Tag:Penn State
Posted on: December 23, 2010 1:11 pm
 

Bowl standouts so far

We've only just begun the bowl season and yet already there have been several noteworthy performances from NFL hopefuls. Here is a quick run down of five prospects who have caught my eye with their impressive play.

OT Matt Reynolds, BYU --
The junior left tackle may lack the elite athleticism to remain at the blindside position in the NFL, but his balance, lateral agility and strong upper body impressed me Saturday in the Cougars' win over UTEP. At 6-6 and 322 pounds I love his size and toughness as a right tackle and feel he projects just as well inside at guard. That versatility and Reynolds' durability (started all 39 games of his career) should make him a top 50 pick should he elect to leave early, as expected. Reynolds is expected to leave BYU early as he, like many BYU players, is an older prospect having served two years on a LDS mission.

RB Chad Spann, Northern Illinois --
Fresno State entered the Humanitarian Bowl with all the hype, but it was Spann and the Huskies who dominated this contest. Spann, 5-08 and a 198 pounds, showcased better power than you'd expect for a back of his size. His vision, elusiveness and acceleration are, of course, the characteristics that scouts expect from him. The combination resulted in 95 yards (a 6.3 yard average) and two touchdowns against an athletic Bulldog defense.

CB Johnny Patrick, Louisville --
I've been impressed enough with Patrick this season that I've highlighted him on the blog on numerous occasions , including earlier this week . After reviewing Patrick's performance against Southern Miss in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl again, I can't help but mention him again as he's been as good as any corner I've scouted in this early bowl season. Patrick boasts quick feet, loose hips, physicality against the run and a swagger about him that I feel will help him translate his game quickly to the NFL. He did surrender an early touchdown against Southern Miss (good coverage, but got turned around on a jump ball and was late in locating the very accurate pass), but showed off his competitiveness with a blocked kick, forced fumble, tackle for loss and pass broken up.

WR Austin Pettis, Boise State -- Matched up for much of the night against Utah's talented corner Brandon Burton, Pettis showed off his combination of size, route-running and reliable hands to catch 12 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. Pettis should have had another score, but had the ball stripped away from him at the one yard line by Utah safety Brian Blechen. Burton provided tough, physical coverage on several of Pettis' receptions but the Boise star's 6-3, 201 pound frame and strong hands helped him snatch the ball out of the air and protect it from Burton's attempts to knock it free.

QB Pat Devlin, Delaware
-- Ok, so Devlin's Blue Hens aren't part of the FBS and the bowl system, but I've been impressed enough with the former Penn State quarterback's mobility inside the pocket, poise under pressure and accuracy to all levels that he deserves mentioning here. I've spoken to several teams regarding Devlin and there are a number of clubs who feel he could jump ahead of Florida State's Christian Ponder as the No. 2 senior quarterback (behind Washington's Jake Locker) if he is as impressive in a senior all-star game capacity.

I mention Devlin for another reason. Unlike the others on this list, you have one more opportunity to see Devlin play for Delaware. He and his teammates take on No. 1 rated Eastern Washington tomorrow for the FCS Championship.

Remember that for complete draft coverage, be sure to check out NFLDraftScout.com or simply click here. 
Posted on: December 18, 2010 11:58 am
 

Who to watch in today's 4 games

There are four college football games today and each one of them offers NFL talent.

In the FCS Semi-final game to determine who will move on and play No. 1 Eastern Washington in the national championship, Georgia Southern travels to Delaware.

The Delaware Blue Hens feature NFLDraftScout.com's No. 3 rated senior quarterback, Pat Devlin . Devlin impressed me last week with his poise, mobility and accuracy. His arm strength has been questioned by scouts I've spoken to and there is no denying that the Blue Hens' spread offense makes it difficult to gauge just how much zip he has. That said, Devlin had enough to thread passes through tight windows and loft deep balls down the seam and sidelines last weekend against New Hampshire.

Devlin, a Penn State transfer, would be a great addition to a senior all-star game, such as the Senior Bowl or East-West Shrine Game.

