Tag:Illinois
Posted on: December 29, 2010 1:15 pm
 

Prospects aplenty in today's bowl games

My fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter does a nice job of breaking down the prospects in today's bowl games in this article , but I wanted to take a few moments to highlight a few others in today's trio of bowl games.

The most exciting prospects on the field for East Carolina and Maryland in today's Military Bowl happen to play the same position in receivers Dwayne Harris (ECU) and Torrey Smith (Maryland).

Kenny Tate , a junior free safety who has made some splashy plays this season and could be peeking ahead to the NFL, will have Harris in his sights.

For those looking for a sleeper in this contest, keep an eye on East Carolina left tackle Willie Smith . His athleticism is intriguing.

By listing Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor in my current first round mock draft , you probably get the idea of how high I believe Taylor is viewed by pro scouts. The 6-4, 340 pound defensive tackle projects nicely in the 4-3 and 3-4 scheme which could see him drafted higher than infinitely more famous DTs Stephen Paea and Drake Nevis.

In the Texas Bowl, however, I'll be focusing on a trio of Illinois underclassmen, all of whom are very much exploring their draft options.

Inside linebacker Martez Wilson jumps off the tape. He's the most exciting combination of size (6-4, 250) and athleticism of any draft-eligible inside linebacker I've scouted this year. He remains a work in progress in terms of instincts, but is one of the few senior/junior ILBs I see as a potential standout in the NFL.

Wilson is certainly helped by up front by one of the faster rising DT prospects in the country in Corey Liuget . The 6-3, 300 pounder is starting to blossom and earned Second Team All-Big Ten accolades this year with 54 tackles, 8.5 TFL and 3.5 sacks.

Running back Mikel LeShoure is one of a host of backs fighting to be ranked second behind Alabama's Mark Ingram as possible 2011 franchise runners. His thick frame and surprising burst could help him achieve that status.

Finally, in the Arizona-Oklahoma State showdown of the Alamo Bowl, I'll can't wait to see these two high-powered offenses go at it. There are a host of prospects to watch (including some guy named Blackmon), most of whom Chad highlighted in his preview (again, the link is here ) but one he mentions just in passing is Wildcat receiver Juron Criner , a 6-4 210 pound vertical threat that star quarterback Nick Foles targets often. I'm not as high on Criner (or Foles, for that matter) that some others seem to be, but each is considering making the jump to the NFL and therefore I'll be watching them closely tonight -- as should you.


Posted on: December 16, 2010 7:10 pm
 

Ole Miss' Bolden among young RBs checking stock

The annual migration of junior and redshirt sophomore running backs to the NFL may begin with Mississippi's Brandon Bolden, who according to this report from Kyle Veazey of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, has requested a grade from the NFL Advisory Committee.

Bolden flashed on tape last year as a complimentary option behind Dexter McCluster. This season Bolden emerged as the Rebels'best running back, rushing for 976 yards and 14 touchdowns for an offense that struggled with consistency. Despite his production, some will be surprised that Bolden is looking into his pro grade. He certainly hasn't generated the hype of a Mark Ingram or LaMichael James.

Just because Bolden requested his grade does not mean, of course, that he'll elect to leave school early. While the 5-11, 225 pound Bolden has a combination of agility, speed and power to translate well at the NFL level and has proven successful against top SEC competition, pro teams are going to be as hesitant as ever to invest high round picks in running backs when two undrafted free agents -- the Bucs' LeGarrette Blount and the Saints' Chris Ivory -- have been more impressive this season than any of the other rookie runners, including first rounders C.J. Spiller (Bills), Ryan Mathews (Chargers) and Jahvid Best (Lions).

This fact may cause NFL teams to push running backs down the board, but don't expect it to slow down the exodus of underclassmen runners. In fact, with a relatively weak class of seniors, some league insiders believe we could see several young running backs enter the 2011 draft.

Rumors are swirling around Ingram, Illinois' Mikel LeShoure, Cal's Shane Vereen, Oregon State's JacQuizz Rodgers, UCONN's Jordan Todman, and Clemson's Jamie Harper as junior backs who may make the jump. Even some lesser known junior runners like Eastern Washington's Taiwan Jones are looking into their options.

