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Tag:Clemson
Posted on: January 11, 2011 1:58 pm
 

LeShoure added to big class of underclassmen RBs

The University of Illinois' Mikel LeShoure announced today that he'll be joining Alabama's Mark Ingram, Virginia Tech's Ryan Williams, and Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers, among many others as underclassmen running backs heading early to the NFL.

LeShoure is the 11th underclassmen running back to declare early so far. He'll compete with former Hokies' star Williams to be the second running back drafted after Ingram, the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner.

So far, the running backs who have declared early include: Wisconsin's John Clay, Virginia Tech's Darren Evans, Ingram, Clemson's Jamie Harper, Pitt fullbakc Henry Hynoski, LeShoure, Pitt's Dion Lewis, Rodgers, Connecticut's Jordan Todman, Cal's Shane Vereen and Williams.

The early defections are hardly a surprise. While scouts generally encourage prospects to return for their senior seasons, there is an understanding that for running backs the same rules don't apply due to the fact that they absorb so much punishment.

Scouts also aren't surprised by the early defections because this year's senior class of running backs is one of the weakest positional groups in the country. In speaking to scouts over the past few weeks, only a trio of Big 12 runners -- Oklahoma's DeMarco Murray, Kansas State's Daniel Thomas and Oklahoma State's Kendall Hunter were characterized as "possible" Top 64 picks. None were viewed as "locks" for the first two rounds.

LeShoure is coming off a spectacular junior season in which he rushed for a school record 1,687 rushing yards and 17 TDs. He was at his best in Illinois' Texas Bowl victory over Baylor, rushing for a Texas Bowl record 187 yards and three touchdowns, earning MVP accolades. 

As always for the best in NFL draft coverage, be sure to check out NFLDraftScout.com.
Posted on: December 31, 2010 10:02 pm
 

My Favorite Draft Stories of 2010

The 2010 season has been overrun with stories of scandal, sanctions and distractions from the competition and passion that makes college football great.

So, with so much of the year focused on negative stories that occurred off the field, I thought it appropriate to highlight some of the positive off-field stories, as well.
The following are links to my 10 favorite draft stories of 2010.
 
Did I miss some? I hope so. Feel free to chime in with some of yours too.


These last four stories are obviously not as heart-wrenching or important as the first six. They do, however, serve as reminders as to what is right about college football in a year when so many devoted so much time to what is wrong with it.

On behalf of everyone at NFLDraftScout.com, have a happy and safe New Year!
Posted on: December 31, 2010 11:31 am
 

Meineke Bowl Preview - Clemson vs. South Florida

Watching college football on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day is a long-time tradition not just for fans, but also NFL scouts.

There are plenty of quality prospects to watch while getting ready for the New Year's Eve festivities. Here are the top prospects to watch in this morning's Meineke Car Car Bowl showdown between Clemson and South Florida, as written by Senior Analyst Chad Reuter.

Dec. 31
Meineke Car Care Bowl (Clemson vs. South Florida)
--Clemson DE DaQuan Bowers (6-4, 275, 4.64): Dominant strong-side junior defensive end leading the country with 15.5 sacks and ranked second with 21.5 tackles for loss.

--Clemson DT Jarvis Jenkins (6-4, 315, 4.98): Tall and strong interior presence capable of pushing the pocket and penetrating against the run (eight TFL).

--Clemson FS DeAndre McDaniel (6-0, 215, 4.54): Leader in the secondary has 12 interceptions while providing backup for senior CBs Marcus Gilchrist and Byron Maxwell.

--Clemson RB Jamie Harper (5-11, 235, 4.54): Among the best big backs in the country, Harper's value to NFL teams will be in his downhill running, surprisingly quick feet and soft hands. He's been characterized as Clemson's most reliable receiver by those close to the program.

--South Florida DT Terrell McClain (6-2, 310, 5.10): Wreaking havoc inside over the past three games with 11 tackles, 2.5 for loss.

