Tag:Miami
Posted on: September 17, 2011 10:15 am
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Reuter previews Saturday -- Five On the Spot

The college football world is looking forward to Saturday night's tilt in Tallahassee where top-ranked Oklahoma faces number five Seminoles in the second game of a home-and-home series.

The Sooners got the better of FSU last season, 47-17, separating early and never looking back.

NFL scouts are eagerly awaiting this match-up, as well. Seven players from last year's game (three from Florida State, four from Oklahoma) were drafted last April. That number could double in 2012, depending on how many underclassmen declare for early entry.

The various players and match-ups scouts will be watching, whether in person or on the road, could fill this weekly preview article.

Seminoles junior quarterback E.J. Manuel made the list of players "on the spot" this week, but covering the other line-battles (FSU LT Andrew Datko vs. Oklahoma DE Frank Alexander, Seminoles' RT Zebrie Sanders vs. Oklahoma DE Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma LT Donald Stephenson vs. Florida State DE Brandon Jenkins) or the importance of occasional skirmishes between Oklahoma star receiver Ryan Broyles and sophomore star cornerback, Xavier Rhodes, in this article would neglect all of the other interesting stories on Saturday.

So as you wait for the Sooner and Seminoles to kick off Saturday night, or if your thirst for football is not quenched after the prime-time match-up is decided, make sure to check out these other players and match-ups that NFL scouts will be watching.

This week's Five on the Spot

1. Florida State QB E.J. Manuel

If the Seminoles are to make a national title run, Manuel must do something Christian Ponder could not often enough in Norman last September -- make plays. The 12th pick in the 2011 NFL draft completed 11 of 28 throws for just 113 yards and two interceptions. Whether FSU wins or not, the grade Manuel receives from the NFL Draft Advisory Committee after the season, should he attempt to test the waters as a junior, could also hinge on this nationally-televised game.

Manuel came in for mop-up duty last year, going four-for-eight for 109 yards and a score. Now the starter, he must fit the ball into the tight windows Oklahoma defensive backs allow him and lead his receivers so they can make plays after the catch. Scouts will also expect him to be decisive with the ball after making correct pre-snap reads, as well as keep his eyes downfield to make plays instead of scrambling for a few yards here and there to avoid pressure.

2. Arizona QB Nick Foles

When Stanford's All-Everything junior quarterback Andrew Luck comes to town, it seems as though there is less exterior pressure on the defense he faces than the quarterback taking the field after the Preseason All-American has gone back to the sideline. Foles is just coming off a battle against Oklahoma State passer Brandon Weeden, but being compared with Luck on a series-by-series basis will be even more difficult.

Foles is perfectly capable of making the quick decisions and delivering accurately to stationery targets in the short and intermediate game. He also has enough mobility to escape the pocket to make a play, though scouts comparing at Luck's athleticism and accuracy on the run to Foles' will see a chasm of difference. If he's going to be a pocket passer at the next level, however, he must show scouts he can hit receivers Juron Criner and David Douglas accurately down the seam or the sideline in order to stretch defenses vertically.

3. Miami, FL QB Jacory Harris

When Miami's depth chart for the Ohio State contest was released, many were surprised to see Harris' name on top. Head coach Al Golden stated that Harris won the job over the summer, and only the team's holding him out while the NCAA investigated his receiving booster benefits kept him from starting the opener.

Harris has been all potential, and not enough production, through his three years as the main starter for the Hurricanes. He's always flashed the ability to make plays down the field from the pocket, as well as on the run, but inconsistent accuracy and his proclivity to make the big mistake (he had an unacceptable 14-15 touchdown-to-interception ratio last year) have held him back from fulfilling his promise. A strong performance against the Buckeyes Saturday night in front of a national audience could finally get him on track to a draftable grade from scouts.

4. Michigan State DT Jerel Worthy

NFL teams are looking for a defensive tackle to show himself as the playmaker they seek in the top half of the draft's first round. Over the past two seasons, Worthy has flashed this ability, making 17 tackles for loss, 8.5 of which were credited quarterback sacks. A prime Saturday afternoon match-up against Notre Dame gives him a stage on which to state his case as the top tackle in the 2012 class.

