Tag:NFLDraftScout.com
Posted on: January 27, 2012 8:10 pm
Edited on: January 27, 2012 8:20 pm
 

Report: Datko ends redshirt pursuit; NFL eligible

Florida State's Andrew Datko entered his senior season among the most highly touted offensive tackle prospects in the country. 

Unfortunately, the Seminoles preseason All-ACC left tackle's 2011 season ended after just four games due to lingering shoulder issues. Datko pursued gaining another year of eligibility with a medical redshirt but was not among the list of several NFL-caliber players initially granted an extra season from the ACC.

According to editor-in-chief John Crist of NoleDigest.com, Datko has elected to end his pursut of a medical redshirt, has signed with agent Drew Rosenhaus and is preparing for the 2012 draft. He's currently rated as the No. 11 offensive tackle for the 2012 draft and the 118th rated prospect, overall by NFLDraftScout.com. Datko was one of two highly athletic tackles to star for the Seminoles over the past four seasons. While he started at left tackle, Zebrie Sanders was the Seminoles' right tackle. Sanders flipped over to the left side and played well once Datko's senior campaign finished early.

The 6-6, 321 pound Datko will obviously have to answer questions about the health of his shoulders but when 100% has proven himself to be a very effective blocker for the Seminoles. Big and athletic, Datko started 40 games for Florida State, all of them at left tackle. The shoulder injury limited his play in 2011 but Datko allowed just three combined sacks in his previous two seasons with the Seminoles despite facing an impressive array of pass rushers in the ACC. Of concern to scouts, however, is that the injury isn't new. As Datko explains in this video he was essentially playing with "just one shoulder" in 2010 and had expected to be fully healthy in 2011. 

The opinion of team doctors will ultimately play a critical role in where (or if) Datko is selected in the 2012 draft.


Posted on: January 26, 2012 1:30 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2012 1:45 pm
 

South Team's CBs stealing the show at Senior Bowl

MOBILE, ALA -- With the NFL evolving into a predominantly passing league, cornerbacks are in high demand and have become one of the premier positions at the next level. With that said, the senior class boasts some intriuging talent at the cornerback position and several of those rising talents can be found on the South squad at the Senior Bowl.

North Alabama (and former Florida Gator) cornerback Janoris Jenkins has put to rest any debate as to who is the most talented senior cornerback in this year's group with his performance in practice this week. He is a fluid athlete with very light feet and swivel hips to turn and run downfield, but also shows the closing burst and physical nature to attack what's in front of him. At practice on Wednesday, Jenkins showed impeccable timing and explosion to plant, drive and blow up the play, knocking the ball and North Carolina receiver Dwight Jones to the ground in one of the drills.

At times his lack of size and length will show in man coverage (only 5-93/4" tall), but he has a natural feel for the position that NFL teams covet. Now obviously there are several off-field questions regarding Jenkins as a prospect, which will ultimately affect his draft stock. However based on pure talent and football ability, Jenkins is a top-10 prospect and should be the top senior cornerback off the board.

Georgia's Brandon Boykin also stood out at Wednesday's practice, flashing his elite-level quickness and athleticism. However, what was most encouraging to see was his aggressiveness at the line of scrimmage, getting physical with receivers off the snap and working hard to make them as uncomfortable as possible. Boykin was a bit grabby at times and needs to stay disciplined or he'll attract penalties at the next level, but it was a positive sign that scouts wanted to see with the former Bulldog speedster.

Small school cornerback Ryan Steed out of Furman has shown he belongs here this week, competing at a high level in every drill. His inexperience will show at times as he still needs to develop his instincts and read/react ability, but he has shown the smooth athleticism to play the position in the NFL. Steed looked natural in his transition, turning and running with receivers downfield with smooth flexibility. He needs some work before he's ready to cover pro receivers, but he has looked promising this week

And perhaps the biggest riser among senior cornerbacks is Dwight Bentley out of Louisiana-Lafayette. He has a lean, wiry build at 5-10 and 176 pounds, but has hasn't backed down at all, staying physical and competing with bigger, stronger receivers. Bentley is obviously most comfortable playing in off-coverage where he can rely on his athleticism, but that hasn't stopped him from putting his hands on receivers just enough keep them from separating. After an inconsistent senior campaign, Bentley needed a strong week here and he has exceeded expectations so far.