Besides the FCS playoff game, however, the FBS bowl games, of course, begin today.

In the New Mexico Bowl between BYU and UTEP, I'm most looking forward to scouting Cougar LT Matt Reynolds . Reynolds is only a junior, but he's started three seasons with the Cougars and projects well to the pro game at 6-6 and 322 pounds.

In the Humanitarian Bowl pitting Fresno State against Northern Illinois, I'm most interested in how three FSU Bulldogs perform. Pass rushing phenom Chris Carter has been able to parlay his speed off the edge into the WAC Defensive Player of the Year, but at 6-2, 240, he'll need to show the agility to handle coverage responsibilities as an outside linebacker.

Offensive guard Andrew Jackson has been a standout for the Bulldogs throughout much of his career. His drive-blocking was an underrated component of Chargers' first round pick Ryan Mathews' success last year. Jackson has struggled with foot injuries this year, however. He should be as healthy as he's been all year long for this game.

Finally, the Bulldogs' Ryan Colburn has his final chance to impress in a Bulldog uniform. Colburn, 6-3, 230 pounds, has all of the physical skills scouts look for in a developmental quarterback, but despite his solid numbers (61.8% completion rate for 2,529 yards and a 21-9 TD to INT ratio), he's been prone to critical mistakes in the past. A strong final game, however, could be enough to get him into a senior all-star game and provide just enough intrigue that scouts will want him as a potential UFA.

In a classic case of burying the lead story, Troy's spectacular receiver/returner Jerrel Jernigan is the highest rated prospect in this post and playing today. The 5-09, 190 pounder is NFLDraftScout.com's No. 2 rated senior WR and he's already accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl. The playmaker with legitimate 4.3 speed will help Troy take on Ohio in the New Orleans Bowl tonight.

You can read more about the prospects to watch in the upcoming bowl games by clicking this link.

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


Posted on: December 11, 2010 10:09 pm
 

Underrated prospects prove worth in FCS playoffs

On a day when most of the college football world was focused on four players dressed in suits in New York City, there was some exciting on-field action and legitimate pro prospects also on display.

Reviewing all of the quarterfinal FCS games this weekend, there were several standout performances.

The most impressive, not surprisingly, came from Villanova wide receiver and Wildcat quarterback Matt Szczur. Szczur, my reigning Diamond in the Rough as the best small school prospect of the week, scored five touchdowns -- rushing for three, passing for one and catching -- in the Wildcats' 42-24 victory over No. 1 ranked Appalachian State.

Szczur, who battled a high ankle sprain for much of this season, clearly has regained his explosiveness, impressing not only with his agility and speed, but with improved route-running from just last week (when he accounted for 196 yards as a runner and receiver and scored a touchdown against Stephen F. Austin.

Draft Slant fans know precisely how high I am on Nova's "other" draft prospect, left tackle Ben Ijalana. His quick feet and good balance again stood out against the Mountaineers.

Szczur and Ijalana have already been invited to the Senior Bowl, the most prestigious all-star game in college football and one usually reserved for FBS prospects.

Friday night, scouts got their first nationally televised opportunity to see Delaware quarterback Pat Devlin, who also led his team to a victory.

Devlin wasn't flashy, but the 6-3, 220 pound Penn State transfer shook off a slow start to complete 27 of 38 passes for 261 yards and the Blue Hens' two touchdowns in their 16-3 victory over New Hampshire. Scouts like Devlin's mobility, short to intermediate accuracy and poise in the pocket. Delaware's spread offense is quarterback-friendly and rarely asks Devlin to make deep throws, but he showed better zip than he's often been given credit for. He, too, could wind up with an invitation to the Senior Bowl.

The most impressive player on the field in Eastern Washington's thrilling overtime victory over North Dakota State was the Eagles' junior running back Taiwan Jones.

Generously listed by Eastern at 6-1, 200 pounds, Jones looks a bit smaller, but scouts won't quibble about his size after this contest. The junior star rushed for a career-high 230 yards demonstrating a degree of explosiveness that simply is rarely seen at the FCS level. Perhaps most impressive is that Jones enjoyed his strong game in snowy conditions, which limited his effectiveness late in this contest. His lean build is similar to that of NFL star Chris Johnson and Oregon's Heisman finalist LaMichael James.

