Tag:Stanford
Posted on: November 11, 2011 8:04 pm
 

Five prospects I'll be scouting closely Saturday

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. 

Sometimes it also 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 breaks down six more players in Filmroom Notes, updates our Top 64 prospects overall and offers extensive previews of the next week's action. 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.

QB Jeff Brantley, Florida:  Brantley was an extremely highly touted prospect when he signed with Florida, but his career has been marked by inconsistency and injury. His size (6-3, 220) and arm talent are enough that the Senior Bowl is rumored to be considering Bradley. A strong performance on the road against a talented South Carolina defense could make the decision an easy one. This game begins at noon ET and will be televised by CBS.

WR Marvin McNutt, Iowa:  Overshadowed by Derrell Johnson Koulianos for much of his career, McNutt has emerged as one of the country's most feared receivers. Big (6-2, 215), physical and a better athlete than most think, McNutt has been difficult to stop this season, catching 57 passes for 959 yards and nine scores. McNutt will have his hands full against the conference's elite defense in Michigan State. This game begins at noon ET and will be broadcast by ESPN2.

DL Billy Winn, Boise State: At 6-3, 300 Winn has the size and athleticism to intrigue scouts working for three and four man fronts, alike. Unfortunately, he's battled with inconsistency throughout his career. Viewed as a potential first round pick heading into the season, Winn's stock has already slipped to the second round on many boards and is even lower on others. With TCU the best opponent he'll face the rest of the regular season, Winn could go a long way towards steadying his stock with a strong game.  This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be televised by Versus. 

DE Nick Perry, Southern Cal: A better athlete than football player early in his career, Perry is starting to iron out some of the wrinkles to his game. The 6-3, 250 pounder beat potential 2012 first round pick Jonathan Martin (Stanford) with speed on multiple occasions to pressure Andrew Luck and currently has 8.5 tackles for loss and five sacks this season. Like Winn, Perry is a player that intrigues scouts from both defensive schemes. The Washington Huskies featured an underrated left tackle in Senio Kelemete, a potential top 100 choice in his own right, so this should make for a very interesting individual battle that could impact which team wins the game. This game begins at 3:45 pm ET and will be televised by FX. 

TE Coby Fleener, Stanford: Chip Kelly has built the University of Oregon into an annual Rose Bowl contender largely based on scheme. The Ducks aren't churning out NFL prospects with the regularity one might expect considering the fact that Kelly is 30-5, including 23-1 in conference since he took the head coaching job. The one position in which Oregon has consistently produced NFL caliber prospects, however, is in the secondary. With Andrew Luck's best big play wideout Chris Owusu sidelined with a concussion, the pressure will be on Coby Fleener and the rest of Luck's targets to get open against the Ducks' athletic defensive backs. The Ducks won't have their best one -- as junior cornerback Cliff Harris remains suspended -- but Oregon still boasts a physical safety in John Boyett and athleticism -- abeit young athleticism -- at cornerback to challenge this Stanford offense. Fleener will never get Luck's hype, but he's even been overshadowed by multiple members of Stanford's offensive line. It's a shame. He's been NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior tight end since September and is earning top 50 grades from scouts. This game begins at 8:00 ET and will be televised by ABC.


Posted on: November 2, 2011 4:09 pm
 

Phil Simms not alone in calling Luck overrated

Former Super Bowl MVP and CBS' analyst Phil Simms made waves yesterday with his proclamation that Andrew Luck was being "hype[d] a little too much" and that he didn't see "big time NFL throws" from the Stanford redshirt junior quarterback.

By ranking Luck as the top prospect I've seen in 12 years of scouting, obviously I disagree.

Simms isn't the only one who has concerns about Luck, however.

During the Stanford-Southern Cal game I spent about 45 minutes talking to a high level scout who also had reservations about the Stanford quarterback.

The scout began the conversation about Luck by asking my assessment of Luck's arm strength. I told him that I did not believe that arm strength was Luck's greatest asset, but that having scouted Luck in person and off of video I believed him to have plenty of zip on the ball to make every NFL throw. I also pointed out that Luck's anticipation and accuracy -- arguably his two best features -- more than made up for a lack of a howitzer for a right arm.

The scout agreed that Luck's anticipation and accuracy "were what make him special" but used April's No. 1 overall pick Cam Newton as a comparison to drive a point home about how much Luck has been over-hyped thus far.

