Posted on: December 30, 2010 3:36 pm
Jake Locker and his Washington teammates face Nebraska tonight in the Holiday Bowl in what is clearly the most intriguing re-match of the bowl season.
Locker and the Huskies were blown out 56-21 at home by the Cornhuskers on September 18. Locker only completed 4 of 20 passes in the game for 71 yards and a touchdown. He also threw two interceptions in what was the worst performance of his career.
Locker has been better since, engineering upset victories over USC, Oregon State and Cal since and leading Washington to to three consecutive wins to assure the Huskies of their first bowl berth since 2002.
He hasn't been so good, however, to expect the type of performance against Nebraska tonight that should significantly impact his draft stock.
The reality is Washington simply lacks the bulk and talent up front to protect Locker from Nebraska's formidable defensive line, led by junior defensive tackle Jared Crick and senior defensive end Pierre Allen. Making matters even more complicated for Locker, the Huskers boast arguably the best cornerback duo in the country in Prince Amukamara, NFLDraftScout.com's top rated senior prospect at any position, and junior Alfonzo Dennard, a Second Team All-Big 12 pick, who has already announced his intentions to return to Nebraska for his senior season despite the fact that he'd best - at worst - a second round pick in the 2011 draft.
Locker is blessed with a solid receiving corps, including a legitimate NFL talent in junior Jermaine Kearse, but Nebraska has the secondary to force him to look elsewhere. Unfortunately, the Huskies are as reliant on their wide receivers as any team in the country when it comes to the downfield passing game. Locker has only completed six passes to his tight ends all season long and saw starting tight end Chris Izbicki leave the team following the regular season. His backup, freshman Marlion Barnett, has four catches for 31 yards for his career.
If the Huskies have a chance in this game it will be due to the running of redshirt sophomore running back Chris Polk and Locker. Locker could be very decisive and accurate with the football tonight and still post ugly numbers that will undoubtedly draw criticism from media.
Having spoken to various scouts recently about Locker's stock and the expectations for him vs. Nebraska, their feeling is that Locker's stock isn't likely to go down after this game - even if he struggles just as badly against Nebraska tonight as he did in September. Of course, should Locker surprise Nebraska (and scouts) and performs very well despite the Huskies being overmatched physically at nearly every position, his stock has a chance to rise significantly.
The most likely scenario, however, has Locker and the Huskies again struggling against Nebraska. If Locker is going to re-emerge as a first round guarantee, it will almost surely happen in the next bowl -- the Senior Bowl -- approximately a month from now.
For the very best in NFL draft coverage, the place to go is NFLDraftScout.com
Posted on: December 17, 2010 11:52 am
I hope that you are all as fortunate as I am and have loving families to enjoy throughout the holidays.
Posted on: December 14, 2010 1:58 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2010 2:04 pm
Good day draft fans...
I thought I'd give you a quick update as to what is happening behind the scenes at NFLDraftScout.com.
We're finalizing our plans to provide previews of the elite prospects in every one of the bowl games (starting this week), as well as updating our mock drafts and beginning the long process of profiling every one of the players selected in the 2011 NFL draft.
During this time, you can check back here on the blog to learn about the latest breaking news regarding senior all-star games, early declarations by juniors and redshirt sophomores, injuries and off-field news regarding all prospects.
As always, remember that for complete draft coverage, be sure to check out NFLDraftScout.com or simply click here.
Posted on: December 13, 2010 1:31 pm
NFLDraftScout.com analyst Chris Steuber highlights the "race" to have the first pick of the 2011 NFL draft with a breakdown of the Panthers, Bills and Bengals are facing.
The Panthers, at 1-11, are the favorite to finish with the worst record, as they could find it difficult to win another game this season. Their home matchup this weekend against the 4-9 Arizona Cardinals could decide things, as the Panthers face the Steelers and Falcons to close out the year.
It would be unfair to rookie Jimmy Clausen for the Panthers to invest another high round selection at quarterback this soon. Statistically, he's been terrible this season (51.3 completion percentage, 1 TD/7 INTs), but there have been flashes of the arm strength, toughness, accuracy and leadership necessary to be a successful starting quarterback in the NFL.
