Tag:USC
Posted on: December 2, 2011 1:30 pm
 

Barkley, Kalil not only Trojans exploring NFL

Considered possible top five picks in next April's NFL draft, it should come as no surprise that Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley and left tackle Matt Kalil are considering leaving school early.

According to multiple sources, these aren't the only Trojans exploring their options.

Defensive end Nick Perry, a 6-3, 250 pounder in the midst of a breakout campaign is also strongly considering making the jump to the pros. I've been told that if Perry receives a first round grade, the decision has essentially been made. Even if the grade he receives from the NFL Advisory Committee is "a little lower than [first round], he'd still likely go."

Perry led the Pac-12 with 9.5 sacks through the regular season. He also has 13 tackles for loss among his 54 stops, which ties him for third in the conference and three forced fumbles. While slimmer than scouts might want as a full-time defensive end in the 4-3 alignment, Perry's size and athleticism may make him perfectly suited to transition to outside linebacker for a 3-4 club.

Free safety T.J. McDonald is also strongly considering making the leap to the NFL early. The son of former USC All-American and San Francisco 49ers' All-Pro safety Tim McDonald, the 6-2, 205 pound Trojan star has a build and reputation as a big hitter reminiscent of former USC standout Taylor Mays. McDonald has proven to be more comfortable in coverage than his former teammate, however, and has better ball skills. He leads the team with three interceptions this year and had three in 2010, when he earned Second Team All Pac-10 honors in just his first season as a starter. McDonald led the Trojans in tackles (89) in 2010. He finished third this season with 67 stops, including 2.5 for loss.

Perry is currently rated 30th overall on my Big Board and is sixth overall among defensive ends on NFLDraftScout.com's rankings.

McDonald is my 40th rated prospect and ranks second behind only Alabama's Mark Barron among NFLDraftScout.com's 2012 free safety prospects.


Posted on: November 27, 2011 10:43 am
 

Nightmare end to injury-filled Sr season for Dye?

UCLA safety Tony Dye said prior to Saturday night's showdown with cross-town rival USC that the thought of leaving his Bruins without having ever beaten the Trojans would be "personally damaging to me."

Unfortunately, the humbling 50-0 score isn't all that may prove personally damaging to Dye. The UCLA senior also suffered an injury to his right leg that cause trainers to help the safety off the field and led to Dye being carted off the sidelines to take x-rays.

Root Sports sideline reporter Petros Papadakis said the injury "doesn't look good" as Dye left the field in the second quarter. Results of any medical tests are expected to be released Sunday.

The leg injury continues an awful season for Dye, who entered the year as UCLA's most highly touted NFL prospect. Dye entered the year having already started three seasons at strong safety. He was recognized as the Bruins Co-MVP last year (along with now Tennessee Titans linebacker Akeem Ayers) after leading the team with 96 tackles. He was moved to free safety this year to put him in position to make more plays on the ball and to take over for Rahim Moore, a second round pick by the Denver Broncos.

It didn't take long for Dye's senior season to get sidetracked, however. Dye suffered through neck stingers September 10 against San Jose State and though he attempted to play through bouts of pain, numbness and tingling against Texas a week later, he was ultimately pulled and hadn't played until November 19 against Colorado. He considered taking a medical redshirt on the year but elected to return to the field, posting two tackles against the Buffaloes. Dye was held without a tackle prior to getting hurt against USC.

Should the leg injury be as serious as fear, the decision unfortunately, could turn out disastrous for Dye's NFL hopes.

Dye currently has 23 tackles in 2011.
Posted on: November 19, 2011 11:40 am
 

Mano-a-Mano, Week 12

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. Virginia DE Cam Johnson (#56/6-3/270/4.76) at Florida State LT Zebrie Sanders (#77/6-5/307/5.25)
Virginia LT *Oday Aboushi (#72/6-6/310/5.20) at Florida DE *Brandon Jenkins (#49/6-3/265/4.69)
7:30 pm, ESPN2

Whether the Cavaliers or Seminoles have the ball, NFL scouts get to see a good pass rush prospect testing the resolve of a quality left tackle. Sanders has the athletic look of a blind-side protector, and has played well since moving over from the right side after four-year starter Andrew Datko decided to end his season to have shoulder surgery. Johnson brings a constant upfield push, which Sanders has the lateral agility and anchor to handle despite that svelte build. This means Johnson must use some counter moves against Sanders instead of relying solely on his up-and-under move to win the edge.