"I'm not so sure that after scouting each of these guys closely that some scouts wouldn't favor Newton over Luck," the scout said. "Newton is so much more of a physical specimen. He's bigger, stronger, faster and has a gun. Luck, for all of the things he does have, doesn't have an arm like that. I think the perception is that Carolina would have taken Luck in a heart beat over Newton. Maybe they would have. But I think it would be a closer call than most people think based on the hype."

Newton's instant and continued success in the NFL has taken many of us by surprise, so I asked the scout if perhaps this fact wasn't clouding his comments. He chuckled and acknowledged the quality work that the Carolina Panthers (specifically offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski) had done in adapting his offense to tailor to Newton's strengths, but also pointed out that "talent is talent and when you've got a lot of it, a little coaching can go a long way."

"The reality is, Luck is a pretty special talent, but he's not Superman. I don't know that anyone could be as good as the hype he's getting right now." 

Posted on: October 29, 2011 11:41 am
 

Mano-a-Mano, Week Nine

In addition to the prospects Senior Analyst Rob Rang wrote about in his "five players to watch" blog post, take a look at these memorable ten one-on-one match-ups (plus a slew of honorable mention selections) while perusing this weekend's slate of college football games.

Because players move around based on different formations and what coaches see as favorable match-ups, these prospects won't go against each other on every snap. Scouts will pay attention when they do, however, because they rely on a player's film against top competition to determine their readiness for the NFL.

All times Eastern.

"*" Denotes an underclassman.

1. Stanford QB *Andrew Luck (#12/6-4/235/4.73) at Southern Cal QB *Matt Barkley (#7/6-2/220/4.74)
8:00 pm, ABC

Usually in this space I discuss players likely to literally butt heads, but the battle of two of the nation's top signal callers is too intriguing to ignore. Luck will receive higher marks than Barkley in every category on a scout's report, especially in the athleticism areas. But Barkley could actually get more of a bump from this game than Luck, from whom near-perfection is expected in every outing. League general managers will take note if the former top high school recruit does not shrink under the pressure of both facing Stanford defenders and from taking on the consensus number one pick.

Barkley's impressive performance against Notre Dame last week already showed NFL teams he is capable of making some tough throws (and avoid bad plays) in hostile venues. But as Rob Rang mentioned in his blog post yesterday, a strong outing at his home stadium where he displays the poise and movement within the pocket to avoid pressure (and outside of it to gain first downs with his feet), as well as an ability to put the ball in tight spaces when necessary, will help him shed the "game manager" moniker and lock up a top five draft slot.

2. Stanford LT *Jonathan Martin (#55/6-6/305/5.29) at Southern Cal DE *Nick Perry (#8/6-3/250/4.59)
8:00 pm, ABC

Martin isn't related to a current NFL player like USC left tackle Matt Kalil (brother, Ryan, is the highly-regarded center for Carolina), but his strength and ferociousness both in pass protection and in the run game make some scouts believe he's the top blind side player in the draft (should he decide to join Luck in entering the draft early). He does tend to play with too wide a base at times, making it difficult for him to adjust to spin and inside moves from quick rushers like Perry -- who not only needs to show explosiveness off the snap to beat Martin to the corner, but also counter rushes and consistent hustle chasing Luck and running backs inside to have scouts consider him a top 40 project as a 3-4 'backer or a 4-3 end for teams looking for more speed than size on the edge.

*Matt Kalil (#75/6-6/295/5.05) will have his own challenge holding back Stanford's DE/OLB *Chase Thomas (#44/6-4/240/4.76), who ranks in the top 20 in the FBS in tackles for loss (11.5) and sacks (5.5). Though Thomas isn't as quick or agile as Perry, he will challenge the anchor of Kalil, whose relatively svelte build belies his ability to widen his stance when necessary and stand his ground against strong bull rushes. On many plays, however, he fails to bend and move his feet quickly enough to protect the inside rush lane or mirror defenders pushing him upfield before cutting upfield.

