Tag:Ohio State
Posted on: November 18, 2011 6:23 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2011 2:40 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. 

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.

DT Kendall Reyes, Connecticut: Reyes wasn't a highly touted prospect when signing with UCONN, but has built himself into a legitimate top 100 prospect. Experienced inside and out, teams running the 3-4 and 4-3 schemes, alike, will be interested in acquiring his services. Reyes will have his hands full against a much improved Louisville team, but with a strong showing the senior could secure a spot on one of the premier all-star game rosters. This game begins at noon ET and will be televised by ESPN.

DT Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State:  The afore-mentioned Reyes is underrated in some circles. Few outside of the SEC know much about Cox, a 6-4, 295 pound junior who has been running the conference ragged. Cox, you may be surprised to learn, has earned the SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week three times this season. Arkansas generally does a great job of protecting the quarterback, but Tyler Wilson will certainly have to keep his eyes open for this Bulldog.  This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be broadcast by CBS.

OT Mike Adams, Ohio State: When Adams, Terrelle Pryor and three other Buckeyes were suspended over "Tattoo-gate" last season, I made the argument that the man whose stock might be impacted the least was Adams. The reasoning behind it was simple -- Adams was the best prospect of the group. The 6-6, 320 pounder has proven to be worth the hype thus far in his abbreviated senior campaign, though he'll get a tough test Saturday against a very talented Penn State defensive line. Adams is NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior at the position and, quite frankly, the only senior tackle I've seen this year that I've given a first round grade.  This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN/ABC. 

QB Matt Barkley, Southern Cal: A week after the Oregon Ducks' talented (albeit young) secondary shut down the presumptive No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck and the Stanford Cardinal offense, Barkley and the Trojans will get their chance. The Ducks contained Luck in large part due to the fact that Stanford was missing their top speed threat on the outside, senior wideout Chris Owusu. Barkley could be without his star receiver, Robert Woods in this contest, as the sophomore is battling nagging shoulder and ankle injuries. Barkley is blessed to have better weapons on the outside to help shoulder the possible loss of Woods, but this matchup nonetheless poses quite a challenge for my No. 2 rated prospect overall.  This game begins at 8:00 pm ET and will be televised by ABC. 

QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor: Possessing quick feet and a strong, accurate arm, RGIII has been dazzling, at times, this season. He is fortunate to have one of the more criminally underrated wideouts in the country in senior Kendall Wright, an explosive playmaker that some scouts have compared to DeSean Jackson. This combination has been enough to beat the also-rans on Baylor's schedule, but with the Sooners coming to town Saturday night, Griffin will need to be able to spread the ball around to have much of a chance. Griffin has steadily maintained that he's likely to return to Baylor next season, but a strong performance against a team as talented as Oklahoma could create such a buzz that he'd have to explore his potential NFL options sooner than maybe even he expects.  This game begins at 8:00 ET and will be televised by ESPN.



Posted on: October 29, 2011 11:41 am
 

Mano-a-Mano, Week Nine

In addition to the prospects Senior Analyst Rob Rang wrote about in his "five players to watch" blog post, take a look at these memorable ten one-on-one 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 and what coaches see as favorable match-ups, 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.

1. Stanford QB *Andrew Luck (#12/6-4/235/4.73) at Southern Cal QB *Matt Barkley (#7/6-2/220/4.74)
8:00 pm, ABC

Usually in this space I discuss players likely to literally butt heads, but the battle of two of the nation's top signal callers is too intriguing to ignore. Luck will receive higher marks than Barkley in every category on a scout's report, especially in the athleticism areas. But Barkley could actually get more of a bump from this game than Luck, from whom near-perfection is expected in every outing. League general managers will take note if the former top high school recruit does not shrink under the pressure of both facing Stanford defenders and from taking on the consensus number one pick.

Barkley's impressive performance against Notre Dame last week already showed NFL teams he is capable of making some tough throws (and avoid bad plays) in hostile venues. But as Rob Rang mentioned in his blog post yesterday, a strong outing at his home stadium where he displays the poise and movement within the pocket to avoid pressure (and outside of it to gain first downs with his feet), as well as an ability to put the ball in tight spaces when necessary, will help him shed the "game manager" moniker and lock up a top five draft slot.

