Tag:Michigan
Posted on: October 20, 2011 8:09 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2011 8:12 pm
 

MSU suspends emerging star Gholston for punch

One of the more intriguing matchups of the weekend just lost a bit of its luster, as Michigan State defensive end William Gholston has been suspended for Saturday's tilt against Wisconsin.

Gholston, a 6-7, 280 pound sophomore who leads the Spartans with seven tackles for loss (including 1.5 sacks), was flagged last week after throwing a punch against Michigan offensive lineman Taylor Lewan. The personal foul penalty was obviously deemed not serious enough for his actions, which have become a bit of a YouTube sensation. The video, courtesy of DetroitUofM7, can be seen here.

The loss is a signficant one for the Spartans, the nation's top-ranked defensive unit, as they prepare to face a Wisconsin team that has been steamrolling opponents on their way to a sparkling 6-0 record and No. 6 ranking in the latest AP Poll.

MSU boasts one of the nation's better defensive lines, though most focus on junior defensive tackle Jerel Worthy. Worthy, who like Gholston has started the first six games of the season, has significantly less tackles (12) and tackles for loss (4.5) than Gholston.

Gholston, in case you were wondering, is indeed related to former Ohio State standout (and New York Jets' bust) Vernon Gholston. The two are cousins.

Posted on: October 15, 2011 11:16 am
 

Mano-a-Mano, Week Seven

Mano-a-Mano, Week Seven

Although this week may not have a true blockbuster match-up, there are plenty of good scouting opportunities that NFL teams can use to evaluate potential draft picks.

If you want to see what scouts see, take a look at these memorable ten one-on-one 2012 NFL Draft prospect match-ups (plus a slew of honorable mention selections) while perusing this weekend's slate of college football games.

Because players move around based on different formations, these prospects won't go against each other on every snap. Scouts will pay attention when they do, however, because they rely on a player's film against top competition to determine their readiness for the NFL.

All times Eastern.
"*" Denotes an underclassman.

South Carolina WR *Alshon Jeffery at Mississippi State CB *Johnthan Banks
12:21 pm, SEC Network/ESPN3.com

NFL teams looking for a difference-making receiver in the top five of this year's draft are spending a lot of time evaluating Jeffery, who seems likely to enter the draft a season early. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Jeffery faces possibly his toughest task of the year when he lines up against Banks outside in Starkville. Banks has the height (listed at 6-1) and ball skills (11 interceptions in three years) to be competitive in jump-ball situations if aware enough to turn with Jeffery downfield. Jeffery does line up in the slot on occasion, so it will be interesting to see if MSU coaches shadow him with Banks or trust their other corners to make plays against the All-American candidate.

Miami LT *Brandon Washington at North Carolina Defensive Ends
12:30 pm, ACC Network/ESPN3.com

Miami's stud lineman has moved from guard to right tackle to left tackle this season, and so far has graded out well in each spot. He'll be facing three excellent UNC ends today, however, in top senior Quinton Coples, junior Donte Paige-Moss, and sophomore Kareem Martin. All three ends have NFL size and will get to quarterbacks and ballcarriers with strong hands or by running through unprepared linemen. Coples and Paige-Moss have only combined for 3.5 sacks this year, however, as they've not been able to consistently turn the corner to get to passers' blind sides. They will all have a tough task to beat the 6-foot-4, 320-pound (at least) Washington off the edge, as his size belies the agility that scouts love in their linemen.

Michigan C David Molk at Michigan State DT *Jerel Worthy
12:00 pm, ESPN

At 6-foot-2, 288 pounds, some NFL offensive coordinators will consider him too small to play in their system. But anchoring proficiently against Worthy in one-on-one situations, and showing scouts he has enough arm length to redirect the Spartans' three-technique outside the pocket or running lane can help his cause. Worthy, on the other hand, needs to prove to NFL general managers that he can win a hand battle at the line of scrimmage with a technically-sound pivot man like Molk.

