Posted on: March 4, 2011 1:35 pm
We all know by now that Oregon State's Stephen Paea showed record-breaking strength with 49 repetitions of 225 pounds. We also know that Miami cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke was the fastest player in Indianapolis this year, unofficially being recorded at 4.28 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
As teams have had a few days to digest all of the numbers coming out of the Combine, however, one player's workout that is gathering momentum as one of the truly elite is Arizona pass rusher Brooks Reed's .
Consider that Reed, who measured in at 6024 (6'2 and a 1/2) and 263 pounds and worked out with the defensive linemen, was nonetheless faster than most linebackers. His 4.65 second time in the 40-yard dash, in fact, was faster than 18 of the 24 linebackers tested there.
Perhaps his most impressive total came in the most important test for defensive linemen (and, some would say, linebackers) in the ten-yard split. Reed was timed at 1.54 seconds over the first ten yards, demonstrating a degree of explosiveness typically reserved for much smaller men. Reed's 1.54 seconds not only was the fastest of all defensive ends (North Carolina's Robert Quinn was second at 1.61), his split was also faster than some of the more highly touted athletes of the Combine, including Nevada OLB Dontay Moch, Tennessee-Chattanooga CB Buster Skine, Kentucky WR Randall Cobb, Georgia WR AJ Green, Troy WR Jerrel Jernigan, and Texas A&M OLB Von Miller.
Each of these players weighed in at less than 250 pounds and all ran the 40-yard dash faster at 4.48 or faster, but weren't as explosive in their initial start as Reed.
The initial start, is of course, a highly valued trait for pass rushers. Reed was a star defensive end for the Wildcats out of the 4-3 alignment. Teams operating out of the 3-4, however, will be just as impressed. That type of scheme and positional versatility makes Reed one of the more attractive pass rushers in the draft.
Reed is currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 5 rated outside linebacker and the 49th rated player, overall.
Posted on: February 27, 2011 12:38 pm
As bad as Ryan Mallett's press conference may have been yesterday, his performance in Sunday's throwing session at the Combine should quiet some of his critics.
Posted on: January 7, 2011 7:32 pm
LSU junior Patrick Peterson, who I currently project to be the first cornerback to ever be the No. 1 overall pick in an NFL Draft , is one half of a spectacular individual matchup that makes for must-watch scouting in tonight's Cotton Bowl.
Unless you are a fan of Big 12 football, you may not know Jeff Fuller, but he's quietly ascended among the top ten wide receiver prospects potentially available for the 2011 draft.
The 6-3, 215 pound Fuller is the Aggies' Von Miller on offense -- a superstar that must be accounted for on every single snap. Having caught nine, seven and 12 touchdowns over his three seasons in former Green Bay Packers' head coach Mike Sherman's pro-style offense, Fuller is a proven commodity capable of taking over games.
Peterson is such a rare combination of size, agility and straight-line speed that there isn't a receiver in the college football who I believe can consistently get open against him. If Peterson doesn't bring his "A" game against Texas A&M, however, Fuller can make some big plays on him -- especially if junior quarterback Ryan Tannehill gets time in the pocket.
As T.O. might say, get your popcorn ready. Tonight's showdown between Peterson (who I believe to be the best player in college football) and Fuller (among my favorite sleeper candidates to sneak into the first round) should be among the elite individual matchups of the entire bowl season.
Should you want to scout these two (and the rest of the Cotton Bowl) "alongside" me, feel free to check out my posts on Twitter tonight.
Posted on: November 25, 2010 3:29 pm
Texas A&M pass rusher Von Miller can lock up a first round grade with a strong performance against the Texas Longhorns on Thanksgiving night.
I've spoken to three scouts in the past two weeks regarding Miller. Two of the three believe Miller already may have a spot in the Top 32 secure based on the explosiveness they've seen from him since his early-season struggles with an ankle sprain.
The other steadfastly believes that some of the real reaches in recent draft history have come when teams fall in love with how a player performs when 100%. At this scout notes, players are only 100% for a few weeks in the NFL.
The 6-3, 243 pound Miller lines up in the Joker position for the Aggies. His experience rushing the passer from a stand-up position has led to speculation that teams operating out of the 3-4 would be most interested in him.
While I won't name my sources, I will say one of the two scouts I spoke works for a team that employs (and plans to continue to employ) the 4-3 scheme.