--South Florida OLB Jacquain Williams (6-3, 218, 4.67): Tall, lean linebacker leads the team with 95 tackles, 9.5 for loss.
Posted on: December 22, 2010 11:55 am
 

Five Top 75 Prospects You Don't Know

The Bowl season is always one of my favorite times of the year for scouting. The biggest reason is simply time management. With only a few games a day or week to scout, I have time to catch up on some of the film that I'd glossed over earlier.

The same applies to NFL scouts. With many home for the holidays, they're easier to get on the phone and exchange notes.

It is during this time that I'm usually able to pinpoint a few prospects across the country that are viewed as legitimate 2nd or 3rd round prospects by scouts but are perhaps not getting the media attention you'd expect for players with such high grades.

Here are five players that are earning these high grades but aren't yet generating a buzz in the mainstream media.

Learn these seniors' and juniors' names now. You'll be hearing them a lot more often soon.

WR Tandon Doss, Indiana: I listed the five prospects alphabetically, but it is appropriate that Doss leads off the list. With the likes of A.J. Green, Justin Blackmon, Julio Jones and so many other top underclassmen receivers generating all of the attention there are a host of talented wideouts not getting enough hype. At the top of that list in my opinion is the Hoosiers' Doss, a 6-3, 200 pound junior who quietly led the Big Ten with 175.8 all-purpose yards per game. How disrespected is Doss? The Big Ten media only recognized him as a Second Team all-conference player. The league's coaches, on the other hand, made him a First Team choice. 

RB Jamie Harper, Clemson:
With NFL teams increasingly moving towards a committee of running backs, big backs are finding more opportunities to run and catch rather than just be relegated to blocking duties. Running and catching is precisely what the 5-11, 235 pound junior does well. Scouts on hand for Harper's 197 all-purpose yards in the win over Florida State left gushing about his power, quick feet and soft hands... 

CB Curtis Marsh, Utah State: Marsh might just be the hottest senior defensive prospect in the country right now. Switching from running back to cornerback only two years ago, Marsh has shown rare agility and straight-line speed for a man of his size (6-1, 200). The Senior Bowl has noticed, reportedly inviting Marsh to the game. 

CB Johnny Patrick, Louisville: Patrick wasn't on my original list (BYU OT Matt Reynolds was), but his standout performance last night in the Beef O'Brady's Bowl matchup against Southern Miss only confirmed what I'd seen on tape earlier in the year . Patrick was beaten for a TD early, but I love the competitiveness he showed throughout the rest of the game, forcing a fumble, blocking a kick, providing lockdown coverage and coming up aggressively in run support. The four-letter network that covered the game last night rank Patrick 35th among cornerbacks. NFLDraftScout.com ranks him 6th (among seniors).

DT Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple: Wilkerson has received some attention this year, but not nearly enough. The past two seasons Wilkerson, a junior, has averaged 65 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. If Wilkerson had enjoyed this production in the SEC or Big 12 rather than the MAC, he'd not only be considered a first round pick, he'd be in the top 20. As more scouts break down his tape, don't be surprised if he ends up there.

Remember that for complete draft coverage, be sure to check out NFLDraftScout.com or simply click here.

Posted on: December 16, 2010 7:10 pm
 

Ole Miss' Bolden among young RBs checking stock

The annual migration of junior and redshirt sophomore running backs to the NFL may begin with Mississippi's Brandon Bolden, who according to this report from Kyle Veazey of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, has requested a grade from the NFL Advisory Committee.

Bolden flashed on tape last year as a complimentary option behind Dexter McCluster. This season Bolden emerged as the Rebels'best running back, rushing for 976 yards and 14 touchdowns for an offense that struggled with consistency. Despite his production, some will be surprised that Bolden is looking into his pro grade. He certainly hasn't generated the hype of a Mark Ingram or LaMichael James.