Baylor WR Kendall Wright at Texas A&M CBs Coryell Judie/Terrence Frederick
12:00 pm, FX

The Bears do a nice job moving Wright, who ranks in the top four in the FBS in both receptions and receiving yards, around to get him the best match-up possible. A&M has two solid corners, however, in Judie and Frederick. Judie has similar size to Wright on the outside, and has the speed and hands to knock away passes thrown in their direction. Frederick typically plays inside, and he also is willing to mix it up with Wright down the field -- but he needs to prove he has the agility to stay with Baylor's star receiver.

Iowa State LT Kelechi Osemele at Missouri DEs *Brad Madison
2:00 pm, TBA

Osemele is a 6-foot-5, 350-pound behemoth at left tackle, but faces a strong challenge in hustling and strong junior Brad Madison. Madison caught the eyes of scouts last year while aiding Aldon Smith pass the rusher, but most of his production (six tackles for loss and three sacks) came against lesser competition. He'll need to step it up against Osemele, whose strong hands and long arms simply do not let go of his man once engaged. Missouri's other starting defensive end, Jacquies Smith, is not related to Aldon but his build is quite similar. Though not as explosive to the Niners' first round selection, Smith would also test Osemele's ability to hold the edge if moved to the weak side during the game.

Alabama Defensive Ends at Ole Miss OTs *Bobby Massie/Bradley Sowell
6:00 pm, ESPN2

The Crimson Tide have one of the deepest front lines in college football, and scouts are interested to see how two intriguing offensive tackle prospects in Sowell and Massie can handle the oncoming pressure. Sowell's svelte 6-foot-7 build gives him the length to handle rushers like 'Bama's versatile end/linebacker Courtney Upshaw, but he needs to prove he has the anchor and overall athleticism to stand up to bull rushes and take blitzers around the edge. Massie also has NFL size (6-6, 325) and length on the right side, but his agility will be tested with 'Bama bringing junior hybrid Dont'a Hightower after junior quarterback Randall Mackey.

Ohio State LT Mike Adams/RT J.B. Shugarts at Illinois DE *Whitney Mercilus
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN

Mercilus leads the country with 8.5 sacks, including three against Indiana last weekend. His job gets a bit tougher lining up across from Ohio State's pair of tackles, as long 6-foot-8 LT Mike Adams had a successful return from suspension against Nebraska and Shugarts is a battle-tested veteran on the right side. The 6-foot-4, 265-pound Mercilus isn't as fluid as many edge rushers, and Illini coaches will want him to contain Buckeyes' freshman quarterback Braxton Miller instead of opening running lanes. But even if he doesn't rack up sacks, disengaging from either OSU tackle to make plays against the run (or a scrambling Miller) will move Mercilus up draft boards across the NFL.

Utah OTs Joe Cullen/Tony Bergstrom at Pittsburgh DE/OLB Brandon Lindsey
12:00 pm, ESPNU 

New Pittsburgh head coach uses Lindsey as a defensive end in the 3-3-5 defense, which does not exactly show scouts what the 6-foot-2, 250-pound senior would do as an edge rusher at the next level. Rutgers prevented Lindsey from making a single tackle last week because he simply lacks the bulk to take on bigger linemen on an every-down basis from the five-technique spot. But he could redeem himself with a strong performance against two Utah tackles on NFL teams' radars by using his violent hands and closing speed outside. He'll most often line up against Bergstrom on the strong side, who has an athletic build for a right tackle but is both tough to run through and run around. Cullen is not the biggest left tackle but always seems to prevent rushers like Lindsey from turning the corner with strong footwork. Good reps vs. Lindsey in that role would help Cullen earn draftable grades from more teams.

Miami CB *Brandon McGee at North Carolina WR Dwight Jones
12:30 pm, ACC Network/ESPN3.com 

The Hurricanes will probably throw three or four different corners against Jones Saturday afternoon, but McGee has the potential to be a top prospect because of his fair size (6-0, 190) and sub 4.4-speed. Jones presents a tough ask for any of the 'Canes defensive backs, however, because while not possessing great speed, his NFL-sized body (6-4, 225), strong hands, and long strides on vertical routes make him difficult to stay with downfield. Louisville's smaller defenders discovered last week that he's also difficult to bring down once he makes the catch. UNC's highly-touted redshirt sophomore QB Bryn Renner can also find juniors Erik Highsmith and Jheranie Boyd if Jones isn't available, however, so McGee and seniors Mike Williams and Lee Chambers won't be able to take a play off.

