Tag:Notre Dame
Posted on: September 17, 2011 10:25 am
 

Reuter previews Saturday - Five Matchups to Watch

Each week my fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter has agreed to provide for NFLDraftScout.com/CBSSports.com a listing of his Five On The Spot, as well as the following Five Matchups to Watch.

Chad can also be followed on Twitter @ChadReuter. He and I often comment on the day's games as the action occurs. Should you want to scout "alongside" either of us, simply follow us there.

Five Matchups to Watch:


1. Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins vs. Notre Dame Passing Defense

Cousins' eyes probably looked the size of saucers as he watched the film of Michigan beating Notre Dame's secondary for big play after big play last week. He has the set of fine senior receivers (B.J. Cunningham, Keshawn Martin, Keith Nichol) and tight ends (Brian Linthicum, Garrett Celek) to run rough-shod over the Irish defense in a similar manner unless Irish corners Robert Blanton and Gary Gray proves themselves more capable of playing the ball in the air.

NFL teams know Cousins is able to make throws from the picket, command a huddle, and possesses the agility to bootleg and make short to intermediate throws on the run. His arm strength has never been his greatest asset, however, so this contest gives him a chance to prove he is willing and able to test cornerbacks down the field with well-placed throws to the sideline when his receivers have the one-on-one match-up they desire.

2. Pittsburgh DE Brandon Lindsey vs. Iowa RT Markus Zusevics

Lindsey was part of a strong triumvirate of defensive ends in Pittsburgh the past couple of seasons, at least when Jabaal Sheard and Greg Romeus were healthy. He now stands alone on the strong side, and in this game faces against an underratedly tough and athletic Zusevics.

Lindsey had lined up on the weak side before Sheard headed off to Cleveland in the second round of last year's draft, but the presence of future NFL starting left tackle Riley Reiff will probably keep him battling Zusevics most of the game. Riding Lindsey around the pocket and protecting the inside rush lane will show scouts Zusevics has the potential to be reliable in pass pro at the next level, while Lindsey's strength against the run answers critics' questions about his ability to play on early downs against NFL linemen.

3. Auburn LT Brandon Mosley vs. Clemson DE Andre Branch

Mosley is a former junior college defensive end and tight end who stepped into the starting right tackle spot during the Tigers' BCS championship season last year. Now on the left side, he'll face an explosive group of Clemson defensive ends led by senior Branch.

Although Mosley is quite athletic for his 6-foot-5, 305 pound build, but he'll need to be quick and fluid in his lateral movement and prove his anchor against the surprisingly strong bull rush of Branch and true freshman Corey Crawford (who looks like he could live up to wearing former Clemson star end Da'Quan Bowers' number 93 jersey) if he wants to show scouts he could stay on the blind side in the NFL.

4. Temple LG Derek Dennis vs. Penn State DTs Devon Still/Jordan Hill

Last season Temple defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson opened eyes with his performance against the Nittany Lions, eventually leading him to declare for the draft and be selected in the first round by the New York Jets. Though not likely to be picked that high, Dennis could be the Owl whose draft stock climbs after facing talented Big Ten prospects.

His thick frame, brute strength and fair short-area quickness matches up well against both the highly-regarded, athletic Devon Still and the less-heralded but active and strong junior Jordan Hill. If Dennis can stop the advances of the Still and Hill combination early in the game, the 6-foot-3, 328-pound left guard should be able to wear them down as the contest progresses, just as Alabama's line did last weekend. Temple's tough junior running back, Bernard Pierce, will take advantage of the space Dennis can create.

5. Florida International WR T.Y. Hilton vs. Central Florida CB Josh Robinson

This battle may be a bit under the college football radar, but Hilton's seven-catch, 201-yard, two-score Friday night performance against Louisville last week did get him in the national spotlight. Robinson's talent has also been clear to scouts since he picked off six passes as a true freshman for the Golden Knights in 2009. Now a junior, he faces his strongest test yet in Hilton.

FIU will undoubtedly move their star playmaker around to try and find openings in the UCF defense. But any time Robinson lines up across from Hilton, scouts will watch whether the corner has the speed to trail the receiver effectively as well as fight for the ball or close quickly to dislodge it from Hilton's hands.

Honorable mention
Ohio State C Mike Brewster vs. Miami (Fla.) DTs Marcus Forston/Micanor Regis
Northern Illinois QB Chandler Harnish vs. Wisconsin CB Antonio Fenelus
Stanford WR Chris Owusu vs. Arizona CB Trevin Wade
Arkansas RT Grant Freeman vs. Troy DE Johnathan Massaquoi
Washington RB Chris Polk vs. Nebraska Front Seven

Posted on: September 17, 2011 10:15 am
 

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: September 16, 2011 2:58 pm
Edited on: September 16, 2011 5:39 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. I also try to tweet comments on prospects throughout Saturday's action. You can follow me on Twitter @RobRang.