Just because Bolden requested his grade does not mean, of course, that he'll elect to leave school early. While the 5-11, 225 pound Bolden has a combination of agility, speed and power to translate well at the NFL level and has proven successful against top SEC competition, pro teams are going to be as hesitant as ever to invest high round picks in running backs when two undrafted free agents -- the Bucs' LeGarrette Blount and the Saints' Chris Ivory -- have been more impressive this season than any of the other rookie runners, including first rounders C.J. Spiller (Bills), Ryan Mathews (Chargers) and Jahvid Best (Lions).

This fact may cause NFL teams to push running backs down the board, but don't expect it to slow down the exodus of underclassmen runners. In fact, with a relatively weak class of seniors, some league insiders believe we could see several young running backs enter the 2011 draft.

Rumors are swirling around Ingram, Illinois' Mikel LeShoure, Cal's Shane Vereen, Oregon State's JacQuizz Rodgers, UCONN's Jordan Todman, and Clemson's Jamie Harper as junior backs who may make the jump. Even some lesser known junior runners like Eastern Washington's Taiwan Jones are looking into their options.

Redshirt sophomore like James, Virginia Tech's Ryan Williams and Washington's Chris Polk are also expected to request grades.

The reason behind their moves is simple. Running backs absorb so much punishment that they're wise to begin earning money for their production as soon as possible.

As is always the case, any underclassmen considering making the jump to the pros should only do so after first consulting with the NFL Advisory Committee.

As always, remember that for complete draft coverage, be sure to check out NFLDraftScout.com or simply click here.

Posted on: December 14, 2010 7:13 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2010 7:22 pm
 

UNC OLB Bruce Carter undergoes ACL surgery

North Carolina outside linebacker Bruce Carter underwent surgery Tuesday to repair the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

Carter, a Second Team All-ACC selection and finalist for the Butkus Award as the nation's best linebacker, injured his knee November 20 against North Carolina State. He was kept out of the Tar Heels' finale against Duke due to the knee injury, though news of the severity of his injury was kept quiet until now. Dr. Jeff Spang performed the operation at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill.

The injury casts a considerable shadow over Carter's pro stock. Rated among the elite senior prospects in the country heading into the season, Carter's best attribute is his jaw-dropping athleticism. The 6-3, 235 pound Carter has unofficially been credited with a 4.4 second running of the 40-yard dash, a 40.5" vertical jump and a 440 pound bench press. In fact, he was recognized by ESPN's Bruce Feldman as the No. 1 "Freak" in his annual Top 10 breakdown of college football's elite athletes.

The torn ACL, however, could rob Carter of that athleticism. It certainly will keep him from being able to work out for teams prior to the draft.

Carter, quite frankly, needed to wow in workouts because his play this season has been disappointing. Carter exploded onto the scene as a sophomore in 2008, recording 68 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, five sacks and five blocked kicks. He wasn't able to match that production as a junior (65-7.5-2-0) and slipped even further in 2010 (57-3.5-2.5-1).

Without his breathtaking athleticism, Carter simply isn't nearly as highly thought of as a prospect. Despite his experience, Carter does not locate the football particularly well and is viewed by some scouts as simply a better athlete than football player, despite his hype. His less than ideal instincts were masked by his straight-line speed and explosiveness.

Unable to wow scouts in workouts, Carter could see his stock slide into the third round, or even lower. This, despite the fact that he's been rated at or near the top of the senior outside linebacker rankings all year long.

Consider that two other highly touted OLB prospects of recent years -- Clemson's Ricky Sapp and Wisconsin's O'Brien Schofield -- dropped into the fifth and fourth rounds, respectively, due to knee concerns. Sapp, drafted last year by Philadelphia, was placed on IR before the season began. Schofield, drafted by Arizona, has registered seven tackles this season.

As always, remember that for complete draft coverage, be sure to check out NFLDraftScout.com or simply click here.