Oklahoma DE *Ronnell Lewis at Kansas RT *Tanner Hawkinson
9:15 pm, ESPN2

Two of the more underappreciated players in the country will butt heads throughout this afternoon's Big 12 contest in Lawrence. Lewis is a bit shorter than most NFL teams prefer when looking for a 4-3 defensive end, but some teams don't mind having 6-foot-2 ends if they play with leverage and can get under the pads of taller lineman as a rusher. The Sooners also stand him up at times, and scouts like the way he moves in coverage and rushes the quarterback as a 3-4 linebacker. Hawkinson flies under the radar playing for a poor Jayhawks' squad, but could prove to scouts he is a legitimate top 100 prospect if displaying the toughness and agility to hold off Lewis and any other Sooner end that Bob Stoops brings off the strong side.

 

Honorable Mention 

Michigan DEs Craig Roh/Ryan Van Bergen vs. Michigan State LG Joel Foreman
Michigan WR Junior Hemingway at Michigan State CB *Johnny Adams
Michigan CBs Troy Woolfolk/*J.T. Floyd vs. Michigan State WRs B.J. Cunningham/Keshawn Martin
12:00 pm, ESPN

Virginia Tech OTs Andrew Lanier/Blake DeChristopher at Wake Forest DE/OLB Kyle Wilber 
6:30 pm, ESPN3.com

Toledo CB Desmond Marrow at Bowling Green WR Kamar Jorden
12:00 pm, ESPN3.com

Utah DT *Dave Kruger at Pittsburgh RG Lucas Nix
12:00 pm, ESPNU

Baylor C Phillip Blake at Texas A&M DT Eddie Brown
12:00 pm, FX

Purdue DT *Kawann Short at Penn State LG Johnnie Troutman
12:00 pm, Big Ten Network

South Carolina DT Travian Robertson at Mississippi State C Quinton Saulsberry
12:21 pm, SEC Network/ESPN3.com

Iowa State CB Leonard Johnson at Missouri WRs Jerrell Jackson/Wes Kemp
2:00 pm, TBA

UNLV WR Phillip Payne at Wyoming CB Tashuan Gipson
2:00 pm, CBS Sports Network

Florida State CBs *Xavier Rhodes at Duke WR *Conner Vernon
3:00 pm, FSN

USF LG Jeremiah Warren at Connecticut DT Kendall Reyes
3:30 pm, SNY/MASN/ESPN3.com

Oklahoma State RT Levy Adcock at Texas DE *Alex Okafor
Oklahoma State C Grant Garner at Texas DT Kheeston Randall
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN

Colorado OG Ryan Miller at Washington DT Alameda Ta'amu
3:30 pm, RSNW

LSU RT *Alex Hurst at Tennessee DE/DT Malik Jackson
3:30 pm, CBS

Boise State DEs Shea McClellin/Tyrone Crawford at Colorado State OT Paul Madsen
6:00 pm, MTN

Northwestern CB Jordan Mabin at Iowa WR Marvin McNutt
Northwestern DE Vincent Browne at Iowa LT *Riley Reiff/Markus Zusevics
7:00 pm, Big 10 Network


--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter   (Follow Chad on Twitter  @ChadReuter)  
   

Posted on: September 23, 2011 3:43 pm
 

Five prospects I'll be scouting closely Saturday

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.

Sometimes it also 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 breaks down six more players in Filmroom Notes, updates our Top 64 prospects overall and offers extensive previews of the next week's action. 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 Ryan Lindley, San Diego State: Throughout Brady Hoke's tenure as the Aztecs' head coach, Lindley demonstrated the live arm and understanding of defenses to help turn around the San Diego State program. Now, with Hoke on the opposite sideline, the pupil will have his opportunity to show up the teacher. Lindley is a bit of a gun-slinger. He's shown a willingness to throw off his back foot and into coverage a bit more than I'd like, but he does possess the size, arm and accuracy to be a legitimate NFL prospect. He currently ranks 8th on NFLDraftScout.com's QB board for the 2012 draft. Michigan isn't loaded defensively, but they are certainly a step up athleticism-wise from anything the Aztecs will see this season. Furthermore, I want to see how Lindley handles the noise and pressure in such a hostile environment.  This game begins at 12:00 pm ET and will be televised by The Big Ten Network.