When the teams switch sides, Jenkins will be looking to convince scouts he's worth a top 40 pick by consistently turn the corner against the long, lean Aboushi. His production (7.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks) has dropped from 2010 (21.5, 13.5) but he's still smooth off the line and capable of tracking down Virginia QB Michael Rocco if the Cavs' junior left tackle cannot prove he has NFL-caliber anchor, bend, and the quick feet to mirror in pass protection.

2. Boston College CB Donnie Fletcher (#4/6-1/195/4.53) at Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd (#3/6-3/224/4.54)
4:00 pm, NBC

Fletcher intercepted his first pass of the season last week against North Carolina State (after picking up five in 2010), but gets his toughest test of the year in Floyd. Neither prospect will be among the fastest in their groups at the Combine, but Floyd's quick cuts will test Fletcher's ability to transition and drive short routes to prevent completions or limit yards after the catch. Scouts will also look to see if Fletcher has the recovery speed to handle double-moves from Floyd, or if he's best off moving to safety in the NFL to utilize his length and ball skills with the play in front of him.

3. Cal DEs Trevor Guyton (#92/6-3/280/4.86)/Ernest Owusu (#95/6-4/270/4.87) at Stanford LT *Jonathan Martin (#55/6-6/305/5.29)/RG *David DeCastro (#52/6-5/312/5.22)
Cal LT Mitchell Schwartz (#72/6-5/318/5.36) at Stanford DE/OLB *Chase Thomas (#44/6-4/240/4.76)
10:15 pm, ESPN

Right now Cal is best known in NFL circles for producing a defending Super Bowl champion and 2011 MVP candidate in Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. But they've also had defensive linemen go in the first round in the last two drafts: Tyson Alualu (Jacksonville, 2010) and Cameron Jordan (New Orleans, 2011). And though Guyton and Owusu are not likely to be top 50 picks, they will give Stanford's top 20 prospects Martin and DeCastro all they can handle. Guyton has 9.5 tackles for loss despite playing mostly inside, but DeCastro's strength and footwork make him very difficult to beat. Owusu plays a lot like another current Packer, Jarius Wynn, with length, power, and impressive agility for a 3-4 end. Stanford's junior left tackle Martin plays with the wide base and nasty attitude to stop Owusu's advances, but he'll also have to keep his feet moving and hands active after initial contact to protect quarterback Andrew Luck -- while keeping an eye on Cal linebackers like senior Mychal Kendricks coming off the edge.

And like the Virginia/Florida State contest, this year's Big Game also features a good LT/DE scouting opportunity when the Bears are on offense. A four-year starter at left and right tackle for Cal, Schwartz's size is what scouts love -- but he is a bit more nimble than you would expect looking at his tall, long frame. Thomas can test that agility with a strong upfield-to-inside lane move, and will try to get his hands on Schwartz's numbers off the snap to see what sort of pass set and anchor the big man possesses.

4. Penn State DT Devon Still (#71/6-4/310/5.06) at Ohio State C Michael Brewster (#50/6-4/305/5.17)
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN

Scouts expected Still to step up his game as a senior after a strong outing against Florida in last year's Outback Bowl (3.5 TFLs). He has not disappointed, using his elite combination and size and athleticism to rank sixth in the country with 16.5 tackles for loss. The tall, sturdy Brewster must help sophomore guards with Still and active junior DT Jordan Hill whenever possible, though both will undoubtedly line up in the B-gap to penetrate into the backfield before senior RB Dan "Boom" Herron even gets the handoff (which Still has been known to do) and while freshman QB Braxton Miller drops back to pass. Scouts won't just be looking at Still's highlight plays, though -- he needs to put forth play-to-play effort and keep his pads low enough to prevent Brewster and others from standing him up off the snap.

