Tag:Oklahoma
Posted on: November 9, 2010 1:09 pm
 

Cover story star Miller is Prospect of the Week

The famed "Wrecking Crew" moniker can't realistically be applied to the 2010 Texas A&M defense after one dominant showing, but Von Miller and his Aggie teammates' play against Oklahoma Saturday night was reminiscent of the type of play that made College Station one of the most feared stadiums in college football during the early 1990s.

Considering that I already acknowledged Miller's play in my Weekly Rewind , I watched plenty of tape on other seniors to find a similar performance worthy of Prospect of the Week. Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi shut down Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan, who entered the game as the nation's leading TFL artist and deserves some mention. So too does LSU's defensive tackle Drake Nevis and his impressive game against Alabama. TCU's Andy Dalton and Clemson safety DeAndre McDaniel also played critical roles in their team's victories.

In the end, however, it was Miller's speed off the edge that gave Texas A&M an upset victory over the Sooners that I felt justified the award.

Perhaps most impressive about Miller's game -- and something I left out of the Weekly Rewind piece -- is that Miller, who had been struggling with an ankle injury all year, actually aggravated the injury and missed some time in the game. He was back on the field late, however, racking up one of his three tackles for loss with a stop of running back Demarco Murray near the goal-line on the Sooners' final possession.

Miller, who plays the joker position for the Aggies, projects as a pass rushing OLB for the NFL. He's smaller at 6-2, 235 that what 3-4 teams usually require for the position, but has such an explosive burst off the snap and the flexibility to dip under the reach of pass blockers, that some scouts working for 3-4 clubs I've spoken to are making an exception with him.

Miller isn't often asked to drop into coverage in this scheme, but his ability to change directions and speed give 4-3 teams reason to believe he might be able to make the transition to their scheme as a traditional OLB.

His ultimate "best" position may not be determined for most scouts until Miller plays in a senior all-star game and/or works out for scouts at the Combine.

Posted on: October 14, 2010 1:49 pm
 

Notre Dame TE Kyle Rudolph to undergo surgery Fri

Notre Dame junior tight end Kyle Rudolph will undergo season-ending surgery Friday to repair his hamstring.

The surgery is a significant one. Rudolph, who had been gutting it out by playing through a pulled hamstring originally injured over the summer, had the tendons in his right leg snap, separating the muscle from the bone against Pittsburgh, Saturday.

Though only a junior, Rudolph is widely considered to be among the top eligible tight end prospect in the country. The injury and resulting surgery, however, could put a damper on any plans that the 6-6, 260 pounder had on entering the NFL draft after this season. Rudolph's rehabilitation is expected to last six months, meaning that he may not be able to fully workout for scouts prior to the draft.

As alarming as that might be for scouts, Rudolph's ability to impact the game stands out on film. It should also be noted that the two tight ends selected highest in last year's draft -- Jermaine Gresham and Rob Gronkowski -- each missed the entire 2009 season prior to being selected with the No. 21 and No. 42 overall picks of last April's draft, by the Bengals and Patriots, respectively.

Should he elect to leave school early for the draft, scouts have plenty of film on Rudolph. A standout since taking over for John Carlson (now a starter for the Seattle Seahawks), was on pace to shatter his previous career highs in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns.
Through six games this year, Rudolph had caught 28 passes for 328 yards and three touchdowns.

He has caught 90 passes for 1,032 yards and eight touchdowns for his career.


Posted on: October 1, 2010 10:50 pm
 

Five prospects I'll be focusing on Saturday

Each week, in preparation for Draft Slant and the handing out of my weekly awards for Prospect of the Week and Diamond in the Rough, I list five prospects on the blog that I'll be focusing on.

This week is no different -- though with such a huge slate of games -- I can go back to my customary role of focusing on just senior players, rather than dabbling with some underclassmen last week.

Because I'm spending the entire day scouting, I typically don't post more than once or twice on the blog on Saturdays. I do, however, invite you to scout "alongside" me by following me on Twitter.