There has been some talk in the scouting community that Jones will consider leaving the Eagles early for the NFL. Considering the weak senior class of running backs, he could surprise as a middle round pick based on his big play ability.

Without an all-star game, however, to test his game against the FBS' bigger, stronger athletes level of competition questions will dog him, likely resulting in low enough grade from the NFL Advisory Committee to send him back to Eastern for another season.
Posted on: December 10, 2010 1:35 pm
 

Rare opportunity to scout QB Pat Devlin tonight

Pat Devlin , NFLDraftScout.com's No. 3 rated senior quarterback, gets a rare national television opportunity tonight when he and his Delaware teammates take on New Hampshire in the FCS quarterfinals.

Devlin originally signed with Penn State out of high school but transferred to Delaware after being beaten out for the Nittany Lions' starting job by Daryll Clark.

Devlin has starred for the Blue Hens since the transfer, immediately emerging as one of the top quarterbacks in Colonial Athletic Association in 2009 and earning the CAA Offensive Player of the Year award this season despite being hampered by a broken bone in his left (non-throwing) wrist. The injury limited Devlin in several contests and sidelined him against Duquesne.

Devlin's numbers aren't gaudy (2,414 passing yards and 18 TDs) despite the fact that he operates out of a QB-friendly spread attack for the Blue Hens. However, his 67.8% completion rate and only two interceptions this season certainly catch your attention. Scouts like his mobility, smarts and accuracy in the short to intermediate range but know that Delaware's scheme protects him.

Considering the inconsistencies of Washington's Jake Locker and Florida State's Christian Ponder this season, Devlin could make a push up the board with a strong performance in this game and in any all-star games he's invited to.

The all-star games, in fact, will likely make or break Devlin's chances at breaking into the first three rounds of the draft. There, scouts will ask Devlin to operate out of a pro-style offense that will force him to make the multiple reads and throw the deeper passes through tighter windows that he'll face at the NFL level.

Devlin is often compared to Joe Flacco, who preceded him at Delaware. The comparison is a pretty lazy one. Devlin is shorter, slighter and more athletic. He relies on timing and accuracy to complete his throws -- quite the opposite of the Ravens' 6-6, 238 pound strong-armed Flacco.

This game will be televised by ESPN2 and begins at 8:00 pm EST.


Posted on: December 9, 2010 5:42 pm
 

Ivory, Lee stand out in impressive week for rooks

The 2010 NFL season has been a strong one overall for rookies. This isn't a surprise considering the amount of hype that the group enjoyed prior to the draft.

Two players who didn't gain a great deal of attention, however, were among the rookies who most stood out this past weekend.

Undrafted free agent Chris Ivory enjoyed another strong performance for the Saints, overtaking No. 2 overall pick Ndamukong Suh to be recognized for the third time this year. He rushed for 117 yards and two touchdowns in the Saints' 34-30 win at Cincinnati. The highlight of Ivory's afternoon was a career-long 55 yard run in the second quarter that was the first touchdown scored by either team.

Other offensive players whose play stood out this week included Seattle offensive tackle Russell Okung, Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Williams, and fellow Buc LaGarrette Blount (running back).

While the Cowboys' Sean Lee , as a second round pick, certainly entered the league with a much higher profile than Ivory, the success of the Cowboys' flashy first rounder Dez Bryant and Lee's long recovery from a 2008 ACL surgery made him one of the "quieter" high profile selections in Dallas history. The former Penn State star has flashed during his rookie season but remains a backup behind veterans Keith Brooking and Bradie James for the Cowboys.

Lee's play against the Colts spoke volumes, however. Lee victimized Peyton Manning for two of the All-Pro's four interceptions in this game, returning the first 31 yards to score his first NFL touchdown. Lee's second came in overtime, putting the Cowboys in position to kick the winning field goal. He also tied his previous career-high with five tackles on the day.