2. Stanford LT *Jonathan Martin (#55/6-6/305/5.29) at Southern Cal DE *Nick Perry (#8/6-3/250/4.59)
8:00 pm, ABC

Martin isn't related to a current NFL player like USC left tackle Matt Kalil (brother, Ryan, is the highly-regarded center for Carolina), but his strength and ferociousness both in pass protection and in the run game make some scouts believe he's the top blind side player in the draft (should he decide to join Luck in entering the draft early). He does tend to play with too wide a base at times, making it difficult for him to adjust to spin and inside moves from quick rushers like Perry -- who not only needs to show explosiveness off the snap to beat Martin to the corner, but also counter rushes and consistent hustle chasing Luck and running backs inside to have scouts consider him a top 40 project as a 3-4 'backer or a 4-3 end for teams looking for more speed than size on the edge.

*Matt Kalil (#75/6-6/295/5.05) will have his own challenge holding back Stanford's DE/OLB *Chase Thomas (#44/6-4/240/4.76), who ranks in the top 20 in the FBS in tackles for loss (11.5) and sacks (5.5). Though Thomas isn't as quick or agile as Perry, he will challenge the anchor of Kalil, whose relatively svelte build belies his ability to widen his stance when necessary and stand his ground against strong bull rushes. On many plays, however, he fails to bend and move his feet quickly enough to protect the inside rush lane or mirror defenders pushing him upfield before cutting upfield.

3. Michigan State WR B.J. Cunningham (#3/6-2/216/4.59) at Nebraska CB Alfonzo Dennard (#15/5-10/205/4.49)
12:00 pm, ESPN

Cunningham ranks in the top 20 nationally in receptions and receiving yards per game, and had a nice game in the Spartans' win over previously undefeated Wisconsin (6-102, TD). Scouts like the feistiness (if not the size) of Dennard, however, who should match up regularly against QB Kirk Cousin's best downfield option. Cunningham does not have elite speed, but he has the size, quick feet, and a burst to create separation from Dennard. Plays can be had if Cousins does not stare down Cunningham so the heady Dennard can close on passes, and if Cunningham's hands are once again solid (and not inconsistent, as they were vs. Michigan). Dennard may also end up shadowing MSU's quicker receiver, Keshawn Martin (#82/5-10/190/4.44), to prevent him from making the type of back-breaking plays after the catch that he made against the Badgers.

4. Wisconsin DE Louis Nzegwu (#93/6-4/255/4.76) at Ohio State LT Mike Adams (#75/6-6/320/5.28)
8:00 pm, ESPN

The Badgers must get over that supremely disappointing defeat to Sparty State quicky, or the Buckeyes will turn one loss into two in a hurry. OSU RB Dan Herron (#1/5-10/208/4.52) will get the headlines going into the game because of the boost he gave the team against Illinois (23-114, TD), but getting Adams back from suspension was just as important. In an offensive tackle class lacking depth, his wide frame, arm length, and fluid movement will be coveted by scouts looking for pass protectors. He's been inconsistent with his effort and technique in the past, however, so Nzegwyu (who has 2.5 sacks in his last two games) will look to take advantage of any momentary lapses to stop Herron in the run game or attack QB Braxton Miller if the young passer looks unaware of backside pressure.

5. Arizona WR Juron Criner (#82/6-4/215/4.62) vs. Washington CB *Desmond Trufant (#6/6-0/185/4.49)
10:30 pm, FSN

The Wildcats have not played since their emotional win over UCLA last Thursday that marked the beginning of the post-Mike Stoops era. In that game, Criner connected with fellow senior QB Nick Foles (6-5/240/4.96) for three scores, using his size and hands to go over the top of Bruins defenders (who also helped him scores by falling down or letting him run by on two of his three TDs). He faces a good junior corner in Trufant (the brother of NFL CB Marcus) that is making big plays regularity this year (interceptions in the first two weeks of the year, nine other passes broken up, two forced fumbles this year) but is prone to giving up big plays, as well. And Criner isn't the only receiver prospect Trufant will face, as David Douglas (#85/6-1/205/4.64) and junior Texas transfer Dan Buckner (#15/6-3/220/4.57) are also on scouts' radars as potential later-round picks.