The junior does have to battle right guard Trevor Robinson in order to pressure sophomore quarterback Tommy Rees. Worthy should have a quickness advantage over Robinson and the other Notre Dame linemen (he will move around a bit), but has not always been as fast off the snap as scouts prefer. His strength at the point of attack is usually not an issue, but Worthy must shed blocks with violent hands quickly and show the closing speed to chase running backs and bring down Reeds to earn elite prospect status.

5. Virginia CB Chase Minnifield

A Virginia cornerback has been selected in the second round of the NFL draft in each of the past two springs. Chris Cook went to the Vikings in the 2010 event while New England snatched up the talented but oft-injured Ras-I Dowling last April. As the son of former NFL Pro Bowl cornerback Frank Minnifield, scouts expect Chase (not necessarily a great name for a cornerback) to have similar value if he continues his strong play.

Minnifield has difficult challenge in front of him this weekend, however, as North Carolina comes to town with a bevy of big, strong receivers. Dwight Jones (6-4, 225), Erik Highsmith (6-3, 190), and Jheranie Boye (6-2, 190) will all line up across from Minnifield as the game goes on. The spindly, six-foot, 180-pound corner will show scouts something if able to hand-play at the line or down the field against those receiver, as well as fight for position on jump and 50/50 balls. Proving hands to make the interception (has 10 career picks), as well as knock away passes or dislodging them with a big hit, will also quiet any concerns about his physicality or play-making ability.

This content was provided by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter. You can follow Chad on Twitter @ChadReuter.
Posted on: July 11, 2011 10:42 am
Edited on: July 12, 2011 4:40 pm
 

UGA RB Caleb King opts for Supplemental

University of Georgia running back Caleb King -- once an extremely highly-touted prospect -- will petition the NFL for eligibility into this summer's supplemental draft rather than transfer to a lower division school, according to Seth Emerson's "Bulldogs Blog" of the Ledger-Enquirer.

Emerson cites a person close to King and expects King to make a more formal announcement regarding his decision soon.

King was ruled academically ineligible last week and had been known in scouting circles to be considering making this move. However, after three mostly disappointing seasons on the field for the Bulldogs, he might have been better off showcasing his skills at a lower level. Each of the past two seasons King had been unable to secure the starting tailback job, recording 1,024 yards and nine touchdowns in 10 starts (18 games).

King signed with Georgia rated by recruiting websites as high as the No. 3 prep running back in the country. The 5-11, 219-pounder was often compared to Georgia great Herschel Walker, but saw his game appearances shrink from 11 games as a redshirt freshman in 2008 to 10 in 2009 and eight last year.

His most impressive statistical season came in 2009 when he rushed for 594 yards and seven touchdowns, including two fourth-quarter touchdowns against Auburn (see video below) that helped the Bulldogs beat the Tigers.

As you can see in the video, King has some talent. He has good burst to and through the hole and the lateral agility to elude defenders. What you appear to see on the video below -- but, unfortunately, you rarely see on actual game tape -- is the ability to seperate from defenders. King doesn't have top-end speed. He struggles to get to the edge and is too often caught from behind. Considering he has the size scouts are looking for, however, and is a nice interior runner who is a physical player in pass protection, he does have enough talent to warrant a late-round selection (6th-7th round).

According to Evan Silva of ProFootballTalk.com, King received a 1.60 from BLESTO Scouting and a 4.9 from National Football Scouting. These scores, according to the report, equate to a 6th round and priority free agent grades from the two respective scouting organizations.

Ultimately, teams are likely to struggle with the fact that King wasn't able to ever truly make his mark at Georgia despite multiple opportunities. While he was expected to once again share the load this year, King was in prime position for significant playing time with Washaun Easley, the Bulldogs' leading rusher last year having left the school in May following two suspensions for misbehavior off the field.

King has also struggled with off-field problems. He was not allowed to participate in Georgia's stunning Liberty Bowl loss to Central Florida last year after skipping five academic meetings. He was suspended for two regular-season games earlier in the year for failing to appear in court to deal with a speeding ticket.

While talented enough for teams to consider using a draft pick on, King has his work cut out for him if he is going to be able to convince a club he has the work ethic and maturity worthy of a selection in the supplemental draft (whenever that should come) when there are several other similarly-gifted backs who will be available for signing as undrafted free agents. Teams will ask themselves why give up a pick for King when they could sign Auburn's Mario Fannin, Miami's Graig Cooper or Virginia Tech's Darren Evans (among others).

Despite the talent to be rated higher, King's unreliability is concerning enough that he is currently NFLDraftScout.com's 30th rated running back of the 2012 draft class.