5. Oklahoma CBs Jamell Fleming (#32/5-11/192/4.54)/*Demontre Hurst (#6/5-9/182/4.46) at Baylor WR Kendall Wright (#1/5-10/190/4.42)8:00 pm, ABC

Robert Griffin III faces his toughest test of the season in a Sooners defense that, though far from stout, has playmakers on the outside like Hurst and Fleming that can challenge receivers. Wright doesn't have the size advantage here, but will attempt to help his quarterback move the ball through the air with his quickness and savvy in routes and strong hands. Hurst and Fleming aren't easy to shake off the line of scrimmage or after the catch on short throws, though their aggressive games can be used against them. But if Griffin and Wright can connect on timing routes and the occasional extended play in order to keep up with the yardage likely to be put up by Oklahoma junior QB Landry Jones, they will only increase the respect scouts already feel for their skills.

6. Southern Cal DE *Nick Perry (#8/6-3/250/4.59) at Oregon LT Darrion Weems (#74/6-5/302/5.40)
8:00 pm, ABC

Most of the hype surrounding the third major Pac-12 showdown in the last four weeks involves juniors USC quarterback Matt Barkley and Oregon running back LaMichael James. But Weems' play against Stanford's defensive line last week did not escape scouts, and he'll get another chance to impress them against Perry -- who had his own big game with 2.5 sacks against Washington last Saturday. Weems must prove his agility to prevent Perry from forcing quarterback Darron Thomas into hurried decisions, as well as continue to show his strength and knowledge of blocking angles when walling off any Trojans defender in his path so James and the Ducks' other speedy backs have room to run.

7. Nebraska CB Alfonzo Dennard (#15/5-10/205/4.49) at Michigan WR Junior Hemingway (#21/6-1/222/4.54)/*Roy Roundtree (#12/6-0/178/4.43)
12:00 pm, ESPN

If Michigan threw the ball more often (and more efficiently), this would be a higher-ranked matchup. And when Wolverines quarterback junior Denard Robinson and sophomore Devin Gardner do put it up, they'll probably try to stay away from Dennard. But scouts will have interest any time these talented players get their chance to prove themselves. Hemingway and Roundtree are legitimate NFL prospects, however, even if their statistics aren't among the NCAA leaders. Hemingway averages nearly 20 yards a catch with strong hands and physical play, and he'll most likely partake in hand-play with Dennard on the outside more often than will the wiry, quick Roundtree. Scouts appreciate that Dennard has five pass break-ups over the past three games, but would like to see him intercept his first pass of the year after he picked off four in 2010.

8. Cincinnati DT Derek Wolfe (#95/6-5/300/5.16) at Rutgers OG Desmond Wynn (#70/6-5/295/5.14)
12:00 pm, ESPNU

Cincinnati lost their starting quarterback, Zach Collaros, in the team's loss to West Virginia last weekend so the Bearcats' defense will need to step up to re-start the team's winning ways. Wolfe ranks seventh in the FBS with 14.5 tackles for loss and 15th in sacks with seven. Though not an elite athlete, he uses hustles and length to work past most college guards and even lines up at defensive end at times. Wynn, however, has the athleticism to cut off Wolfe's kniving moves inside and the strength to handle bull rushes from any of the UC defenders. So although this battle of mid-round prospects may not rank high on the "sexy meter", it will be worth a look for scouts and NFL draft fans.

9. Wisconsin CB Antonio Fenelus (#26/5-8/190/4.49) at Illinois WR A.J. Jenkins (#8/6-0/190/4.49)
3:30 pm, ESPN2 

Illinois' four-game losing streak has not made scouts sour on Jenkins' talent. He can snatch the ball from the air with his hands and make plays on shallow crosses and deep posts from the outside, even if his average size makes him more inclined to play in the slot at the next level. Fenelus' size is below-average, but his physicality at the line and downfield are not. He'll fight with Jenkins for deep balls, but will also have to prove to scouts he can make plays in trail coverage over the middle if they are to overlook his short stature.