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.

RB Tauren Poole, Tennessee: There are some huge games this weekend, but few have the longstanding rivalry that Tennessee-Florida boasts. Poole is currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 7 rated running back, but he boasts a combination of size, speed, elusiveness and power that could translate into a starter at the next level. When you take into account all of the talented underclassmen, Poole is our 16th rated RB and that seems waaay too low based on the tape I've seen. With a strong game against an athletic Gator defense playing in front of their home crowd, he could get my vote to move up significantly in our rankings. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by CBS.

DT Alameda Ta'amu, Washington: For all of the attention that Jake Locker and running back Chris Polk gained for their roles in Washington's surprising Holiday Bowl victory over Nebraska in January, the emergence of this 6-3, 337 run-stuffer was a critical piece tot he puzzle. Ta'Amu and the Huskies will be facing a more motivated Huskers offense this time around, so it will be fascinating to see how these two teams perform in the rubber match. A strong performance in this game could lead to the underdog Huskies giving Nebraska a tough game and also push Ta'Amu into legitimate first round consideration. He could follow Phil Taylor and BJ Raji as recent run-stuffers whose strong senior seasons catapulted them into the top 32. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by ABC/ESPN.

DT Jerel Worthy, Michigan State: One could argue that for Michigan State to beat Notre Dame, the pressure is most on senior quarterback Kirk Cousins.However, considering the way the Irish defense has played, Cousins could have a field day. The greater pressure (and thus, why I, scouts will be paying close attention) will be on the Spartans' defense to bottle up the Irish offense. Worthy shows flashes of the penetrating quickness and power that can result in a first round pick, but needs to be more consistent. This game could go a long way in determing whether Worthy (a junior) should consider making the early leap to the NFL. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by NBC.

OLB Sean Spence, Miami: It wasn't that long ago when Miami-Ohio State would have ranked as the top game of the weekend. Now, for many it has become an after-thought. Not to me, however, and certainly not to scouts. Spence is one of the better chase linebackers in the country, but is undersized. He struggled handling Terrelle Pryor last year in this contest. While Pryor is obviously now an Oakland Raider, it will be interesting to see if Spence remembers his atypical performance a year ago and improves his open field tackling this time around. I expect that he will. This game begins at 7:30 pm EST and will be televised by ESPN.

QB Landry Jones, Oklahoma: In case you haven't seen my Top 32 "Bigger Board," let me just say right now that I'm lower on Jones than most. While he undeniably has an NFL combination of size and arm strength, I question whether he has the accuracy and poise to be an elite pro quarterback. The fact that he's coming out of a spread offense that significantly inflates his production and typically protects him from pressure doesn't help his cause at all. However, to beat a fast, aggressive Seminoles' defense in Tallahassee, Jones will have to show improved accuracy and calm in the pocket -- which could lead me to re-evaluate him quickly. There is legitimate NFL talent on both sides of the ball for both of these programs. No one has more riding on their performance, however, than Jones, a junior passer who some compare to Sam Bradford and view as a potential top five pick in the 2012 draft. This game begins at 8:00 pm EST and will be televised by ABC.


Posted on: September 9, 2011 4:19 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.
RB Vick Ballard, Mississippi State: Ballard served notice immediately against Memphis last week (career-high 166 yards and three TDs) that his first season for the Bulldogs (994 yards, 19 TDs) was no fluke after transferring from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. The sledding will be tougher Saturday against the defending champion Auburn Tigers, which survived a scare last week from Utah State. Ballard has good size (5-11, 220) and power, but still has to answer concerns about his speed. This game begins at 12:20 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN3 and The SEC Network.

DT Devon Still, Penn State:  At 6-4, 310 pounds, Still has the size scouts are looking for and he's shown flashes of dominant ability throughout his career. Still hasn't yet shown the consistency, however, to warrant the hype he's received, however. A strong performance against Alabama Saturday and their potential All-SEC center William Vlachos, himself a late round NFL possibility, would go a long way in boosting Still's stock. This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be televised by ABC.