WR Greg Childs, Arkansas:  Ryan Mallett and Knile Davis received much of the attention last season, but the most consistent performer last season for Bobby Petrino was his high-flying junior wideourt, Childs. Childs, of course, suffered a knee injury that robbed him of any thought of coming out early. He was hobbled early this season coming back from the injury and missed last week's game due to a death in the family. Against what I believe is the best coached and most talented secondary in the country, Childs will definitely have his work cut out for him. However, when healthy, Childs has shown a combination of size, speed and body control to rank as a legitimate top 50 prospect. This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be televised by CBS.

QB Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M: A former wide receiver who only made the switch to quarterback last season after the incumbent starter struggled, Tannehill has made as much progress as an NFL prospect as any player in the country. The improvements he's made in reading coverages, setting up and delivering passes and simply understanding the nuances of Mike Sherman's pro-style attack in less than a full season operating at quarterback have been impressive, leading some scouts to view Tannehill as this year's out-of-nowhere first round pick. Tannehill certainly isn't coming out of nowhere in my mind, nor that of NFLDraftScout.com. We've rated him the top senior QB prospect in the country since August. Tannehill and his Aggies face their first real test this weekend, however, as they host Oklahoma State, who boasts their own legitimate pro QB prospect in Brandon Weeden and his Biletnikof-winning receiver Justin Blackmon. Sure, I want to scout this game because it pits two top ten teams, but don't fool yourself, this is a huge showdown for the quarterbacks. This game begins at 3:30 ET and will be televised by ABC/ESPN.

DE Andre Branch, Clemson: Quite frankly, I wasn't impressed with the play of Florida State's left tackle Andrew Datko in last weekend's game against an athletic Oklahoma defense. Branch boasts the combination of size, strength and speed that could also give Datko troubles, which is why I want to focus on him. Those wanting to see one of the better senior prospects at any position in the country can simply look to Branch's left, as senior defensive tackle Brandon Thompson has been impressive, thus far. In past games that I've wanted to focus on Branch, Thompson has stolen my attention. We'll see if Branch can't steal back some thunder in this exciting ACC matchup. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by ESPN. 

CB Cliff Harris, Oregon: Heisman finalist LaMichael James was the primary reason for Oregon's rise to the BCS Championship game last season, but Harris was arguably the most dominant player on the team, earning All-American honors as a returner and ball-hawking cornerback. His well-documented off-field troubles have hurt his stock, as has his spindly frame (5-11, 168). Harris hasn't seen much time yet this season as he works his way back into head coach Chip Kelly's good graces. The Ducks will be sure that Harris is on the field against an explosive Arizona offense, however, that features their own talented pro prospects in QB Nick Foles and WR Juron Criner. How the slim Harris matches up with Criner (6-4, 215) should give scouts a good idea as to how well he'll handle the bigger, more physical receivers of the NFL. This game begins at 10"15 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN2.

p.s. At the request of some diehard Seahawk fans, I'm also including the QBs to watch this weekend. They are:

Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State visiting Texas A&M. 3:30 pm ET on ABC/ESPN
Landry Jones, Oklahoma hosting Missouri. 8 pm ET on FX.
Nick Foles, Arizona hosting Oregon. 10:15 pm ET on ESPN2.
Matt Barkley, USC visiting Arizona State. 10:15 pm ET on ESPN.*

*As well as Lindley and Tannehill, mentioned above.

Posted on: March 9, 2011 8:40 am
 

A day later & scouts still buzzing about Mallett

With all of the attention swirling around Cam Newton's Pro Day at Auburn yesterday, not enough national attention is going towards the more impressive throwing session put forth by Arkansas' Ryan Mallett, at least in the estimation of some NFL scouts.

NFLDraftScout.com anticipated the strong workout and had a man on the scene, detailing the session from the inside .