10. Furman ILB Kadarron Anderson (#46/6-0/235/4.78) at Florida RBs Chris Rainey (#1/5-8/175/4.36)/Jeff Demps (#28/5-8/191/4.26)
Furman CB Ryan Steed (#1/5-11/190/4.52) at Florida WR Deonte Thompson (#6/5-11/200/4.44)
1:00 pm, ESPN3.com

Because the SEC schedules conference contests in early-to-mid September, Football Championship Subdivision (the former Division 1AA) foes get their chance at "the big boys" in November. The final score of this game may not be competitive, but NFL scouts hope two of the top senior prospects from the FCS will be. Steed has interceptions in four straight games, and although the Gators do not have an elite outside receiver prospect the speed and experience of Thompson could test him. Anderson ranks 11th in the FCS in tackles (11/game), but his ability to get off the blocks of Florida linemen and handle the elite speed of Rainey and Demps in the open field could go a long way in his final draft grade.

Honorable Mention

Cincinnati OT Alex Hoffman (#59/6-6/298/5.28) at Rutgers DE Manny Abreu (#51/6-2/260/4.76)
12:00 pm, ESPNU

Nebraska LT Jermarcus Hardrick (#50/6-7/320/5.32)/RT Marcel Jones (#78/6-6/320/5.29) at Michigan DEs *Craig Roh (#88/6-4/269/4.76)/Ryan Van Bergen (#53/6-6/288/4.84)
12:00 pm, ESPN

Minnesota WR Da'Jon McKnight (#6/6-1/212/4.54) at Northwestern CB Jordan Mabin (#26/5-10/180/4.57)
12:00 pm, Big Ten Network

Maryland DTs *A.J. Francis (#96/6-4/295)/*Joe Vellano (#72/6-2/285) at Wake Forest LG Joe Looney (#78/6-3/320/5.02)
3:00 pm, FSN 

SMU LT Kelvin Beachum (#70/6-3/306/5.52) at Houston OLB Sammy Brown (#8/6-2/240/4.67)
3:30 pm, FSN

Miami (Fla.) WRs Travis Benjamin (#3/5-10/175/4.36)/*Tommy Streeter (#8/6-4/215/4.62) at South Florida CB Quenton Washington (#2/5-10/195/4.50)
3:30 pm, ESPNU

Mississippi State CB *Johnthan Banks (#13/6-1/185/4.52) at Arkansas WRs *Cobi Hamilton (#11/6-3/209/4.57)/Greg Childs (#85/6-3/217/4.56)/Jarius Wright (#4/5-10/180/4.34)/Joe Adams (#3/5-11/190/4.38)
3:30 pm, CBS

Clemson DE Andre Branch (#40/6-4/260/4.77) at North Carolina State LT *R.J. Mattes (#79/6-6/305/5.19)
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN

Washington CB *Desmond Trufant (#6/6-0/185/4.49) at Oregon State WR *Markus Wheaton (#2/6-0/178/4.47)/James Rodgers (#1/5-07/188/4.48)
3:30 pm, Fox Sports Pacific

Wisconsin RT Josh Oglesby (#67/6-7/330/5.38) at Illinois DE *Whitney Mercilus (#85/6-4/265/4.68)
Wisconsin DE Louis Nzegwu (#93/6-4/255/4.76) at Illinois OT Jeff Allen (#71/6-4/315/5.26)
Wisconsin WR Nick Toon (#1/6-2/220/4.52) at Illinois CB Tavon Wilson (#3/6-0/205/4.54)
3:30 pm, ESPN2

Miami (Fla.) DT Micanor Regis (#54/6-2/305/5.20) at South Florida LG Jeremiah Warren (#55/6-3/330/5.34)
3:30 pm, ESPNU

Louisiana Tech CB Terry Carter (#28/5-10/190/4.43) at Nevada WR Rishard Matthews (#15/6-1/215/4.54)
4:00 pm, TBA

Central Florida CB *Josh Robinson (#20/5-10/192/4.47) at East Carolina WR Lance Lewis (#1/6-1/209/4.50) -- if Lewis' right foot is healthy
7:00 pm, FSN

