Tag:Florida
Posted on: January 15, 2011 11:41 am
 

Poor decisions mar underclassmen deadline day

For NFL teams looking at a less than impressive senior class, January 15 has developed into a holiday of sorts. As the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft, teams are hopeful that a few more presents will pop up to enhance the crop they've already seen.

It has been a bountiful catch already. Each player selected in the top five will be underclassmen, with Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara and Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller rating as the only seniors likely to have a chance at the top ten.

But for every Da'Quan Bowers or A.J. Green physically ready to make the leap to the NFL, there are other underclassmen who should have remained in school.

As of this morning I've been told of 55 players making the leap. Some of them, quite frankly, are leaping off the cliff of undrafted free agency.

Some of the most troubling decisions were made by running backs and safeties. 

Consider that so far this year there have been 12 underclassmen running backs who have declared for the 2011 NFL Draft.

There were only 12 running backs drafted last year.

For players like Eastern Washington's Taiwan Jones, Virginia Tech's Darren Evans, and Wisconsin's John Clay, the decision could turn out disastrous.

You can't get three backs more different than the 5-11, 190 pound speedster Jones, the 6-0, 220 pound Evans and the 6-1, 248 pound bruiser Clay. Yet all three have struggled with durability and will be entering the NFL without the offenses taylored around their game that helped each standout at the collegiate level.

Jones, who has struggled the most with injuries but is the most physically gifted of the three may be one taking the biggest gamble, especially considering that scouts are going to naturally question his FCS competition. Even if he'd returned for his senior season and helped Eastern and again struggled with durability, he'd have potentially had the opportunity to play in a senior all-star game.

The weak senior running back class (scouts aren't sure there will be a single senior drafted in the top two rounds) convinced many of these underclassmen to come out. The same is true at safety. At of this morning, "only" five safeties had declared early for the draft -- UCLA's Rahim Moore, West Virginia's Robert Sands, Iowa's Tyler Sash, Georgia Tech's Jerrard Terrant and Florida's Will Hill -- but two of them could be making significant mistakes.

Moore and Hill have made some eye-popping plays over their respective careers, but each is coming off a disappointing junior season and surprised scouts with their decisions to leave early. Perhaps surprised isn't the correct word. Scouts had known that each was strongly considering the jump for the last month or so, but it doesn't change the fact that each was more highly thought of at the end of last season -- had much to gain with a strong senior year -- than they did by coming out now.

Moore, in particular, has been labeled by many as a first round caliber prospect, but after doing my film review of him this past week, I see an unreliable open field tackler who is inconsistent in coverage. His FBS-leading 10 interceptions in 2009 may have been a by-product of the play of his former teammates, now NFL players (Bucs' DT Brian Price and Titans' CB Alterraun Verner). Without them, Moore intercepted one pass in 2010.  I gave him a 3rd-4th round grade.
Posted on: January 15, 2011 11:41 am
 

Poor decisions mar underclassmen deadline day

For NFL teams looking at a less than impressive senior class, January 15 has developed into a holiday of sorts. As the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft, teams are hopeful that a few more presents will pop up to enhance the crop they've already seen.

It has been a bountiful catch already. Each player selected in the top five will be underclassmen, with Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara and Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller rating as the only seniors likely to have a chance at the top ten.

But for every Da'Quan Bowers or A.J. Green physically ready to make the leap to the NFL, there are other underclassmen who should have remained in school.

As of this morning I've been told of 55 players making the leap. Some of them, quite frankly, are leaping off the cliff of undrafted free agency.

Some of the most troubling decisions were made by running backs and safeties. 

Consider that so far this year there have been 12 underclassmen running backs who have declared for the 2011 NFL Draft.

There were only 12 running backs drafted last year.

For players like Eastern Washington's Taiwan Jones, Virginia Tech's Darren Evans, and Wisconsin's John Clay, the decision could turn out disastrous.

You can't get three backs more different than the 5-11, 190 pound speedster Jones, the 6-0, 220 pound Evans and the 6-1, 248 pound bruiser Clay. Yet all three have struggled with durability and will be entering the NFL without the offenses taylored around their game that helped each standout at the collegiate level.