For my own information, however, I contacted various league sources also at the workout.

One high-level source working for a team expected to draft a quarterback this year, described Mallett as "demonstrating extremely high level velocity and accuracy" throughout the workout.

Another source - a regional scout familiar with Newton and Mallett - characterized it in another way.

"From what I saw of [Newton's] performance online, the cameras were at the wrong workout. [Mallett] proved he's the most talented passer yesterday, just like he did in Indy. I know you saw him at the Combine , but he was even better here."

Neither source provided the number of passes attempted or completed from Mallett's Pro Day, leaving us with only Mallett's disappointing time in the 40-yard dash and vertical jump as the only quantifiable numbers from the workout. With no way to compare apples to apples on their velocity and accuacy, many are comparing Mallett's athletic drills to Newton's and other quarterbacks.

Clearly, Mallett is slower and less athletic overall than scouts would prefer. The 5.37 second time he ran in the 40-yard dash is sloooow even for quarterback standards and the 26" vertical jump didn't show much explosive athleticism, but in comparison, a certain former Michigan quarterback -- some guy named Brady -- was clocked at 5.23 at the 2000 Combine and only jumped 24.5" inches -- and that was at only 211 pounds. Mallett measured in at 247 pounds.

I'm not about to project Mallett as the second coming of Tom Brady -- they are vastly different quarterbacks -- but it is important to note that the numbers some will use to describe the Razorback passer's Pro Day performance aren't the story.

Mallett is the draft's most talented passer. If a team can come to grips with his off-field question marks, he certainly has the talent to warrant a first round selection .

Posted on: January 2, 2011 10:06 pm
 

Five most impressive prospects from New Years Day

Taking the extra 24 hours to review all six of the New Years' Day bowl games, I've come up with a list of the five draft-eligible players who I felt enjoyed the strongest performances.

In New Years' fashion, I'm putting them in reverse order, starting with the No. 5 performance and finishing with the player I thought was No. 1 on the day of ones (1-1-11).

5. OT Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State : Those that followed me on Twitter yesterday (I had 55 posts) they know that I'm quite high on the Bulldogs' left tackle. Sherrod doesn't have elite quickness off the edge, but rarely allowed pressure from Michigan pass rushers during the Gator Bowl. Sherrod's ability to pop the defensive end and switch off to blitzing linebackers (essentially blocking two men) gave quarterback Chris Relf plenty of time to attack the Wolverines' vulnerable secondary. For Relf, who completed only 55.5% of his passes and threw only 10 touchdowns during his 12 regular season starts, it was his most impressive performance of the year (completed 78.3% of his passes for 281 yards, 3 TDs and an INT). In fact, Relf's 18 of 23 passing was the most efficient of any New Years' Day quarterback, helping him earn MVP honors. The credit should go just as much to Sherrod as Relf.
 
4. RB Jordan Todman, Connecticut: The Oklahoma Sooners knew heading into the Fiesta Bowl that if they could contain Todman, the No. 2 rusher in the FBS (behind Oregon's LaMichael James), they'd almost surely be victorious. The Sooners won easily, but like nearly every other opponent this season, they couldn't stop Todman from rushing for over 100 yards. It was Todman's agility, burst and determined running, in fact, that served as the Huskies' only offensive spark in the 48-20 loss. I remain concerned about the 5-09, 195 pound Todman's ability to hold up long term in the NFL, but the Huskies apparenty aren't. Todman rushed 32 times for his 121 times against the Sooners -- the fifth time in final six games of his Connecticut career in which he had at least 30 attempts.

3. C Mike Pouncey, Florida: It hasn't always been easy this year for Pouncey, who, of course, took over at center for his twin brother, Maurkice - Pittsburgh's first round pick last April. Mike more than held his own yesterday against Penn State, however, clearing the way for interior running lanes, providing stellar pass protection up the middle and -- perhaps most impressively -- showcasing the nimble feet to pull and hit moving defenders downfield. Pouncey's size and agility make him a better fit at guard in the pros, but in a showdown of two of the best senior interior lineman in college football yesterday, Pouncey was more consistently impressive than Penn State's Stefen Wisniewski.

