Posted on: April 7, 2011 1:54 pm
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Posted on: April 3, 2011 12:10 pm
The Pro Day "season" is coming to a close, but not before two of the more intriguing skill position talents get their chance to work out for scouts.
Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph , NFLDraftScout.com's top rated player at the position , will be among the former Irish players working out on campus this upcoming Thursday, April 7. Unlike many of this year's tight end prospects, at 6-6 and 259 pounds, Rudolph has the size to compete as a blocker, as well as be a security blanket over the middle.
Teams do have questions about his straight-line speed and upper body strength, however, making his Pro Day workout an important element to determining his final grade.
Rudolph missed the final seven games of his junior season after surgery to repair a hamstring avulsion (muscle tears off the bone). As such, he was unable to work out at the Combine.
Though Rudolph has the bigger name, there could wind up being just as many top decision-makers at Eastern Washington running back Taiwan Jones ' Pro Day a week later.
Unlike the Notre Dame Pro Day, in which Rudolph will be sharing the spotlight with underrated defensive tackle Ian Williams, among others, scouts will be coming to see just Jones at his April 14 workout.
Jones' workout, rather than be scheduled at EWU's campus in the tranquil but remote setting of Cheney, Washington, will take place at Los Medanos Junior College in Antioch, Calif ornia.
Though most athletes choose to work out at their school, prospects do have the option of working out in their home states. Jones was raised in Antioch.
Jones is NFLDraftScout.com's No. 9 rated running back. Some teams view the 6-0, 194 pound Jones as a possible converst to cornerback or wide receiver. Jones has struggled with durability throughout his career and has electric speed. As this video suggests , he may wind up being the fastest player in the 2011 draft.
There are 26 NFL teams already scheduled to attend his workout April 14. Jones will be doing all of the measureable drills and may be asked to do positional drills at running back, receiver and cornerback.
Posted on: March 21, 2011 1:50 pm
Edited on: March 21, 2011 2:15 pm
The future of Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd's career is uncertain following an arrest early Sunday morning by campus police on a charge of drinking and driving, according to a report from Eric Hansen of the South Bend Tribune.
Floyd surprised many by announcing he would return for his senior season, but now his ability to play for the Irish in 2011 is in serious doubt. This is Floyd's second arrest since signing with Notre Dame. He was previously arrested for underage drinking in his hometown of Saint Paul, Minn.
As Hansen notes in his article, Notre Dame's athletic department does not investigate or determine the extent of any suspension handed down to their athletes. The Office of Residence Life makes these calls. Its prior track record suggests that Floyd could be suspended for the entire 2011 season due to this being his second offense.
Should Floyd be suspended for the season, his options could be limited. Transferring to another school is a possibility, though he'd have to transfer to a lower level university to be eligible to play this season. He is currently the No. 3-rated prospect overall for the 2012 draft by NFLDraftScout.com, and the top-rated wide receiver.
The NFL's Supplemental Draft has often been used as a sanctuary for prospects whose grades or other off-field issues have impacted their collegiate eligibility. Since Floyd missed the deadline for underclassmen to declare for April's draft, this would normally be an option he could consider. Last year, two players -- BYU running back Harvey Unga and Illinois' defensive tackle Joshua Brent-Price -- were each selected in the seventh round of the Supplemental Draft.
Floyd may have picked the worst possible time to be forced into considering the Supplemental Draft, however... since there may not be one.
Like everything else other than April's draft, the Supplemental Draft could be at the mercy of labor negotiations between the NFL owners and its players.
One high-ranking NFL source wasn't sure if the Supplemental Draft was part of the NFL's calendar at this point, adding that he "[didn't] think the league office even knows [that] right now."
A call to the league office for further comment and/or confirmation was not immediately returned.
The 6-3, 225-pound Floyd caught 79 passes for 1,025 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. He was especially impressive matched up against Miami cornerback Brandon Harris - a potential first-round pick this year - in Notre Dame's Sun Bowl victory against the Hurricanes. In that contest, Floyd caught six passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns.
Posted on: March 11, 2011 2:02 pm
Kyle Rudolph, the consensus top tight end prospect of the 2011 draft, has healed from the torn hamstring that sidelined him for much of the 2010 season and will be working out for scouts at Notre Dame's April 7 Pro Day, according to a report.
Eric Hansen of the WSBT South Bend Tribune quotes Rudolph as saying, "I finally feel back to my old self, maybe better. I feel that I have the explosiveness back that I used to have. I don't feel the pain anymore. I've gotten my stride back."