Among the other defenders whose play stood out this weekend was the Giants' pass rusher (and reigning Defensive Rookie of the Week) Jason Pierre-Paul, Cincinnati's Carlos Dunlap, New England inside linebacker Brandon Spikes and a trio of cornerbacks - Cleveland's Joe Haden, Kansas City's Javier Arenas, and the Patriots' Devin McCourty.


Posted on: October 4, 2010 1:10 pm
 

Locker bests WR, DE for Player of the Week

There were several noteworthy performances on Saturday that deserved recognition. In fact, I changed my mind on this award three times over the course of the day of scouting.

Miami wideout Leonard Hankerson deserves acknowledgement. The 6-3, 215 pound senior caught seven passes for a career-high 145 yards and tied the school record with three touchdown receptions against Clemson. Hankerson beat a tough Tiger defense deep on long scores twice, showing off better vertical speed than some have credited him with in the past. He also used his big body and much-improved hands to snatch a quick slant for his third touchdown. Perhaps the catch that was most important, was a 10-yard reception on third down that allowed the 'Canes to kick an easy field goal midway through the fourth quarter. That score, which extended Miami's lead to nine points, was critical as the Tigers were building momentum. As I noted on Twitter , Leonard Hankerson was a favorite to earn Player of the Week following his performance.

Two other performances later in the day, however, overtook him.

Adrian Clayborn provided the production against the Nittany Lions we've been expecting to see all season long, notching a game-high ten tackles, three tackles for loss and a sack in a key Big Ten showdown. The effort, which earned Clayborn Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week accolades, was a resounding bounceback for Clayborn as his numbers previous to this game have been rather pedestrian (15 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss). Most opponents have elected to double-team Clayborn. Penn State did, as well, on multiple occasions. When they didn't -- and often when they did -- he made them pay.

Following Clayborn's effort, I was convinced he'd be my choice as Player of the Week. A "legendary" performance, however, changed my mind.

Considering the horrific game he'd had against Nebraska two weeks ago, Washington quarterback Jake Locker needed a strong performance against USC to right the ship. Locker certainly delivered, leading the Huskies to a comeback win that was eerily similar to the one he engineered last year to upset the Trojans in Seattle. Locker wasn't perfect on the night. He lost a fumble that went through the back of the end zone for a USC touchback and, again, missed some wide open receivers. However, he completed 24 of 40 passes for 310 yards and a touchdown and rushed for another 110 yards in the game and made the big plays when the Huskies desperately needed them. His best play made have been an 18-yard completion to WR D'Andre Goodwin on 4th and 10 in the closing seconds that put UW in position to kick the winning field goal. On the play, Locker stepped up in the pocket, considered scrambling for, saw Goodwin clear the defender and fired a strike. It is this type of poise and accuracy in the clutch that scouts have been waiting to see from Locker. Husky coach Steve Sarkisian, in fact, characterized Locker's effort Saturday night as "legendary."


Posted on: September 24, 2010 11:08 pm
Edited on: September 25, 2010 1:06 pm
 

Five prospects I'll be scouting closely

Each week as part of my and fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter's preparation for our weekly Draft Slant feature I list five prospects that I'll be focusing on during Saturday's games.*

I list the players here, but those of you who would like to scout "alongside" me, you can follow me on Twitter @RobRang .

OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College:
There is a great deal of debate among scouts as to who is the top senior offensive tackle in the country. Castonzo has his share of supporters and it isn't difficult to understand why. Castonzo, 6-7 and 308 pounds, is light on his feet and has the strong BC reputation of producing quality NFL offensive linemen helping him. Castonzo is high cut, however, and struggles with the bull rush. He'll be facing an athletic and physical Virginia Tech defense Saturday. I'm very curious to see how he fares. Game begins at 12:00 pm EST and will be televised by ESPN.