Miller has an explosive burst off the snap. This trait is responsible for many of his most flashiest plays. It is his agility and flexibility, however, that really intrigue scouts. Miller breaks down exceptionally well, showing the balance to make open field tackles.
It is this fluidity (as opposed to stiffness) that scouts are keying in on when determining if a standup pass rusher can make the transition to a full-time outside linebacker position.
Miller led the nation with 17 sacks as a junior, but was hampered with the ankle sprain to start the 2010 season. His breakout performance against Oklahoma earned him my Prospect of the Week award and the top spot in my Weekly Rewind of the prospects whose stock changed in week 10 of the college football season.
Though the Aggies will move Miller around a bit, he'll often line up against the Longhorns' left tackle Kyle Hix. Hix, a left tackle this season after spending the rest of his career on the right side, could be in for a long night.
This game begins at 8:00 pm EST and will be televised by ESPN.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving.
Posted on: November 12, 2010 8:59 pm
Each week I list the five prospects that I'll be focusing on. 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.
As a side note, I initially planned to include Auburn junior quarterback Cam Newton (heard of him?) on this list. With speculation Friday evening that he may not play, I elected to leave him off this list of five. Needless to say, he's among the prospects I'll be scouting closely if he plays Saturday (and any future games).
Those interested in scouting "alongside" me can follow me on Twitter @RobRang.
Without any further adieu, here are the five prospects, as well as the cable provider and time you can expect to see them.
TE Luke Stocker, Tennessee: Entering the season the Volunteer receiver I expected to be highlighting so far this season would have been Stocker and not wideout Denarius Moore. The Vols simply haven't passed the ball enough to Stocker (24 grabs for 264 yards and one TD) for him to post the type of numbers that generate much media attention, but at 6-5, 253 pounds and possessing good hands and feet for the position, he remains one of the better senior prospects at tight end. There are several highly touted, but so far disappointing prospects on the Tennessee and Ole Miss rosters. I'm looking forward to this game to see which of them (if any) can shake out of their season-long funk. This game begins at 12:00 pm EST and will be televised by CBS.
QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri*: Though he's only a junior, scouts are starting to take a long look at Gabbert and the rest of the underclassmen quarterbacks simply because this year's seniors at the position have been so underwhelming. Gabbert has the production (2,193 passing yards, 12 TDs-3 INTs), size (6-5, 240), and efficient delivery that scouts are looking for in a high-ranking prospect, but after a hot start to the season, he (and Missouri, as a whole) has struggled over the past two weeks, suffering losses to Nebraska and Texas Tech. Scouts want to see if Gabbert can bounce back this week against a quality opponent in Kansas State. This game begins at 12:30 pm EST and will be regionally televised by the FOX Sports Network.
CB Brandon Burton, Utah*: Burton, only a junior, is considered by some scouts to be the best draft-eligible cornerback in the west. While he's played very well throughout his career with the Utes, Burton was beaten for a 93-yard touchdown reception by wideout Josh Boyce last week in the humbling 47-7 home loss to TCU. Scouts like Burton's size (6'0, 185) and speed (estimated at 4.45), but want to see if he can come back with a strong performance this week. That will be tougher than it sounds, as at times he'll match up with Notre Dame's Michael Floyd, himself highly touted NFL prospect (though also only a junior) who at 6-3, 225 pounds is a much different assignment than Boyce and the rest of the Horned Frog receivers were last week. This game begins at 2:30 pm EST and will be televised by NBC.
OT Danny Watkins, Baylor: Quarterback Robert Griffin III and even defensive tackle Phil Taylor have each received their share of media attention as a result of Baylor's 7-3 season. It was Watkins, however, whose draft stock has risen the most this season. Draft Slant readers know full well how high Watkins' stock has risen as I wrote about his performance in last week's game against Oklahoma State. This week, however, Watkins will be facing an entirely different opponent in Texas A&M pass rusher Von Miller, my reigning Prospect of the Week. Watkins' quick feet and use of leverage have been impressive this season, but he'll be sorely tested by Miller. This game begins at 7:00 pm EST and will be regionally televised by Fox Sports Network.