Virginia WR Kris Burd (#18/6-0/200/4.53) at Florida State CBs Mike Harris (#1/5-10/195/4.52)/*Greg Reid (#5/5-8/186/4.48)
7:30 pm, ESPN2

Boise State LT Nate Potter (#73/6-6/298/5.18) at San Diego State OLB Miles Burris (#9/6-2/235/4.73)
Boise State WR Tyler Shoemaker (#89/6-1/212/4.50) at San Diego State CB Larry Parker (#29/5-11/170)
8:00 pm, CBS Sports Network

Southern Cal DT DaJohn Harris (#98/6-4/310/5.16)/Christian Tupou (#44/6-2/300/5.06) at Oregon LG *Carson York (#77/6-5/292/5.20)/RG Mark Asper (#79/6-7/325/5.30)
8:00 pm, ABC


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

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 28, 2011 11:24 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.

QB Kirk Cousins, Michigan State:  Of the second tier quarterbacks in the 2012 draft class, Cousins remains one of my favorites. He doesn't possess an elite arm and, as such, could be challenged in this matchup against a Nebraska defense that features one of the better press corners in Alfonzo Dennard. Representatives from the Senior Bowl have made it known that Cousins is among the quarterbacks vying for an invitation. With the rest of the games on the 6-1 Spartans' schedule very winnable, a strong performance in this game could not only put MSU in position for a big time bowl game, it could give Cousins a chance to impress scouts in Mobile. This game begins at noon ET and will be televised by ESPN.

DT Jaye Howard, Florida:  Howard isn't flashy, but is quietly having a career year for the Gators. In fact, Howard has already surpassed his previous career high of 29 tackles with 33 so far this season, including 2.5 for loss. Georgia's monstrous redshirt sophomore Kwame Geathers will get more of the hype entering this game and deserves it... I'm more interested, however, to see if Howard is able to make some plays despite facing a talented Georgia offensive line, including Bulldogs' center Ben Jones -- who some believe is the elite senior in the country at his position. This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be televised by CBS.

ILB Arthur Brown, Kansas State: The Kansas State Wildcats are one of the better stories so far this season, but I do not believe they have the talent to compete with an Oklahoma team that must be smarting after their upset loss last week against Texas Tech. One of the few Wildcats that has flashed NFL-caliber talent this season is junior linebacker, Arthur Brown, a transfer from Miami. At 6-1, 225, Brown lacks the bulk most teams are looking for at inside linebacker, but his athleticism and closing speed could intrigue 4-3 teams looking for a weakside prospect. This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN.

DE Andre Branch, Clemson: Many believe that Tech's triple option offense will present Clemson with their biggest regular season challenge to a potential berth in a BCS bowl game. (I'd argue South Carolina could have something to say about that.) For the Tigers to slow down the Yellow Jackets, Clemson's defensive ends will have to show remarkable discipline. This hasn't always been a strength for Branch and the rest of the Clemson defensive line, which typically are asked to pin their ears back and rush the quarterback. At 6-4, 260 pounds Branch has enough athleticism to chase ball-carriers wide. This game begins at 8:00 pm ET and will be televised by ABC.

QB Matt Barkley, USC: There are many out there who believe Barkley is simply a game-manager blessed to have a great deal of talent around him. I am not among them. In fact, I rate the USC junior signal-caller behind only Andrew Luck as the elite prospect potentially available for the 2012 draft. As such, I'm excited to see what Barkley will do in the heavily anticipated showdown against Luck and an underrated Cardinal defense Saturday night. Barkley doesn't possess a monster arm nor the great size that traditionally result in a top five pick. I've been consistently impressed with his poise in a collapsing pocket, however, as well as his leadership as well as his short to intermediate accuracy. Most importantly, I like his footwork and accuracy when rolling out and in play-action -- staples of the pro game. This game begins at 8:00 ET and will be televised by ABC.