Again, giving up on their 2010 second round pick after only 10 starts (assuming he starts the final three games this season) it would be unfair to Clausen. However, the Panthers can't be focused on what is fair for any individual player. They have to do what is best for their franchise - and that would be drafting Luck, should the redshirt sophomore elect to leave Stanford with two years of collegiate eligibility remaining.
Should Luck not come out, the Panthers would find themselves with a much tougher decision. Carolina is a team with plenty of holes, so the Panthers would be wise to investigate trade the pick. As well all know by now, however, the financial obligations of the No. 1 overall pick make it very difficult to trade out of the top spot.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, should they have to go in another direction because Luck returns to school, their holes in personnel don't necessarily match up well with talent likely to be available. The Panthers would love to find an elite defensive lineman in this draft -- and there are some good ones -- but none as sure as Ndamukong Suh last year. The team could use some reinforcements along the offensive line -- but many scouts believe that there won't be an offensive tackle worthy of a Top 15 pick in this draft, much less No. 1. Besides, left tackle Jordan Gross is among the better all-around left tackles in the league. He's not Carolina's problem.
The two best players (other than Luck) could be fellow underclassmen Patrick Peterson and A.J. Green. Peterson is as good of a cornerback prospect as I've ever seen, but plays at one of the few positions where Carolina already has some talent. Green is a future Pro Bowl regular, but the team has already invested heavily at the position and likely will find the idea of giving another young receiver No. 1 overall type money unpalatable.
Carolina fans have had little to celebrate this season. Perhaps if they and their team gets "Luck"y, there will be a silver lining around this dark cloud.
Posted on: December 8, 2010 11:32 am
Edited on: December 8, 2010 11:34 am
NFLDraftScout.com analyst Chris Steuber is reporting that Pittsburgh junior wide receiver Jon Baldwin will be foregoing his senior season and entering the 2011 NFL draft.
Steuber and Baldwin exchanged text messages shortly after Panthers head coach Dave Wannestadt announced his resignation from the position.
When asked if he'd be returning or going pro, Baldwin responded with "...Heck yeah, I'm leaving. It can only get worse. They had me running a lot of deep routes (this year) and yards were hard to come by. I barely ran intermediate routes; it felt like they were purposely trying to disrupt my draft stock."
While pro teams may have a problem with Baldwin's publicly questioning the motives of Wannestadt, offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti and perhaps the talent of quarterback Tino Sunseri, they have to acknowledge Baldwin's unique physical ability.
Baldwin, 6-5 and 230 pounds, is a matchup nightmare. While not explosive, he possesses good build-up speed, excellent body control and good hands.
Baldwin led the Panthers with 52 receptions for 810 yards and 5 touchdowns this season. He averaged a career-low 15.6 yards per reception, down from 19.4 in a breakout sophomore season that saw him catch only five more passes but for 301 more yards and another three scores. Baldwin has caught 127 passes for 2,325 yards and 16 touchdowns over his career for Pitt.
Baldwin is NFLDraftScout.com's sixth-rated junior receiver but could be drafted ahead of any senior prospect at the position -- a testament to his own ability and that of his extraordinary 2012 draft class that includes the likes of Georgia's A.J. Green, Alabama's Julio Jones, and Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles, among others.
Posted on: October 11, 2010 8:00 pm
LSU defensive tackle Drake Nevis was a one-man wrecking crew Saturday night against the Florida Gators.
Though his teammate, senior wide receiver Terrance Toliver has earned much of the attention for his standout performance (six catches for 111 yards and two TDs, including the game-winner with six seconds left), Nevis was arguably the bigger thorn in the side for the Gators. Certainly considering the fact that the Gators feature one of the SEC's best and most experienced offensive lines, Nevis' ability to dominate the action early and force Florida to alter their game plan deserves special acknowledgement.
Nevis, moved all over the defensive line, finished with seven tackles (all solos), including 4.5 tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble. As I explain in the profile below, he very nearly was credited with a safety in the opening moments of the game, as well.