DE Cameron Jordan, California: Those surprised with how high former Cal Golden Bear Tyson Alualu was drafted last year may want to start paying attention to Jordan, who, himself is earning top 20 grades from some talent evaluators. Jordan won't beat No. 1 Oregon on his own, but he and his Cal teammates will present the Ducks with a different look, considering that they are one of the few teams that operates out of a base 3-4 defense. Jordan has always been productive for Cal, earning all-conference recognition after each of the past two seasons. He enjoyed arguably his best game to date last week against an overmatched Washington State club, totaling 12 tackles, including four tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. Scouts love his size (6-4, 285), versatility and blood lines. His father, Steve Jordan, played in six Pro Bowls in 13 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. This game begins at 7:30 pm EST and will be televised by Versus.
Posted on: November 9, 2010 1:09 pm
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 8, 2010 7:45 pm
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: September 30, 2010 1:40 pm
In this week's issue of Draft Slant, I list a handful of breakout prospects that scouts had graded as either late round or free agents in the preseason, but through the first month of the college season have greatly exceeded expectations and are rising fast.
Without giving away the identities of the players, themselves, I can tell you that the players listed come from a variety of conferences from the SEC to the WAC.
While that article is reserved for our premium subscribers, I thought I'd list a group of five players whose stock is going in the exact opposite direction over the first month of the season.
Players are listed alphabetically.
RB Mario Fannin, Auburn: I touted Fannin as much as anyone heading into the season as a potential breakout star and while I still maintain that he has talent, there is no denying that he's again struggling this year with the issues (injuries, fumbles) that had sidetracked him in the past. Part of a rotation for the Tigers, Fannin had seven touches for 79 yards and two touchdowns in the opener againt Arkansas State. Since, however, the Auburn coaching staff has apparently lost faith in his ability to get the tough yards and hold on to the football, as he has accumulated only eight touches for 28 total yards (and no scores) since.
QB Jerrod Johnson, Texas A&M: Despite earning preseason Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year accolades, scouts had plenty of concerns about Johnson's pro prospects before the season have even begun. Now, after an ugly four interception game against the likes of Florida International, scouts are even more concerned that Johnson, while talented, simply lacks the accuracy and football IQ to handle the adjustment to the NFL. Once considered a potential Top 50 prospect, Johnson now appears destined for the 5th or 6th round... at best.
QB Jake Locker, Washington: There are a great many jumping off Jake Locker's bandwagon after a disastrous performance against the Cornhuskers two weeks ago. In reality, Locker was struggling with accuracy and the reading of defenses in the two previous games (BYU, Syracuse, as well). Locker's No. 1 status has always been a projection that would come true IF he made similar gains under Steve Sarkisian that he made in his first year under the former USC quarterback coach. So far, Locker hasn't made those gains. Some scouts, in fact, wonder if he's regressed. Locker remains in the hunt to be the first senior QB off the board (and thus a potential high first round selection), but the time has come to stop making excuses for him. In his second year of this offense and his fourth as a starting quarterback, Locker needs to show better recognition and accuracy if he is going to be successful in the NFL.
NG Jerrell Powe, Mississippi: As proof of what a roller coaster ride scouting can be, Powe would have made my list of the "safer" prospects heading into this season. He was a standout, even dominant performer, at times times last year. This season, however, Powe has struggled mightily. Some of this can be attributed to the fact that Ole Miss rotates their defensive linemen. Some also may be due to the fact that he's playing this season as much as 60 pounds lighter than he's played in the past. Either way, the explosive power and consistency Powe had shown last year simply hasn't been there in the Rebels' first four games.
WR Terrance Toliver, LSU: Toliver was viewed by many as the top senior receiving prospect in the country heading into the season. He certainly was touted as a potential future high round pick as a prep star. Unfortunately, Toliver and the LSU offense, as a whole, has struggled this season. Toliver has only 11 catches through the first four games for 96 yards. The 6-4, 206 pounder with reported 4.4 speed has yet to catch a touchdown this season.
One could make the argument that the host of players suspended or injured so far this season should also be included on this list. I have too much respect for our readers to take the easy way out and list the likes of North Carolina's DT Marvin Austin, FS Deunta Williams, WR Greg Little, South Carolina TE Wesley Saunders, West Virginia cornerback Brandon Hogan (all suspended for one or more games) or injured players like Houston QB Case Keenum, etc. and the like among this list. With serious off-field or health questions, they are certainly falling -- or at least on the cusp of falling -- in the eyes of scouts. However, the players I listed above are falling because they simply aren't producing on the field to the level scouts expected heading into the 2010 season.