OTHER PROSPECT NOTES:

WR Jeff Fuller, Texas A&M: Senior Bowl practices this week have been an extension of Fuller's 2011 season and unfortunately that's not a good thing. He looks the part with a tall, strong build and surprising quickness and athleticism (looks like a basketball player on the field), but his hands and concentration continue to let him down. Fuller will make a nice catch, but follow it up with two poor drops. In the NFL, it doesn't matter how big or fast you are at receiver if you can't complete the reception.

TE Brad Smelley, Alabama: Every year, 'Bama seems to be well-represented at the Senior Bowl, due to their talented program, but also because of the proximity to Mobile. Some Alabama players deserve to participate in this game, while others arguably may not, but Smelley has shown he belongs here. Through three days of practice, it could be argued that no pass-catcher has been more consistent than the Tide H-back who has shown vacuum-hands all week. He isn't explosive in any way, but he plays hard and fast at all times and has earned a draftable grade.

OT Levi Brown, Troy: An under-the-radar player, Brown has had a tough time so far this week, but has shown steady progression after being moved inside to guard at practice. He looks natural in his movements with very good foot quickness and lateral agility, but he is unpolished with his hand placement and overall technique. After playing left tackle at Troy, Brown will need to strengthen his base and lower body in order to anchor as an interior blocker.

OT Jeff Allen, Illinois: Another collegiate left tackle who was moved inside to guard, Allen looked much more comfortable in tight quarters. He doesn't extend his arms or use his hands as effectively as he should, often allowing rushers into his body, but he holds his own at the point of attack. His weight also looks a bit sloppy, especially in his midsection, which is disappointing from a college left tackle. With Allen, it doesn't always look pretty, but he seems to get the job done.

LB Lavonte David, Nebraska: One of the more impressive players so far this week has been Lavonte David, the tackling machine from Lincoln. However where he has been most impressive is his drops, showing fluid hips and above average footwork for a linebacker when asked to turn and run. David isn't the most physically imposing at 6-0 1/2" and 225 pounds, but he is a sure-tackler with the first step quickness and natural instincts needed for the position. For David, it's not a question about "ability", but rather a question of "where does he fit?"

RB Terrance Ganaway, Baylor: At 5-11 and 241 pounds, Ganaway has the bruising size and natural power to work well between the tackles. But if he hopes to see playing time at the next level, he must improve his blocking. Ganaway has struggled in practice this week in pass protection drills, showing poor habits and inexperience. He routinely drops his helmet and leaves his feet, allowing pass rushers to brush by him and get to the pocket.

  The preceding report was written by NFLDraftScout.com analyst Dane Brugler. He can be followed on Twitter @dpbrugler

Posted on: January 25, 2012 6:29 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 6:36 pm
 

Arizona WR Criner quieting critics at Senior Bowl

MOBILE, Ala -- Arizona wide receiver Juron Criner saw his stock slip before his senior season even began amid concerns about family and personal health issues. 

While those issues will still need to be investigated fully by NFL teams, the playmaking skills that he demonstrated throughout an record-breaking career with the Wildcats have helped him stand out this week for the South Team at the Senior Bowl.    

Though I still have reservations about Criner's straight-line speed, he's shown enough in that category to eat up the cushion against off-man coverage supplied by a cornerback group for the South that is as strong as any position playing in the 2012 Senior Bowl. Criner runs precise routes and has excellent body control to adjust to the ball while it is in flight. He demonstrated this in beating North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins, my 21st overall rated prospect in the 2012 draft on a deep ball midway through Wednesday's practice.    

