Tag:Virginia Tech
Posted on: January 26, 2011 1:14 pm
 

Update- McClain on South, CB Carmichael sidelined

I reported last night that South Florida defensive tackle Terrell McClain was a late addition to the Senior Bowl.
It was presumed that he'd been invited as a replacement for injured Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea, who left the all-star game practices with a knee injurt after only participating in Monday's practice.

McClain, however, was not on the North team this morning. Scouts told me he'd been added to the South roster.

The North team was further depleted this morning.

Virginia Tech cornerback Rashad Carmichael was in sweats on the sideline throughout practice. Following the scrimmaging, I asked him what was bothering him. He told me that an old high ankle sprain (left) had flaired up. He is not expected to play in the game.
Posted on: January 15, 2011 11:41 am
 

Poor decisions mar underclassmen deadline day

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

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

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

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

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

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

There were only 12 running backs drafted last year.

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

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

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

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

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

Moore, in particular, has been labeled by many as a first round caliber prospect, but after doing my film review of him this past week, I see an unreliable open field tackler who is inconsistent in coverage. His FBS-leading 10 interceptions in 2009 may have been a by-product of the play of his former teammates, now NFL players (Bucs' DT Brian Price and Titans' CB Alterraun Verner). Without them, Moore intercepted one pass in 2010.  I gave him a 3rd-4th round grade.
Posted on: January 4, 2011 6:37 pm
 

Mallett vs. Buckeye secondary intriguing matchup

Playing the day after Stanford's Andrew Luck torched a supremely talented Virginia Tech secondary for 287 yards and four touchdowns, Arkansas junior Ryan Mallett may have his hands full matching that type of production against the Buckeyes.

Mallett has actually been even more statistically impressive in 2010 than Luck -- throwing for more yards and touchdowns during the regular season -- a function of his own talents as well as those of his head coach Bobby Petrino.

Petrino's high octane power spread offense has taken the SEC by storm, ranking second behind only Auburn in scoring offense (scoring an average of 37.3 points per game) and leading the conference with 338.4 passing yards per game -- a 64.2 yard advantage over Kentucky.

Those outside of Big Ten country may be surprised to learn that the Buckeyes' success this season has every bit as much to do with their defense as it does with Terrelle Pryor and their highly publicized offense.

Ohio State, in fact, is allowing only 156.25 passing yards a game and has recorded 2.5 times as many interceptions (18) as touchdowns through the air (seven).

Ultimately, scouts don't care how many yards (or touchdowns, for that matter) Mallett throws against Ohio State. Scouts recall the production that Brian Brohm and Stefan LeFors enjoyed at the University of Louisville under Petrino's tutelage.

Rather, scouts will be looking for ball placement -- a skill in which Mallett has proven talented, but not extraordinarily so. Mallett's accuracy is generally good when he's comfortable in the pocket, but scouts want to see if it nosedives when he's forced to move his feet as it did earlier in the year against Alabama.

Luck's accuracy -- in the pocket and on the move -- was his most impressive feat last night against the Hokies.

If Mallett can match Luck's success, he could join him as an elite prospect.

If he continues to struggle in this area, however, scouts may have no choice but to question if today's ultra-aggressive defenses won't further expose him in the NFL.

Posted on: January 4, 2011 12:14 am
 

Luck proves well worth the hype

Andrew Luck proved every bit worth all of his hype with a dazzling performance in a 40-12 win over Virginia Tech Monday night in the Orange Bowl.

Luck completed 18 of 23 passes for 287 yards, four touchdowns and an interception.

In this day of gaudy statistics, Luck's performance might appear hardly the stuff of legend, I know.

But if you didn't watch him last night... well, then, you missed out.

Because Luck's statistics in this game simply don't do him justice.