Jones, who has struggled the most with injuries but is the most physically gifted of the three may be one taking the biggest gamble, especially considering that scouts are going to naturally question his FCS competition. Even if he'd returned for his senior season and helped Eastern and again struggled with durability, he'd have potentially had the opportunity to play in a senior all-star game.

The weak senior running back class (scouts aren't sure there will be a single senior drafted in the top two rounds) convinced many of these underclassmen to come out. The same is true at safety. At of this morning, "only" five safeties had declared early for the draft -- UCLA's Rahim Moore, West Virginia's Robert Sands, Iowa's Tyler Sash, Georgia Tech's Jerrard Terrant and Florida's Will Hill -- but two of them could be making significant mistakes.

Moore and Hill have made some eye-popping plays over their respective careers, but each is coming off a disappointing junior season and surprised scouts with their decisions to leave early. Perhaps surprised isn't the correct word. Scouts had known that each was strongly considering the jump for the last month or so, but it doesn't change the fact that each was more highly thought of at the end of last season -- had much to gain with a strong senior year -- than they did by coming out now.

Moore, in particular, has been labeled by many as a first round caliber prospect, but after doing my film review of him this past week, I see an unreliable open field tackler who is inconsistent in coverage. His FBS-leading 10 interceptions in 2009 may have been a by-product of the play of his former teammates, now NFL players (Bucs' DT Brian Price and Titans' CB Alterraun Verner). Without them, Moore intercepted one pass in 2010.  I gave him a 3rd-4th round grade.
Posted on: December 6, 2010 7:33 pm
 

McDaniels' firing could be catastrophic for Tebow

In firing head coach Josh McDaniels Monday, Denver Broncos' owner may also be endangering the career of the Broncos' 2010 first round pick, quarterback Tim Tebow.

In aggressively trading up to select him, McDaniels was obviously a believer that the former Heisman Trophy winner could be a successful starting quarterback in the NFL. As you may recall, there were many others who did not believe that to be true, citing Tebow's elongated delivery and significant adaptation from the spread offense as primary reasons why he'd never enjoy the same kind of success in the pros as he did in college.

Kyle Orton's emergence this season had pushed Tebow's development onto the back burner in Denver. Whomever owner Pat Bowlen elects to bring in as McDaniels' replacement will almost surely want to go with the proven commodity in Orton over Tebow, pushing the former SEC star's development back further.

Quarterback development is perhaps one of the least understood aspects of the NFL for many football fans. Many fans tout the idea of drafting a young quarterback and developing them behind a veteran. They may not realize that the second and third string quarterbacks rarely receive the number of snaps in a given practice week to develop, making training camp and OTAs the best opportunity for young signal-callers to make any real headway.

With presumably a new head coach and his chosen staff coming in after the season ends, the Broncos will be busy implementing their new scheme, meaning that Orton will be getting more practice time than he would if playing under McDaniels and in the system he clearly understands well.

Tebow's passion and the work ethic he showed at Florida is one of the reasons why coaches fell in love with him in interviews. However, with limited opportunity to improve and playing under a head coach who has nothing personally invested in him, Tebow's pro career could be on the verge of floundering before it ever really had a chance to float.
Posted on: October 29, 2010 5:01 pm
 

5 "other" prospects I'll be focusing on Saturday

As I mentioned in the previous post, I'll be attending the Stanford-Washington game Saturday afternoon primarily to scout quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Jake Locker.

That said, while gone, the DVDs will be burning away on the games featuring these five "other" intriguing prospects, as well.

WR Denarius Moore, Tennessee: True sophomore wideout Alshon Jeffrey for the Gamecocks will receive most of the attention (as well he should), but scouts are intrigued by the flashes from Moore. The 6-1, 195 pounder with 4.4 speed has impressed in the past with his playmaking ability and has emerged in this, his senior season, just as former Vols Montario Hardesty and Dan Williams did last year. Moore was knocked out of the Alabama game last week after taking a wicked hit, but is expected to be fine for this matchup. I'm interested to see how he does against a typically stingy and athletic South Carolina secondary. This game begins at 12:20 pm EST and will be televised by ESPN.

QB Ricky Stanzi, Iowa: I pointed out the improved play of Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins earlier in the week, but his counterpart in this contest deserves every bit as much acknowledgement. Stanzi has always flashed the skill set scouts were looking for, but the strong-armed quarterback had been besieged with costly turnovers. Last year Stanzi completed 56.3% of his passes and threw for an unacceptable 17-15 TD to INT ratio. This season Stanzi's improved play (68.1% completion rate, 16/2 TD-INT ratio) is a major factor in Iowa's 5-2 beginning. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by ABC.