Criner's ability to track the ball and make big plays haven't ever been the question. After all, he caught 75 passes for 956 yards and 11 touchdowns in just 12 games as a senior and this was a drop-off from the year before when he earned All-American honors with 82 catches for 1,233 yards and 11 scores. Though he certainly doesn't possess the big play speed of Arkansas' Joe Adams or Houston's Patrick Edwards, he's frankly been a more reliable target this week than either of the other two big possession receivers NFLDraftScout.com currently rates ahead of him -- North Carolina's Dwight Jones and Texas A&M's Jeff Fuller.
      
I spoke to a high-ranking team official who recently met with Criner to get a better gauge as to the level of concern he, personally, had with Criner's off-field issues.

"I'm not concerned at all," the official said. "That stuff was overblown by the media. The coaches there [Arizona] say he is a good kid.  He's gone through some tough stuff but I don't know of anything that would cause his stock to be impacted by it."

Posted on: January 25, 2012 1:46 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 1:58 pm
 

Trio from the North boosting stock at Senior Bowl

MOBILE, Ala. -- After scouting the North team practices for the past three days I am ready to make some adjustments to my own personal rankings on a few prospects.

I wouldn't necessarily characterize these adjustments as "Risers" from the Senior Bowl - at least not in terms of how NFL scouts perceive them. They may have been high on these three prospects already. I, on the other hand, may have underrated these prospects based on my initial film review and will be working with fellow analysts Dane Brugler, Brad Noel, technical director Brian Hitterman and the rest of our resources at NFLDraftScout.com to adjust our rankings based on what we've seen thus far at the Senior Bowl.

In previous blog posts I highlighted the play of Cal wideout Marvin Jones and Connecticut defensive tackle Kendall Reyes. Each would qualify for this list, as well.

CB Jamell Fleming, Oklahoma: Demonstrating good quickness, agility and physicality Fleming has been the surprising standout for a North team boasting a talented cornerback group, not the least of which is Nebraska's Alfonzo Dennard. Like Dennard, Fleming projects best in a man cover scheme and he's been beaten on occasion this week due to the fact that the Minnesota Vikings have asked him to play off a great deal. Still, Fleming has shown enough athleticism to turn and run with receivers and has demonstrated a very quick burst to the ball.

FS George Iloka, Boise State: At nearly 6-4 and 222 pounds, Iloka looks more like a potential linebacker than a free safety, but his athleticism and instincts have been on display all week long. He intercepted a pass during Tuesday's practice, making an impressive diving pick-off of Michigan State's Kirk Cousins in front of Massachusetts' H-back Emil Igwenagu. Iloka is not surprisingly a bit high in his back pedal but he showed surprising agility and burst when asked to drop down and cover receivers when the offense switched to a three receiver set. In a relatively weak year for safeties (outside of Alabama's Mark Barron), Iloka's size, athleticism and experience (40 consecutive starts) stand out.

OT Mitchell Schwartz, California: Overshadowed in the Pac-12 due to the presence of two elite prospects in USC's Matt Kalil and Stanford's Jonathan Martin, Schwartz has stood out this week due to his size (6-5, 317), long arms (33 1/8"), strength and surprising agility. He's held up well at right tackle in pass blocking drills and has done a nice job of sealing off defensive linemen in the running game and has been able to get to the second level, as well. Schwartz has been especially impressive in pass blocking drills, where he's repeatedly stoned Penn State's Jack Crawford and Virginia's Cam Johnson, among others.

 

Posted on: January 24, 2012 1:45 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 1:58 pm
 

DTs Reyes, Martin proving disruptive at Sr Bowl

MOBILE, Ala. -- With Penn State's Devon Still -- NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior defensive tackle -- out of the Senior Bowl due to a sprained toe scouts were curious to see which of the remaining interior defensive linemen would be able to step up their play. 

Based on Tuesday's North practice, Connecticut's Kendall Reyes and Michigan's Mike Martin are taking full advantage of the opportunity.    