3. Michigan State WR B.J. Cunningham (#3/6-2/216/4.59) at Nebraska CB Alfonzo Dennard (#15/5-10/205/4.49)
12:00 pm, ESPN

Cunningham ranks in the top 20 nationally in receptions and receiving yards per game, and had a nice game in the Spartans' win over previously undefeated Wisconsin (6-102, TD). Scouts like the feistiness (if not the size) of Dennard, however, who should match up regularly against QB Kirk Cousin's best downfield option. Cunningham does not have elite speed, but he has the size, quick feet, and a burst to create separation from Dennard. Plays can be had if Cousins does not stare down Cunningham so the heady Dennard can close on passes, and if Cunningham's hands are once again solid (and not inconsistent, as they were vs. Michigan). Dennard may also end up shadowing MSU's quicker receiver, Keshawn Martin (#82/5-10/190/4.44), to prevent him from making the type of back-breaking plays after the catch that he made against the Badgers.

4. Wisconsin DE Louis Nzegwu (#93/6-4/255/4.76) at Ohio State LT Mike Adams (#75/6-6/320/5.28)
8:00 pm, ESPN

The Badgers must get over that supremely disappointing defeat to Sparty State quicky, or the Buckeyes will turn one loss into two in a hurry. OSU RB Dan Herron (#1/5-10/208/4.52) will get the headlines going into the game because of the boost he gave the team against Illinois (23-114, TD), but getting Adams back from suspension was just as important. In an offensive tackle class lacking depth, his wide frame, arm length, and fluid movement will be coveted by scouts looking for pass protectors. He's been inconsistent with his effort and technique in the past, however, so Nzegwyu (who has 2.5 sacks in his last two games) will look to take advantage of any momentary lapses to stop Herron in the run game or attack QB Braxton Miller if the young passer looks unaware of backside pressure.

5. Arizona WR Juron Criner (#82/6-4/215/4.62) vs. Washington CB *Desmond Trufant (#6/6-0/185/4.49)
10:30 pm, FSN

The Wildcats have not played since their emotional win over UCLA last Thursday that marked the beginning of the post-Mike Stoops era. In that game, Criner connected with fellow senior QB Nick Foles (6-5/240/4.96) for three scores, using his size and hands to go over the top of Bruins defenders (who also helped him scores by falling down or letting him run by on two of his three TDs). He faces a good junior corner in Trufant (the brother of NFL CB Marcus) that is making big plays regularity this year (interceptions in the first two weeks of the year, nine other passes broken up, two forced fumbles this year) but is prone to giving up big plays, as well. And Criner isn't the only receiver prospect Trufant will face, as David Douglas (#85/6-1/205/4.64) and junior Texas transfer Dan Buckner (#15/6-3/220/4.57) are also on scouts' radars as potential later-round picks.

6. California WR Marvin Jones (#1/6-2/202/4.53) at UCLA CB *Aaron Hester (#21/6-1/206/4.49)
7:00 pm, Fox Sports Prime Ticket

It is unfortunate this game won't be seen outside of the West, as Jones and Hester should have some good battles. Hester was one of the corners beaten by Criner last week, as he gave up a score by allowing the Arizona receiver to eat up cushion and could not recover in time to prevent a fade into the end zone. Jones isn't quite as big as Criner, but he can be physical and is a superior route-runner. Hester, therefore, will have to prove to scouts his footwork is sound if he is to handle Jones -- and project as an above-average starter at the next level.

7. Purdue DT *Kawann Short (#93/6-3/310/5.22) at Michigan C David Molk (#50/6-2/288/5.18)
12:00 pm, ESPN

Short was the Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week for his work against Illinois (3.5 TFL, 2 sacks), and carries an extra 30 pounds over Molk -- even if a lot in his midsection. Molk may not be the biggest pivot man in the draft, but his ability to block on the move and to anchor against NFL-sized tackles has gained him respect from scouts. Though Short can be a pain for most college interior linemen to handle one-on-one, teams will be interested to see if he can beat a technician like Molk with strong hands on initial contact -- and if he has the, flexibility, change of direction ability, and relentless nature to chase down junior QB Denard Robinson when the speedy runner is not directly in his path. General managers considering him in the second round of the 2012 draft will also like to see how Short looks in the fourth quarter after spending the afternoon pursuing "Shoelace."