CB Janoris Jenkins, Florida*
: I typically only highlight senior prospects in this preview, but this is the game I've circled all year long in grading Jenkins. At times, he'll be matched up against Georgia star A.J. Green and that pairing offers scouts an opportunity to see how the playmaking, but undersized Jenkins might hold up in the NFL. Jenkins started off the season with a huge interception and return for a score in the opener against an overmatched Miami (Ohio) club, but hasn't done nearly as well since. If he is to consider leaving early for the NFL, as is the belief among many scouts, he'll need to step up his game soon. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by CBS.

CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska : In case you missed it, Amukamara was beaten up a bit by sophomore Justin Blackmon during last weekend's showdown against Oklahoma State. Blackmon, the nation's leading receiver with 62 grabs for 1,112 yards and 14 TDs already caught five passes for 157 yards and two scores, including a dazzling 80-yard score matched up one on one against Amukamara. I pointed out Cornhusker Niles Paul last week as a player who enjoyed a strong bounce-back performance after a prime-time meltdown. Scouts would like to see how Amukamara reacts Saturday after his uncharacteristic struggles. Amukamara and the rest of the 'Huskers will certainly have their hands full against a dynamic Mizzou offense led by junior quarterback Blaine Gabbert. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by ABC.

DL Brandon Bair, Oregon: With the Ducks' offense seemingly scoring points at will, it has been hard for any Oregon defender to gain much attention, but with a conference-leading 13 tackles for loss, the 6-6 268 pound Bair certainly deserves it. Bair, who sees action at both defensive end and defensive tackle for the Ducks, could prove key in the big Pac-10 matchup Saturday night against USC. Several are just tuning into Bair's play now. I noticed Bair's play during preseason film review of last year, but as I mentioned then, Bair will have a hard time moving up boards too much considering his age. Bair, who will turn 27 in November, spent two years on an LDS mission prior to beginning his play with the Ducks. This game begins at 8:00 pm EST and will be televised by ABC. 

Posted on: October 20, 2010 9:06 am
 

Strong individual performances highlight weekend

Some of you may have noticed that my fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter took over the blog for the past few days. He did an admirable job with a detailed breakdown of Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn as the Prospect of the Week and Slippery Rock center Brandon Fusco as our Diamond in the Rough .

Chad took over because I was on a short deer-hunting trip in Washington state with my father, brother and a few close friends. The annual trip is one of the reasons I have not accepted an NFL scouting position. I love football, but my family and our annual trips together come first.

Getting back yesterday, I spent much of the evening reviewing film and talking to contacts within the league. While I absolutely agree with selection of Clayborn as our senior prospect of the week, here are several other players that caught my (and scouts') attention with strong performances on Saturday.

OLB/DE Chris Carter, Fresno State : Carter registered nine tackles, including four tackles for loss and three sacks and forced two fumbles in the Bulldogs' 33-10 win over New Mexico State.

DT Guy Miller, Colorado State: The 6-3, 302 pounder broke the CSU record with 4.5 sacks against UNLV Saturday. He'd been rated as a likely free agent prior to the contest and had only two sacks to this point, but the dominating effort left a strong impression on two league insiders I spoke to who attended/viewed this game.

WR/RS Jerrel Jernigan, Troy : Jernigan, previously highlighted as Diamond in the Rough , deserved consideration again this week after a 188 all-purpose yard, two touchdown performance in the 31-24 win over Louisiana-Lafayette. Jernigan caught six passes for 77 yards, including the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. He also returned a punt for a 75-yard touchdown. Jernigan has been invited to the Senior Bowl .

WR/RS Dwayne Harris, East Carolina: Against quality ACC competition, Harris exploded for a career-high 260 all-purpose yards Saturday versus North Carolina State. Harris caught nine passes for 91 yards in ECU's thrilling 33-27 victory and contributed another 95 on kick returns and 75 on punt returns.

WR Armon Binns, Cincinnati: Binns caught a career-high eight passes for 175 yards and three scores in the Bearcats exciting come-from-behind win over Louisville Friday night. For his efforts Binns also was recognized as the Big East's Offensive Player of the Week.