Now to be fair, Stanford is far from a one-man show. The Cardinal dominated a proud Hokie defense on the ground, rushing for a staggering 247 yards and two scores. In doing so, Virginia Tech was unquestionably more vulnerable to Luck's passing. The Stanford defense was just as impressive holding the Hokies to only one touchdown in the game and that was on a remarkable individual play by Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor (who played well in a losing effort).

At times, the Monday Night Football announcing crew of Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski bordered on hyperbole when describing Luck. He wasn't perfect on the night, despite their words describing his play. His second touchdown, for example, Luck threw a deep ball down the middle that floated, forcing wideout Coby Fleener to pause before catching the ball and crossing the goal line. It was enough to beat the Hokies deep on one play, but may very well have been intercepted against a quality NFL defense. Luck was, nonetheless, lauded for his great throw by the MNF crew.

On Luck's interception, he led receiver Ryan Whalen a step too far, allowing for Hokie cornerback Jayron Hosley to accelerate past Whalen and make an impressive pick. Luck made another questionable throw in the third quarter, attempting to dumping off a short pass amid pressure that was nearly intercepted.

Luck, however - as he's done in virtually every game the past two years - was simply staggering with his accuracy throughout much of this game. He fired the slant, threw with touch down the seam and made arguably his two most impressive throws while rolling to his right and attacking the sideline. He was at his best in the second half, completing 9 of his 10 attempts.

In a previous article for NFLDraftScout.com and CBSSports.com I pointed out that Luck was the best prospect I'd ever graded - at any position .

For those that read my material last year, you might recall how high I was on Ndamukong Suh. If you missed Luck tonight, but happened to see Suh destroy Colt McCoy and the Longhorns to the tune of 12 tackles, 7 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks in the Big 12 Championship game, that should give you an idea as to how well Luck played tonight against the Hokies.

He was a man amongst boys, at times, proving every bit worth the hype and the No. 1 overall pick of the 2011 draft should he choose to be.
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 3, 2010 9:22 pm
 

Five prospects I'll be focusing on this weekend

Each Friday I list my "Five prospects" that I'll be focusing on for the upcoming weekend. 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.

Because I'm scouting them in real time these players make an early impression, often leading to consideration as my Prospect of the Week or Diamond in the Rough.

Even more often, however, it leads to the player being featured in Draft Slant , NFLDraftScout.com and CBSSports.com's weekly NFL Draft preview. In each PDF issue of Draft Slant Senior Analyst Chad Reuter and I break down six more players in Filmroom Notes, update our Top 32 prospects overall, Top 10 per position, Risers/Fallers for multiple games and offer extensive previews of the next week's action. I boast about our product for a simple reason: Having seen everything else out there - it is the most complete weekly NFL draft guide on the planet. 

Here is the link to this week's issue of Draft Slant. Or for the entire season click this link . Looking for a specific week? Download past issues from the past three years here.

Without any further adieu, here are the five prospects, as well as the cable provider and time you can expect to see them.

TE Rob Housler, Florida Atlantic: It might seem silly to list a second tier prospect like Housler on "Championship Saturday" but Housler and Troy receiver Jerrel Jernigan rate as two of my favorite "sleepers" of the 2011 senior class. I've gushed about Jernigan plenty in the past, but Housler is also one to watch. Though lighter than scouts would prefer, the 6-5, 228 pound Housler certainly possesses the receiving skills teams are looking for in today's hybrid receiving specialists. Housler, in fact, hardly qualifies as a sleeper anymore. NFLDraftScout.com currently ranks him as our No. 4 overall senior tight end. This game begins at 2:00 pm EST and will be televised by ESPN.

DT Stephen Paea, Oregon State:
Though I expect Oregon to ultimately prevail in this latest playing of the "Civil War," I'm very excited to see how the Ducks contain the Beavers' strongman defensive tackle Paea. Paea nearly singlehandedly beat USC a few weeks ago, earning my Prospect of the Week honors, as well as recognition from the Pac-10 -- and that was against Trojan center Kris O'Dowd, one of the better center senior center prospects in the country. If the Beavers were to pull the upset, it will likely be because Paea and his defensive line cohorts are able to control the line of scrimmage. This is the recipe that Cal used in slowing down the Ducks' potent offense. Should the Ducks (and Auburn) win, this game could provide an intriguing look as to how Oregon might scheme against Auburn's superstar defensive tackle, Nick Fairley in the BCS Championship game. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by ABC.