8. Arkansas Wide Receivers at Vanderbilt CB Casey Hayward (#19/5-11/188/4.53)
12:21 pm, SEC Network/ESPN3.com

No matter where the savvy Hayward lines up, he's going to be facing a potential NFL receiver because of the depth the Razorbacks have at the position. Arkansas' fastball-throwing QB *Tyler Wilson (#8/6-3/220/4.77) can challenge Hayward's ability to handle the size of Greg Childs (#85/6-3/217/4.56) and *Cobi Hamilton (#11/6-3/209/4.57) down the field -- and his ability to bring them down after the catch. The speed of the fourth-ranked interceptor in the FBS (with five picks this season after grabbing six in 2010) will also be tested if he's covering speedy Jarius Wright (#4/5-10/180/4.34) or Joe Adams (#3/5-11/190/4.38). In the end, Hayward may be battling Wilson most of all, as he is a capable zone defender willing to come off one man to attack passes in his general vicinity if the junior passer is locked onto one of his formidable targets.

9. Illinois LT Jeff Allen (#71/6-4/315/5.26) at Penn State DE Jack Crawford (#81/6-5/273/4.79)
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Allen is an underrated prospect who has a nice chance to show off his balance and fluid movement in pass protection for scouts against another potential mid-round pick in Crawford Saturday afternoon. PSU's tall, long rush end is not an elite prospect by any means, but did assist on two sacks for the Nittany Lions last week in the win over Northwestern and can be a thorn in the side of Illini junior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase if left unchecked.

10. Missouri WRs *T.J. Moe (#28/5-11/195/4.49)/Wes Kemp (#8/6-4/220/4.47)  Texas A&M at CB Coryell Judie (#5/5-11/190/4.48)/Terrence Frederick (#7/5-10/187/4.52)
12:00 pm, FX

Another both teams' coaches will be preaching defense before the game, this one will likely end up just another Big 12 passing shoot-out. Judie and Frederick are two Aggies corners with NFL aspirations, but soph QB James Franklin is capable of finding his multiple targets if given sufficient protection up front. Kemp has a similar size/speed combination to current St. Louis Rams receiver Danario Alexander, though his production hasn't always reflected it since Chase Daniel left Columbia. Moe doesn't look like a big-time playmaker on the hoof, but his crisp routes, underrated quicknessm, awareness in zones, and strong hands making defenses pay for coverage breakdowns. Both Judie and Frederick will fight the larger Kemp on sideline throws and jump balls despite his height advantage, but they must he disciplined in their footwork against Moe or the junior find a seam or leave them behind on a strong cut.

Honorable Mention

Bowling Green WR Kamar Jorden (#19/6-1/203/4.68) at Kent State CB Josh Pleasant (#2/5-10/190/4.41)
1:00 pm, MAC-Sports.com Live Streaming

West Virginia CB Keith Tandy (#8/5-10/199/4.54) at Rutgers WR *Mohamed Sanu (#6/6-2/215/4.57)
3:30 pm, ABC

Oklahoma DE Frank Alexander (#84/6-3/255/4.82) at Kansas State LT Zach Hanson (#70/6-8/303)
3:30 pm, ESPN

Iowa CBs Shaun Prater (#28/5-10/185/4.49)/*Micah Hyde (#18/6-1/185/4.53) at Minnesota WR Da'Jon McKnight (#6/6-1/212/4.54)
3:30 pm, Big Ten Network

West Virginia DE Julian Miller (#97/6-3/268/4.76) at Rutgers LG Desmond Wynn (#70/6-5/295/5.14)
West Virginia LT Don Barclay (#64/6-4/310/5.27) at Rutgers DE Manny Abreu (#51/6-2/260/4.76)
3:30 pm, ABC 

Virginia Tech CB *Jayron Hosley (#20/5-10/172/4.52) at Duke WRs *Conner Vernon (#2/6-1/195/4.53)/Donovan Varner (#26/5-08/175/4.53)
12:30 pm, ACC Network/ESPN3.com 

Wake Forest CB *Kenny Okoro (#6/6-0/190/4.49) at North Carolina WR Dwight Jones (#83/6-4/225/4.53)
3:30 pm, ESPNU

Purdue LT Dennis Kelly (#68/6-8/306/5.32) at Michigan DE *Craig Roh (#88/6-4/269/4.76)
3:30 pm, Big Ten Network

Florida LG Dan Wenger (#56/6-3/295/5.28) at Georgia DT DeAngelo Tyson (#94/6-2/306/5.02)
3:30 pm, CBS