S Mark Barron, Alabama: Scouts love Barron's instincts and versatility and both were on display Saturday against Ole Miss. Barron registered seven tackles, including five solos, an interception, tackle for loss and a quarterback pressure.

ILB Chris White, Mississippi State: White was all over the field for the Bulldogs in their impressive 10-7 win over Florida, Saturday. He earned SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors with 11 tackles (including nine solos), as well as 4.5 tackles for loss against the Gators. White is among the conference leaders with 57 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and five sacks so far this season.

OLB Blake Sorensen, Wisconsin: Sorenson's game-clinching interception with only a few minutes remaining sealed the Badgers upset bid over Ohio State Saturday, but was only part of his impressive game. Sorensen also registered a career-high 10 tackles, including a tackle for loss.





Posted on: October 8, 2010 7:45 pm
 

5 Senior Prospects I'll be Focusing On Saturday

Each weekend I list the five senior prospects I'll be focusing on. These are players who appear to have challenging matchups that will help determine how well they'll be able to make the transition to the pro game.

A noteworthy performance (either positive or negative) can result in the player being profiled in our upcoming edition of Draft Slant, NFLDraftScout.com's weekly PDF file for premium subscribers.

Last week I profiled Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder, Indiana quarterback Ben Chappell, Oklahoma running back DeMarco Murray, USC cornerback Shareece Wright, Alabama OT James Carpenter and Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

QB Christian Ponder, Florida State:
Ponder showed the mobility, high football IQ and accuracy in the short/intermediate levels against Virginia last weekend that NFL teams like about him, but he has not been as productive thus far as hoped.  Ponder will have to play the best game of his season so far if he is to enjoy success against a supremely talented Miami defense.  Ponder enjoyed a bit of a breakout performance last year against the 'Canes with a then-career high 294 passing yards and two touchdowns (against one interception). This game begins at 8:00 pm EST and will be televised by ABC.
Posted on: October 1, 2010 10:50 pm
 

Five prospects I'll be focusing on Saturday

Each week, in preparation for Draft Slant and the handing out of my weekly awards for Prospect of the Week and Diamond in the Rough, I list five prospects on the blog that I'll be focusing on.

This week is no different -- though with such a huge slate of games -- I can go back to my customary role of focusing on just senior players, rather than dabbling with some underclassmen last week.

Because I'm spending the entire day scouting, I typically don't post more than once or twice on the blog on Saturdays. I do, however, invite you to scout "alongside" me by following me on Twitter.

Without any further adieu, here are this week's big five senior prospects:

CB Ras-I Dowling, Virginia: Dowling entered the year as one of NFLDraftScout.com's top 32 seniors and I yet I elected not to include him in my recent mock draft . The reason is that Dowling has been hobbled by a nagging hamstring injury and was only able to see his first playing time of the season last week against Virginia Military Institute. Dowling was not his typically dominant self, getting beaten deep on a long pass, as well as getting flagged for pass interference. And that was against VMI. Don't put it past Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder and his aggressive head coach Jimbo Fisher to test Dowling early. This game begins at noon EST and will be televised by ESPN.

RB DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma: Murray has earned NFLDraftScout.com's top grade among senior running backs, but if he is to legitimize his standing as a potential first round pick, this is the type of game where he'll need to show up big. This game may lack the sizzle of Red River Rivalries of the past, but even with Mack Brown's Longhorns struggle offensively, they typically play stout defense -- and this year's squad looks no different. Murray's ability to break outside for long gains, as well as his reliable hands out of the backfield, should make him the focus of the Texas defensive game plan, not stopping the Sooner passing game. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by ABC.

OT Marcus Gilbert, Florida: Florida linemate Mike Pouncey has generated most of the buzz (both good and bad) thus far this season, but Gilbert's play in this SEC Championship rematch against Alabama could play a key role in determining the winner. Gilbert, the Gators' right tackle, will be matched up against talented junior Marcell Dareus. Dareus struggled last week against Arkansas with a sprained ankle, but is a legitimate first round talent when healthy. If Gilbert (6-5, 320) is able to handle Dareus, the Gators chances of moving the ball against this talented Crimson Tide defense grow significantly. This game begins at 8 pm EST and will be televised by CBS.

