Play Fantasy The Most Award Winning Fantasy game with real time scoring, top expert analysis, custom settings, and more. Play Now
 
Tag:Miami
Posted on: October 8, 2010 7:45 pm
 

5 Senior Prospects I'll be Focusing On Saturday

Each weekend I list the five senior prospects I'll be focusing on. These are players who appear to have challenging matchups that will help determine how well they'll be able to make the transition to the pro game.

A noteworthy performance (either positive or negative) can result in the player being profiled in our upcoming edition of Draft Slant, NFLDraftScout.com's weekly PDF file for premium subscribers.

Last week I profiled Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder, Indiana quarterback Ben Chappell, Oklahoma running back DeMarco Murray, USC cornerback Shareece Wright, Alabama OT James Carpenter and Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi.

Ponder had a solid, but unspectacular game last weekend against Virginia. Though he has a much tougher opponent this weekend at Miami, I elected to write about him considering that there are very few teams across the country who boast a better pair of cornerbacks than the Cavaliers' duo of senior Ras-I Dowling and junior Chase Minnifield (son of former Cleveland Browns' standout Frank).

That doesn't mean, of course, that I won't be watching him again this weekend. In fact, in terms of his pro grade, Ponder's performance Saturday against the 'Canes is as important as any game he'll play all year long.

Which is why he's among my Five Seniors to Watch -- and, as it turns out, the only player on the offenside side of the line of scrimmage: 

ILB Greg Jones, Michigan State: For all of the talk of the talented defensive linemen and cornerbacks of this senior class, for my money there isn't a safer defensive prospect in the country than Jones. A four year starter who has never missed a game in his career, Jones nonetheless will be questioned by scouts as to how a 6-1, 235 pound linebacker is going to be able to handle the physicality of the NFL. Over the first few weeks of the season, Wolverines' star quarterback Denard Robinson has emerged as the Heisman favorite. He hasn't faced an instinctive and speedy linebacker like Jones yet, though. If Jones has the 15+ tackle game I think he will in this game, he could emerge as an early favorite for Player of the Week honors. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by ABC/ESPN.

DT David Carter, UCLA: A rising name due to the fact that at 6-5, 300 pounds he has the bulk and strength to play inside at defensive tackle or move outside to play the five-technique as a 3-4 defensive end, Carter flashed on tape last weekend against the Washington State Cougars, posting three sacks. If he is to emerge as a legitimate draftable prospect, he'll need to continue his breakout senior campaign this week in an interesting Pac-10 showdown with Cal. An interesting side note - Carter is the brother of Fresno State pass rusher Chris Carter. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by regional FOX coverage.

OLB Von Miller, Texas A&M:
Having recorded 17 sacks last season, Miller entered this year as one of the more heavily hyped pass rushers in all of college football. In fact, he was the Preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. After four games, however, Miller has yet to record his first sack and is in danger of seeing his draft stock plummet. In all fairness to Miller, he's struggled with a knee sprain all year long and has shown impressive toughness playing through it. It is obvious that he has lacked the explosive first step this year he showed in 2010. Injured or not, scouts want to see some production. He'll have his hands full against a talented Arkansas offensive line, but the relative immobility of 6-6 quarterback Ryan Mallett may help him boost his numbers. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by ABC/ESPN.

DT Drake Nevis, LSU:
Few players across the country have boosted their stock as significantly as Nevis thus far this season. The 6-1, 292 pounder doesn't possess the elite size that scouts would prefer, but his explosiveness as a pass rusher can't be ignored. Nevis has already twice been recognized as the SEC's Defensive Lineman of the Week and is second in the conference with 3.5 sacks. The Gators are experienced and talented up front so if Nevis is able to make plays in this contest he certainly deserves the early attention he's been receiving. This game begins at 7:30 pm EST and will be televised by ESPN.

QB Christian Ponder, Florida State:
Ponder showed the mobility, high football IQ and accuracy in the short/intermediate levels against Virginia last weekend that NFL teams like about him, but he has not been as productive thus far as hoped.  Ponder will have to play the best game of his season so far if he is to enjoy success against a supremely talented Miami defense.  Ponder enjoyed a bit of a breakout performance last year against the 'Canes with a then-career high 294 passing yards and two touchdowns (against one interception). This game begins at 8:00 pm EST and will be televised by ABC.
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 12, 2010 11:31 am
 

Tough day for top QB prospects

A simple scan of the box scores of the Washington-Syracuse, Stanford-UCLA, Ohio State-Miami and Arkansas-Louisiana (Monroe) games yesterday might be enough to tell you that the winnning quarterbacks in these games enjoyed their Saturday far more than the losing quarterbacks in the Florida State-Oklahoma and Idaho-Nebraska games.

Stat lines rarely tell the whole story, however, and they certainly don't in this case.

Despite impressive stat lines, I can tell you, after spending much of day and night Saturday reviewing their work, that nearly all of the QB prospects potentially available for the 2011 NFL draft struggled. And that none of them showed the consistent accuracy, pocket awareness or poise in a hostile environment (or all three) to lead an NFL team right now.