2. QB Andy Dalton, TCU: It wasn't that Dalton put up staggering numbers against Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl (15/23 for 219 yards and a TD), but the poise he demonstrated in helping the Horned Frogs to their biggest win ever will not only help secure his place in TCU history, it will unquestionably boost his stock with NFL scouts. With their defense and special teams, TCU knew they could win the game as long as Dalton didn't attempt to win the game on his own. He didn't, playing within himself by making key reads, using his legs to buy time and pick up yardage and taking the occasional shot downfield. In doing so he atoned for the mistakes (three INTs) he made in TCU's loss to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl last year and reassured scouts that he has the mettle to handle the big stage.

1. DL Marcell Dareus, Alabama:
There were any number of Crimson Tide players that deserved acknowledgement for their 49-7 thrashing of Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl - not the least of which was RB Mark Ingram or WR Julio Jones - but the most dominant 'Bama player on New Years' Day was Dareus. He dominated the Spartans offensive line, easily handling one on one blocks and splitting double-teams, as well on his way to the backfield. Those that didn't watch the game may point out that Dareus had only three tackles (two TFL including a sack) and thus couldn't possibly warrant the top spot. As is often the case with dominant defensive linemen, however, Dareus' penetration and three QB hurries often gave his teammates easy opportunities to pad their own statistics. 
Posted on: October 18, 2010 11:27 am
Edited on: October 18, 2010 11:28 am
 

Player of the Week

This week's Player of the Week is provided by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter. Any comments should be sent to creuter@nfldraftscout.com

Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa  6-3 / 286/ 4.79

Clayborn's break-out 2009 season (20 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, four forced fumbles) led most scouts to believe they would see more of the same in his senior year. So far in Iowa's unbeaten 2010 season, however, he has only managed five tackles behind the line and 1.5 sacks. He has received extra attention from opposing running game coordinators, to be sure, but Arizona left tackle Adam Grant blocked Clayborn very well one-on-one earlier in the Hawkeyes' only loss of the year -- so some scouts are wondering why he isn't making more of an impact.

In Iowa's big road 38-28 win over Michigan Saturday, Clayborn was credited with three tackles with an assisted sack. But he had a bigger impact on the game than those statistics may indicate.


When the Wolverines' Heisman Trophy candidate, quarterback Denard Robinson, was in the game, Clayborn's primary responsibility was to force the explosive runner inside so his linebackers could stop him. Trying to rush upfield would only increase the size of the running lane. On multiple occasions, Robinson started to his left but Clayborn's presence forced him to head to the other side of the field. In fact, on the play which Robinson hurt his shoulder in the third quarter, #94's ability to stay outside of the quarterback forced him into traffic instead of getting the sideline, in a way assisting in taking the dangerous QB out of the game.
 

Also, Clayborn blocked a field goal in the second quarter that maintained a 14-7 lead for the Hawkeyes. He literally ran over his blocker on the field goal team and got his hand up to deflect the kick on his way to the ground. He also knocked tight ends off their routes as they came off the line of scrimmage, gave himself up on tackle-end twists so Karl Klug could get pressures, and even dropped into coverage late in the game (though Michigan wound up getting a deep ball on the play).

When Robinson looked sure to pass early in the game, Clayborn displayed the strong hands scouts have been gushing about to leave freshman tackle Taylor Lewan in the dust and attack the passer. On his first tackle of the game, ripped down Lewan's jersey yet again, disengaged and stopped power back Stephen Hopkins in his tracks. Throughout the game, Clayborn ripped his hands across Lewan's body, getting around the tall tackle to chase plays from behind (which he needed to do because Michigan ran to the strong side often).

His assisted sack late in the fourth quarter flashed the pass rush ability scouts hope to see more of. Michigan back-up quarterback Tate Forcier went back to pass in a desperation situation, Clayborn beat his man off the edge, missed Forcier initially, then circled around when the passer was still looking downfield and evidentally got him down (with Klug getting a marginal half-sack in clean-up duty).