Rudolph, NFLDraftScout.com's No. 37th rated player overall , has the physical skills to translate well to the NFL. At 6-6, 259 pounds, the Irish junior has the bulk scouts are looking for in a traditional tight end and Hansen cites sources close to Rudolph who expect him to run in the "neighborhood" of the 4.6s at the workout. The Pro Day workout will be critical to Rudolph's final NFL grade. He wasn't able to work out at the Combine.
While possessing the physical tools to be successful, Rudolph was not particularly productive for the Irish. In three seasons, Rudolph posted the numbers that some of the other top tight ends of the 2011 draft class may have put up in one year (90 catches for 1,032 yards and 8 touchdowns). His sophomore season was his most productive one. Despite missing two games with a shoulder injury, Rudolph caught a career high 33 passes for 364 yards and three touchdowns in 2010.
Scouts love his upside but are worried about his durability. Rudolph has missed nine games over the past two seasons due to the shoulder and hamstring injuries. He was forced to undergo surgery to re-attach his right hamstring, after the muscle and surrounding tendons were ripped from the bone in the fourth game of the year (Stanford).
Posted on: February 3, 2011 8:04 am
I can't help but chuckle at how big signing day has become in the college football world.
There is no denying that recruiting and signing the best players are the lifeblood of college athletics. Those fortunate to have boast the best talent often win -- in college football, sports and in most situations in life.
Last year offered as great of proof of this as any. Auburn received as a dominant a performance as we've ever seen from a first-year signee with JUCO addition Cam Newton. South Carolina, which met Auburn in the SEC Championship game, did so largely due to the play of their true freshman running back Marcus Lattimore.
According to MaxPreps.com, the recruiting website featured by CBSSports.com, Notre Dame, Florida State and Alabama currently rank 1-3 as the top rated recruiting classes this year. Other recruiting organizations - such as ESPN's Scouts Inc. (FSU, Alabama, Auburn) and Rivals.com (Alabama, FSU, Texas) had slightly different rankings. It is easy to see why these teams are expected to either maintain their perch among the elite programs in the country or, as in the case of Notre Dame and Texas, re-emerge as such.
The numbers of high school All-Americans signed to a class, however, certainly doesn't translate into immediate success. Many of these players will, of course, never pan out.
As a point of comparison, I took a peek in the rearview mirror at the 2007 recruiting winners.
Most had USC as a big winner, based largely on the signings of RB Joe McKnight, DE Everson Griffen, LB Chris Galippo and QB Aaron Corp. McKnight and Griffen wound up in the NFL and Galippo and Corp may do the same, but none of them became the dominant players expected considering their hype.
This is hardly just an issue at USC.
Others tabbed Florida as the big winner. They certainly found a star in Joe Haden, but what became of WR Deonta Thompson and RB Bo Williams -- the two higher rated prospects the Gators signed?
Now, perhaps this is simply an example of the pot calling the kettle black - after all, I'm a guy who is asked to assign grades to NFL teams on draft day before any of their new players get a chance to prove themselves - but let's remember than these are teenagers. Their bodies, minds and levels of commitment are going to be tested in a way they can't imagine. Let's do them all a service by tempering our expectations.
Perhaps there is never a better day than this one to remind us all of the message the NCAA has used in the past: "There are 380,000 NCAA student-athletes, and just about all of them will be going pro in something other than sports."
My advice to the thousands of recruits signing yesterday? Focus on your academics. Virtually all of you dominated in high school. A tiny percentage of you will do the same at the collegiate level, winning an opportunity to play professional football. You may win that NFL lottery someday, but yesterday you won a free education. Don't lose out on that guarantee simply because someone tabbed you an elite recruit destined for the NFL.
Posted on: December 31, 2010 12:37 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2010 12:39 pm
In today's era of corporate sponsored bowl games often pitting "small school" teams, there is something refreshing about the Miami/Notre Dame matchup in this afternoon's Sun Bowl.
The Hurricanes and Fighting Irish have obviously had their on and off-field struggles this year. Randy Shannon's firing and the tragic death of Declan Sullivan, the Notre Dame student killed while attempting to film Irish practices, have dominated the headlines.
For NFL scouts, however, the story remains the same. Miami and Notre Dame, as always, feature plenty of NFL talent.
In fact, one of the most intriguing one on one matchups of the bowl season will be on display when Hurricane cornerback Brandon Harris and Irish wideout Malcolm Floyd, a pair of first round caliber juniors, face off.
They may be the most entertaining matchup, but there is plenty of other prospects to keep an eye on. The following is the list of top prospects in today's game to focus on, courtesy of my fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter.
--Notre Dame DT Ian Williams (6-2, 305, 5.17): The wide-body nose tackle has missed the last four contests but expects to suit up in his last college game.
--Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd (6-3, 228, 4.52): If his leg is healthy and he's on the same page as freshman QB Tommy Rees, Floyd will use his big body against fellow junior prospect CB Brandon Harris.
--Notre Dame TE Kyle Rudolph (6-5, 265, 4.64): A hamstring tear ended Rudolph's season early and he won't be on the field today, but the junior could wind up as the first tight end drafted, whether he elects to leave school early this year or return for his senior campaign.
--Miami (Fla.) DE Allen Bailey (6-4, 285, 4.79): Excellent athlete who flashes pass rush (seven sacks) across from junior DE Adewale Ojomo, but needs to have a consistently strong effort against an average Irish line to impress scouts.
--Miami ILB Colin McCarthy (6-2, 240, 4.67): Heady, versatile, productive (106 tackles, 10 for loss) player scouts believe can play inside or on the strong side at the next level.
--Miami WR Leonard Hankerson (6-3, 208, 4.52): Tall strider who can stretch the field, but faces a strong corner in Notre Dame's Darrin Walls.
--Miami LT Orlando Franklin (6-7, 315, 5.30): Impressive just stepping off the bus, if Franklin's footwork begins to match his strength, he could become a starting NFL left tackle.
--Miami CB Brandon Harris (5-11, 195, 4.45): A highly touted prep prospect, Harris has emerged as the latest in a long line of Miami defensive backs worthy of first round consideration. Only a junior.
This game begins at 2pm EST and will be televised by CBS.
As always, for the best in NFL draft coverage, check out NFLDraftScout.com.
Posted on: December 25, 2010 1:19 pm
On this winter holiday for many, I thought I've provide my readers with my own gift, of sorts.
The following are the five individual matchups I'm most looking forward to scouting over the upcoming bowl games.
West Virginia FS Robert Sands vs. NC State QB Russell Wilson: The 6-4, 221 pound Sands is considering leaving WVU after this, his junior season. Sands is allowed to freelance a bit in the Mountaineers' 3-3-5 defense, but is a natural playmaker who can bring the thunder as a hitter. His instincts and coverage skills will be tested against Wilson. A strong game by Sands could push him into the 2011 draft, where he'd rate among the best free safeties in a weak class needing help from the juniors if there are to be many candidates worthy of a top 75 grade. This game is scheduled for 6:30 pm EST on Tuesday, December 28th.
Washington WR Jermaine Kearse vs. Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara: Many will point to Husky quarterback Jake Locker as the player to watch in this contest and for good reason. His 4 of 20 performance in the team's first matchup in October is considered by some to be the game that sent his stock sliding this year. (Loyal readers know that is not necessarily the case.) The reality is, without sudden and massive improvement by Washington's offensive line, Nebraska's defense should again be too much to provide Locker a chance in this game. If the 6-2, 205 pound Kearse, however, is able to shake free early for some big plays against Amukamara, Locker and the Huskies have a chance. Locker relies on the junior as his favorite target. When Kearse has been shut down, so too (generally) has Locker -- making this one on one battle a key in the most anticipated rematch of the bowl season. This game is scheduled for 10 pm EST on Thursday, December 30th.
Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd vs. Miami CB Brandon Harris: Both the 6-3, 228 pound Floyd and the 5-11, 195 pound Harris are expected to leave for the NFL following this game. Harris has the agility, speed and physicality to eliminate most receivers, but Floyd's significant size advantage makes this an intriguing test for the Canes' star. Though teams are often hesitant to move around their corners to match up all game long against wide receivers, eliminating the big play Floyd from Notre Dame's arsenal might be the easiest way of crippling Brian Kelly's offense. This game is scheduled for 2 pm EST on Friday, December 31st.
TCU OT Marcus Cannon vs. Wisconsin DE J.J. Watt: Last year it was the one on one matchup between Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan and Iowa left tackle Bryan Bulaga that in my mind was the elite battle of the bowl season. This year it is Cannon and Watt. Watt is moved all over the Badgers' defensive line and it is this versatility that has been maddening for opponents to protect against and left NFL scouts salivating at his versatility in the pros. Watt, however, will have his hands full when playing against the Horned Frogs' left tackle, a 6-5, 350 pound behemoth with shockingly quick feet. Bulaga shut down Morgan last year, cementing his place in the first round. I have Cannon firmly in the second round, at this point, but if he's able to slow down Watt, arguably the most dominant defensive lineman in the country, he'll skyrocket up draft boards. This game is scheduled for 5 pm EST on Saturday, January 1st.