6. California WR Marvin Jones (#1/6-2/202/4.53) at UCLA CB *Aaron Hester (#21/6-1/206/4.49)
7:00 pm, Fox Sports Prime Ticket

It is unfortunate this game won't be seen outside of the West, as Jones and Hester should have some good battles. Hester was one of the corners beaten by Criner last week, as he gave up a score by allowing the Arizona receiver to eat up cushion and could not recover in time to prevent a fade into the end zone. Jones isn't quite as big as Criner, but he can be physical and is a superior route-runner. Hester, therefore, will have to prove to scouts his footwork is sound if he is to handle Jones -- and project as an above-average starter at the next level.

7. Purdue DT *Kawann Short (#93/6-3/310/5.22) at Michigan C David Molk (#50/6-2/288/5.18)
12:00 pm, ESPN

Short was the Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week for his work against Illinois (3.5 TFL, 2 sacks), and carries an extra 30 pounds over Molk -- even if a lot in his midsection. Molk may not be the biggest pivot man in the draft, but his ability to block on the move and to anchor against NFL-sized tackles has gained him respect from scouts. Though Short can be a pain for most college interior linemen to handle one-on-one, teams will be interested to see if he can beat a technician like Molk with strong hands on initial contact -- and if he has the, flexibility, change of direction ability, and relentless nature to chase down junior QB Denard Robinson when the speedy runner is not directly in his path. General managers considering him in the second round of the 2012 draft will also like to see how Short looks in the fourth quarter after spending the afternoon pursuing "Shoelace."

8. Arkansas Wide Receivers at Vanderbilt CB Casey Hayward (#19/5-11/188/4.53)
12:21 pm, SEC Network/ESPN3.com

No matter where the savvy Hayward lines up, he's going to be facing a potential NFL receiver because of the depth the Razorbacks have at the position. Arkansas' fastball-throwing QB *Tyler Wilson (#8/6-3/220/4.77) can challenge Hayward's ability to handle the size of Greg Childs (#85/6-3/217/4.56) and *Cobi Hamilton (#11/6-3/209/4.57) down the field -- and his ability to bring them down after the catch. The speed of the fourth-ranked interceptor in the FBS (with five picks this season after grabbing six in 2010) will also be tested if he's covering speedy Jarius Wright (#4/5-10/180/4.34) or Joe Adams (#3/5-11/190/4.38). In the end, Hayward may be battling Wilson most of all, as he is a capable zone defender willing to come off one man to attack passes in his general vicinity if the junior passer is locked onto one of his formidable targets.

9. Illinois LT Jeff Allen (#71/6-4/315/5.26) at Penn State DE Jack Crawford (#81/6-5/273/4.79)
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Allen is an underrated prospect who has a nice chance to show off his balance and fluid movement in pass protection for scouts against another potential mid-round pick in Crawford Saturday afternoon. PSU's tall, long rush end is not an elite prospect by any means, but did assist on two sacks for the Nittany Lions last week in the win over Northwestern and can be a thorn in the side of Illini junior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase if left unchecked.

10. Missouri WRs *T.J. Moe (#28/5-11/195/4.49)/Wes Kemp (#8/6-4/220/4.47)  Texas A&M at CB Coryell Judie (#5/5-11/190/4.48)/Terrence Frederick (#7/5-10/187/4.52)
12:00 pm, FX

Another both teams' coaches will be preaching defense before the game, this one will likely end up just another Big 12 passing shoot-out. Judie and Frederick are two Aggies corners with NFL aspirations, but soph QB James Franklin is capable of finding his multiple targets if given sufficient protection up front. Kemp has a similar size/speed combination to current St. Louis Rams receiver Danario Alexander, though his production hasn't always reflected it since Chase Daniel left Columbia. Moe doesn't look like a big-time playmaker on the hoof, but his crisp routes, underrated quicknessm, awareness in zones, and strong hands making defenses pay for coverage breakdowns. Both Judie and Frederick will fight the larger Kemp on sideline throws and jump balls despite his height advantage, but they must he disciplined in their footwork against Moe or the junior find a seam or leave them behind on a strong cut.