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: November 8, 2010 1:38 pm
Edited on: November 8, 2010 2:12 pm
 

Rookie WRs Ajirotutu, Roberts, Ford no surprise

One of the more entertaining parts of my typical Sunday viewing of NFL games is to see announcers stumble when an unheralded rookie makes a surprising play.

This was the case in several games yesterday, most notably among wide receivers for the San Diego Chargers, Arizona Cardinals and Oakland Raiders.

Loyal readers of NFLDraftScout.com and our weekly PDF Draft Slant certainly knew that the big plays from Seyi Ajirotutu, Andre Roberrts and Jacoby Ford , respectively, were no surprise.

I've been accused of tooting my/our own horn on occasion, and perhaps I do it too often. When I do it, though, I provide the evidence that what I say is true.

For example...

Ajirotutu, an undrafted free agent from Fresno State, impressed early last year in a Bulldog loss to Wisconsin (six catches for 83 yards, two TDs) and again at the East-West Shrine Game. Here is what I wrote in Slant about him:
Ajirotutu intrigues scouts in much the same way as former WAC standout Legedu Naanee (San Diego) did for Boise State - with great size, raw speed and physical play. His underrated straight-line speed (reportedly has been timed in the 4.3s) forces corners to respect him deep and his size and crisp footwork gives him easy separation on slants and dig routes. Ajirotutu has shown the ability to high-point passes, using his size advantage to "box out" smaller cornerbacks (see Wisconsin, 9/12). Ajirotutu's physicality also lends itself well as a downfield blocker. In fact, as his blocking Saturday night against the Warriors can attest, Ajirotutu is a significant contributor to the success of junior Ryan Matthews, the nation's leading rusher. Fresno's focus on the running game will keep Ajirotutu's number modest (4-48 yards against UH), but with patience, he has the raw talent to blossom in the pros.

Ajirotutu caught four passes from Philip Rivers for 109 yards and two touchdowns in the Chargers 29-23 win over Houston.

Andre Roberts and Jacoby Ford, two undersized receivers mischaracterized by some as strictly big play threats, impressed me during Senior Bowl practices. In fact, in this Senior Bowl practice (Tuesday) review I lavished praise on both.

A receiver on the rise is [Andre] Roberts . Scouts expected him to be closer to 5-10, 180 pounds, but he measured in at 5-11, 192. His quickness has not been hurt by the added weight, and his routes were outstanding. Roberts has the feet to run effective comeback routes, the suddenness to free himself on slants, and the vertical to leap up and grab a high pass on the sideline. Typically one FCS receiver is selected in the top 100, and it looks like Roberts fits that ball in the 2010 draft.
 
Roberts played very well during the Senior Bowl practices. He only caught two passes for the Cardinals in their 24-27 loss to the Vikings, but his 30-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter gave the Cardinals a 14-10 halftime lead.

Ford flashed a week earlier in the Raiders' blowout victory over the Seahawks. Against the Chiefs and one of the better young cornerbacks in the league (Brandon Flowers), Ford was dynamic. Ford returned the opening kickoff of the third quarter for a 94-yard touchdown and caught six passes for 147 yards. If you can believe it, he was even better on tape than he was on the stat sheet, as several of his catches were highlight reel-worthy.

Again, this wasn't a surprise. Here is what I wrote about Ford following the same Tuesday Senior Bowl practice:

Clemson's Jacoby Ford is proving among the more secure handed receivers at the Senior Bowl this week -- a bit of a surprise to some who had labeled as only a big-play threat. Though short, the 5-9, 181-pound Ford has good strength to gain his release off press and has the speed to eat up the cushion. He has impressed scouts so far this week with his ability to adjust to poorly thrown passes and haul in tough catches.

Rather than focus any more attention on these rookies, let's look ahead to this year's senior crop of wideouts. A few underrated receivers that I see slipping a bit on draft day, surprising with a big day (or five) as rookies causing NFL announcers to stumble a year from now include:

Denarius Moore, Tennessee
Vincent Brown, San Diego State
Greg Salas, Hawaii





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