QB Jake Locker, Washington:
Admittedly I could justify putting Locker on here every weekend but I'm betting that you're just as curious as I am as to how he performs in this, his first game since the Nebraska debacle. Locker doesn't have to win this game to right the ship in terms of his own slipping draft grade. He does, however, have to show improved accuracy and decision-making against a Trojan team looking for revenge. Remember, it was Locker and the Huskies' upset over the Trojans last year that some say led to the "fall of Troy." With the Huskies desperate to prove that the Nebraska game was a fluke and USC just as desperate to prove they remain among the Pac-10's elite, this game has all of the drama, but so much less of the hype of the day's monster showdowns. This game begins at 8 pm EST and will be televised by ESPN2.

DT/NG Sione Pua, Stanford: The young and dynamic skill position prospects in the Oregon-Stanford will get all of the attention and rightfully so. Pua, however, is one of the draft's more underrated run stuffers. If he can control the middle of the line of scrimmage and force Oregon running back LaMichael James outside, the Cardinal could force young Duck quarterback Darron Thomas to beat them. The last two defenses that were as physical as Stanford's gave the Ducks plenty of trouble -- Arizona State gave Oregon quite a scare last week and Ohio State beat the Ducks in the Rose Bowl. The winner of this game, I believe, becomes the odds on favorite to represent the Pac-10 in the Rose Bowl this year.  This game begins at 8 pm EST and will be televised by ABC/ESPN.
Posted on: September 20, 2010 6:43 pm
 

Diamond in the Rough -- Cal (PA) QB Josh Portis

As I mentioned in my last post, we thought that the Player of the Week and Diamond in the Rough deserved more acknowledgement than they received in the past as part of our Draft Slant coverage. Thus, each Monday I'll highlight the award recipients here on the blog.

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). Or, if you just want to see an example, you can download this free sample of Week One here .

I considered several prospects for Diamond in the Rough this week, but with so many of the prolific senior quarterback prospects struggling, I couldn't look past the opportunity to review California (PA) signal-caller Josh Portis, who only a few years ago was expected to be the heir apparent to one Tim Tebow at the University of Florida.


Diamond in the Rough -- September 18, 2010
QB Josh Portis, California (PA) 6-4 / 208 / 4.67
-- opponent East Stroudsburg State
 
Portis, the cousin of Washington Redskins' running back Clinton Portis, was a prep star at William Howard Taft high school in California who was recruited by many of the biggest schools in the country as a quarterback and multi-purpose athlete. He signed with Florida, but only lasted with Urban Meyers team one year. He saw action immediately, however, playing in six of 11 games and completing six of 11 passes during that time for 81 yards and no touchdowns (one interception). Portis elected to transfer to the University of Maryland following his first season and was forced to sit out the 2006 season per NCAA regulations. He was allowed to practice with his Terp teammates, however, and was credited with the Scout Offensive Player of the Year honors following the season. Portis was expected to compete for the starting role a year later, but was suspended for academics (reportedly for cheating on a quiz). He struggled to get playing time with the Terps and ultimately elected to transfer again, this time to California (PA). It didn't take him long to establish himself as a man among boys at this level. Portis broke school records on his way to completing 224 of 407 passes for 3,421 yards and 36 touchdowns. Perhaps not surprisingly, it didn't take Portis long to impress against East Stroudsburg State Saturday, either. The lanky senior quarterback completed a 43-yard bomb down the left sideline on his first pass -- correctly recognizing that he had single coverage on that side. The ball, thrown with good trajectory and accuracy, was completed despite tight coverage. Only a few players later, Portis, dropping back from center, looked off the safety and drilled a crossing route over the middle for his first touchdown of the day. There has been a knock on Portis throughout his career that he's relied on his athleticism, rather than focusing on the little things that quaterbacks need to be successful in the NFL -- especially considering the jump he'll be making from the D-II level. Throughout this contest at least, Portis showed enough natural throwing ability to strongly consider for senior all-star games. He has worked under some heavy hitters in Urban Meyer, Ralph Friedgen and even former Pitt and Stanford head coach Walt Harris, who now serves as California's offensive coordinator. Any kind of endorsement from these coaches and NFL scouts will certainly be taking a peek at this talented passer. If given an opportunity in a senior all-star game or the Combine, Portis could rise into one of the more intriguing developmental passers in the 2011 draft.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com