Honorable Mention

Bowling Green WR Kamar Jorden (#19/6-1/203/4.68) at Kent State CB Josh Pleasant (#2/5-10/190/4.41)
1:00 pm, MAC-Sports.com Live Streaming

West Virginia CB Keith Tandy (#8/5-10/199/4.54) at Rutgers WR *Mohamed Sanu (#6/6-2/215/4.57)
3:30 pm, ABC

Oklahoma DE Frank Alexander (#84/6-3/255/4.82) at Kansas State LT Zach Hanson (#70/6-8/303)
3:30 pm, ESPN

Iowa CBs Shaun Prater (#28/5-10/185/4.49)/*Micah Hyde (#18/6-1/185/4.53) at Minnesota WR Da'Jon McKnight (#6/6-1/212/4.54)
3:30 pm, Big Ten Network

West Virginia DE Julian Miller (#97/6-3/268/4.76) at Rutgers LG Desmond Wynn (#70/6-5/295/5.14)
West Virginia LT Don Barclay (#64/6-4/310/5.27) at Rutgers DE Manny Abreu (#51/6-2/260/4.76)
3:30 pm, ABC 

Virginia Tech CB *Jayron Hosley (#20/5-10/172/4.52) at Duke WRs *Conner Vernon (#2/6-1/195/4.53)/Donovan Varner (#26/5-08/175/4.53)
12:30 pm, ACC Network/ESPN3.com 

Wake Forest CB *Kenny Okoro (#6/6-0/190/4.49) at North Carolina WR Dwight Jones (#83/6-4/225/4.53)
3:30 pm, ESPNU

Purdue LT Dennis Kelly (#68/6-8/306/5.32) at Michigan DE *Craig Roh (#88/6-4/269/4.76)
3:30 pm, Big Ten Network

Florida LG Dan Wenger (#56/6-3/295/5.28) at Georgia DT DeAngelo Tyson (#94/6-2/306/5.02)
3:30 pm, CBS

Baylor DT Nicolas Jean-Baptiste (#90/6-2/335/5.06) at Oklahoma State C Grant Garner (#74/6-2/292/5.36)
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Illinois WR A.J. Jenkins (#8/6-0/190/4.49) at Penn State CBs Chaz Powell (#2/6-1/206/4.48)/D'Anton Lynn (#8/6-0/208/4.53)
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Kansas RT *Tanner Hawkinson (#72/6-5/295/5.04) at Texas DE *Alex Okafor (#80/6-4/260/4.62)
7:00 pm, Longhorn Network

Ole Miss DE Kentrell Lockett (#40/6-5/248/4.79) at Auburn LT A.J. Greene (#77/6-5/298/5.18)
7:00 pm, ESPNU 

California DE Trevor Guyton (#92/6-3/280/4.86) at UCLA RT Mike Harris (#65/6-5/326/5.32)
7:00 pm, Fox Sports Prime Ticket 

Mississippi State RB Vick Ballard (#28/5-11/220/4.58) at Kentucky OLB Danny Trevathan (#22/6-0/232/4.68)
Mississippi State DT *Fletcher Cox (#94/6-4/295/4.96) at Kentucky RG *Larry Warford (#67/6-3/336/5.34)
7:00 PM, Fox Sports South

Wisconsin DT Patrick Butrym (#95/6-3/285/5.14) at Ohio State C Michael Brewster (#50/6-4/305/5.17)
Wisconsin OLB *Mike Taylor (#53/6-2/230/4.64) at Ohio State FB *Zach Boren (#44/6-0/252/4.68)
8:00 pm, ESPN

Arizona CB Trevin Wade (#24/5-11/192/4.56) at Washington WR Jermaine Kearse (#15/6-1/208/4.50)
10:30 pm, FSN 

--Contributed by Senior Analyst Chad Reuter  Follow him on Twitter at @ChadReuter

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: October 7, 2011 9:11 pm
Edited on: October 7, 2011 9:11 pm
 

Mano-a-Mano, Week Six

In addition to the five players NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Rob Rang mentioned in his weekly preview, you may want take a look at these ten one-on-one 2012 NFL Draft prospect match-ups (plus a few more worth an honorable mention) 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.