Physically speaking, the two couldn't be much different. Reyes, who measured in just a shade under 6-4 and 300 pounds lined up at the three-technnique and even was split out as a five-technique defensive end. His burst off the snap and quick hands made him a tough draw for even the most athletic and experienced of the North offensive linemen. Wisconsin's Kevin Zeitler, arguably the nation's top pure guard among seniors, struggled handling Reyes one on one during drills and during the scrimmages throughout practice, as well. 

Martin, on the other hand, is a virtual bowling ball of muscle at a rocked 6-1, 307 pounds. He was able to consistently knock centers back onto their heels with his leg drive and surprisingly long arms. Though he nearly three inches shorter than Reyes, Martin's arms (31 3/4) are less than an inch shorter than Reyes' (32 5/8), who has the longest arms of any of the North's defensive tackles. Martin's long arms allow him to keep his opponents from grasping a firm hold of him. With good lateral agility, power and a relentless motor, Martin got the better of Ohio State's Michael Brewster, a possible top 100 pick, on numerous occasions. Not surprisingly, Martin was even more effective when locking horns with Zeitler (who saw some time at center) and Wake Forest's Joe Looney, who was an injury replacement Tuesday for Arizona State's Garth Gerhart.     

The duo stood in strong contrast to Washington's Alameda Ta'amu and Boise State's Billy Winn, each of whom have been disappointments, thus far. Ta'amu is a powerful run plugger sure to intrigue 3-4 teams looking for a nose guard. His power and mass (6-2, 341) makes him a classic block-eater but his lack of any type of pass rush ability is painfully apparent during drills. If his opponent has the anchor and core flexibility to handle Ta'amu's bull rush, the big Husky can offer little else. Winn, who was used inside and out while with the Broncos, may be proving himself to be a 'tweener with a lackluster performance, thus far. He hasn't shown the agility to slip blocks nor the power to push the pocket.     
Posted on: January 23, 2012 2:37 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 1:59 pm
 

Early impressions from Senior Bowl weigh-ins

MOBILE, Ala. -- It might seem silly to think that lasting impressions can be made on scouts when athletes strut on stage for the weigh-ins prior to various all-star games but talent evaluators can take a lot from the height, weight, hand size, arm length, and general build of the athletes. 

Each football position carries with it certain ideal measurements. This, of course, does not mean that players can't be successful in the NFL despite being shorter, heavier or physically less impressive than expected. It does, however, give scouts an idea as to where a prospect might project in the pros, as well as his dedication to the weight-room, etc. 

At no all-star game is this more important, of course, than the Senior Bowl, the most prestigious and talent-filled all-star game in college football. 

The Senior Bowl weigh-in took place this morning and there were some surprises. 

First, there were a few players unable to attend the game. Of the notables is Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright and Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still. Wright suffered an ankle injury and was unable to attend. Still is nursing a sprained big toe. 

Clemson defensive end Andre Branch is scheduled to play in the game but was not yet in Mobile this morning to be measured. There was only one addition to the roster so far, Arkansas State outside linebacker Demario Davis was not yet in Mobile but was announced as a player coming in to participate. Davis is NFLDraftScout.com's No. 23 rated outside linebacker for the 2012 draft.           

Perhaps the most significant element of the weigh-in proceedings is simply comparing the so-called "small school" prospects to the BCS players. Fortunately for Appalachian State wide receiver Brian Quick, Furman cornerback Ryan Steed, Massachusetts H-back/fullback Emil Igwenagu and Cal Poly cornerback Asa Jackson, their impressive physiques certainly passed the eye-ball test as legitimate pro prospects. 

Quick, in fact, was one of the more physically impressive players on either roster. He measured in at 6-3 (1/2) and a rock-solid 222 pounds. His 33 1/2 inch arms were only slighter shorter than North Carolina's Dwight Jones (33 5/8) and Texas A&M's Jeff Fuller (34 1/8) -- two receivers who have generated a great deal more national attention than Quick. 

The most impressive builds of the day were sported by Utah State inside linebacker Bobby Wagner (6-0 and a 1/4, 241 pounds), Boise State running back Doug Martin (5-09, 219), Michigan defensive tacke Mike Martin (6-1 and a 1/2, 307 pounds) and Florida State linebacker Nigel Bradham (6-1 and 5/8, 237 pounds). 

