal riding on his all-star performance is former North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin , invited to play in the Shrine Game.
Austin was, of course, suspended for the entire 2010 season after the NCAA discovered that he'd accepted inappropriate benefits from an agent.
Prior to the controversy, however, Austin rated among the elite senior prospects in the country. He was, according to published reports, given a high first round grade entering the year by National Scouting.
Austin, 6-3, 310 pounds has the quick first step, agility and strength teams operating out of the 4-3 alignment are looking for. One of the knocks on him has been an inconsistent motor. Having not played all season long, scouts will expect Austin to be fresh and firing on all cylinders all week long. Any sign of taking snaps off from Austin this week will only reinforce previous concerns - which could have disastrous results on his draft grade.
I've pointed out previously that this is a good looking Shrine roster , but one area that it may prove lacking is with the interior offensive linemen. NFLDraftScout.com currently ranks only one of the six interior offensive linemen Austin is expected to face in practice (East Team) higher than a 7th round pick.
Currently, the East team features Syracuse's Ryan Bartholomew and Texas A&M's JC Brignone at center and Missouri State's David Arkin, Ohio State's Bryant Browning, Illinois' Randall Hunt and Connecticut's Zachary Hurd at guard. Hurd is our highest rated of the bunch. NFLDraftScout.com currently has Hurd as a 5th-6th round value.
If Austin wants to re-emerge as the 50 prospect he'd previously been universally ranked as, he'll need to enjoy a dominant week.
For the entire Shrine Game roster, click here.
Or, for the best in NFL draft coverage, click here for NFLDraftScout.com.
Posted on: October 11, 2010 1:07 pm
The University of North Carolina Tar Heel football program received a huge blow Monday morning with the news that All-ACC defensive tackle Marvin Austin had been kicked off the team and that defensive end Robert Quinn and wide receiver Greg Little were each "permanently suspended."
Considering that the trio had missed all five games to start the season, the news wasn't completely unexpected. However, those close to the NCAA program had held out hope that each would get onto the field at some point this season. Now it appears unlikely that any of them will ever play another snap of college football.
Their unavailability has led to a disappointing 3-2 start to the season in Chapel Hill after being pronounced a darkhorse NCAA title contender by some over the summer.
And to be sure, it wasn't just the distraction of the investigation into these and other UNC players that led to the Tar Heels' poor start. Austin, Quinn and Little were the Tar Heels three best players. Each was considered a potential first round pick, with Austin and Quinn earning potential top ten grades.
At first glance, Austin's being kicked off the team entirely would seem likelier to adversely affect his potential NFL draft stock than the suspensions penalties handed down for Quinn and Little.
That isn't necessarily the case, however, at least according to a few high-ranking NFL sources.
Unlike Austin and Little, who are each seniors, Quinn is a junior and thus is potentially eligible to return to the collegiate field next year. Though Quinn, like Little, was "permanently suspended" by the NCAA, with an extra year he has the time to appeal the ruling should he be so inclined.
Whether Quinn attempts to play college football again is another question. He certainly looked like a future high first round pick as a sophomore, finishing second to Georgia Tech first round (Tennessee) defensive end Derrick Morgan in the voting for the ACC Defensive Player of the Year after notching 52 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and 11 sacks. His tape is so good, in fact, Quinn would "surely" make the first round in this upcoming draft, I'm told, assuming he clears NFL questions at the Combine.
Being kicked off the team entirely, Austin finds himself in a similar situation to former Oklahoma State wideout Dez Bryant last year. Bryant played well in three games last year prior to being suspended for the rest of the 2010 season and was an All-American in 2009. Austin, of course, hasn't played this year, but earned Second-Team All-ACC honors as a junior. Bryant received less than stellar reviews from Oklahoma State coaches following his suspension. Austin is likely to get similar reviews from the UNC coaching staff when interviewed by NFL scouts.
Nonetheless, Bryant's film, pre-draft workouts and his answers to NFL decision-makers questions were sincere enough, apparently, that the Cowboys drafted him in the first round. While Austin no doubt would rather be playing alongside his former UNC teammates, with months to prepare for the Combine workouts and interviews, strong tape and the value of quality defensive linemen as high as ever, the former Second Team All-ACC pick still has a good shot at making the first round.
Much of the fallout regarding this morning's news will center upon North Carolina's defensive linemen, but the greater impact -- at least in terms of draft day -- may be felt by Little. A former running back, Little flashed spectacular body control and hands in his first full season at wide receiver last year, leading the team with 62 receptions for 724 yards and five touchdowns. The strong play of former UNC receivers Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Tate in the NFL this season only seem to heighten Little's intrigue to scouts.