1. Ohio State LT Mike Adams at Nebraska DE Cameron Meredith
8:00 pm, ABC

Typically scouts get their first look at a highly-regarded prospect like Ohio State left tackle Mike Adams in September, but his five-game suspension for receiving impermissible benefits delayed the beginning of his senior season. The 6-foot-8, 320-pound Adams possesses the length NFL offensive line coaches desire in a left tackle, but his motor and technique lacked consistency through his first three years in Columbus. Meredith is a good test for Adams coming out of the blocks; he is not elite in any way but the junior has three sacks this year (two against Tennessee-Chattanooga) and can get past the long-legged Adams by pushing him upfield to free the inside lane.

2. Iowa State CB Leonard Johnson at Baylor WR Kendall Wright
7:00 pm, FSN

Wright has gained national prominence for combining with Heisman hopeful Robert Griffin III to put up big numbers for Baylor; he ranks in the top four nationally with 10 receptions and over 155 receiving yards per game. Johnson's played in relative anonymity in Ames, but the thick 5-foot-10, 200-pound corner will be up to the task of tracking Wright when they match up. The 2010 second-team All-Big 12 pick has enough speed and toughness to stay with the prolific receiver on the deep routes and end zone fades Griffin loves to throw.

3. Iowa LT Riley Reiff at Penn State DE Jack Crawford
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN

Reiff combines athleticism and toughness as a run blocker to be one of the top tackle prospects in the class, if he decides to leave after his junior season. Crawford, who is tied for the PSU team lead with 1.5 sacks with DT Jordan Hill, has the length scouts like on the edge but hasn't really exploded onto the scene as was anticipated before the 2010 season. These two should battle on pass and run plays throughout the game, as will fellow solid prospects Iowa RT Markus Zusevics and PSU DE Eric Latimore on the other side of the line.

4. Iowa CB Shaun Prater vs. Penn State WR Derek Moye
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN

The Hawkeyes and Nittany Lions also have great match-ups outside for scouts and fans to watch Saturday afternoon. Prater measures under 5-foot-10 and around 185 pounds, but has the wiry strength and competitiveness to fight PSU's big-play receiver Moye, who averages 17.0 yards a catch in 2011 and has three touchdowns in the past two weeks despite the team's less-than-dynamic duo at QB. Iowa's six-foot-one junior corner Micah Hyde also provides a solid match-up against Moye and 6-foot-3 junior Justin Brown, as his height and hands can result in turnovers if the Rob Bolden/Matt McGloin combo makes mistakes. Scouts will also watch to see if Iowa's senior receiver prospect, Marvin McNutt, can beat the press coverage and fight for the ball against another tall corner in Chaz Powell. PSU's other NFL-sized corner, D'Anton Lynn, is doubtful for this game with a head/neck injury. 

5. Oklahoma LT Donald Stephenson vs. Texas DE Alex Okafor
12:00 pm, ABC

Okafor had his best game of the year against Iowa State last weekend in the team's big road win. The junior gets another challenge in the Red River Rivalry, one that will be watched by a vast majority of NFL general managers Saturday morning whether they are at the Cotton Bowl or around the country at another game. In a class with few pass rushers coming on strong, the 6-foot-4, 260-pound Okafor can make a name for himself against a solid athlete in Stephenson -- who looks to make his own impression with a strong anchor and fluid lateral movement to shut down Longhorn blitzes and stunts.

6. Maryland CB Cameron Chism at Georgia Tech WR Stephen Hill
12:00 pm, ESPNU

Georgia Tech leads major college football with 378 rushing yards a game, but Hill takes advantage of teams filling the box against Paul Johnson's option attack, making plays deep. The junior averages a ridiculous 33.5 yards per reception, well ahead of anyone of the 25 other receivers eclipsing 100 receiving yards a game this season. Chism gives up about seven inches in height to the 6-foot-5 Hill, so there's little doubt Tech will test him downfield. He'll need a big game similar to the one he had in the opener against Miami (six tackles, TFL, forced fumble, pick-six) to prevent Tech and Hill from getting the win.