Baylor DT Nicolas Jean-Baptiste (#90/6-2/335/5.06) at Oklahoma State C Grant Garner (#74/6-2/292/5.36)
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Illinois WR A.J. Jenkins (#8/6-0/190/4.49) at Penn State CBs Chaz Powell (#2/6-1/206/4.48)/D'Anton Lynn (#8/6-0/208/4.53)
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Kansas RT *Tanner Hawkinson (#72/6-5/295/5.04) at Texas DE *Alex Okafor (#80/6-4/260/4.62)
7:00 pm, Longhorn Network

Ole Miss DE Kentrell Lockett (#40/6-5/248/4.79) at Auburn LT A.J. Greene (#77/6-5/298/5.18)
7:00 pm, ESPNU 

California DE Trevor Guyton (#92/6-3/280/4.86) at UCLA RT Mike Harris (#65/6-5/326/5.32)
7:00 pm, Fox Sports Prime Ticket 

Mississippi State RB Vick Ballard (#28/5-11/220/4.58) at Kentucky OLB Danny Trevathan (#22/6-0/232/4.68)
Mississippi State DT *Fletcher Cox (#94/6-4/295/4.96) at Kentucky RG *Larry Warford (#67/6-3/336/5.34)
7:00 PM, Fox Sports South

Wisconsin DT Patrick Butrym (#95/6-3/285/5.14) at Ohio State C Michael Brewster (#50/6-4/305/5.17)
Wisconsin OLB *Mike Taylor (#53/6-2/230/4.64) at Ohio State FB *Zach Boren (#44/6-0/252/4.68)
8:00 pm, ESPN

Arizona CB Trevin Wade (#24/5-11/192/4.56) at Washington WR Jermaine Kearse (#15/6-1/208/4.50)
10:30 pm, FSN 

--Contributed by Senior Analyst Chad Reuter  Follow him on Twitter at @ChadReuter

Posted on: October 28, 2011 11:24 pm
 

Five prospects I'll be scouting closely Saturday

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.

Sometimes it also 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 breaks down six more players in Filmroom Notes, updates our Top 64 prospects overall and offers extensive previews of the next week's action. 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.

QB Kirk Cousins, Michigan State:  Of the second tier quarterbacks in the 2012 draft class, Cousins remains one of my favorites. He doesn't possess an elite arm and, as such, could be challenged in this matchup against a Nebraska defense that features one of the better press corners in Alfonzo Dennard. Representatives from the Senior Bowl have made it known that Cousins is among the quarterbacks vying for an invitation. With the rest of the games on the 6-1 Spartans' schedule very winnable, a strong performance in this game could not only put MSU in position for a big time bowl game, it could give Cousins a chance to impress scouts in Mobile. This game begins at noon ET and will be televised by ESPN.

DT Jaye Howard, Florida:  Howard isn't flashy, but is quietly having a career year for the Gators. In fact, Howard has already surpassed his previous career high of 29 tackles with 33 so far this season, including 2.5 for loss. Georgia's monstrous redshirt sophomore Kwame Geathers will get more of the hype entering this game and deserves it... I'm more interested, however, to see if Howard is able to make some plays despite facing a talented Georgia offensive line, including Bulldogs' center Ben Jones -- who some believe is the elite senior in the country at his position. This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be televised by CBS.

ILB Arthur Brown, Kansas State: The Kansas State Wildcats are one of the better stories so far this season, but I do not believe they have the talent to compete with an Oklahoma team that must be smarting after their upset loss last week against Texas Tech. One of the few Wildcats that has flashed NFL-caliber talent this season is junior linebacker, Arthur Brown, a transfer from Miami. At 6-1, 225, Brown lacks the bulk most teams are looking for at inside linebacker, but his athleticism and closing speed could intrigue 4-3 teams looking for a weakside prospect. This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN.

DE Andre Branch, Clemson: Many believe that Tech's triple option offense will present Clemson with their biggest regular season challenge to a potential berth in a BCS bowl game. (I'd argue South Carolina could have something to say about that.) For the Tigers to slow down the Yellow Jackets, Clemson's defensive ends will have to show remarkable discipline. This hasn't always been a strength for Branch and the rest of the Clemson defensive line, which typically are asked to pin their ears back and rush the quarterback. At 6-4, 260 pounds Branch has enough athleticism to chase ball-carriers wide. This game begins at 8:00 pm ET and will be televised by ABC.

