Tag:Florida State
Posted on: September 10, 2010 9:49 pm
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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: September 4, 2010 11:26 pm
 

Ponder spectacular, Locker merely good today

Completing 12 of 14 passes for 167 yards and 4 touchdowns in only a half of play today, Florida State's Christian Ponder may have narrowed whatever gap Washington's Jake Locker had above him as the top senior quarterback prospect in the country. 

Ponder did throw an interception, but he showed a live arm, as well as good accuracy in the short to intermediate range. Ponder commanded the offense efficiently and showed off his underrated mobility by completing passes, including his first touchdown pass of the year, while on the move. His four touchdowns went for 4, 15, 8 and 11 yards. One area in which he fared better than Locker on this day was the recognition of when to rifle passes and when to throw with touch.

In losing to BYU, Locker's realistic chances at the Heisman might be over. His NFL grade may not drop based on his play today, but it certainly wasn't strengthened.

In Locker's defense, there is a significant difference in the quality of defense that he and Ponder faced Saturday.

Ponder was playing FCS Samford at home. Locker was facing BYU on the road. Any question about how tough Mountain West teams at home were answered with Pitt and Oregon State losing to Utah and TCU.

And to be fair, Locker played a solid game. He completed 20 of 37 passes for 266 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. He also ran for another 29 yards and a score.

Locker's trademark mobility, arm strength, quick release and, unfortunately, inconsistent accuracy were on display today. When he missed, he often missed high. Locker did show improved accuracy on the move, often drilling passes through tight windows when rolling to the right. He also drilled a few post-routes, giving his receivers plenty of open field with which to generate yardage after the catch.

However, too often in short yardage situations Locker elected to throw the ball downfield rather than check down to easier options. One such play came on 4th and 2 in the fourth quarter. Rolling right, Locker elected to throw the ball into the endzone, where a well-positioned defender broke up the pass. Locker released the ball just as his running back, Chris Polk, running a few yards ahead of him, appeared to be breaking free of his defender. Had Locker throttled down and thrown the ball over Polk's shoulder, it could have for an easier completion and a likely first down.

The opening game of the season is hardly enough to grade these two quarterbacks. Their race to be the first senior QB drafted (and perhaps the first quarterback, overall) will be every bit the marathon, rather than the sprint.

There is no denying Locker's upside. But there is also no denying that Ponder made the better, more consistent plays to help his team win Saturday.


Posted on: August 19, 2010 12:23 pm
Edited on: August 19, 2010 12:23 pm
 

NFLDraftScout.com Radio, Parts 1 and 2

If you like NFLDraftScout.com's year-round coverage of college and pro football and especially the NFL Draft, you may want to check out our two latest ventures onto the radio airwaves.

My fellow draft analysts Chris Steuber and Chad Reuter introduced our new series "Setting The Board" on NFLDraftScout.com radio just last night. The show, which airs each Wednesday night at 6pm EST and offers listeners a live call-in, is off to a rocking start. The topics last night range from Rex Ryan's obscenity-filled theatrics on HBO's Hard Knocks to Tim Tebow's first NFL test to the real meat and potatoes of our content -- checking out the prospective NFL talent across the country.

Last night's show focused on the senior prospects on the offensive side of the ball, including a debate as to which of the top quarterbacks -- Washington's Jake Locker or Florida State's Christian Ponder -- is the most pro-ready.

In case you weren't able to listen in live or simply want to listen again, you can check it out by either following the prominent NFLDraftScout.com radio link on the right side of our main page here or simply by clicking on this link to go directly to our UStream link.

For those of you that would like to listen to me yap a bit, as well, I'll be co-hosting with Ian Furness on Seattle's 950 KJR AM today from 4-6 pm EST. KJR's website offers a "Listen Live" feature off their main page and toll-free numbers to call in and talk with us.

Live at the Seattle Seahawks' training camp, listeners can expect a great deal of talk centering on Pete Carroll's bunch, but Ian and I often break down college prospects that the Seahawks and every other NFL team are certain to be keeping an eye on. In fact, Ian and I broke down prospects on KJR each Friday last fall and plan to do the same this year, as well.

I hope you'll find the time to join us NFLDraftScout.com radio in the future. If you're like us -- and can't live without draft talk even nine months away from the event -- this is the place to be.



Posted on: July 12, 2010 12:40 pm
 

Luck, Kaepernick, others wow at Manning QB Camp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Posted on: June 22, 2010 11:09 pm
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Posted on: March 19, 2010 12:14 pm
 

OLB Watson loses 14 pounds for Pro Day

Much has been made of Florida State's Dekoda Watson and his sculpted build. As the official Seminole site boasts on his player profile, Watson measures 48" across his shoulders, but only 26" across his waist.

Watson certainly looks the part of an elite athlete, but has struggled with injury and inconsistency throughout his career. He's also been characterized by some scouts as a linebacker/safety 'tweener.