Without any further adieu, here are this week's big five senior prospects:

CB Ras-I Dowling, Virginia: Dowling entered the year as one of NFLDraftScout.com's top 32 seniors and I yet I elected not to include him in my recent mock draft . The reason is that Dowling has been hobbled by a nagging hamstring injury and was only able to see his first playing time of the season last week against Virginia Military Institute. Dowling was not his typically dominant self, getting beaten deep on a long pass, as well as getting flagged for pass interference. And that was against VMI. Don't put it past Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder and his aggressive head coach Jimbo Fisher to test Dowling early. This game begins at noon EST and will be televised by ESPN.

RB DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma: Murray has earned NFLDraftScout.com's top grade among senior running backs, but if he is to legitimize his standing as a potential first round pick, this is the type of game where he'll need to show up big. This game may lack the sizzle of Red River Rivalries of the past, but even with Mack Brown's Longhorns struggle offensively, they typically play stout defense -- and this year's squad looks no different. Murray's ability to break outside for long gains, as well as his reliable hands out of the backfield, should make him the focus of the Texas defensive game plan, not stopping the Sooner passing game. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by ABC.

OT Marcus Gilbert, Florida: Florida linemate Mike Pouncey has generated most of the buzz (both good and bad) thus far this season, but Gilbert's play in this SEC Championship rematch against Alabama could play a key role in determining the winner. Gilbert, the Gators' right tackle, will be matched up against talented junior Marcell Dareus. Dareus struggled last week against Arkansas with a sprained ankle, but is a legitimate first round talent when healthy. If Gilbert (6-5, 320) is able to handle Dareus, the Gators chances of moving the ball against this talented Crimson Tide defense grow significantly. This game begins at 8 pm EST and will be televised by CBS.

QB Jake Locker, Washington:
Admittedly I could justify putting Locker on here every weekend but I'm betting that you're just as curious as I am as to how he performs in this, his first game since the Nebraska debacle. Locker doesn't have to win this game to right the ship in terms of his own slipping draft grade. He does, however, have to show improved accuracy and decision-making against a Trojan team looking for revenge. Remember, it was Locker and the Huskies' upset over the Trojans last year that some say led to the "fall of Troy." With the Huskies desperate to prove that the Nebraska game was a fluke and USC just as desperate to prove they remain among the Pac-10's elite, this game has all of the drama, but so much less of the hype of the day's monster showdowns. This game begins at 8 pm EST and will be televised by ESPN2.

DT/NG Sione Pua, Stanford: The young and dynamic skill position prospects in the Oregon-Stanford will get all of the attention and rightfully so. Pua, however, is one of the draft's more underrated run stuffers. If he can control the middle of the line of scrimmage and force Oregon running back LaMichael James outside, the Cardinal could force young Duck quarterback Darron Thomas to beat them. The last two defenses that were as physical as Stanford's gave the Ducks plenty of trouble -- Arizona State gave Oregon quite a scare last week and Ohio State beat the Ducks in the Rose Bowl. The winner of this game, I believe, becomes the odds on favorite to represent the Pac-10 in the Rose Bowl this year.  This game begins at 8 pm EST and will be televised by ABC/ESPN.
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: April 22, 2010 8:31 pm
 

Seattle fortunate Okung slipped to them

I watched the Seattle Seahawks' pre-draft mini-camp and was stunned to see veteran right tackle Ray Willis lining up as Seattle's first-team left tackle. Willis, whose specialty had always been as a drive blocker in the running game, was considered only an average pass blocker and certainly lacked the quick feet and balance to play on the left side.

As such, the Seattle war room likely erupted when the Kansas City Chiefs selected safety Eric Berry with the fifth overall selection, allowing the 47-game starter Russell Okung to slip into Seattle's lap at No. 6.

Okung is not an elite match for Alex Gibbs' scheme that Trent Williams might have been, but he was recognized as the Big 12's Offensive Lineman of the Year over Williams and is generally viewed as the safer pick.

As happy as the Seahawks' front office might have been with the selection, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck likely was even happier.
Posted on: April 20, 2010 8:52 am
 

Advice to Rams: If not 100% on Bradford, trade

As I reported a week ago and Cleveland Browns' general manager Tom Heckert publicly confirmed two days later, the St. Louis Rams are having internal discussions about trading out of the No. 1 pick.