Auburn QB Cam Newton vs. Oregon ILB Casey Matthews: Opponents have tried to keep a "spy" in to protect against Cam Newton's running all game long. The strategy has largely failed despite the fact that defenses have often resorted to their most athletic linebackers or physical safeties to do the job. Matthews isn't a spectacular athlete or terribly physical, but he might be the most instinctive linebacker in the country and among the surer tacklers. This one on one battle could dictate how well Newton is able to move the Auburn offense with his legs -- which could wind up as the key to the BCS Championship. This game is scheduled for 8:30 pm EST on Monday, January 10th.
On behalf of the entire NFLDraftScout.com crew of analysts Chad Reuter and Chris Steuber, editors Derek Harper and Jeff Reynolds, website tech expert Brian Hitterman and publisher Frank Cooney I wish you and your loved ones a very safe, happy and (hopefully football-filled) holiday season.
As always for the very best in pro football draft coverage, check out NFLDraftScout.com or simply click here.
Posted on: November 12, 2010 8:59 pm
Each week I list the five prospects that I'll be focusing on. 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.
As a side note, I initially planned to include Auburn junior quarterback Cam Newton (heard of him?) on this list. With speculation Friday evening that he may not play, I elected to leave him off this list of five. Needless to say, he's among the prospects I'll be scouting closely if he plays Saturday (and any future games).
Those interested in scouting "alongside" me can follow me on Twitter @RobRang.
Without any further adieu, here are the five prospects, as well as the cable provider and time you can expect to see them.
TE Luke Stocker, Tennessee: Entering the season the Volunteer receiver I expected to be highlighting so far this season would have been Stocker and not wideout Denarius Moore. The Vols simply haven't passed the ball enough to Stocker (24 grabs for 264 yards and one TD) for him to post the type of numbers that generate much media attention, but at 6-5, 253 pounds and possessing good hands and feet for the position, he remains one of the better senior prospects at tight end. There are several highly touted, but so far disappointing prospects on the Tennessee and Ole Miss rosters. I'm looking forward to this game to see which of them (if any) can shake out of their season-long funk. This game begins at 12:00 pm EST and will be televised by CBS.
QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri*: Though he's only a junior, scouts are starting to take a long look at Gabbert and the rest of the underclassmen quarterbacks simply because this year's seniors at the position have been so underwhelming. Gabbert has the production (2,193 passing yards, 12 TDs-3 INTs), size (6-5, 240), and efficient delivery that scouts are looking for in a high-ranking prospect, but after a hot start to the season, he (and Missouri, as a whole) has struggled over the past two weeks, suffering losses to Nebraska and Texas Tech. Scouts want to see if Gabbert can bounce back this week against a quality opponent in Kansas State. This game begins at 12:30 pm EST and will be regionally televised by the FOX Sports Network.
CB Brandon Burton, Utah*: Burton, only a junior, is considered by some scouts to be the best draft-eligible cornerback in the west. While he's played very well throughout his career with the Utes, Burton was beaten for a 93-yard touchdown reception by wideout Josh Boyce last week in the humbling 47-7 home loss to TCU. Scouts like Burton's size (6'0, 185) and speed (estimated at 4.45), but want to see if he can come back with a strong performance this week. That will be tougher than it sounds, as at times he'll match up with Notre Dame's Michael Floyd, himself highly touted NFL prospect (though also only a junior) who at 6-3, 225 pounds is a much different assignment than Boyce and the rest of the Horned Frog receivers were last week. This game begins at 2:30 pm EST and will be televised by NBC.
OT Danny Watkins, Baylor: Quarterback Robert Griffin III and even defensive tackle Phil Taylor have each received their share of media attention as a result of Baylor's 7-3 season. It was Watkins, however, whose draft stock has risen the most this season. Draft Slant readers know full well how high Watkins' stock has risen as I wrote about his performance in last week's game against Oklahoma State. This week, however, Watkins will be facing an entirely different opponent in Texas A&M pass rusher Von Miller, my reigning Prospect of the Week. Watkins' quick feet and use of leverage have been impressive this season, but he'll be sorely tested by Miller. This game begins at 7:00 pm EST and will be regionally televised by Fox Sports Network.
DE Cameron Jordan, California: Those surprised with how high former Cal Golden Bear Tyson Alualu was drafted last year may want to start paying attention to Jordan, who, himself is earning top 20 grades from some talent evaluators. Jordan won't beat No. 1 Oregon on his own, but he and his Cal teammates will present the Ducks with a different look, considering that they are one of the few teams that operates out of a base 3-4 defense. Jordan has always been productive for Cal, earning all-conference recognition after each of the past two seasons. He enjoyed arguably his best game to date last week against an overmatched Washington State club, totaling 12 tackles, including four tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. Scouts love his size (6-4, 285), versatility and blood lines. His father, Steve Jordan, played in six Pro Bowls in 13 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. This game begins at 7:30 pm EST and will be televised by Versus.