Watson helped his cause considerably at the Combine by measuring in at 240 pounds, only six pounds lighter than other outside linebacker measured in Indianapolis.

It is natural that players' weights fluctuate a bit in the weeks in between the Combine and Pro Day.

However, the remarkably trim Watson lost 14 pounds, measuring in at 226 pounds at his Pro Day Thursday.

I'm far from a nutrionist or athletic trainer, but losing 14 pounds in roughly three weeks is suspicious. It would seem to be evidence that Watson intentionally gained weight to measure in more impressively at the Combine, before losing the weight to run faster at his Pro Day. For the record, Watson was impressive in drills at the Combine, despite the additional weight, leading all OLBs with a 4.56 second showing in the 40-yard dash.

Thursday, he was timed in the mid 4.4s, a spectacular time for any linebacker.

A picture that demonstrates Watson's physique is below, courtesy of Warchant.com.

Dekoda Watson

Posted on: December 1, 2009 2:11 pm
 

Bowden, Weis could impact draft

With Charlie Weis' firing and Bobby Bowden's reported retirement, NFL scouts expect highly rated underclassmen from Notre Dame and Florida State to even more strongly consider leaving school early for the pros.

Speculation is rampant throughout the league that Irish quarterback Jimmy Clausen will enter the 2010 draft and his favorite wide receiver, Golden Tate, is likely to leave, as well.

Clausen is widely considered the most NFL-ready quarterback in the country due to his blend of physical talents, experience in a pro-style offense under Weis, and three years as a starter. If Clausen does indeed leave, it would be hard for any new Notre Dame coach to convince Tate that his stock would improve in 2010. His numbers would almost certainly go down with a new quarterback and potentially new offense and regardless of when he leaves Notre Dame, he'll be the same size, which is the most obvious drawback for the receiver -- perhaps generally listed at 5-11, 195 poinds by the Irish.

Perhaps the most intriguing development, however, could occur with the Seminoles and quarterback Christian Ponder. Like Clausen, Ponder has multiple years of starting experience in a pro-style offense and has showcased the big and accurate arm scouts are looking for. Just as importantly, he's shown a great deal of improvement throughout his career. The shoulder injury that ended Ponder's season prematurely will be healed in time for pre-draft workouts, which has prompted some scouts to float his name as a potential "surprise" early declaration.

One would presume that the relationship already in place with offensive coordinator and expected new coach Jimbo Fisher will keep Ponder in Tallahassee for his senior campaign. However, considering the relative dearth of senior talent at quarterback and the potential salary loss for rookies following this draft, the FSU quarterback is one scouts may be pondering before anyone thought...

 
Posted on: November 9, 2009 3:37 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2009 3:42 pm
 

Has QB Ponder played his last game for FSU?

Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder has been one of the few bright spots in an ugly season for Florida State. That bright spot was extinguished Saturday night, when Ponder suffered a separated right shoulder in trying to tackle Clemson defensive back DeAndre McDaniel. The injury, a grade three shoulder separation, that will require season-ending surgery, prompting speculation that the play -- which concluded Ponder's fourth interception of the night -- could be his final one for the Seminoles.

With the injury (and potential lost earnings) of Sam Bradford last year, as well as speculation that the league is looking to impose a rookie salary cap soon, scouts are anticipating underclassmen flocking early to the NFL this winter.

Despite this being only his second season as Florida State's starting quarterback, his improvement has been considerable. Numbers rarely tell the whole story, but consider that in 13 starts in 2008 Ponder completed 55.7% of his passes for 2007 yards and a 14-13 TD to INT ratio. In only 9 starts this season, Ponder completed 68.8% of his passes for 2,717 yards and a TD-INT ratio of 14-7.

Ponder, 6-3, 215 pounds, has the size, intelligence, arm strength, accuracy and mobility scouts are looking for in a potential franchise quarterback. Unlike many of the other highly touted quarterbacks across the country, Ponder's production has come via a pro-style offense. 

Scouts would like to see Ponder return for his senior campaign, as he remains raw. Highly drafted, but unpolished young quarterbacks have a significantly more difficultt time acclimating to the pros simply because there is very little time for second or third quarterbacks handling the ball in a typical NFL week of practice. To improve, he'll need to play -- and scouts don't feel he (or many of the other highly touted underclassmen QBs of the potential 2010 class) is ready.

Still, with undeniable physical tools, his academics in order (he already has his undergraduate degree) and now time on his hands to consider his future, Ponder is a name to keep in mind for the 2010 QB class.

Take into consideration his words, as told to the St. Petersburg Times before the Clemson game:
“Obviously after the season, I’ll take an evaluation (from the NFL) and see what happens and make a decision after that,’’ he said. “I see myself playing here next year, but we’ll see what they say and what happens. There’s a chance of either way.’’



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