Which is good, because all of them obviously are collegiate prospects with at least a full calendar year until they'll be asked to do so.

In terms of numbers, one might say that Jake Locker (22/33, 289 yards, 4 TDs/0 INTs, 12 rushing yards) was the most impressive in the Huskies' 41-20 win over Syracuse.

Despite his impressive totals, however, the same accuracy issues that plagued Locker against BYU a week earlier were still there. His receivers, largely junior wideout Jermaine Kearse (9 receptions for 179 yards, 3 TDs) simply turned short and intermediate routes into big plays with good vision, tough running and underrated speed.

Still, for Locker, it was the second mediocre game of the season -- and the Huskies host Nebraska next Saturday.

Fellow senior prospect Christian Ponder (11/28, 113 yards, 0 TDs/2 INTs, 23 rushing yards) much more obviously struggled Saturday in front of a raucous crowd in Norman, Oklahoma. He had little time and was hurt by several drops from his receivers, but as the game slipped away in the second and third quarters, Ponder began to press. He threw the ball into coverage and, at times, allowed himself to peek at the rush rather than keeping his eyes downfield. With the weakest of this group's arms (though still plenty strong for the NFL), these mistakes only added to Florida State's struggles.

Of course, the senior quarterback prospect who struggled the most was Idaho's Nathan Enderle . As I mentioned in my previous blog post, Enderle was among the five senior prospects I was closely scouting yesterday. No one expected the Vandals to walk into Lincoln and shock the Cornhuskers, but Enderle clearly struggled with the speed and physicality of his opponent. He finished 16/31, 141 yards, 1 TD/5 INTs -- including two 40+ yard INTs returned for TDs on back to back drives in the second quarter.

The play from the underclassmen was certainly better than Enderle's, but, like Locker's statistics can be deceiving.

Arkansas' Ryan Mallett had an apparent field day against Louisiana-Monroe (28/43, 400 yards, 3 TDs/1 INT), but the same issues that concerned me before remain. Mallett has a tendency to not set his feet, relying on his admittedly very strong arm to thread the needle. Against this caliber of defense he can get away it. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers or Green Bay Packers? Not so much. Don't let his numbers fool you. Remember, Bobby Petrino's offense helped Brian Brohm (Packers) get drafted in the second round.

Even Heisman favorite (at least mine) Terrelle Pryor (12/27, 233 yards, 1 TD/0 INT, 113 rushing yards, 1 TD) wasn't as dazzling throughout the game as the highlights you may have seen would indicate. Pryor, like Mallett, is inconsistent in setting his feet before he throws. Like Locker, he simply isn't accurate enough at this point to consistently complete tough throws in the NFL. Too many of his passes sailed over the head or bounced a yard in front of his receivers. In Pryor's (and Locker's) defense, the threat of his running allows him to be less accurate a passer.

Because the game didn't start until 10:30 pm EST, many didn't see any of redshirt sophomore Andrew Luck's performance against UCLA. Luck was his typical efficient (11/24, 152 yards, 2 TDs/0 INTs, 63 rushing yards) self and his Cardinal team thoroughly dominated the Bruins on their way to a 35-0 shellacking in the Rose Bowl.

Even still, while protected by a stout offensive line and an underrated receiving corps, Luck missed several wide open targets, including going 0-3 on some easy passes in the Cardinals' first offensive series. His two touchdown throws were easy tosses that any quarterback with a hope of making the NFL would make.

And so what does the collective struggles of these talented quarterbacks prove?

That - newsflash - playing quarterback at the BCS level is very difficult.

And that there is still plenty of work to be done by all six prospects before they are ready for the NFL.

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.


Posted on: July 12, 2010 12:40 pm
 

Luck, Kaepernick, others wow at Manning QB Camp

Each year the Mannings (Archie and sons Petyon, Eli and Cooper) hold their Manning Passing Academy for high school and collegiate "skill position" football players. Though running backs, wide receivers and tight ends are also invited to the camp, the quarterbacks always receive the most attention.

For the fifth consecutive year this year's camp was held on the Nicholls State University campus; the former home of the New Orleans Saints' training camp. This is the 14th year the Mannings have been holding their camp.

This year the collegiate quarterbacks invited read like a Who's Who of the game. Washington's Jake Locker was invited, but couldn't attend. Miami's Jacory Harris, Arkansas' Ryan Mallett and Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor were other high profile passers also unable to participate.

Among the more high profile players who did participate, however, included:

Jordan Jefferson - LSU
Jerrod Johnson - Texas A&M
Colin Kaepernick - Nevada
Case Keenum - Houston
Andrew Luck - Stanford
Greg McElroy - Alabama
Kellen Moore - Boise State
Christian Ponder - Florida State
Taylor Potts - Texas Tech
Matt Simms - Tennessee
Nathan Stanley - Mississippi
Brandon Weeden - Oklahoma State
Tyler Wolfe - Northwestern State (La.)
T.J. Yates - North Carolina

Much of the clinic is open to the public. According to sources in attendance, Stanford redshirt sophomore Andrew Luck is clearly the most gifted of the group. He showed a strong NFL-caliber arm and the accuracy to attack all levels of the field. Luck recently went on the record stating that he planned to graduate from Stanford before pursuing professional football.