DL Marcell Dareus, Alabama: Like most college football fans, this is the game I'm most looking forward to watching. Dareus didn't do much in his first game back from his two game suspension (one TFL against Duke) to start the season, but he and the rest of the Tide's ability to get Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett moving will be key in this game. Scouts want to see if Dareus is as dominant without Terrance Cody, Lorenzo Washington and Brandon Deaderick taking the pressure off of him. Dareus stars as a defensive end in Nick Saban's 3-4 scheme, but is being heavily scouted by 4-3 teams who like him as a defensive tackle, as well. Though Dareus is only a junior, scouts tell me he's a virtual guarantee to come out after this season. Game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by CBS.

RB Evan Royster, Penn State:
For all of his success, Royster has always struck me as a better college player than NFL prospect. He's shown enough courage, leg drive and burst to be successful in a one-cut offense (ala Arian Foster, Ryan Grant), but like these two NFL standouts, I don't see the straight-line speed or wiggle that typically earns anything higher than a mid round selection -- despite terrific production over his career. That production came in the past, however, as Royster has really struggled this season. In fact, he only eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the season last week in the Nittany Lions' third game of the year. Penn State hosts an underrated Temple squad Saturday. This will either be the game Royster gets back into the groove or truly begins to slip out of the minds of NFL scouts. Game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by Big Ten Network.

OG Andrew Jackson, Fresno State: "The President" has helped Fresno State be one of the best power rushing offenses over the past few seasons, earning All-WAC honors each of the past two seasons. (Of course, some guy named Ryan Matthews helped too). Jackson, however, has never had to face a defensive line with the strength and athleticism that Ole Miss boasts. Jackson is big (6-5, 295) and strong, but so too is NG Jerrell Powe. This game certainly isn't getting the hype of this weekend's monster games, but with the Rebels already getting upset at home once this year and Pat Hill's reputation for his team playing the big boys tough, I think this game could be a better scouting opportunity than most think. Game begins at 7:30 pm EST and will be televised by ESPN.

DT Stephen Paea, Oregon State: Boise State has defeated their share of top opponents over the years. Many across the country won't be impressed by a home victory over the Beavers. They should, however, as the Beavers feature two of the most dynamic all-purpose weapons in college football in the Rodgers Bros. and a legitimate first round caliber defensive tackle in Paea. It is Paea that might actually play the bigger role in the Beavers' upset bid Saturday night. In nearly all of Heisman contender Kellen Moore's toughest games, he's enjoyed stellar pass protection. Paea's ability to collapse the pocket from the inside could be especially troublesome for Moore, who at 6-0, 187 pounds simply doesn't have the height to throw over constant interior pressure. Paea's game has always been his ability to hold up to double-teams in the running game. There won't be a better time for him to prove to scouts that he can rush the passer than this game. Game begins at 8 pm EST and will be televised by ABC/ESPN.

* While I'm generally focus on the senior prospects, I have to admit that I'm also keeping a close eye on underclassmen quarterbacks Andrew Luck , Nick Foles and Mallett -- especially considering how poorly the top senior QBs have faired thus far this season.

Luck should continue his strong start to the season (10 TDs/O INTs) against Notre Dame. Luck could miss his underrated senior WR Ryan Whalen, but the reality is the Irish simply aren't gifted enough defensively to slow down this offense.

Foles will be facing a physical and talented Cal defense that was embarrassed last week by Nevada. This is a home game for the Wildcats, but don't be surprised if the Golden Bears give him a tougher test than he's had all year long.

I'm not as high on Mallett as others seem to be, but acknowledge that two of the primary concerns I've had for him in the past -- poise in the pocket and overall mobility -- he's shown significant improvement in thus far this season. Of course, he hasn't faced a defense like Alabama's yet. Mallett's performance against the Tide -- good or bad -- could prove every bit the story that Jake Locker's struggles against Nebraska were.

Posted on: September 10, 2010 9:49 pm
 

Five seniors I'll be scouting closely Saturday

With three DVD burners running around the clock, I'll be recording nearly every televised college football game throughout the year. There is only so much time in the day, so I have to put some careful thought into picking the games (and more specifically, the prospects) each Saturday in which to scout live.

For most of the football-watching world, this weekend will be all about the NFL. I understand that. I'm as excited as anyone for the rest of the beginning of the opening weekend -- especially after the Saints and Vikings looked a bit rusty on Thursday night.