Posted on: October 14, 2011 12:34 am
 

USC RB Tyler dislocates left shoulder vs. Cal

USC senior running back Marc Tyler was sidelined in the second half of the Trojans' 30-9 victory over Pac-12 rival California Thursday night with a dislocated left shoulder.

Tyler was limited to 30 yards on 11 attempts against a stout Cal run defense before suffering the injury. He was clearly in pain as he walked off the field. When he returned Tyler was in street clothes.

Tyler, 5-10 and 230 pounds, is viewed as one of the better power runners of the 2012 draft. His inconsistencies on and off the field while with the Trojans, however, have made his stock unsteady, at best. Currently, he is NFLDraftScout.com's 20th rated running back for the 2012 draft.

Tyler has rushed for 338 yards and two touchdowns so far in 2011 and has 1,521 yards and 13 touchdowns for his career.

It has been a rough few weeks for Pac-12 running backs on Thursday primetime games. Last week Oregon running back LaMichael James suffered an ugly elbow dislocation against Cal. The 2011 Heisman finalist, who is seeking his second consecutive season as the NCAA's leading rusher, is expected to be sidelined for Oregon's showdown Saturday night against Arizona State.

Oregon head coach Chip Kelly refused to provide a timetable for James' return. USC's Lane Kiffin will hopefully be a little more forthcoming with Tyler's expected return date.
Posted on: October 13, 2011 1:41 pm
 

Kalil vs. Cal DEs reason enough to watch tonight

Besides the fact that tonight's game between USC and California is an intriguing Pac-12 showdown, there are also plenty of NFL prospects to keep an eye on.

I expect the hype to center around USC quarterback Matt Barkley and it probably should. He's my No. 3 overall rated prospect potentially available for the 2012 draft, having shown improvement in his junior season in his decision-making and accuracy on the deep ball -- two areas I previously was concerned about.

The showdown I'll be focusing a great deal of attention on, however, lies up front in the trenches with USC left tackle Matt Kalil, also a junior, lining up against Cal's talented duo of defensive ends, Trevor Guyton and Ernest Owusu.

Guyton played second fiddle to New Orleans' first round pick Cameron Jordan last season, only starting four of the 11 games in which he played. Despite this fact, he finished third on the team in both tackles for loss (8.5) and sacks (4.5). He did this despite playing defensive end in the 3-4, which typically places its outside linebackers in position to make plays behind the line of scrimmage but not the defensive linemen.

At 6-3, 280 pounds Guyton lacks the classic size and arm length most NFL teams prefer for 3-4 defensive ends, though scouts for some teams running odd man fronts still like him. His burst and strength, however, could make him a nice middle round option for 4-3 clubs looking for a three-technique defensive tackle or for a strongside defensive end. As such, the versatile defender currently ranks 10th on NFLDraftScout.com's list of 2012 defensive ends. 

Owusu started nine games last season (playing in all 12 contests) but wasn't very impressive statistically-speaking. However, a strong performance thus far this season has him moving up draft boards. The 6-5, 270 pound Owusu currently leads Cal in tackles for loss (4.5) and sacks (2.5) and has a forced fumble to his credit, as well. Considering his size potential and "breakout" season thus far, he could surprise as the higher of the two Cal defenders selected if he can continue his early success.

The Cal defenders will, of course, have a tough task playing against Kalil. The younger brother of former USC standout and current Carolina Panthers' center Ryan Kalil, Matt was the reason why USC elected to keep Tyron Smith playing at right tackle over his career. At 6-7, 295 pounds Matt has prototypical size and eases off the snap quickly. I've been impressed with his athleticism and physicality before, but both elements of his game will be tested tonight against Cal's unique pair of defensive ends. Perhaps even more intriguing will be how Kalil handles the blitzes Cal defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast (formerly the defensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs, Arizona Cardinals) throws at him.

Tonight's game will begin at 9:00 pm Eastern and will be televised by ESPN.

 
Posted on: October 1, 2011 9:20 am
 

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.