Posted on: May 17, 2011 12:41 pm
 

My five favorite undrafted free agent prospects

Following the draft, my fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter released NFLDraftScout.com's list of the top undrafted prospects still available. In the article, Chad highlights his five favorite free agents, as well as a breakdown of the five best players per position likely to be signed by NFL teams once the lockout ends.

I focused instead on highlighting the schematic fits that teams may have found in Rounds one through seven. Now, with the Finding the Fits series finished, here are my favorite prospects that weren't drafted.

Players are listed alphabetically.

Kendric Burney, CB, North Carolina: I'll admit it. I'm a sucker for cornerbacks with ball skills who have starred at the major collegiate level and then plummeted on draft day when they raw slower than expected. Burney is a classic example of this phenomenon. The 44 game starter has 10 career interceptions, including two he returned for TDs. He ran slowly at the Combine (4.71) and his Pro Day (4.73), but his instincts, quick feet and reliable tackling are legitimately NFL caliber. In a zone scheme, Burney can be effective as a nickel or dime cornerback.

Graig Cooper, RB, Miami: Playing through his recovery for a torn ACL, Cooper was a shadow of his former self last season. Cooper, who had led Miami in rushing the three previous seasons, dropped to only 165 yards and one touchdown in 2010. The elusiveness and burst that he had demonstrated previously was coming back, however, as evidenced by Cooper's strong performance at the East-West Shrine Game and the fact that he ran the fastest 3-cone time of all running backs tested at the Combine (6.66 seconds). Poor medical grades pushed Cooper out of the draft, but don't be surprised if a team willing to take a gamble is paid back handsomely for their investment.

Willie Smith, OT, East Carolina: Smith has legitimate NFL size and athleticism. He is, however, very raw in his technique and prone to mental mistakes. An all-conference left tackle, Smith has the quick feet and long arms to potentially remain as a blindside pass protector in the NFL but doesn't currently possess the upper or lower body strength to play anywhere else on the offensive line. That fact pushed him down the board despite his obvious tools. Smith could surprise if given a year on to develop.

Adam Weber, QB, Minnesota: Weber wasn't surrounded by a great deal of talent while at Minnesota, but he left as one of the most productive passers in Big Ten history. One of the reasons why he wasn't invited to the Combine and slipped out of the draft, itself, was the fact that he came in so much smaller than expected. Listed at 6-3, 221 pounds, Weber instead measured in at 6-1 (and 1/8) and 209 pounds. He has enough arm strength to be effective in a traditional West Coast Offense and has a good feel in the pocket. His gutty play reminds me of former undrafted free agent Jon Kitna, who has carved out for himself a 15-year (and counting) NFL career.

Ian Williams, DT, Notre Dame: Williams may be last on my list alphabetically, but he certainly ranks among my top undrafted targets. Strong and stout at the point of attack, the 6-1, 319 pounder can play the nose in the 3-4 as well as in the 4-3 alignment. Like Cooper, Williams is coming off a knee injury (torn MCL) that limited his senior season. Even when healthy, Williams isn't going to dazzle anyone with flashy plays as he has only moderate overall athleticism. His ability to hold up at the point of attack, however, should make him one of the more eagerly sought-after free agents this year.

Posted on: April 29, 2011 3:57 pm
 

Five who could crash 2nd round

My fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter just listed a detailed breakdown of NFLDraftScout.com's top prospects still on the board.

I've been speaking to representatives from teams this morning to try and identify a few under-the-radar players who could "crash" the second round and wind up surprise top 64 picks.

Here are a few to keep in mind:

Hawaii WR Greg Salas -- Physical receiver who is a reliable route-runner and hands-catcher. Surprisingly dropped some balls at the Senior Bowl, as he was clearly pressing. Excellent tape, however. Versatile. Can line up outside and in the slot.

Miami CB Demarcus Van Dyke -- He's 6-1 and was timed (hand-held) at 4.25 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the Combine. He isn't the most physical corner in the world, but the talent is there.

Wisconsin OG John Moffitt -- USC offensive tackle Tyron Smith was the only OL to get drafted among first 14 picks. The next 18 picks saw seven offensive linemen get picked. Tough, physical, reliable linemen don't slip on draft day; they rise. 