Another young talent, Tennessee's Matt Simms (son of Phil, brother of Chris) also impressed, I'm told.

Kaepernick surprised some with his velocity. The 6-6, 220 pound Wolfpack quarterback is well known for his production (20 TDs/6 INTs, as well as 1,183 rushing yards, 16 TDs last year), but is viewed by many scouts as a product of coach Chris Ault's "pistol" offense.

FSU's Christian Ponder, who tied with Locker for the highest QB grade given by National scouts, was characterized as being good, but not spectacular. In Ponder's defense, he underwent shoulder surgery in the off-season and may have been still working out some of the kinks.


Posted on: March 27, 2010 12:20 pm
 

LB rising, OT falling from Pro Days

In scouting hundreds of players each year it is impossible not to develop a few favorites. These aren't necessarily the best athletes or the most productive players. For me, they are guys who play with supreme intensity, technique or durability.

Two of my favorites this year -- Miami offensive tackle Jason Fox and Arizona State linebacker Travis Goethel -- had nearly polar opposite results in highly anticipated Pro Day workouts Friday.

Fox, a 47 game starter for the Hurricanes, had a lot riding on his workout as he was unable to perform in any of the senior all-star games or the Combine due to undergoing a minor procedure on his left knee. He pulled his hamstring 3/4 of the way through his first attempt at the 40-yard dash. Though he tried to gut it out through positional drills, the injury was obviously bothering him, according to scouts in attendance. All 32 teams were represented at Miami's Pro Day.

While the inability to finish the workout is no doubt troubling for Fox (according to reports, he did not want to speak with reporters following the workout), teams that stay true to the mantra of focusing on film will know what this kid can do. He may not have the athleticism to warrant a first or perhaps even second round selection, but he's a reliable technician that can play the game -- whether at left tackle, or perhaps inside at left guard.

While Fox struggled, Goethel took advantage of the attention. Goethel, 6-3, 240 pounds, started 41 of 50 games over his career, but rarely got the attention he deserved with the Sun Devils, only gaining all-conference accolades as a senior (and it was honorable mention honors, at that).

I love the way this kid plays the game, however. Posssessing a combination of physicality and instincts, he is a classic special teams demon at worst and a potential surprise starter. I had reservations about his pure speed, but, according to a scout in attendance, Goethel impressed Friday with a pair of 4.60s in the 40-yard dash, a 4.54 time in the short shuttle and a 6.91 in the 3-cone -- all of which shaved about 3/10s of a second from his times recorded at the Combine. The scout was also sure to note that the performance was on grass, which is all the more impressive, as this surface generally is not as conducive to fast times as a track or turf.


Posted on: February 27, 2010 4:47 pm
 

Some surprises among TE workouts


Dorin Dickerson and Jimmy Graham will get most of the attention, but small schooler Clay Harbor from Missouri State stole the show during Saturday's tight end drills.

Harbor, a shade under 6-3 and 252 pounds, was timed at a very respectable 4.69 seconds in the 40-yard dash and was the surprise leader at the position in the bench press, putting up the bar 30 times -- the most from any tight end since 2007 (Daniel Coats). The former All-American had impressed scouts at the East-West Shrine and Texas vs. Nation games in January. At his size, some teams feel he projects best at fullback (which is where NFLDraftScout.com currently has him), but considering the strength he proved today and his uncommon tenacity as a blocker, Harbor is a legitimate tight end candidate, as well. 

Former Miami basketball player Jimmy Graham showcased the fluidity that had so impressed Chad Reuter and I last month at the Senior Bowl by running a 4.56 40-yard dash today. Graham moves remarkably well for a man with his 6-6, 260 frame, showing good agility and balance while running routes, as well.

Former Pittsburgh Panther tight end/h-back Dickerson blazed the track with a 4.40 second running in the 40-yard dash, according to NFL.com. Considering that he weighed in at only 6-1, 226 pounds, however, teams will have to determine if he can hold up at the point of attack -- which is why his strength (24 reps) could be the more important result to scouts.

Posted on: October 25, 2009 1:07 pm
 

Spiller a Chris Johnson clone

Despite sitting out some of the game's most important plays (including Clemson's final attempt at a touchdown to win the game in regulation), CJ Spiller showcased his amazing speed and versatility in the upset at #8 Miami. He scored twice -- on a 90 yard kickoff return in the second quarter the game and on a 56 yard reception in the third. His 310 all-purpose yards broke the Tiger's single-game record.

Spiller, 5-11 and 195 pounds, reminds me a great deal of the Titan's Do-Everything Chris Johnson, who weighed in at the Combine at 5-11, 197 pounds. While Spiller may not prove quite as fast as Johnson at the Combine (4.24), I do expect him to be among the fastest players tested. Also like Johnson, however, Spiller will be at his best if used as part of a rotation, as he lacks the bulk teams want in an everydown back.

Because of his versatility, Spiller is on the field so much (as a returner, receiver and running back), however, that I have little doubt he'll prove well worth the first round selection some team will almost surely invest in him come April.


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