OT/OG Cordy Glenn, Georgia: A dominant guard throughout much of his career with the Bulldogs, Glenn was asked to move outside to left tackle against an experienced and athletic Boise State defensive front last week and not surprisingly struggled. At 6-5, 345 pounds, Glenn may simply lack the quick feet and balance to remain outside. As I pointed out in my "Big Board," however, I am not willing to move him out of my Top 32 after one poor performance. As good as the Boise front four was, Glenn and the Bulldogs are in for an even tougher test tomorrow against South Carolina's pass rushers. The Gamecocks boast two of the better rushers in the conference in senior Melvin Ingram and rising junior Devin Taylor, who also has a place on my Top 32. I'm looking forward to all of this weekend's games, but from a scouting standpoint, this is the one to focus on. This game begins at 4:30 ET and will be televised by ESPN.

DE Alex Okafor, Texas: Like Still for the Nittany Lions, Okafor has generated more press than production early in his career. It is important to note that unlike Still, Okafor is only a junior and he was miscast last season as a defensive tackle. This season, the 6-4, 260 pounder is back outside rushing the passer. Okafor only registered two tackles last week against Rice, though one of them was a tackle for loss. Okafor will have plenty of opportunities to rush the quarterback against BYU Saturday. The Cougars could give Okafor and the Longhorns more than they bargained for, however, as they are coming off an impressive win last week at Mississippi. This game begins at 7 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN2.

ILB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame: Some believe Te'o will prove to be the first Notre Dame defender to be drafted in the first round since Renaldo Wynn (1997). What is very clear is that Te'o is an instinctive, physical defender very capable of dictating the action in the middle. Against an athletic and versatile Michigan offense, however, Te'o speed to the flanks will be tested. Considering that he finished with 133 tackles last year -- the most from any Irish defender since 1983 -- it wasn't surprising that Te'o led Notre Dame last week against South Florida with nine stops. He'll have to be even better this week if Brian Kelly's group is to get into the win column. This game begins at 8:00 pm EST and will be televised by ESPN. 
Posted on: May 25, 2011 12:45 pm
Edited on: May 25, 2011 12:46 pm
 

ND coach Kelly issues star WR Floyd a challenge

Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd is a talented player that head coach Brian Kelly would no doubt love to feature in 2011.

Unless, Floyd is willing to focus his attention on becoming a better player, rather than partying, however, Kelly sounds willing to look elsewhere for big plays in the passing game -- at least according to Eric Hansen's report in the South Bend Tribune. 

Hansen quotes Kelly as saying,
“We’re looking at Mike [Floyd] as an ‘all in or not’ situation.”  “In other words, he’s changing his life or he’s not. If he changes the way he’s lived his life, he’ll play every game for us. If he doesn’t, he won’t play one down here at Notre Dame. “He is at that level. This is not, ‘I’m going to slap you on the hand and sit you for two games’ — because I don’t want to read about him in a year, where it says, ‘Ex-Notre Dame player arrested for X-Y-Z.’ That will be a failing on my part if that happens.”

Further in the article, Kelly explains some of the steps that Floyd has taken to earn back his position on the team.

“He had a number of things he had to take care of, and he’s checking off the boxes,” Kelly said. “But he’s got a number that are still out there.

“One that he did get past this spring was his academics. He had to have a specific GPA, and he did. He’s got some community service stuff he’s still got to do for Res Life. He’s got court coming up on June 7, and he’s got to pass that.”

Floyd’s attorney, William Stanley, said Floyd is expected to plead guilty at his next court date. He is facing an A-level misdemeanor charge for the alleged offense, which carries a maximum sentence of one year in the St. Joseph County Jail and a $5,000 fine.

“There’s no gray area anymore,” Kelly said. “There just can’t be. Too many times it’s been, ‘I’ll change.’ Look, you’re parenting a young man whose close to being a teenager. As much as it hurts to say, ‘He’s done at Notre Dame,’ if he doesn’t change his life, he’s done at Notre Dame. he’s not going to play here.

“Having said this, I’m very optimistic. I’m not going to paint a bleak picture. He’s done some things, that I can’t get into relative to changing his life, in which reports back from professionals are really optimistic. But he’s got to handle all these things before we start thinking about playing in the fall.”

Floyd, already Notre Dame's career leader in touchdown catches (28) and ranking second in school history in catches (171) and third in receiving yards (2,539), has been had three alcohol-related run-ins since signing with the Irish in 2008.

Floyd's latest arrest (March 20) was for suspicion of a DUI and generated plenty of speculation that he'd be kicked off the team. According to Hansen, Floyd was arrested with a blood-alcohol content of 0.19%. Indiana's legal limit is 0.08.

Floyd strongly considered leaving Notre Dame after his junior season for the 2011 NFL Draft. The team and Sun Bowl MVP likely would have been a second round pick. Should he elect to participate in this summer's Supplemental Draft, he'd likely fall a round or two further.