Eastern Washington RB Taiwan Jones -- There are plenty of questions about Jones' durability, ball security and level of competition, but the junior is the most electric open-field runner in the draft. Someone will reach to get lightning in a bottle.

California FS Chris Conte -- Overshadowed in the Pac-10 by UCLA's Rahim Moore, but some teams view Conte as the better prospect. Former cornerback who proved to be a reliable open field tackler. Viewed as an ascending talent.
Posted on: March 26, 2011 2:00 pm
 

4.6s by RB Cooper "highlight" of Miami Pro Day

With their initial Pro Day shortened due to a rain storm, the draft-eligible members of the University of Miami Hurricanes worked out for representatives of at least 20 teams Friday.

Most of the top prospects elected to stand on their Combine results, doing only positional workouts.

One exception was running back Graig Cooper , who, a league source on hand for the workout, told me was asked to run the 40-yard dash three times. Players are typically asked to run twice, but there was such a difference between Cooper's first and second attempts in the dash (4.67, 4.46 according to the scout) that Cooper was asked to run it a third time. In his third attempt Cooper was again in the 4.6s (4.66) -- similar times as the ones he put forth at the Combine (4.60-4.68).

The slow times were disappointing. Cooper did look "better in positional drills. He moves well laterally and has some burst."

Any improvement is important for Cooper, who surprisingly elected to play this season after tearing the ACL in his knee during Miami's 2009 bowl game. He was a shadow of his former self throughout much of the season, but showed improved speed and burst at the East-West Shrine Game and finished second to all running backs tested at the Combine with a 4.03 time in the short shuttle and a 6.66 second showing in the 3-cone drill. Nebraska's Roy Helu, Jr. beat Cooper by .02 seconds in the shuttle.

Cooper is not currently rated by NFLDraftScout.com as a draftable commodity. I, however, feel we and others are underrating him. As long as he gets a clean bill of health from NFL teams, I believe Cooper could prove a huge surprise at the next level.

Wide receiver Leonard Hankerson was characterized as "up and down" while running routes and catching passes. "He's a bit stiff as a route-runner and isn't as fast as he timed at Indy," the scout said. Hankerson, according to the scout, also "dropped a few" passes -- a problem the Miami receiver had struggled with throughout his career and the week of practice at the Senior Bowl.

Hankerson is currently the fourth rated receiver of the 2011 draft by NFLDraftScout.com.

Cornerback Brandon Harris, who some teams believe will ultimately wind up as the first of Miami's players chosen this year, was "solid, but not spectacular" in his positional drills. "Quick feet and fluid hips, but the concerns you have about him aren't going to be answered in a workout." Harris, 5-09 (1/2") and 191 pounds "loses too many battles at the critical moment" on tape. 

My fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter and I have each pegged Harris as a potential late first round pick in our current mock drafts.

Among the teams the scout said were represented at the workout were the Atlanta Falcons, Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs,  Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, New York Jets, New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Diego Chargers, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tennessee Titans.


Posted on: March 22, 2011 10:03 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2011 10:06 pm
 

Video exclusive -- Blake Griffin hypes TE Cameron

Considering the rise to superstardom that NBA fans have seen this season from Los Angeles' Clipper Blake Griffin , we can probably take it for granted that he knows athleticism when he sees it.

And apparently, the 2011 NBA Slam Dunk champion sees it in former USC tight end Jordan Cameron, endorsing him as the best player in the 2011 draft in a viral video that began on YouTube and has since become an internet sensation, earning replays by the NFL Network and SportsCenter.

In the video Griffin spoofs Spike Lee's character Mars Blackmon from the Air-Jordan videos of the 1990s.

NFLDraftScout.com was given the link to the second cut of the video, which, while perhaps not quite as comical, does a better job of highlighting Cameron's unique athleticism and provides a "tale of the tape" between Cameron's workout at the Combine and the other tight ends available in the 2011 draft.



As the video notes, Cameron is the only player tested at the Combine this year who finished among the top five in all seven events (40-yard dash, short shuttle, three-cone drill, long shuttle, vertical jump, broad jump, bench press). Cameron finished either first or second among all tight ends tested in five of the seven events.

A little later in the video and Cameron's senior production while at USC is compared to that of 2010 tight end prospect Jimmy Graham. Graham, of course, looked like a rising young star in limited duty this season for the New Orleans Saints after being drafted in the third round.