Scouts will also notice some negatives to Clayborn's performance when they review the tape. He took himself out of the game multiple times because chasing down Robinson and the tempo of Michigan's offense. To be fair, many defensive linemen are regularly rotated out by coaches throughout the game, but Iowa does not do that as often; but combined with his spotty pass rush at the end of the game, where he resorted to jumping up to try to knock down passes instead of pressuring Forcier, his conditioning will be questioned by scouts.

At times Clayborn could not move the young left tackles in front of him (junior Mark Huyge took over for Lewan during the middle of the contest), occasionally getting moved out of the hole, looking as though his relative lack of length may affect his ability to rush the passer at the next level. And although he flashed that strong first step off the edge, most of his pressure came on hustle and secondary rushes.

There's no doubt that Clayborn uses his hands as well as any player at any position in the draft, and plays with good effort and leverage. He looked disciplined against the run and does a lot of little things very well. But his relative lack of production so far in 2010, along with some of the issues on display Saturday, may be the difference between his being picked in the top ten and falling into the teens or early 20's.

 

Posted on: October 8, 2010 7:45 pm
 

5 Senior Prospects I'll be Focusing 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 Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder, Indiana quarterback Ben Chappell, Oklahoma running back DeMarco Murray, USC cornerback Shareece Wright, Alabama OT James Carpenter and Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi.

Ponder had a solid, but unspectacular game last weekend against Virginia. Though he has a much tougher opponent this weekend at Miami, I elected to write about him considering that there are very few teams across the country who boast a better pair of cornerbacks than the Cavaliers' duo of senior Ras-I Dowling and junior Chase Minnifield (son of former Cleveland Browns' standout Frank).

That doesn't mean, of course, that I won't be watching him again this weekend. In fact, in terms of his pro grade, Ponder's performance Saturday against the 'Canes is as important as any game he'll play all year long.

Which is why he's among my Five Seniors to Watch -- and, as it turns out, the only player on the offenside side of the line of scrimmage: 

ILB Greg Jones, Michigan State: For all of the talk of the talented defensive linemen and cornerbacks of this senior class, for my money there isn't a safer defensive prospect in the country than Jones. A four year starter who has never missed a game in his career, Jones nonetheless will be questioned by scouts as to how a 6-1, 235 pound linebacker is going to be able to handle the physicality of the NFL. Over the first few weeks of the season, Wolverines' star quarterback Denard Robinson has emerged as the Heisman favorite. He hasn't faced an instinctive and speedy linebacker like Jones yet, though. If Jones has the 15+ tackle game I think he will in this game, he could emerge as an early favorite for Player of the Week honors. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by ABC/ESPN.

DT David Carter, UCLA: A rising name due to the fact that at 6-5, 300 pounds he has the bulk and strength to play inside at defensive tackle or move outside to play the five-technique as a 3-4 defensive end, Carter flashed on tape last weekend against the Washington State Cougars, posting three sacks. If he is to emerge as a legitimate draftable prospect, he'll need to continue his breakout senior campaign this week in an interesting Pac-10 showdown with Cal. An interesting side note - Carter is the brother of Fresno State pass rusher Chris Carter. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by regional FOX coverage.

OLB Von Miller, Texas A&M:
Having recorded 17 sacks last season, Miller entered this year as one of the more heavily hyped pass rushers in all of college football. In fact, he was the Preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. After four games, however, Miller has yet to record his first sack and is in danger of seeing his draft stock plummet. In all fairness to Miller, he's struggled with a knee sprain all year long and has shown impressive toughness playing through it. It is obvious that he has lacked the explosive first step this year he showed in 2010. Injured or not, scouts want to see some production. He'll have his hands full against a talented Arkansas offensive line, but the relative immobility of 6-6 quarterback Ryan Mallett may help him boost his numbers. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by ABC/ESPN.

DT Drake Nevis, LSU:
Few players across the country have boosted their stock as significantly as Nevis thus far this season. The 6-1, 292 pounder doesn't possess the elite size that scouts would prefer, but his explosiveness as a pass rusher can't be ignored. Nevis has already twice been recognized as the SEC's Defensive Lineman of the Week and is second in the conference with 3.5 sacks. The Gators are experienced and talented up front so if Nevis is able to make plays in this contest he certainly deserves the early attention he's been receiving. This game begins at 7:30 pm EST and will be televised by ESPN.