QB Matt Barkley, USC: There are many out there who believe Barkley is simply a game-manager blessed to have a great deal of talent around him. I am not among them. In fact, I rate the USC junior signal-caller behind only Andrew Luck as the elite prospect potentially available for the 2012 draft. As such, I'm excited to see what Barkley will do in the heavily anticipated showdown against Luck and an underrated Cardinal defense Saturday night. Barkley doesn't possess a monster arm nor the great size that traditionally result in a top five pick. I've been consistently impressed with his poise in a collapsing pocket, however, as well as his leadership as well as his short to intermediate accuracy. Most importantly, I like his footwork and accuracy when rolling out and in play-action -- staples of the pro game. This game begins at 8:00 ET and will be televised by ABC.


Posted on: October 21, 2011 10:59 am
 

Five prospects I'll be scouting closely Saturday

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.

Sometimes it also 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 breaks down six more players in Filmroom Notes, updates our Top 64 prospects overall and offers extensive previews of the next week's action. 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.

RB Andre Ellington, Clemson:  Considering the success of Clemson’s passing attack, Ellington hasn’t received a great deal of national attention. That could change, however, with a strong game against an exceedingly talented and fast North Carolina defense. Ellington has already rushed for 740 yards and seven touchdowns and is thought to be among the underclassmen running backs strongly considering making the early leap to the NFL. This game begins at noon ET and will be televised by ESPN.

CB Morris Claiborne, LSU:  The suspension of Tyrann Mathieu (as well as fellow cornerback Tharold Simon and running back Spencer Ware) is going to put that much more pressure on an LSU defense in the battle of Tigers. Claiborne has been even more impressive this season than he was last year starting opposite Patrick Peterson, recording three interceptions already. He’ll be asked to slow down Auburn’s top wideout, junior Emory Blake. This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be televised by CBS.

RB Lamar Miller, Miami: Like Ellington, Miller, a redshirt sophomore, is thought to already be considering making the leap to the pro level. Miller has rushed for 706 yards already this season, more than he did all of last year. He’s toting the rock more than 18 times a game, proving that he has the toughness to handle a full-time role at the pro level. Blessed with speed and  legitimate NFL size (5-11, 212), Miller could join the long list of former backs from The U to earn a top 64 grade. This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN.

QB Russell Wilson, Wisconsin: With all due respect to a Nebraska defense limited by injuries to stars Alfonzo Dennard and Jared Crick, Saturday’s tilt on the road against Michigan State could be the toughest test for Wisconsin all season long. Wilson has the benefit of playing behind one of the nation’s elite offensive lines, but Jerel Worthy and the top-rated MSU defense could pose problems. Lucky for Wilson, one of the Spartans’ top pass rushers, defensive end  William Gholston, was suspended for this game due to throwing a punch a week earlier at a Michigan player. Scouts wish Wilson was taller, of course, but can’t help but acknowledge how quickly he’s adjusted to the Wisconsin offense, as well as his strong arm and mobility.   This game begins at 8:00 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN.

OG David DeCastro, Stanford: I’ve spoken to scouts who characterize DeCastro as the best guard prospect in the past 20 years. That’s pretty damn lofty praise. DeCastro will get his stiffest test of the season against Washington’s defensive tackle, Alameda Ta’amu, a potential first round pick, himself. If Ta’amu can get pressure on Andrew Luck, the 5-1 Huskies could surprise The Cardinal. This game begins at 8:00 ET and will be televised by ABC.

Posted on: August 30, 2011 9:01 am
Edited on: August 30, 2011 2:06 pm
 

10 Undrafted Free Agents Who Could Make the Cut

Those of us who root for the underdog seem to latch on to an undrafted free agent or two each summer in the hopes that our favorite NFL team has unearthed the next Tony Romo, Arian Foster or John Randle.

With limited opportunity to make a strong impression on coaches this year due to prolonged holdout and lack of mini camps, it has been a steeper climb than ever for undrafted rookies, and yet there are several throughout the league who appear well on their way to making active rosters.

These ten undrafted free agents have stood out for Brad Noel (a regular contributor to this blog, NFLDraftScout.com) and myself during film review of the first three weeks of the preseason.