Of the offensive linemen, hand size and arm length are of extreme importance. Due to this fact, Iowa State's Kelechi Osemele (10 3/8" inch hands, 35 1/4" arms), Georgia's Cordy Glenn (10, 35 1/8), Florida State's Zebrie Sanders (11, 34 5/8), Ohio State's Mike Adams (11, 33 3/4) showed the big hands and long arms to help convince scouts that they should remain outside at offensive tackle rather than move inside to guard.  

With some prospects impressing with their athletic frames, there will naturally be some disappointments. It is worth repeating that the NFL is full of prospects who appeared too small, too heavy or too thin in shorts only to prove Pro-Bowlers on the field. Still, the relatively soft builds for Washington running back Chris Polk, Alabama center William Vlachos, Boise State defensive lineman Billy Winn and Marshall defensive end Vinny Curry were a bit surprising. So too was the fact that North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples, NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated prospect in Mobile for this game, measured in lighter than expected at 281 pounds. Coples measured in at just under 6-6 (6-5, 3/4") and had been listed by the Tar Heels at 285 pounds and some expected him to measure closer to 295. Clearly, Coples is attempting to prove he's lean and athletic enough to remain at defensive end rather than move back inside to defensive tackle.

Following the player weigh-ins is the first practice of the week. On every day of the week the North and South teams will alternate practicing at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile per day. Today, however, the North team will practice at Ladd-Peebles whereas the South team will be practicing simultaneously in nearby Fairhope.  

Posted on: January 21, 2012 12:29 pm
 

Add New Mexico St RB Turner to "early entry" list

On Thursday the NFL announced that a record 65 underclassmen had officially been declared eligible for the 2012 NFL Draft. 

New Mexico State junior running back Kenny Turner's name was not on the list but due to the fact that he is five years removed from his high school graduating class, it didn't need to be. This is the same reason why Utah State's Robert Turbin's name was not on the list. 

Turner has had an circuitous route to the announcement, which was made via the official New Mexico State Athletics website. As NFLDraftScout.com's No. 32 rated running back of the class of 2013, the decision may at first appear surprising. 

Turner, 26, was viewed as one of the best athletes in the state of Florida when he allowed a momentary act of youthful self-preservation change his life. 

Turner and a group of friends, including current Jacksonville Jaguar wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker got into a heated verbal altercation with another group of young men outside of a Orlando, Florida gas station in July of 2002. The argument escalated into violence when a member of the other group fired a gun. Thomas, then 16, took a gun from the car in which his group was riding in and fired back, injuring two from the rival group. Despite his young age, the seriousness of the crime led to Turner being tried as an adult and for two counts of attempted murder. Prosecutors were willing to drop the two attempted murder charges if Turner agreed to plead guilty to one count of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. 

Turner was sentenced to and served five years in prison. 

Upon his release and with the urging of his friends, Sims-Walker and Tennessee Titans star Chris Johnson, Turner enrolled at Fullerton College. Before the first game of their season, however, Turner tore the ACL in his right ACL. After a year of rehabbing the injury, Turner now 22, was back at it. On a kick return in his second season with the Hornets, Turner again tore the ACL. Later that season he also tore the LCL (lateral collateral ligament), which required another surgery. 

Turner returned for a third season with the Hornets and enjoyed an All-American season, rushing for 1,513 yards and 18 touchdowns and helping lead Fullerton to a 10-2 record. His statistics caught the attention of FCS teams. So too did the fact that at 5-10, 192 pounds he ran a 4.37.

Turner signed with New Mexico State and took the first carry of his FCS career 18 yards for a touchdown. His statistics in 2010 were solid (461 rushing yards and two touchdowns and 25 receptions for 203 yards) but pale in comparison to Turner's breakout campaign this past season in which he led the Aggies with 1,074 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also finished second on the team with 46 catches for 514 yards and three scores. 