Like Graham, Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez, Cameron's production on the football field comes in large part due to his skills on the basketball court. Cameron originally signed with BYU out of high school to play basketball and only returned to the football field four years ago while with Ventura Community College. Emerging as a highly touted JUCO prospect, Cameron signed with USC as a wide receiver (playing basketball in 2008) and only made the switch to tight end as a senior.

Despite his minimal production (16 catches for 126 yards and one touchdown at USC), the obvious athleticism seen in the video was just as apparent at the Combine and during Cameron's strong week of practice at the East-West Shrine Game.

Considering this year's weak class of tight ends, it isn't surprising to learn that Cameron is moving up draft boards. While undeniably raw, his size, speed, leaping ability and soft hands make him an ideal developmental prospect for today's the hybrid receiving tight ends dominating the league.

Don't be surprised if Cameron ultimately is drafted at a similar point as Graham (No. 95 overall)... or perhaps even earlier.

Link to original video
Link to second video (same as one above)


Posted on: March 10, 2011 1:06 pm
 

Virtual Who's Who of NFL expected at Miami ProDay

Though the top Hurricane prospects invited to the Combine -- cornerback Brandon Harris, defensive lineman Allen Bailey, wide receiver Leonard Hankerson, linebacker Colin McCarthy, offensive lineman Orlando Franklin, running back Graig Cooper and cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke, among them -- aren't expected to perform the measurables at today's Pro Day, a virtual Who's Who of NFL personnel is expected to be hand to see them perform their positional drills.

Head coaches Bill Belichick, Jack Del Rio, Tony Sparano, Mike Tomlin and Raheem Morris and high ranking front office personnel Gene Smith (Jaguars), Jeff Ireland (Dolphins), Kevin Colbert (Steelers) and Mark Dominik (Bucs), among many others are expected to attend this morning's workouts, according to Miami's official athletic website . According to Hurricanes' staff, 29 of the 32 NFL teams will be represented, with only the Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans not on the list. The Patriots have the largest contingent in Miami, with no less than seven representatives having checked in.

Interestingly enough, the Ravens and Jets have their wide receiver coaches on hand (Jim Hostler, Henry Ellard, respectively). Each club is thought to be high on Hankerson and may be considering the Miami receiver with their first round pick.

There are also a host of former Miami stars on hand to watch the workout, including Warren Sapp, Bernie Kosar, Willis McGahee, Jimmy Graham, Greg Olsen and DJ Williams.

Keep NFLDraftScout.com refreshed for updates as we get them.

 
Posted on: March 4, 2011 1:35 pm
 

Was Brooks Reed Combine's Top Performer?

We all know by now that Oregon State's Stephen Paea showed record-breaking strength with 49 repetitions of 225 pounds. We also know that Miami cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke was the fastest player in Indianapolis this year, unofficially being recorded at 4.28 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

As teams have had a few days to digest all of the numbers coming out of the Combine, however, one player's workout that is gathering momentum as one of the truly elite is Arizona pass rusher Brooks Reed's .

Consider that Reed, who measured in at 6024 (6'2 and a 1/2) and 263 pounds and worked out with the defensive linemen, was nonetheless faster than most linebackers. His 4.65 second time in the 40-yard dash, in fact, was faster than 18 of the 24 linebackers tested there.

Perhaps his most impressive total came in the most important test for defensive linemen (and, some would say, linebackers) in the ten-yard split. Reed was timed at 1.54 seconds over the first ten yards, demonstrating a degree of explosiveness typically reserved for much smaller men. Reed's 1.54 seconds not only was the fastest of all defensive ends (North Carolina's Robert Quinn was second at 1.61), his split was also faster than some of the more highly touted athletes of the Combine, including Nevada OLB Dontay Moch, Tennessee-Chattanooga CB Buster Skine, Kentucky WR Randall Cobb, Georgia WR AJ Green, Troy WR Jerrel Jernigan, and Texas A&M OLB Von Miller.

Each of these players weighed in at less than 250 pounds and all ran the 40-yard dash faster at 4.48 or faster, but weren't as explosive in their initial start as Reed.

The initial start, is of course, a highly valued trait for pass rushers. Reed was a star defensive end for the Wildcats out of the 4-3 alignment. Teams operating out of the 3-4, however, will be just as impressed. That type of scheme and positional versatility makes Reed one of the more attractive pass rushers in the draft.

Reed is currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 5 rated outside linebacker and the 49th rated player, overall.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com