If you feel there are other UDFAs we've missed, please don't hesitate to identify and provide your own scouting report in the comment section below. Brad and I are watching as much tape as possible, but we haven't seen every game. At least not yet...

Players are listed alphabetically.

1. Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks (Stanford): Had impressed brass with his reliable hands, route-running out of the slot and that was before he returned a kickoff 105 yards for a TD against Denver.
2. Nick Bellore, ILB, Jets (Central Michigan): Instinctive and a terrific open field tackler, Bellore made several standout plays Monday against the Giants.
3. Ryan Donahue, P, Lions (Iowa): Seems to have a legitimate chance of unseating veteran Nick Harris for the starting punting (and holder) positions for the Lions.
4. Kevin Kowalski, C, Cowboys (Toledo): I'm told Kowalski's solid play was one of the factors that led to the team's surprising release of former Pro Bowler Andre Gurode.
5. Josh Portis, QB, Seahawks (California of PA): Has easily won the Seahawks No. 3 position and some argue he holds more upside than current No. 2 quarterback Charlie Whitehurst.
6. Weslye Saunders, TE, Steelers (South Carolina): Big bodied blocker with the hands to be a threat in short yardage situations.
7. Ricardo Silva, S, Lions (Hampton): Appeared to be a loooong-shot heading into the preseason, but has proven to be a playmaker (two interceptions, fumble recovery) and is practicing ahead of veterans Aaron Francisco and Michael Johnson, among others. 
8. Willie Smith, OT, Redskins (East Carolina): The same athleticism that Brad and I found so intriguing before continues to be obvious. While there are concerns about Smith's technique and ability to handle the playbook, he played well as a second string left tackle against a physical Baltimore front last week. In fact, according to Brad, Smith outplayed veteran Sean Locklear (78 career starts for Seattle) who served as the team's second string right tackle in the same contest.
9. Cedric Thornton, DT, Eagles (Southern Arkansas): Andy Reid's willingness to shuffle the deck at defensive tackle makes listing Thornton a gamble, but he's shown good athleticism at 6-3, 310 pounds.
10. Will Yeatman, TE, Patriots (Maryland): Won't push Gronkowski or Hernandez for fantasy consideration, but is a big body (6-6, 270) who has stood out as a blocker.



Posted on: June 20, 2011 1:38 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 6:17 pm
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Posted on: June 17, 2011 10:29 am
 

Oregon Jr CB Cliff Harris suspended indefinitely

Oregon junior cornerback Cliff Harris, an underrated component of the Ducks' drive to a berth in the BCS Title Game last year, has been suspended indefinitely by head coach Chip Kelly after being arrested for speeding and driving a rental car with a suspended license early this week.

Harris, along with two other unidentified Oregon football players, was pulled over by an off-duty Oregon State police officer after the car Harris was driving was clocked at approximately 118 miles per hour. They were pulled over south of Albany, Oregon, which is north of the University of Oregon campus in Eugene.

This is at least the second time that Harris, 20, has been cited for driving with a suspended license.

Kelly announced that Harris would be suspended for Oregon's opener against LSU in Cowboys Stadium in Texas "at the very least" and cautioned that the suspension could go on for much longer should Harris' behavior not improve.
“Cliff’s future clearly is in Cliff’s hands,” Kelly said. “Earning an opportunity to represent the University of Oregon and this football program certainly rests far beyond a player’s ability on the field of play. Our behavior out of the spotlight often is more important and will be held to a higher standard. Until Cliff is able to conform to the same standards all of us must comply with, his status will remain unchanged.”
Though he's only entering his junior season, you can be sure NFL teams are already paying attention. Harris, 5-11 and 180 pounds, led the country with 23 passes defensed last season and led the Pac-10 with six interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown (against Tennessee). Harris is perhaps just as well known for his special teams' prowess, as he's one of the more dynamic return-men in college football.

Last year, he broke the Oregon school record with four punt returns for scores.

Harris currently ranks as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 2 junior cornerback prospect behind only Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick. Each would rate as first round values at this early stage in the process.

As this video will show, Harris' return skills are undeniable. So too are his ball skills. And while some of his punt returns come against weaker competition, three of his interceptions last year came against elite NFL prospects Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley.

 

 
 
 
 
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