"First of all I would like to thank Coach Walker, Dr. Boston and the NM State administration for giving me the opportunity to play Division I football at New Mexico State," Turner said. "Coming out of junior college I had a few other offers to play Division I football, but after I visited New Mexico State I felt that it was home and I felt that it was the right decision for me. This was a very difficult decision I had to make but when it came down to it I was going to be 27 years old, and in the NFL and at the running back position, age is a factor. So I need to make the jump from college to the NFL. Again, I appreciate all the support and I enjoyed my time as an Aggie."

Considering Turner's age and past, he's going to have a difficult time finding a team willing to invest a draft pick in him, especially considering the running back position may just be the strength of the 2012 draft class. That said, look at the burst and agility he shows as a runner in scoring this touchdown as well as the ability to track the ball over his shoulder on this score. At minimum he'll get a tryout and should Turner get a real opporutnity (like the Scouting Combine) who knows what could happen.

One of the most tried and true strategies I use when evaluating prospects is to listen to other players. Who knows better than they which athletes really are a step ahead of the others? 

Sims-Walker certainly is going to be loyal to his friend but his strong words predicting Turner's future success in the pros doesn't just sound like loyalty. It sounds like an NFL athlete who knows the goods when he sees it.

"I keep telling everybody it's just a waiting game," Sims-Walker told Geoff Grammer of The New Mexican in August of 2010. When he (Sims-Walker), Turner and [Chris] Johnson work out together, he said, it is Turner who sets the pace. "New Mexico State got a steal, and I promise you he'll be (in the NFL). I'll put my house on it. Kenny Turner will be in the league."

Posted on: January 19, 2012 2:48 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2012 2:53 pm
 

Senior Bowl invites Washington "junior" RB Polk

Lost amid the clutter of the NFL's release that a record 65 underclassmen were granted special eligibility for the 2012 draft was the announcement from the Senior Bowl that ten Pac-12 players were invited to participate in the preeminent senior all-star game in the land.

Among the ten was a surprise -- University of Washington running back Chris Polk, who had been characterized by the Huskies and the NCAA as a whole to this point as a junior.

It had been presumed that Polk, who missed all but the first two games of the 2008 season due to injury, had taken a medical redshirt. As it turns out, Polk did not apply for a redshirt and thus, exhausted his eligibility once the Huskies lost to Baylor in the Alamo Bowl.
"We made sure that we followed proper protocol before we invited Chris and that entailed getting everything cleared through the NFL and Coach Sarkisian at the University of Washington," Senior Bowl President and CEO Steve Hale said.  "Once it was determined that Chris had exhausted his eligibility at Washington there was no question we wanted him on our roster.  He is an excellent player and has a bright future in the National Football League."

Polk was not among the 65 underclassmen granted special eligibility by the NFL for the 2012 draft.

Polk's addition to the Senior Bowl roster is a significant one. Ranked as the No. 4 running back in the 2012 draft class by NFLDraftScout.com, Polk leaves Washington having rushed for 4,049 yards -- the second most in school history behind Napoleon Kaufman, a first round pick by the Raiders in 1995.

Listed by Washington at 5-11, 222 pounds Polk is a surprisingly physical back for his size. Though he lacks elite breakaway speed, his vision, burst and determined running made him the MVP for the Huskies in 2010 over quarterback Jake Locker, drafted No. 8 overall by the Titans in April. Polk finished second behind former Washington running back Corey Dillon for the single-season record with 1,415 rushing yards in 2010. He earned First Team All Pac-12 accolades in 2011 after rushing for even more yardage (1,488), including posting 147 yards and a score against Baylor.

Polk is one of three Washington players to be invited to Mobile for the 2012 Senior Bowl. Joining him will be offensive lineman Senio Kelemete and defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu.

The remaining seven Pac-12 prospects invited to the Senior Bowl are Arizona quarterback Nick Foles and wide receiver Juron Criner, Arizona State offensive lineman Garth Gerhart and wide receiver Gerell Robinson, California linebacker Mychal Kendricks and offensive lineman Mitchell Schwartz and Utah offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom.

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