Redshirt sophomore like James, Virginia Tech's Ryan Williams and Washington's Chris Polk are also expected to request grades.

The reason behind their moves is simple. Running backs absorb so much punishment that they're wise to begin earning money for their production as soon as possible.

As is always the case, any underclassmen considering making the jump to the pros should only do so after first consulting with the NFL Advisory Committee.

As always, remember that for complete draft coverage, be sure to check out NFLDraftScout.com or simply click here.

Posted on: December 16, 2010 1:05 pm
 

Tampa WR Benn, Arizona LB Washington top rookies

This week's two Rookies of the Week entered the game overshadowed by other first year players. Strong performances, however, certainly caught my attention and helped their clubs gain victories.

Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman has relied on rookie wide receiver Mike Williams all year long, but it was the "other" rookie wideout who was the big playmaker for the Bucs this past weekend.

Arrelious Benn , a second round pick out of Illinois, enjoyed the best game of his career, catching four passes for 122 yards and also contributing an end-around run for another 17 yards. Benn was held out of the end zone, but just barely as he was tackled at the one yard line by Washington safety Kareem Moore after a 43-yard reception in the 4th quarter put the Bucs in position to take the lead.

Benn made an even bigger play in the second quarter, when he beat Washington's best corner, DeAngelo Hall, deep for 64 yards, putting the Bucs in position to score their first points (a Connor Barth field goal) of the game.

The Bucs beat the Redskins 17-16 in large part due to Benn, whose 122 receiving yards led all receivers.

The Arizona Cardinals' Daryl Washington was selected only eight spots later on draft day and, like Benn, he played a key role in his team's victory Sunday.

While the loss of quarterback Kurt Warner and wide receiver Anquan Boldin has appropriately received plenty of attention, many league insiders felt that Arizona might have a tougher time replacing versatile linebacker Karlos Dansby who signed with Miami as a free agent.

The athletic Washington has a ways to go before one can say he's "replaced" Dansby, but his versatility was on display in the Cardinals surprisingly easy 43-13 victory over Denver.

Washington's speed and agility were on display throughout this game. He helped contain Knowshon Moreno, one of the NFL's hottest backs in recent weeks and was just as effective in coverage. His interception and return 40 yards for a touchdown of Kyle Orton in the closing minutes of the game, in fact, put an emphatic stamp on the game.

For all of the talk about Arizona's new find at quarterback (rookie John Skelton), Washington was the rookie whose play was most instrumental in the Cardinals getting their 4th victory of the season.
Posted on: July 8, 2010 12:48 pm
 

Putting DT Brent-Price's workout in perspective

Former Illinois defensive tackle Joshua Brent-Price worked out for 18 teams yesterday in the hopes of getting picked in the NFL's Supplemental draft July 15. According to NFL.com's Gil Brandt , Brent-Price measured in at 6-1 3/4 and 321 pounds. Though his numbers throughout the workout were, as I show below, relatively average in comparison to the defensive tackles tested at last February's Combine, Brent-Price's workout was characterized by Brandt's unnamed sources as being "very good."

There were five defensive tackles tested at the Combine who weighed as much or more than Brent-Price. Those five -- Aleric Mullins (321), Dan Williams (327), Linval Joseph (328), Cam Thomas (330), and, of course, Terrance Cody (354).

Brent-Price was clocked in the 40-yard dash at 5.38 seconds, according to Brandt. Of the five, only Cody (5.72) ran slower. Cody's 5.72 was the slowest recorded time of any prospect at the 2010 Combine.

Perhaps a greater concern to scouts than Brent-Price's marginal speed was his disappointing strength. With only 22 reps of 225 pounds, the former Illini defender paled in comparison to the afore-mentioned DTs at the 2010 Combine. In fact, there wasn't a single defensive tackle invited to last year's Combine who weighed more than 295 pounds that failed to lift more than Brent-Price.