With the several potential suitors (Cleveland, Washington, Seattle, Denver), it is possible that the Rams get the 3,000 "points" as required in the draft pick trade chart every team and media member refers to in these situations.

Far be it from me to offer the Rams, and specifically general manager Billy Devaney, advice on the situation, but I'm going to anyway:

Dear St. Louis Rams,

If you are not 100% sure that Bradford is the answer to your problems, trade the pick.

Even if it means getting less value than the talking heads think you should.

Sincerely,

Rob Rang

Trading out of the No. 1 pick for less than its perceived value will likely generate some negative reaction from other teams and the media.

The reality is, the Rams, winners of only 6/48 games over the past three regular seasons have holes throughout their roster. The 2010 draft is as deep and talented as any we've seen in over a decade. The money saved on not utilizing the first overall pick would cover the extra players.

And for all of the talk about how difficult it is to trade out of the top pick, the last two teams that did so, received more than fair value for their courage -- though they weren't necessarily viewed as the consensus "winners" when making the deal on draft day.

The San Diego Chargers did it the unconventional way in 2004, selecting Eli Manning with the first pick and then shipping he to the Giants for the 4th overall selection, Philip Rivers, and three picks that the Chargers ultimately turned into Shawne Merriman and Nate Kaeding and veteran offensive tackle Roman Oben.

San Diego was involved in the last trade involving the No. 1 pick, as well, trading out of the top spot in 2001 to Atlanta. The Falcons got Michael Vick and the Chargers got the fifth pick, which they used on LaDainian Tomlison, as well as Atlanta's 3rd round pick in 2001 (Chargers selected CB Tay Cody), second round pick in 2002 (WR Reche Caldwell) and veteran receiver/returner Tim Dwight. Having not filled their quarterback need in the first round, the Chargers used their first pick of the second round on some guy named Brees.

There will be those that argue the Rams should simply ignore Bradford and use the top pick on their highest rated player, almost surely Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy.

Unfortunately for St. Louis, having spent high first round selections on the defensive line in 2007 (Adam Carriker) and 2008 (Chris Long) likely precludes the team from doing so.

My admittedly two-cent advice? Capitalize on the best deal you can get and trade out. Let someone else gamble on Sam Bradford's shoulder. Fill other areas of concern with the first round pick(s). And take the quarterback you really want -- Texas' Colt McCoy -- 33rd overall.

Who knows, maybe the short, remarkably accurate, gutty leader is the second coming of Drew Brees, after all.










Posted on: April 11, 2010 12:27 pm
 

First "surprise" of draft? Williams leaps Okung

With only ten days to go until draft day is here, the top of the first round is beginning to take shape.

Barring colossal trade offers, the Rams will take Sam Bradford, the Lions will take Ndamukong Suh and the Bucs will take Gerald McCoy.

Since trading for quarterback Donovan McNabb, it has been obvious the Redskins would be looking to fill their biggest need -- offensive tackle -- with the 4th pick of the draft. With Oklahoma State's Russell Okung the top-rated tackle by many, including NFLDraftScout.com, he seemed the natural candidate to replace former Pro Bowler Chris Samuels as the Redskins' starting left tackle.

Except that Okung isn't the top-rated tackle by the Redskins. Oklahoma's Trent Williams is.

I reported nearly three weeks ago that Okung is far from the consensus top-rated tackle. While most teams had Okung rated as the best, a sizable number had Williams as the better prospect. One team had Iowa's Bryan Bulaga as the best of the 2010 class.

Okung is the safe pick. Williams, due to his greater athleticism, has the higher upside.

Most importantly (at least in terms of the Washington Redskins), he's the better fit in Mike Shanahan's zone-blocking offense.

There are sure to be plenty of surprises on draft day. Some will characterize the first one as the Redskins' decision to draft Trent Williams over Russell Okung.

Considering that I've felt for weeks that Williams would likely be the first tackle taken , I won't be among those surprised... and neither should you. 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com