The NCAA season really amps up this weekend, however, with some of the more exciting matchups of the season scheduled. I'm particularly intrigued by the Ohio State-Miami, Florida State-Oklahoma, Penn State-Alabama matchups. A couple of others that haven't received the national hype they normally would due to the "Big Three" but that I'm verrrry interested to scout include Georgia at South Carolina, Colorado at California, Oregon at Tennessee and Stanford at UCLA.

Each Friday night/Saturday morning throughout the rest of the season I'll put up a similar post as this one. Should you like to scout "alongside" me, follow me on Twitter @ RobRang

These are five senior prospects I'll be watching closely:

QB Christian Ponder, Florida State: Ponder looked every bit the part of a high first round pick last Saturday, completing 14 of 16 passes for 169 yards and four touchdowns in the season opener. That, however, was against Samford. Needless to say, he might find the going a bit tougher in Norman, Saturday. Considering that the Sooners struggled defensively against a weaker opponent (Utah State), themselves, Ponder will certainly have Oklahoma's undivided attention. With a win and a strong performance, Ponder could move into the upper echelon of Heisman contenders. How he handles the noise and pressure of Oklahoma's aggressive defense will go a long way in proving to scouts that he's progressed from the poor decisions that ended his last road game. In that contest, at Clemson last year, Ponder threw four interceptions (he'd thrown only three in his previous eight games) and hurt his shoulder making a tackle of safety DeAndre McDaniel (on an interception return), ending Ponder's 2009 season. 

QB Nathan Enderle, Idaho:
Enderle entered the year as one of the more intriguing senior quarterbacks in the country. Long prior to scouts buzzing about former Vandal Mike Iupati, there were whispers that the Vandals had a legitimate NFL passing prospect. I'm certainly not expecting to see Enderle lead Idaho to an upset of Nebraska in Lincoln, but if the 6-4, 234 pound Enderle is to prove to NFL scouts that he has the moxie and arm strength to handle the pro game, he'll need to show something Saturday. The Cornhuskers are a bit of a step up in competition from last week's opponent, North Dakota. In that game, Enderle completed 24 of 37 passes for 311 yards, two TDs and an INT.

ILB Colin McCarthy, Miami: The great Miami teams of the past all seemingly boasted instinctive, athletic linebackers. In McCarthy, the 'Canes have one of the more intriguing and versatile linebackers in the ACC -- and that is saying something considering the talent in this conference. Wearing the same No. 44 that the legendary Dan Morgan starred with, McCarthy will have to enjoy a strong game against Ohio State if his defense is going to handle this multi-faceted offense. McCarthy doesn't necessarily have to post Morgan-like eye-popping statistics to help his grade in my eyes. He will, however, have to show great instincts and athleticism to contain Terrelle Pryor's running. That, in reality, might be the tougher assignment.

OC/OG Stefen Wisniewksi, Penn State: The play of Heisman-winner Mark Ingram and wideout Julio Jones might have earned many of the headlines, but anyone who watched the Tide throughout last year knows that Nick Saban's bunch won the National Championship based largely on the physicality and depth of their defense. Wisniewksi, the nephew of former Raider great, Steve, will have his hands full with this defensive line. He'll start at right guard, but we currently view his best pro position at center.

OT Nate Solder, Colorado: The Buffs have struggled through some lean years recently, but with Solder, the team boasts its highest rated offensive prospect since tight end Daniel Graham was the 21st overall pick of the 2002 draft (Patriots). Solder, who despite the presence of No. 4 and No. 6 overall picks Trent Williams and Russell Okung, earned First Team All-Big 12 honors from conference coaches last year, is currently rated as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 2 senior offensive tackle. The veteran of 29 starts, Solder possesses rare size (6-8, 302) and yet is still quite nimble. He'd be better be Saturday, considering the variety of pass rushers he'll face against California's unique (at least for college) 3-4 scheme. Among those pass rushers is Cal's Cameron Jordan. Their individual battle could be one of the country's best, if most unheralded, of the day.


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