Player of the Week, along with The Diamond in the Rough (small school prospect), used to be features of Draft Slant . This PDF file can be purchased as an individual issue or one can purchase the entire year (16 issues).
We thought that the Player of the Week and Diamond in the Rough deserved more acknowledgement, however, and thus, every Monday, I'll post my picks for each award.
Player of the Week - October 9, 2010
DT Drake Nevis 6-1 / 285 / 5.04 -- opponent: Florida
Scouts who had never seen Nevis play were given a treat by the LSU defensive tackle early in the Florida contest. He showed exactly what he is and is not in the Gators first offensive possession. When he times the snap count right, Nevis has explosive burst through the hole. An experienced and talented Gator offensive line, (including highly touted OL Mike Pouncey), was unable to cope with Nevis speed on back to back plays during the Gators second and third plays from scrimmage. With the Gators backed up at their own endzone, Nevis exploded through, nearly sacking QB John Brantley for a safety and forced fumble. Nevis left hand inadvertently caught Brandtley s face mask, however, and so the Gators caught a break. The next play, Nevis again broke through the line, shrugged off a block from LT Marcus Gilbert and stopped RB Emmanuel Moody for a loss of one. The next play, however, showed why scouts can t fall in love with Nevis. Late off the snap and thus caught too high by 6-5 OG Carl Johnson, Nevis was popped, lifted and pounded into the turf for a classic pancake block. Again late off the snap on the next play, Nevis attempts a spin move against Johnson and is stoned. Nevis burst gave the Gators problems all night long, helping him accumulate an eye-popping seven tackles, including 4.5 for loss, a sack and the forced fumble. Nevis burst inside reminds me of former Georgia Bulldog Geno Atkins who has flashed as a rookie 4th round pick for the Bengals this year. Nevis lined up directly on the nose (0-technique), as well as in the gaps and man-up on the guards. He doesn t have the power to hold up consistently, but his quickness off the snap makes him an nice option as a gap-splitting under-tackle for the 4-3 alignment.
Posted on: October 11, 2010 7:03 pm
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Posted on: September 28, 2010 2:07 pm
Each Tuesday I'll list two first year players -- one on offense, one from the defense -- as my official NFLDraftScout.com's Rookies of the Week.
Various rookies enjoyed strong performances in Week Three. On offense, it was tough to look past Sam Bradford's first career win (over the Redskins), the continued stellar play of Kansas City tight end Tony Moeaki (who I've listed as a finalist each of the first three weeks!) and Indianapolis receiver Blair White an undrafted free agent who was signed from the practice squad due to injuries and responded with three catches for 27 yards and his first NFL touchdown.
In the end, however, the versatility and explosiveness of Buffalo rookie C.J. Spiller won out.
Spiller, playing behind veterans Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson, didn't get many carries. In fact, he only rushed four times (for 29 yards) against the Patriots. The versatility he showed while starring at Clemson, however, was very much on display against New England, however, as he caught three passes for 10 yards and a touchdown and returned a kick 95 yards for another score. Spiller's ability to make impact plays were one of the reasons that the Bills were able to remain surprisingly competitive against New England, which won 38-30.
It wasn't a particularly strong week for rookies on the defensive side of the ball. Two defensive backs I had high hopes for entering the week -- Bucs' safety Cody Grimm and Broncos' cornerback Perrish Cox -- were torched for touchdowns. Sean Weatherspoon led the Falcons with seven tackles, but other highly touted 2010 linebackers Brandon Spikes (one tackle) and Rolando McClain (four tackles) weren't as statistically relevant nor able to make any big plays in close games.
Big plays, however, was exactly what Seattle free safety Earl Thomas made for the Seahawks, Sunday afternoon in a 27-20 win over the favored San Diego Chargers.
Thomas recorded six tackles, but it was his two interceptions over Pro Bowler Phillip Rivers that helped prove the difference in this game. Thomas' second interception came with only seconds left on the clock and the Chargers in position to tie the score. Thomas read the eyes of Rivers, cut in front of receiver Legedu Naanee and swiped the ball, putting a disappointing end (for San Diego, at least) to Rivers' career-high 455 yard passing day.