That said, Little appeared last year to be far from a finished product. Scouts can hope that he made strides over the off-season, but with no tape on him this year to prove it, teams will have a hard time believing he could make an immediate impact in the NFL. That likely means he drops out of the top two rounds and with the expected influx of junior receivers A.J. Green, Julio Jones, Jon Baldwin and several others, Little -- despite real talent and an ideal NFL frame (6-2, 214) could struggle to recoup his falling stock.
Posted on: September 30, 2010 1:40 pm
In this week's issue of Draft Slant, I list a handful of breakout prospects that scouts had graded as either late round or free agents in the preseason, but through the first month of the college season have greatly exceeded expectations and are rising fast.
Without giving away the identities of the players, themselves, I can tell you that the players listed come from a variety of conferences from the SEC to the WAC.
While that article is reserved for our premium subscribers, I thought I'd list a group of five players whose stock is going in the exact opposite direction over the first month of the season.
Players are listed alphabetically.
RB Mario Fannin, Auburn: I touted Fannin as much as anyone heading into the season as a potential breakout star and while I still maintain that he has talent, there is no denying that he's again struggling this year with the issues (injuries, fumbles) that had sidetracked him in the past. Part of a rotation for the Tigers, Fannin had seven touches for 79 yards and two touchdowns in the opener againt Arkansas State. Since, however, the Auburn coaching staff has apparently lost faith in his ability to get the tough yards and hold on to the football, as he has accumulated only eight touches for 28 total yards (and no scores) since.
QB Jerrod Johnson, Texas A&M: Despite earning preseason Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year accolades, scouts had plenty of concerns about Johnson's pro prospects before the season have even begun. Now, after an ugly four interception game against the likes of Florida International, scouts are even more concerned that Johnson, while talented, simply lacks the accuracy and football IQ to handle the adjustment to the NFL. Once considered a potential Top 50 prospect, Johnson now appears destined for the 5th or 6th round... at best.
QB Jake Locker, Washington: There are a great many jumping off Jake Locker's bandwagon after a disastrous performance against the Cornhuskers two weeks ago. In reality, Locker was struggling with accuracy and the reading of defenses in the two previous games (BYU, Syracuse, as well). Locker's No. 1 status has always been a projection that would come true IF he made similar gains under Steve Sarkisian that he made in his first year under the former USC quarterback coach. So far, Locker hasn't made those gains. Some scouts, in fact, wonder if he's regressed. Locker remains in the hunt to be the first senior QB off the board (and thus a potential high first round selection), but the time has come to stop making excuses for him. In his second year of this offense and his fourth as a starting quarterback, Locker needs to show better recognition and accuracy if he is going to be successful in the NFL.
NG Jerrell Powe, Mississippi: As proof of what a roller coaster ride scouting can be, Powe would have made my list of the "safer" prospects heading into this season. He was a standout, even dominant performer, at times times last year. This season, however, Powe has struggled mightily. Some of this can be attributed to the fact that Ole Miss rotates their defensive linemen. Some also may be due to the fact that he's playing this season as much as 60 pounds lighter than he's played in the past. Either way, the explosive power and consistency Powe had shown last year simply hasn't been there in the Rebels' first four games.
WR Terrance Toliver, LSU: Toliver was viewed by many as the top senior receiving prospect in the country heading into the season. He certainly was touted as a potential future high round pick as a prep star. Unfortunately, Toliver and the LSU offense, as a whole, has struggled this season. Toliver has only 11 catches through the first four games for 96 yards. The 6-4, 206 pounder with reported 4.4 speed has yet to catch a touchdown this season.
One could make the argument that the host of players suspended or injured so far this season should also be included on this list. I have too much respect for our readers to take the easy way out and list the likes of North Carolina's DT Marvin Austin, FS Deunta Williams, WR Greg Little, South Carolina TE Wesley Saunders, West Virginia cornerback Brandon Hogan (all suspended for one or more games) or injured players like Houston QB Case Keenum, etc. and the like among this list. With serious off-field or health questions, they are certainly falling -- or at least on the cusp of falling -- in the eyes of scouts. However, the players I listed above are falling because they simply aren't producing on the field to the level scouts expected heading into the 2010 season.
Posted on: September 3, 2010 12:36 am
Today should be remembered for what was a brilliant opening day of the D-IA college football season.
National title contenders Ohio State and Miami looked every bit the part in dismantling weak opponents (Marshall, Florida Atlantic) on their way to next weekend's showdown in Columbus.