QB Christian Ponder, Florida State:
Ponder showed the mobility, high football IQ and accuracy in the short/intermediate levels against Virginia last weekend that NFL teams like about him, but he has not been as productive thus far as hoped.  Ponder will have to play the best game of his season so far if he is to enjoy success against a supremely talented Miami defense.  Ponder enjoyed a bit of a breakout performance last year against the 'Canes with a then-career high 294 passing yards and two touchdowns (against one interception). This game begins at 8:00 pm EST and will be televised by ABC.
Posted on: April 21, 2010 10:36 pm
Edited on: April 21, 2010 10:37 pm
 

First Round Stunners, Part Two

My fellow senior analyst Chad Reuter and I wrote up five bold predictions each in articles here and here .

Like Chad, I elected to push the boundary with the definition of "bold," predicting a trade with the first pick among other things. I fully recognize that the Rams aren't likely to make this trade. I've spoken to enough people in the league, however, that caused me to feel there was a reasonable enough chance of it occurring that I listed it.

Last year , I went out on a limb and predicted that Tyson Jackson, not Aaron Curry, would be the first defensive player selected and that Andre Smith would be a top ten pick. Chad had the even better bold (and true) prediction, picking the Raiders to take Darrius Heyward-Bey at No. 7.

We were ridiculed at the time for our picks and some ended up not happening. A few, however, ended up being true. I don't anticipate either of us getting all five of our predictions correct this time either, but would be disappointed if we don't pull off at least a few of them.

Because these predictions are such conversation-starters, I thought I'd include a few more that I considered using in the original article.


  • In the "do as I say, not as I've done" department, watch out for Georgia Tech wideout Demaryius Thomas to jump way up in this draft. Some teams, in fact, have him rated higher than Dez Bryant -- and that isn't just due to Bryant's so-called character concerns. I mention the "do as I say" aspect as I don't have Bryant listed on my 4/19 mock draft. After conversations with a few more team sources over these past few days, however, I've been lectured enough to change my thinking on this kid and will certainly be moving him up for the final mock I'm finishing tonight (available Thursday morning). I've acknowledged his dazzling physical upside in the past, but what I hadn't realized is how impressive "Bay-Bay" has done in interviews. The perception might be that Thomas isn't pro-ready due to his time in such a run-heavy offense, but he has dazzled teams in interviews with his on and off-field intelligence. Considering he scored a 34 on the Wonderlic -- second best among all WRs (Eric Decker had a 43) -- perhaps this shouldn't have surprised me (34 on the Wonderlic; second best among WRs), but I admit, it did. I'd still be a bit surprised if he jumped ahead of Bryant, but I'd certainly no longer be stunned.  
  • With all due respect to Mr. Mel Kiper, Jr., Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen absolutely remains in play for the Seattle Seahawks. I don't feel strongly enough to have included it among my original bold predictions, but I would not be the least bit surprised if Pete Carroll took Clausen. He knows him well; much better than he knew Charlie Whitehurst before making the trade for him. He couldn't have. Whitehurst hasn't played. If Seattle was willing to gamble picks on a quarterback they couldn't possibly have known as well as Carroll knows Clausen just to solidify the position, they could do it again. Consider that if Seattle hadn't traded for Whitehurst and given him millions, many would be assuming at this point that Seattle would be strongly considering the former USC recruit. Because of that deal, most aren't. I'm not sure that is a safe assumption.
  • I believe center Maurkice Pouncey is being heavily considered by the Denver Broncos. They own the 11th pick and I can't imagine them taking him there, but they can't afford to trade down too far if they want to get him, as there are several teams in the mid to late teens who love Pouncey. There is a bigger dropoff between Pouncey and the No. 2 rated center (either Baylor's J.D. Walton or Boston College's Matt Tennant, depending on the team) than between the top-rated and second-best prospect at any other position in this draft. To put it into perspective how rare taking a true center in the top half of the draft is, note that the last time it happened was 1993 when the Cleveland Browns selected Steve Everitt from Michigan with the 14th overall pick.



 
 
 
 
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