To Brent-Price's credit, he was more impressive in the leaping drills (8'10 standing broad, 29" vertical) than many of the similarly built DTs of last April's draft. Then again, scouts know Brent-Price is athletic; what they want to see is the dedication to remaining in shape, gaining strength and focusing on his responsibilities -- areas in which his weight, relative lack of foot speed and upper body strength and tendency to get in trouble off the field have drawn concerns.

Brent-Price recorded 29 tackles, seven tackles for loss and forced three fumbles last year. He served 30 days in jail a year ago for a DUI and was suspended for the team for academics this year, leading to his application for admission into the supplemental draft.

Clearly, Brent-Price has enough athleticism and size for NFL teams to consider him. The fact that he plays such an important position, played under a respected head coach with NFL experience in Ron Zook and signed with an agent (Peter Schaeffer) well respected in NFL circles gives him a chance to get drafted in the final two rounds July 15.
Posted on: June 24, 2010 10:46 am
 

Masoli a big name, but unworthy of a draft pick

Though he hasn't yet made it official, former Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli is expected to officially make himself eligible for the NFL's Supplemental Draft July 15.

Like most of the prospects who apply, however, Masoli has a very slim chance of actually getting drafted, however.

The myriad of off-field concerns Masoli brings with him is just one reason why scouts I spoke to in recent days expect that every NFL club will elect to pass on the talented, but troubled quarterback.

Masoli was suspended from the team for the entire 2010 season in March for his role in the theft of laptops and a guitar from an Oregon fraternity. He remained on scholarship and practiced with the team, though under the conditions of his agreement with head coach Chip Kelly, Masoli would not have been eligible to play for the Ducks until 2011.

Masoli got himself in further trouble in early June when he was pulled over and cited for marijuana possession and driving infractions. Two days following the citation, Masoli was offiicially kicked off the team.

Masoli's obvious character red-flags, themselves, are enough to pull him off some NFL teams' draft boards. The cold reality is, however, that Masoli's lack of height and downfield accuracy already meant that few teams would be looking at him as a quarterback. While his athleticism was enough to make him Oregon's leading rushing quarterback of all time (1,386 yards), it isn't enough to project him as a wide receiver, running back or safety, according to scouts.

Said one scout, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, "Sure he was productive for [Oregon], but where do you play him in the NFL? He might be listed by the school at 5'11, but he's closer to 5-09... And think again about just moving him to receiver. If he runs faster than the mid 4.6s, I'd be surprised."

Though Masoli and Illinois defensive tackle Joshua Brent-Price (who also hasn't yet officially been deemed eligible) have earned some late attention from teams, it seems that BYU running back Harvey Unga remains the only lock to be drafted this year.
Posted on: March 18, 2010 1:09 pm
 

Big Ten WRs steal from Tebow's thunder

Lost in all the attention heaped upon Tim Tebow's Pro Day were two eye-popping results by Big Ten wide receivers certain to improve their draft stock.

I'd listed Illinois' Arrelious Benn as a faller following the Combine after the 6-1, 219 pound wideout was slower (4.57) and sloppier as a route-runner and pass-catcher than expected.

Yesterday during his Pro Day, however, Benn was "pretty spectacular" according to sources on the scene. Scouts from two separate teams, each thought likely to invest a pick in the 2010 draft on a wideout, clocked the big receiver at 4.36 and 4.39, respectively. They also acknowledged that Benn's footwork in route-running drills was much more fluid and that he caught the ball very well.

Benn is viewed by most clubs as a second round pick.

Benn, however, wasn't the only Big Ten receiver to enjoy a eye-popping workout Wednesday.

Michigan State's Blair White, 6-2, 209 pounds, had already impressed scouts at the Combine with better athletic ability than most gave him credit. He spoke about this issue at the Combine.  "I think one of the main things I've heard is that a lot of people think I'm just a possession receiver at the next level," White said. "It's tough trying to overcome that stereotype, because I think I'm better than that and I disagree. But I just have to go out there and let my performing do the talking for me."

His performance did the talking Wednesday, as he was timed at 4.40 by one scout I spoke to. The scout mentioned "no surprises" among White's route-running and catching -- which is to say he was great. Route-running and sticky hands are two of White's best characteristics.
 
 
 
 
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