Mountain West Conference power Utah successfully protected their home turf for an eye-popping 18th consecutive game in upsetting No. 15 Pittsburgh.
And by putting up 41 points in their home opener, one can't help but wonder if this finally is the year that the Ol Ball Coach's South Carolina Gamecocks take the next step offensively.
There were so many reasons to be optimistic about the college football season.
And instead, Tuesday evening news broke that Alabama defensive Marcell Dareus, a potential All-American and first round prospect, was suspended for the first two games of the year. Dareus follows UNC defensive tackle Marvin Austin as the latest casualty of the NCAA's investigation into players receiving innapropriate benefits from agents. He's arguably the best player on the best team in the country.
Forgive me for being pessimistic this evening of what should be the most optimistic day of the year.
But, after what has been a tumultuous offseason for college football, it would have been nice to enjoy it with the big news being the action on the field.
Posted on: September 1, 2010 8:27 pm
Dez Bryant proved last year that a player could get suspended for the entire season and yet still remain a first round pick.
North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin hasn't been suspended for the year. But, even if he was, he's talented enough -- and defensive tackle is a valuable enough position -- that he could pull off a similar feat.
As it stands now, is important to note that while Austin's suspension was characterized as "indefinite," to this point UNC has only publicly committed to keeping him out against this weekend's opener at LSU.
"This decision is not a result of the ongoing NCAA review, " says Davis. "Marvin has violated team rules and has neglected his responsibilities to the team."
Whatever Austin did to draw the ire of Davis (perhaps posting on his Facebook? ), it may not be close to the amount of trouble he's already in with the NCAA.
Austin, of course, and his teammate, wide receiver Greg Little, are widely believed to be at the center of the NCAA's investigation into college football players receiving improper benefits from sports agents.
Austin considered entering the draft last year. He finished the 2009 season with 42 tackles, six tackles for loss and four sacks. He earned Second-Team All-ACC honors despite only starting 11 of 13 games for the Tar Heels. Austin features rare burst for a 6-3, 310 pounder. Had he left last year, he could have made the first round despite the fact that scouts thought he played with inconsistent effort. His grade, according to scouts last January, was very similar to the one given to former UCLA star Brian Price.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Price with the third pick of the second round (No. 35 overall) last April.
On film, Austin is arguably the top three-technique senior prospect in the country and well worth a first round grade.
Regardless of how long his suspension(s) ultimately last, Austin will have to answer some tough questions by NFL teams. If his answers are sincere enough, his upside is likely enough to persuade some NFL team he's worth a pick in the top 32.
Posted on: August 21, 2010 11:05 pm
I learned a long time ago that players are often the best scouts. Who knows better than they how good another player really is?
I'll give you an example. Two years ago I spoke to former Ole Miss offensive tackle Michael Oher about some of the unheralded prospects on the Rebels' squad. He told me safety Jamarca Sanford would surprise in the NFL and that a smallish running back named Dexter McCluster was going to "shock the world" in 2009.
Sanford, the 231st pick in the 2009 draft, played in 14 games for the Minnesota Vikings as a rookie and even started Week Four against Dallas. He finished with 29 tackles and a forced fumble on the year.
McCluster rushed for 1,169 yards and eight touchdowns and caught 44 passes for another 520 yards and three scores in earning All-SEC honors. He is the first player in the long and storied history of the SEC to have rushed for over 1,000 yards and caught passes for over 500 yards in one season.
Clearly, Oher knew what he was talking about with these two players.
With this in mind, I asked North Carolina outside linebacker Bruce Carter to break down some of his highly regarded teammates during a phone interview yesterday. Carter, our top-rated outside linebacker prospect for the 2011 draft, will be featured in an article I wrote as part of NFLDraftScout.com and CBSSports.com's preview of the ACC.
The following is Bruce's thoughts, along with NFLDraftScout.com's current grade for each player.
Marvin Austin is our top-rated North Carolina prospect. The defensive tackle is our No. 2 rated player at the position and the 4th best senior prospect overall. Says Carter: "Marvin is a guy who likes to talk trash. He's very explosive. He's a great competitor."
Greg Little is NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior wide receiver and the No. 31 overall senior prospect for the 2011 draft.
Says Carter: "He [Little] is a great athlete and so big for a receiver. He's explosive coming off the line and going up to get the ball. He's got great hands."
Quan Sturdivant , who has seen action at inside and outside linebacker, is currently rated by NFLDraftScout.com as the No. 2 ILB and No. 41 overall. Says Carter: "Quan is an instinctive linebacker. He's got a great head for sniffing out screens and draws."
Deunta Williams is our top-rated free safety and currently ranks as the No. 38 senior prospect overall.