To keep even this grade, he'll need to resurrect his image - which may or may not occur at Notre Dame.

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 22, 2011 1:00 pm
 

St. Louis Rams Draft Breakdown

St. Louis Rams 2010 record: 7-9, second place NFC West

2011 draft rundown    Seven total picks (round): 14 (1); 47 (2); 78 (3); 112 (4); 145 (5); 216 (7) 228 (7)

Top needs:   

Wide receiver: The arrival of Josh McDaniels as offensive coordinator seemingly makes it likely that more playmakers would be added. Complicating the situation are injury issues facing Donnie Avery, who missed the entire 2010 season with a knee injury, Mark Clayton, who missed the final 11 games with a knee injury and is a free agent, and Danario Alexander, who had had five surgeries on his left knee. McDaniels has been successful in the past without what would be considered elite pass-catchers.

Safety: James Butler has been a disappointment in his two seasons with the team, and Craig Dahl is a solid backup, but shouldn't be a starter. What's needed at the position is an all-around player that can be a tough run-stopper and defends the pass. With Oshiomogho Atogwe having signed with Washington, an obvious replacement is needed. There are only three safeties currently on the roster: Dahl, James Butler and Darian Stewart

Running back: The search continues for a viable and productive back behind Steven Jackson. The ideal would be a complement to Jackson, who could keep defenses honest with the ability to get to the edges consistently.

Guard: The Rams had their best success running the ball last season when John Greco was sharing time with Adam Goldberg at right guard. But because of some injuries at tackle, the Rams had Renardo Foster active instead of Greco for the final eight games of the season. The running game suffered as Goldberg had to play virtually every snap.


First-round focus   14th overall -- The St. Louis Rams would love to see a playmaking wide receiver like Alabama's Julio Jones somehow slip to them, but that isn't likely to happen. There are some rumblings throughout the league that if the team isn't able to get a speedster to take advantage of Sam Bradford's arm, the Rams might reach a bit to draft Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph, who could become the security blanket in the middle many teams like to provide their young, developing signal-callers. The Rams have also shown a great deal of interest in adding a running back to take some of the burden off of Pro Bowler Steven Jackson and could surprise with Mark Ingram. Depth at the position and greater needs elsewhere, however, make this unlikely. A more likely scenario might have the Rams looking to address the need for more youth, playmaking ability on the defensive line. Head coach Steve Spagnuolo deserves a great deal of credit for piecing together a productive defensive line last year largely with duct tape, but might have a hard time passing up a stout defensive tackle like Illinois' Corey Liuget or a pass rusher such as Missouri's Aldon Smith, should either be available at No. 14.

Five names on Rams' board:   

WR Julio Jones, Alabama
DT Corey Liuget, Illinois
DE Aldon Smith, Missouri
RB Mark Ingram, Alabama
TE Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame


Posted on: April 7, 2011 2:04 pm
Edited on: April 7, 2011 2:06 pm
 

Top-rated TE Kyle Rudolph runs 4.78 at Pro Day

According to a source on the scene, Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph was clocked at 4.78 seconds in the 40-yard dash at his Pro Day workout Thursday.

The time will be considered by some to be a disappointing one, considering that Rudolph is viewed as the unquestioned top prospect at his position. As a comparison, nine of the 17 tight ends invited to the Scouting Combine were timed faster in the event.

Though the 40-yard dash time wasn't impressive, it is in line with the straight-line speed (or rather lack thereof) shown by Rudolph on tape.

This isn't to say that I don't believe Rudolph can be an effective player. At 6-6, 259 pounds, Rudolph is an all-around tight capable of making an impact as a receiver and blocker. He is not, however, an explosive player. As I've noted previously , some of his production while at Notre Dame has to be attributed to the wide open offenses instituted by former head coach Charlie Weis and current Notre Dame head coach, Brian Kelly.

His speed is very similar to those run by Zach Miller, John Carlson, Brandon Pettigrew, and others picked in the top 40 in recent drafts at the position.

There's no reason to believe his stock will greatly increase or decrease based on today's workout--through just seeing him perform drills and run routes will ease scouts' minds. A solid medical report from the re-checks in Indianapolis is another key factor in his final grade.

Rudolph's Pro Day workout is critical to his final draft grade because he was unable to participate at the Combine due to his recovery from surgery to repair the torn hamstring that cut short his junior season.

NFLDraftScout.com will keep you updated on Rudolph and other Notre Dame players as their results from their Pro Day come through.

Senior Analyst Chad Reuter contributed to this report.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com