QB Cam Newton, Auburn: Hmmm, why might this be an interesting game to watch? Considering the BCS Championship, Heisman Trophy and a potential first round pick for Newton are all riding on this game, there is plenty of intrigue in this contest. South Carolina is in the SEC Championship game despite a pass defense that ranked 10th in the SEC, so Newton should have plenty of windows to throw through in this game. I'd be surprised, however, if South Carolina doesn't get a little creative with their rush packages, perhaps dropping more defenders into coverage so as to force Newton to stay in the pocket and beat them with his mind and arm and not his legs. Can Newton continue to dazzle with all the eyes of the sporting world watching? This game begins at 4:00 pm EST and will be televised by CBS.

QB Christian Ponder, Florida: While he has certainly struggled at times this season, I remain firm in my belief that Ponder can be a successful NFL quarterback. He'll certainly be tested in this contest, as unlike Newton (who, again, is facing one of the worst statistical pass defenses in the SEC), Ponder is going against a Hokie unit that ranks second in the ACC in pass defense. In fact, defensive coordinator Bud Foster's group has stolen nearly a third more interceptions (20) than they've allowed touchdowns (14) this year. For FSU to win this game, Ponder will have to play well. This game begins at 7:45 pm EST and will be televised by ESPN.

WR Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma: At an estimated 5-11, 185 pounds, Broyles lacks the size of many of the other top receiver prospects in country. With his only moderate size, many scouts will question whether he has the strength and toughness to handle the physicality of the NFL. There isn't a tougher, more physical defense in college football than Nebraska's. I look forward to seeing how Broyles (and running back DeMarco Murray, for that matter) handle this challenge. This game begins at 8:00 pm EST and will be televised by ABC.

The action typically happens too fast on Saturdays for me to blog my thoughts.

For those interested in scouting "alongside" me, however, you can follow me on Twitter @RobRang . I'll be posting comments on these and other games all day long.
Posted on: September 25, 2010 3:37 pm
 

Herzlich plays well, whole game vs. VTech

The inspiritational tale of Boston College outside linebacker Mark Herzlich began a new chapter Saturday with his starting -- and finishing -- his first conference game after missing the entire 2009 season while recovering from Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer of that strikes approximately two out of a million people under the age of 30.

Herzlich's ability to play at all is inspritational in itself. But while anyone with a heart is happy to see him returning to health, NFL scouts get to shift their attention to how well he's playing.

Herzlich wasn't the same dominant player against the Virignia Tech Hokies Saturday that earned the 2009 ACC Defensive Player of the Year. He was, however, considerably improved in terms of his conditioning and overall play than in his first two games for the Eagles.

Starting at his traditional strongside linebacker position, Herzlich showed some burst as a pass rusher, good strength in taking on and shedding blocks against the run and both athleticism and instincts while in pass coverage. Perhaps the most encouraging component of Herzlich's game was the reckless abandon with which he played. Herzlich was flying around the field Saturday, even leaving his feet to dive over the top of pass blockers to get into passing lanes.

Herzlich defended two passes, recording the ninth interception of his career in the 4th quarter. He was also in on a host of tackles. Most impressively, Herzlich made the plays that don't show up in the stat books, taking on blocks to funnel the action back inside and covering enough ground in pass defense to force Virginia Tech passer Tyrod Taylor to look elsewhere on multiple occasions.

Herzlich's Eagles lost to Virginia Tech 19-0 -- but there was definitely a silver lining in this game.

With nine more regular season games to go, here's hoping that Herzlich's game to game improvement continues.
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.

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