Says Carter: "Deunta Williams is a great communicator who makes sure we're all lined up correctly. He's a great athlete too."
Kendric Burney has started all 38 games of his career at cornerback for UNC and earned First Team All-ACC honors last year with five interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown. Still, despite his consistency and production, I believe he's being one of the more underrated cornerback prospects for the NFL simply because he's only 5-09. He's currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 8 rated senior cornerback and viewed as a 2nd-3rd round prospect. I characterized him as "underrated" to Bruce, who didn't agree.
Says Bruce: "I don't know that he's underrated. He's a lockdown corner in my mind and gets the credit [First-Team All-ACC] he deserves for doing such a great job. He's got great versatility and can really jump high to make the big play."
Charles Brown doesn't get the attention that Burney has earned, but as our No. 15 rated senior cornerback, is certainly on our radar. Carter thinks we should have him rated higher.
Says Bruce: "He's a lockdown corner too, but he doesn't get the attention he deserves just yet. He's good, though, and will be getting more attention soon."
Perhaps Carter's most interesting comments were reserved for junior defensive end Robert Quinn . NFLDraftScout.com typically does not comment on the NFL potential of underclassmen, but in the case of Quinn -- who is already drawing comparisons from NFL scouts to former Tar Heel great Julius Peppers, acknowledging his talent is easy. Quinn, who finished second last year in the ACC Defensive Player of the Year voting as a true sophomore with 19 tackles for loss and 15 sacks, looks like a potential top ten prospect.
Says Carter: "Man, Rob[ert] is just a monster. Everybody knows he's a freak of nature. He does such a great job of rushing the passer that people don't always recognize that he plays the run well too. He does a great job. "
Posted on: July 23, 2010 8:09 pm
Fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter and I have been busy the past month reviewing film of the 2010 senior prospects. Chad, as always, is ahead of me and has been steadily producing finished player profiles already in preparation for our 2010 NFL Draft Preview.
I've completed scouting reports for approximately 50 prospects; most of them coming from the SEC, ACC and Pac-10 Conferences.
I've been working on these reports while tracking the NCAA's sudden focus on agent-related benefits potentially being given to NCAA players. I recognize that the story is a huge one, but quite frankly, I wanted to finally present a blog post about actual football, and not just more off-field concerns.
Thus, here are some of my general thoughts based after film review of some of the ACC's biggest names amongst senior prospects.
I'll post my thoughts on the SEC and Pac-10 in the coming days.
Category: NFL Draft
Tags: Allen Bailey, Boston College, Bruce Carter, C.J. Spiller, Clemson Tigers, DeAndre McDaniel, Deunta Williams, Jacoby Ford, Kendric Burney, Marcus Gilchrist, Mark Herzlich, Marvin Austin, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Hurricanes, Nate Irving, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Quan Sturdivant, Ras-I Dowling, Virginia
Posted on: July 21, 2010 2:41 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2010 2:44 pm
Alabama junior defensive Marcel Dareus, already viewed by scouts as a potential first round prospect, is the latest high profile player to be under NCAA investigation for his possibly inappropriate relationship with a sports agent, according to an ESPN report by Ivan Maisel and Mark Schlabach.
Dareus, according to the report , is being investigated after attending an agent's party in South Beach, Florida earlier this summer.
Whereas the Universities of North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida have all been relatively tight-lipped about the investigations into their student-athletes, Alabama head coach Nick Saban unleashed some wrath on the two elements he believes are at the root of the epidemic -- sports agents and the NFL.
"What the NFL Players Association and the NFL need to do is if any agent breaks a rule and causes ineligibility for a player, they should suspend his [agent's] license for a year or two," Saban is quoted in the article. "I'm about ready for college football to say, 'Let's just throw the NFL out. Don't let them evaluate players. Don't let them talk to players. Let them do it at the combine.' If they are not going to help us, why should we help them?"
"Right now, agents are screwing it up," Saban said. "They are taking the eligibility of players. It's not right that those players do the wrong thing. We have a great education process here. We have a full-time worker who meets with players and their families and does everything else."
Saban, who, of course, coached the Miami Dolphins for a brief time, probably understands the issue greater than most coaches. He's seen the recruiting of players by agents from the perspective of being a college coach, as well as from the NFL side.
While his potential solution to the problem seems rash, it also could work.
With the NCAA apparently taking the illegal player-recruiting by agents more seriously, get ready to see a steady stream of these stories. Unfortunately, Marvin Austin, Weslye Saunders, Maurkice Pouncey and Marcel Dareus may just be the tip of the iceberg.