7. Florida State RT Zebrie Sanders at Wake Forest DE/OLB Kyle Wilber
12:30 pm, ACC Network/ESPN3.com

Wilber has played defensive end and linebacker in Wake's versatile defensive scheme, but either way the lanky 6-foot-5, 250-pound pass rusher is coming for the quarterback. He's had one sack in each of the past two weeks, but hasn't faced an athlete like Sanders. The senior looks like a left tackle but plays on the right, which isn't unusual in the NFL anymore because of the necessity of solid pass protection at that level. If Wilber can't make hay against Sanders, moving over to take on top 50-value left tackle Andrew Datko is no bargain. Using his hands to shed blocks instead of simply relying on his length and speed to turn the corner will force scouts to consider him a draftable prospect. 

8. Pittsburgh CBs Antwaun Reed/Buddy Jackson at Rutgers WR Mohamed Sanu
3:30 pm, ESPNU

Sanu's back to the production scouts and Rutgers fans expected of him last season, as sticking to his receiver spot instead of running the Wildcat has kept him healthier and more focused. He ranks second in the FBS with 10.75 catches a game and 20th with 107 yards a contest. The Panthers, on the other hand, have the 107th-ranked pass defense in the FBS. Reed and Jackson have been victimized at times, so both need to show up big against a junior receiver trying to get into the first round of the 2012 draft. Jackson, the nickel back, may actually see more reps vs. Sanu than the starter, Reed, as Rutgers often lines up Sanu in the slot to create mismatches and make it easier for QB Chris Dodd to find him over the middle. 

9. Mississippi State C Quentin Saulsberry at UAB DT Elliott Henigan
12:00 pm, FSN

The stout yet agile Saulsberry has proven capable of starting every spot on the offensive line other than left tackle over the past three years. Though scouts project him as a center because of his short stature, he may start at right guard this week if coaches think redshirt freshman Dillon Day can handle the pivot. Henigan is just starting to get healthy now after missing practices and the opening game with a sports hernia. He had 14.5 tackles for loss in 2010, using length (he's 6-4, 290) and initial quickness to beat interior lineman to the ball off the snap, as well as hustle to chase down ballcarriers from behind. 

10. Miami QB Jacory Harris at Virginia Tech CB Jayron Hosley
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN

Typically a corner's true match-up is the receiver he's facing. But with Hosley, it doesn't much matter if he's lined up across from Miami's speedy Travis Benjamin, one of the young speedsters the Hurricanes put on the field on a down-by-down basis, or simply backing into a zone. Hosley's ball skills and ability to read the quarterback means the wildly inconsistent Harris can't stare down a receiver over the top of Hosley or throw a lollipop downfield under which the 175-pound corner can run. Hosley makes passers pay for those mistakes, intercepting 13 passes over the past two years. In that same time-frame, Harris has thrown 18 picks against 20 touchdowns; avoiding the big mistake on the road against a hostile Blacksburg crowd would be a good way to show scouts he's matured as a passer.


Honorable Mention

1. Pittsburgh DTs Myles Caragein/Chas Alecxih at Rutgers LG Desmond Wynn
3:30 pm, ESPNU

2. Iowa DT Mike Daniels vs. Penn State LG Johnnie Troutman
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN

3. Oklahoma DE Frank Alexander vs. Texas LT Tray Allen
12:00 pm, ABC

4. Miami (Fla.) DT Micanor Regis at Virginia Tech RG Jaymes Brooks
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN

5. Florida DT Jaye Howard at LSU LG T-Bob Hebert (if healthy)
3:30 pm, CBS

6, Auburn RT Brandon Mosley at Arkansas DE Jake Bequette (if healthy)
7:00 pm, ESPN

7. UNLV WR Phillip Payne at Nevada CB Isaiah Frey
7:00 pm, ESPN3.com

8. Michigan DEs Craig Roh/Ryan Van Bergen at Northwestern LT Al Netter
7:00 pm, Big Ten Network

9. East Carolina CB Emanuel Davis at Houston WRs Tyron Carrier/Patrick Edwards
7:00 pm, CBS Sports Network

10. Vanderbilt CB Casey Hayward at Alabama WR Marquis Maze
7:00 pm, ESPNU


--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter  

Posted on: October 1, 2011 11:32 am
Edited on: October 1, 2011 12:03 pm
 

Mano-a-Mano, Week Five

In addition to the five players NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Rob Rang mentioned in his weekly preview, you may want take a look at these ten one-on-one 2012 NFL Draft prospect match-ups (plus a few more worth an honorable mention) 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.