QB Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M: This is the second consecutive week that I listed Tannehill as part of this series. Last week, it was a tale of two halves for the senior quarterback and his Aggies. In the first half against Oklahoma State, Tannehill looked every bit like the first round quarterback (and A&M the top ten team) I expected. Everything fell apart in the second half, however, as Tannehill threw three interceptions at home and the Cowboys came back for the big conference win. I am not ready to give up on Tannehill quite yet, especially when two of his three interceptions appeared to be the result of poorly executed route-running. With one loss already on their record, Texas A&M must win the rest to have a chance at the type of season they were hoping for. Arkansas, like Oklahoma State, relies more on their own offense rather than a stifling defense to win games. They are athletic, however, and playing at home. They're also smarting after their own conference loss (to Alabama). The mental toughness or weakness that Tannehill demonstrates in this game will go a long way in determining whether scouts believe he has the leadership skills necessary to be the face of an NFL franchise.  This game begins at noon ET and will be televised by ESPN.

CB Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech: 
After leading the entire country last year with nine interceptions, junior cornerback Jayron Hosley has picked up right where he left off, snaring two picks already this season. This week he'll be asked to help shut down a Clemson offense that has been equally impressive. Clemson's sophomore quarterback Tahj Boyd and freshman wide receiver Sammy Watkins earned All-ACC quarterback and receiver honors for their play after each of the past two games. Boyd leads the ACC in total yards, passing yards and passing touchdowns. Watkins has caught 14 passes for 296 yards and four touchdowns... in just the past two games. Hosley possesses the quick feet, balance and speed to put an end to the Tigers' offense fireworks but will need to play with greater consistency than he has throughout much of his young career. A strong performance in this game could push Hosley onto my Top 32 Big(ger) Board.  This game begins at 6:00 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN2.

ILB Donta Hightower, Alabama: Not surprisingly, there are a host of future NFL players that I and pro scouts will be focusing on in this key SEC showdown between Alabama and Florida. One could make the argument that Hightower, while one of the best, also is facing the toughest task this week as he'll be asked to slow down the Gators' speedy due of Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps, each of whom rank in the top ten in the SEC in rushing. Demps has been particularly explosive, averaging a stunning 9.4 yards per carry. Hightower is beginning to play with the same speed and explosiveness that was evident early in his career before a major knee injury suffered two years ago robbed him of some of his playmaking abilities. Big enough that some teams envision him as a future defensive end, the 6-4, 260 pound Hightower certainly has the bulk teams want, but his agility and open-field tackling skills will be put to the test in this one. With so much NFL talent on the field, this is the game I am most looking forward to scouting, Saturday.  This game begins at 8:00 ET and will be televised by CBS.

WR Nick Toon, Wisconsin: As impressive as the talent level is in the Alabama-Florida game, there certainly isn't much of a dropoff in this first squaring off of Wisconsin and Nebraska as members of the Big Ten. Some believe this game will be replayed in a few months as each team looks poised to make a run to the Big Ten championship game. If that is to be the case, I cannot wait for the individual battle that is going to take place between Toon and Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, my top-rated senior cornerback in the country. Nick, the son of former New York Jets' great Al Toon, is blessed with a similar combination of size, speed and playmaking ability as his father but has been racked with inconsistency throughout his career. Dennard is finally healthy after missing the first three games with a muscle strain. In terms of one on one battles, it doesn't get any better than this... This game begins at 8:00 pm EST and will be televised by ABC. 

SS Tony Dye, UCLA: Like many a UCLA Bruin before him, Dye entered his senior season rated by many scouts among the better safety prospects in the country. However, with Rahim Moore leaving early for the NFL (second round pick by Denver), Dye hasn't yet been able to step up his level of play. The lights likely won't get much better this season for Dye than they will Saturday night against Andrew Luck. With a strong performance in this one, Dye can help his own slipping stock and perhaps give the Bruins a chance against the most well-rounded offense in the country. This game begins at 10:30 pm ET and will be televised by FOX Sports.

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

Matt Barkley, USC hosting Nick Foles, Arizona. 3:30 pm ET on Fox Sports.*
Kyle Cousins, Michigan State visiting Ohio State. 3:30 pm ET on ABC/ESPN

*As well as Tannehill, mentioned above.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com