1. Michigan State DT *Jerel Worthy at Ohio State C Mike Brewster
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN

Scouts hoped that the flashes of talent Worthy showed in his first two seasons portended a break-out 2011 junior year. However, he failed to make an impact in his only game against a BCS-quality team (Notre Dame). Worthy's first step can challenge Brewster, who also needs a big performance for scouts to consider him worthy of a pick in the top half of the draft. But the key for both players comes after initial contact; Worthy will be looking to shed to close on ballcarriers, while Brewster tries to mirror and extend  in order to protect freshman quarterback Braxton Miller when he's in the pocket, as well as when he takes off to utilize his fleet feet.

2. Auburn LT A.J. Greene/RT Brandon Mosley at South Carolina Defensive Ends
3:30 pm, CBS

Mosley started off the year as the Tigers' left tackle, but was replaced by Greene and moved back to the right tackle spot at which he excelled in 2010. Both players will have significant challenges taking on an extremely talented defensive end group for the Gamecocks. They could match up pretty well against 6-foot-7 ends junior Devin Taylor and freshman Jadeveon Clowney, who rely on strength and length to make plays rather than elite speed to turn the corner. Greene will also face end/tackle/linebacker prospect Melvin Ingram, who always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Ingram will attempt an outside rush vs. Greene, but can also take the inside lane -- he'll also move to tackle in passing situations to use his patented spin move.

3. Nebraska DT Jared Crick at Wisconsin C *Peter Konz
8:00 pm, ABC

There are several one-on-one match-ups worth watching when the Cornhuskers take on the Badgers in a prime-time battle of top-ten teams. Scouts will most closely be watching any time Crick, a two-time All-Big 12 pick, and Konz meet in the middle. The Badgers' junior could be the top center selected if he decides to declare due to his mobility (despite having to snap the ball, he pulls outside in front of runs quite often). But Crick's relentless pressure will force Konz and redshirt sophomore left guard Travis Frederick to play through the whistle whether he bull rushes or loops inside or outside into the backfield. Showing a strong anchor vs. Crick in addition to that athleticism at 6-foot-5, 315 pounds could expedite his entrance into the NFL. Other battles in the trenches scouts will be watching: Wisconsin junior LT Ricky Wagner vs Nebraska DE Cameron Meredith, Wisconsin RG Kevin Zeitler vs. Nebraska junior DT Baker Steinkuhler, Nebraska LT Jermarcus Hardwick vs. Wisconsin DEs Louis Nzegwu.

4. Arkansas Wide Receivers va. Texas A&M Coryell Judie/Terrence Frederick (in Arlington)
12:00 pm, ESPN

The Aggies missed Judie in their loss to Oklahoma State last week, as their top corner was out due to a hamstring injury. But even if he's healthy, the Razorbacks face even a bigger challenge with Razorbacks junior quarterback Tyler Wilson throwing to four NFL prospects. Two have great size with Cobi Hamilton and Greg Childs measuring at around 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, and the others sub-4.4 speed in Joe Adams and Jarius Wright. Neither Judie or Frederick hit the six-foot mark, so any time they can outfight Hamilton or Childs (who is still not fully back from a 2010 knee injury) for the ball would be a plus for scouts. NFL defensive coordinators looking at either Aggies corner as a nickel or dime player inside would also like to see them effectively trail Adams or Wright. Consistent hands and yards after the catch are what the Hogs' receivers need to separate themselves not only from A&M defenders, but the overload of mid-round receiving prospects available in this draft. 

5. Alabama LG *Chance Warmack at Florida DT Jaye Howard
8:00 pm, CBS

Reigning SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week Howard is easy to spot - he wears jersey number six despite lining up in the trenches. He has a chance to creep up draft boards with a strong performance against Warmack, who anchors quite well against bull rushes with natural bend and great length for the position. (Also watch how well he blocks on the move.) Howard moves like a linebacker even though he tipped the scales at over 300 pounds over the summer, but needs to improve his hand usage and show multiple pass rush moves to beat Warmack (and senior center William Vlachos, sophomore right guard Anthony Steen) and chase A.J. McCarron and junior Heisman candidate running back Trent Richardson.

6. North Carolina WR Dwight Jones at East Carolina CB Emanuel Davis
8:00 pm, CBS College Sports Network

NFL scouts thought Davis could be one of the tough but wiry non-BCS cornerbacks typically landing in the third round of each draft. He had two interceptions and nine pass break-ups last year for the Pirates, but missed the opener for disciplinary reasons and hasn't made many big plays yet this fall. He'll give up about six inches in height to Jones, who will try to use his 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame on slants and go over the top of Davis if matched up downfield. Davis is not a contact-shy cover corner, but must do more than throw his shoulder into Jones if lined up well off the line to prevent big plays, or else the Tar Heels' big receiver will shed the tackle and eat off a chunk of yards.

7. Clemson NT Brandon Thompson at Virginia Tech RG Jaymes Brooks
6:00 pm, ESPN2

Two 4-0 teams meet in Blacksburg in a potential preview of the ACC Championship Game. Thompson and Brooks are two of their more unheralded players, but NFL scouts will match their battles very closely. Both are stout players, each listed at about 6-foot-2, 310 pounds. Thompson has the athleticism advantage over Brooks, showing the quickness off the snap and hustle to pressure redshirt quarterback sophomore Logan Thomas. The 2010 second-team right guard must not only prove himself agile enough to mirror Thompson in pass protection, but also seal him off to create running lanes for junior RB David Wilson. Brooks will disappoint scouts if he leans on sophomore center Andrew Miller to stop Thompson from disrupting plays.

8. Mississippi State DT *Fletcher Cox at Georgia C Ben Jones
12:00 pm, Fox Sports South/ESPN3.com

Jones is a sturdy four-year starter who is expected to take the same role at the next level but he should not overlook Cox, who flashed athleticism, length and some pop against Auburn and LSU. The 6-foot-4, 295-pound Cox isn't making a ton of plays yet (1.5 tackles for loss, no sacks), but scouts noticed his ability to penetrate in those early games -- especially when he planted LSU left guard T-Bob Hebert in the backfield early in the second half of that contest. Jones will, therefore, need to maximize his athleticism when facing Cox, as well as coordinate the young guards playing on either side.

9. Northwestern DE Vincent Browne at Illinois LT Jeff Allen
12:00 pm, ESPN2

Allen is a four-year starter and 2010 honorable-mention All-Big Ten pick, and his Fighting Illini have gotten off to a 4-0 start this season. Northwestern is the fifth straight team to visit Champaign this fall, but Browne won't be bringing a dish to pass. The 6-foot-5, 265-pounder has just one sack this year, after bringing down the quarterback seven times in 2010. Scouts have concerns about both players' agility on the edge, so if Allen keep Browne from making his typical hustle plays or if Browne can beat Allen off the snap, they may force NFL teams to re-evaluate them.

10. Nevada ILB James-Michael Johnson at Boise State RB Doug Martin
2:30 pm, Versus

I don't include a lot of running back vs. linebacker match-ups in these articles because the battle in the trenches should not be ignored. But Martin really hasn't had a big game yet this season; scouts know he can use his low center of gravity and quick feet to run through tackles if holes are made available to him, but it would be helpful to his draft stock if he proved the elusiveness and vision to make something out of nothing. Johnson is a very intriguing 4-3 Mike linebacker that deserves more pub. His length and athleticism allow him to cover some ground, even outside the tackles. NFL scouts will take notice if he manages to defeat Boise linemen blocks with strong hands, instincts, and speed to keep Martin from reaching the 100-yard mark that has eluded him so far this year.

 

Honorable Mention:
Washington CB *Desmond Trufant at Utah WR *DeVonte Christopher, 7:00 pm FSN
Bowling Green WR Kamar Jorden at West Virginia CB Keith Tandy, 3:30 pm MASN/ESPN3.com
Northwestern CB Jordan Mabin at Illinois WR A.J. Jenkins, 12:00 pm, ESPN2
North Carolina CB Charles Brown at East Carolina WR Lance Lewis, 8:00 pm, CBS College Sports Network
Kent State CB Josh Pleasant at Ohio University WR LaVon Brazill, 2:00 pm, None


--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter -- find him on Twitter @ChadReuter   

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.


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com